As The Voice UK goes live on Saturday, former Liberty X star Kevin Simm talks nerves, knockbacks and the perils of fame...
Congratulations on getting through to The Voice UK live shows? How are you feeling?
"It's been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, but it's just been amazing. I can't quite get my head around it if I'm honest; the only thing I can compare it to is like when I did a skydive – I was really hesitant because I was scared but then, once I'd decided I was going through with it, there's no real way of getting out of it. So it's been scary, but amazing, I'm looking forward to it all."
Knowing that viewers would be aware of you past career in Liberty X, did you have reservations about auditioning for The Voice in the first place?
"Oh yeah, loads of reservations. I've already had a lot of knockbacks in my career, so I was worried about getting no turns from the coaches, then being ridiculed by people afterwards. It felt like a huge gamble."
So, it must have been a massive confidence boost when all four coaches turned their chairs for you?
“Definitely! Me and Beth Morris, on Team Paloma, are the only finalists who got four turns at the blind auditions. Leading up to the blind auditions, I'd had so many nightmares about them not turning, that I didn't really think about the possibility of them ALL turning. But, when it happened, it was probably one of the best moments of my life."
Kevin Simm singing his heart out at the blind auditions
And were you pleased to be getting the chance to shine as a soloist?
"Well, for the past six or seven years since the band split, I have been performing solo in pubs and clubs, but I came on The Voice because I needed a platform where lots of people could hear me sing. When I was in Liberty X, a lot of it was about image so, although I would sing on the songs, people often couldn't see past the hot girls in PVC catsuits!"
Has it been tough trying to make it as a solo artist?
"Well, I got messed around a bit. It wasn't like my solo album failed because it didn't really get the chance to do anything. It got to the point where the record label I was signed to wasn't even answering my emails. That was probably the hardest thing to take… but that's the music industry I guess!"
You got back with Liberty X briefly for ITV2's The Big Reunion in 2013. What was it like doing the show's tour and performing on a big stage to thousands again?
“It was just a lot of fun and that's the way we all went into it – we didn't think we might be able to launch Liberty X again off the back of it. We just thought it would be a nice busman's holiday – to go and do the gigs and have a great time without the pressure of trying to sell records off the back of it. I literally went from playing the 02 one night to gigging in a pub the week after – it was amazing to play the 02 but I'm a realist, so I still had other things to keep me grounded afterwards."
Kevin and his Liberty X bandmates winning their BRIT Award in 2003 for their hit, Just a Little
Looking ahead to the live shows of The Voice UK on Saturday night, are you nervous? And what hints can you give us about your performance?
"I'm really excited and I'm hoping the 'nervy' me that people have seen on the show will disappear. Having the right song can make or break your performance, so I know if I've chosen the wrong song, it could already be game over for me."
You were originally on Team Paloma, before being ‘stolen’ by Ricky Wilson at the battles. What’s he been like as a mentor? What advice has he given you going into the live shows?
“Ricky's been very encouraging – he's just told me to go out there and enjoy it. He's also said he likes that I'm quiet and told me not to change. I'm not the loudest person in the world… but I'm pretty loud when I sing, I guess."
You had lots of public support after your blind audition – is that reassuring knowing that the live shows are down to the public vote?
“It's definitely put me in good stead, I guess. Before all this, the clips of me singing that I was putting up online were getting maybe 100,000 views. But my audition's now had 2.5 million views, so my YouTube channel's gone a bit mental, which has been pretty awesome. It definitely gives me a little more confidence that people liked what they heard at the blind auditions and are hopefully anticipating something good for the live shows."
Have you had support from any celebrities or your former Liberty X bandmates?
"Yeah, the other four guys in Liberty X are still some of my closest friends, so they've been really supportive. Also, Leigh Francis (Keith Lemon), Kimberley Walsh from Girls Aloud and McFly’s Harry Judd all tweeted after my blind audition, so that's been pretty cool."
You are one of the favourites to win this entire series of The Voice UK. Does that put you under more pressure?
"Oh, I don't really know how the bookies' decide who's favourite, I don't think it really means a lot. Coming into this, I know I might have had a history with Liberty X, but I definitely didn't have a following or anything like that – there are a few other contestants that had way more Twitter followers than me before the show. So, it doesn't put pressure on me but, of course, now I've got to this stage, I do want to go as far as I can."
Would you love to recapture the fame you once had with Liberty X. Do you want to be ‘a star’?
“Oh no, definitely not. That is 100 per cent not a reason why I came to do this - I'm probably the least 'starry' person you'll ever meet. I don't think success should be based on number ones and album sales – I see a successful music career as getting to sing for a living and being able to provide for my family."
Catch Kevin Simm singing for survival when The Voice UK goes live on Saturday March 26 at 7pm on BBC1.
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