Young at Heart

PUBLISHED: 15:45 09 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:52 20 February 2013

Young at Heart

Young at Heart

Pop star, actor and Cornwall resident Will Young reflects on a decade in front of (and away from) the cameras

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 cant watch it now, its too traumatising, he cries, attempting a curl into the foetal position. I mean, its 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 didnt 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.

Wills 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. Its very different sound. Its an upbeat album with a kind of 1980s-inspired Communards and Pet Shop Boys feel to it. Its my best album to date, I think, and Im delighted with the publics response.

I did think of having a place on the water but Bodmin Moor is too breathtaking for words

Ive wanted to do a dance record for so long. I feel Ive covered so many genres in music before now, so its 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 didnt seem like the right time, it didnt seem to fit. So its been something in the mix for a while. And Im glad I did it now; it was a case of do it now or not at all, and Im 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. Its 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 Londons 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 housesit for him in Cornwall.

What I love most about the area is its proximity to nature

Oh yeah, theyre making real sacrifices there arent they? he laughs. When I bought the cottage, my parents joked that they were going to put a sign at the end of the drive saying: Will Young Cream Teas - this way to force me to move out so they could buy it at a reduced price. Now I get texts from my mum saying, for example: The squatters have arrived! But it has become a real family house, which is what I wanted. My sister stays there with her family and I love that, I encourage it. I dont want it sitting there empty while Im away that would make me sad.

For a keen surfer, it seems strange that Will didnt 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 doesnt sit still.

Wills new album Echoes is out now . 

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