INTERVIEW: Aston Merrygold
Aston Merrygold, formerly of JLS, decided to face the music industry as a solo artist. In July 2015 he released the debut single, from his upcoming solo album, ‘Get Stupid’ with its catchy tune and up-tempo beat to land platinum success in Australia, proof of his expanding fan base on the other side of the world.
He’s also kicking off 2016 as the opening act for international superstar, Jason Derulo including a stop at the SSE Arena, Belfast on 27th January 2016. This year we can expect the release of his debut album ‘Showstopper‘ and he definitely has more surprises up his sleeve. Kelly Thompson chatted with him ahead of his Belfast appearance.
Q. Your debut solo album ‘Showstopper’ is due to be released this May. What kind of musical vibe can we expect from this and who were your main influences in the making of this album?
“With the album itself I’ve had a lot of different kinds of influences to be fair. Over the years, people that I’ve met through the industry and people that I’ve listened to when I was younger. Artistry in terms of Michael Jackson, James Brown, Justin Timberlake and Usher. A lot of these artists definitely inspired me. I’ve been writing this album where it’s not exactly one genre, it’s just all music that I actually enjoy listening to, enjoy performing and enjoy from when I was young. Good all round pop music I suppose.”
Q. The first single ‘Get Stupid’ has a more mature feel that some of the tracks from JLS? Do you think you’re starting to come into your own and target a more mature fan base?
“I think I’ve definitely come into my own. In terms of targeting a mature fan base, I think from the years that JLS were together as a band they’ve grown with us. I think they are a more mature age now. When we were hitting the markets in JLS, they were 16 to 24 and they’ve grown with us. I’m 27 now and I started when I was 19 so everyone that was at that younger age, they’re still the main target audience but I’m not one to say that I wouldn’t want to perform in front of anyone. Anyone that enjoys it is more than welcome to come and enjoy the music.”
Q. Do you find a big difference between recording in a group as opposed to as a solo artist? Do you have a band that record with you?
“I do a lot of co-writing with a lot of friends who write stuff so I just didn’t want to seclude myself and take myself away from everything. I see myself as someone who’s still trying to learn and trying to get better every day. The only way to do that is to surround yourself with people who inspire you. So when we did write together as a band, it was only once or twice we wrote in a group of four. We always broke off into pairs and went off to somewhere to write the songs then bring it back to everyone and showcase. Whereas, now it’s nice that I can make the decision if I do like the song or if I don’t like it then push forward with that instead of having to go to a vote or anything like that.”
Q. So your opening night supporting Jason Derulo, what was it like?
“Yes, it was amazing. Really, really good. I think when you think of an opening act, in my mind at least, and in my experience you think of not everyone there and seated. Everyone’s still kind of walking in and getting ready for the main act. You’re just very appreciative to be on that stage like I was yesterday.
“When I stepped foot on to that stage, there was a full arena. Everyone had managed to there a little bit early. I was pleasantly surprised but I wasn’t surprised at the reaction from the dedicated fans who were in and around the front. It’s nice that I’m still appealing to people now. Thanks to Jason for letting me on that stage and to his fan base as well who welcomed me.”
Q. Dance is a major part of your performance as well, do you think touring with Jason allows you to focus on this also? Due to your mutual love of dance?
“Yes, I think so. I think from his point of view he would’ve had to give the green light for me to perform on his stage. I dare say that his love of dance and my love of dance didn’t tarnish his decision at all. He wanted to bring that energy to the stage just before he hit so that’s why he got me involved which was great.”
Q. From you’ve started your solo career, you have had an increased fan base in places such as Australia. They seem to love your cover of ‘Hotline Bling’. What’s it like having such a big fan base at the other side of the world?
“Actually, very, very weird. It’s amazing but it’s quite odd when you normally fly off to some other countries and you’re not really noticed at certain times or anything like that. Over in Australia, it was great the impact at first when going over there especially. A lot of people had heard the song but no one had really put a face to it. Then after a few weeks of hard promotion, it became evident that people were really into it, into myself and into the music and I was getting noticed a lot more. Yeah, it was kind of crazy to be at the other side of the world and have such a great fan base. It was lovely.”
Q. Aside from the album what’s the plan for 2016? Would you ever consider other ventures outside of music?
“It is my main focus, definitely but never say never. I do class myself as an all-round entertainer as well, so anything that does come along within the same frame, that doesn’t take too much focus away from the music cause that is the main goal for me, I’d definitely welcome that chance. It’s going to be a very exciting year I think with a lot of good to come out of it.”
Q. In terms of the album, is it all finished up now? Or is there still some minor tweeks going on?
“Yeah I still have some minor tweeks and I think I threw a bit of a spanner in the works the other day. I’ve gone back into the studio and kind of listened to everything and been like I want to change a bit of this and a bit of that. It’s not far off but I just want it to be perfect. All in good time- it’s definitely on its way.”
Q. While you were in JLS you always came to Belfast while on tour whereas not all other artists do. Is that something that is important to you and will you continue doing it if and when you announce a tour?
“100%. I’ll be doing Belfast on the solo tour. Well my Mum’s actually from Northern Ireland and I’ve got family in Belfast so I’m over there as frequently as possible. Performing over there, in terms of a fan base, is insane. They’re one of the most dedicated sources of the fan base that I have ever seen. I always do have the best nights on tour over in Belfast from the show to the party afterwards. It’s always a place that I love to go and look forward to going.”