AN INTERVIEW WITH WILL YOUNG
PUBLISHED: 15:14 22 May 2014 | UPDATED: 13:25 30 August 2017
Singer and actor Will Young talks about his love for his Cornish property on Bodmin Moor and enjoying the escape from London life
Pop star, actor and Cornwall resident Will Young reflects on a decade in front of (and away from) the cameras
Will Young winces in pain recalling his Pop Idol audition. 'I can't watch it now, it's too traumatising,' he cries, attempting a curl into the foetal position. 'I mean, it's not so much the singing, I can handle that, but why oh why did I do the dance? What was I thinking? I just remember Nicki Chapman saying: I didn't like your moves and I thought, you and me both.'
Die a little he might but without that traumatising audition, Will may never have become a chart-topping sensation and someone who has sold nearly nine million albums worldwide. The softly-spoken Berkshire boy found overnight fame as the champion of the inaugural series of Pop Idol his notorious stand-off with Simon Cowell grabbing the headlines.
Will's latest release, Echoes, his sixth studio album, has already topped the charts, shifting close to 300,000 copies on its way. Critics claim its a different direction for the singer. Would he agree? Completely, he replies. It's a very different sound. Its an upbeat album with a kind of 1980s-inspired The Communards and Pet Shop Boys feel to it. It's my best album to date, I think, and I'm delighted with the public's response.
'I did think of having a place on the water but Bodmin Moor is too breathtaking for words.'
'I've wanted to do a dance record for so long. I feel I've covered so many genres in music before now, so it's the right time to try something different. It started when I did a track with Groove Armada. Well actually, no wait,' he says, interrupting his train of thought. 'It started way before that, when I was writing with Mandy Kane from Groove Armada for my third record, but it didn't seem like the right time, it didnt seem to fit. So it's been something in the mix for a while. And I'm glad I did it now; it was a case of do it now or not at all, and I'm really pleased with the result.'
Away from the studio, Will is touring the UK with the album and making headway in his acting career. His CV includes working alongside Dame Judi Dench in Mrs Henderson Presents and Sky Living Horror drama Bedlam, along with a producing credit on Ralph Fiennes directorial debut Coriolanus.
When he gets some precious free time however, Will likes to retreat to his Cornwall bolthole, a 17th-century cottage on Bodmin Moor. 'It's my secret place where I like to escape to. I just wanted to have somewhere away from the craziness of London, and Bodmin is the antithesis of London life.
'I found it five years ago and instantly fell in love with the place; its a fantastic property. And the people are so friendly in the area, with lovely pubs such as the Masons Arms or the Weavers. I feel a real sense of community there.'
That sense of community even led Will to campaign for his local post office to stay open at a time of government cuts, yet he also maintains a home in London's Holland Park, explaining that his work commitments keep him from regular stays at the cottage. Thankfully, his family are always on hand and happy to house sit for him in Cornwall.
'What I love most about the area is its proximity to nature.'
'Oh yeah, they're making real sacrifices there aren't they?' he laughs. 'When I bought the cottage, my parents joked that it was what they wanted. My sister stays there with her family and I love that, I encourage it. I don't want it sitting there empty while I'm away that would make me sad'.
For a keen surfer, it seems strange that Will didn't buy closer to the coast. I did think of having a place on the water but Bodmin Moor is too breathtaking for words. Plus, its really not far from the sea a 10 or 20-minute drive to get to beaches with fantastic surf in places like Constantine Bay or Praa Sands. Its the best of both worlds.
The area has also seemingly inspired a slight change in his career trajectory. 'What I love most about the area is its proximity to nature. And it makes me think more and more about the future, when I may just want to park the pop career, go back to college and study ornithology or zoology... work on nature programmes and maybe someday even become the next David Attenborough.'
As ever, Will Young is a talent who doesn't sit still.