How does it feel to be back?
It feels really good to be back. I feel really good about it. It’s good to see everybody. It’s like a family reunion. That’s what it feels like. I think we’re all excited. I can only speak for the coaches when I say I think we’re excited and I feel like the contestants are obviously excited as well. It’s a lot of excitement going on!
Is it good to have all the same coaches alongside you again?
It’s a good feeling. It’s like we’re already familiar with each other. We have good relationships. We know each other’s characters so, you know, we can anticipate and look forward to seeing each other and we have fun together.
Do you have a sense by now who you’re competition is going to be?
You know who has a similar taste to your taste now! Even doing the blinds or when it’s time to pitch I’m thinking ‘hmm Tom may turn around with me here’ or ‘this is more Olly or will’s taste’ and I know to watch and see. It kind of gives us the upper hand when you have a real sense of your fellow coaches’ tastes.
And you’ve been throwing everything at your pitches this year, including shoes!
Yes, I’ve thrown quite a few shoes! It’s just I really don’t know how to define it…it’s a compliment though! It means you are singing SO well I’m gonna throw my shoe at you! Y’know? And it’s the highest compliment is all I can say. I kinda wanna hit ‘em but as they’re so far away the next best thing is I’m gonna grab my shoe and let them know!
This year’s big change is trios so what’s that been like and what are you listening out for?
It makes the Blinds that much more fun and exciting and interesting. When you hear one voice you think ‘hmm…I wonder if they’re older or younger, I wonder if it’s a male or a female’ kind of thing but now that we have trios it’s like ‘is there one voice, two or three?! Who is singing what?’ Again it makes it that much more exciting and more to look forward to because there’s more to figure out. It’s like a little journey…
What makes the perfect trio?
Harmonies. Easily for me. And having a gelling. You have to have an amazing blend where you move together, breathe together and harmonies that are so well blended it almost sounds like one voice. And that’s not easy to find. And especially a group of people that move and sway together. I love when they barely even speak words and can communicate together musically. That shows the dedication and the time they’ve put in to becoming a trio. Those are the things I look for when I’m listening.
Do you think it’s a little more difficult on them than solo artists?
You know it can be. I used to be in a singing group years ago and I discovered that not everyone has the same hopes and dreams. You know you may be in a singing group with someone that may not be as ambitious as you or want the same things as you. And then at times in some groups some of the pressure can be more on one person than the other so you have to make sure you’re on the same accord in everywhere. Not just musically but having the same drive and dreams and the nerves! If you get up there by yourself then it’s all on you but if you get up there with a group, a trio or a duo…well, one weak link? You don’t know who’s not going to get their things right or choke up or forget the note or didn’t dedicate themselves and take it seriously as you. You have your dreams in someone else’s hands so you have to make sure whoever you’re in a group with you’re on the same page.
More generally for those auditioning what advice would you give?
Song choice. It’s called The Voice – you want to pick a song that showcases your voice! Number one I always listen for song choice, even at times when it’s maybe not the best vocal performance but you can tell their potential by what they choose to sing. And then at times you have a better chance at hearing the quality of their voice. I mean people can sing what they want but sometimes, perhaps in up tempo songs, if it’s too band heavy you can drown out the quality of their voice. So that can take away at times.
What’s been the most unusual song or the most perfect choice?
I think there have been some really good song choices this year. I love hearing Have A Little Faith In Me, I love hearing Hallelujah. We’re music lovers too. Don’t forget the coaches are music lovers. We are fans of other artists so sometimes you want to hear those songs…sometimes it can be a disservice too. Certain sounds like Adele’s sound or Whitney’s sound – you’re like, okay not everyone can sing that. It can work against people at times but then again it can be in their favour. So it’s tricky.
You turning your chair is a massive turning point for these musicians, what’s been the biggest turning point in your career?
Obviously getting Dreamgirls. That was probably the most life changing. There have been so many things..but I have to give it to that. Without that I wouldn’t be here. Taking a similar path as the Voice contestants. You never know that when you take a leap like this…every single time I hear their little footsteps on the stage I think…because those three little steps are so important. You don’t know what it’s going to lead to. I didn’t know that one day I’d be a coach giving someone else an opportunity. That still blows my mind. Wow…just stepping out on stage, believing in my own talent and then being brave enough to audition and singing. That’s life changing. I look upon it that I hopped on a rollercoaster that has not stopped.
If you could be in their shoes and look back, complete fantasy, any person from history to be your mentor who would you choose?
Okay, can I break it up this way? Can I put four coaches in the chairs to choose from?! Okay…Whitney Houston would be one, Aretha Franklin would be one, I would keep Tom Jones and in the last chair…Mariah Carey. Oh god there’s so many others! Can I have twelve chairs?! Okay, so that’s my panel right there. And they’ve all turned around for me?! Wow. I would die…wooh my God. I couldn’t go wrong with those choices but to pick one, I would go with Aretha Franklin. There’s so many to pull from. For these contestants it’s an amazing opportunity to do that. For myself, when I look at it now, and I get the opportunity to be around and work with or meet all of these legends – I’m a sponge and I try to learn as much as I can from them.
How about your team?
I love my team. The difficulty for me is my goal is always I want to create the most bulletproof best team possible. And then I realise the next phase comes and half of them have got to go and it’s like the best up against the best. As a coach you’re like what am I going to do. And then I think – hold on this is about The Voice and what if both get up there and do exceptionally well. Why can’t I keep them all?! It’s like they did what they’ re supposed to do.
Who’s your toughest competition this year then?
Oh honey my team is tough. I think Tom and next, surprisingly, Olly. Will is so different from me. Although he did take someone I wanted…so I should also look out for Will. I think Tom though.