Ray Quinn's back in the swing as Vegas beckons
PUBLISHED: 06:37 05 June 2014
The crossroads at which versatile entertainer Ray Quinn now finds himself is one many stars of reality television will likely recognise.
"I was 17 and didn’t understand the industry; I was still learning. I didn’t go in saying, ‘I want to do this, I want to do that’, so I suppose they didn’t see the drive that I have now"
After reaching the finals of The X Factor eight years ago, a record deal and instant success brought about levels of fame the young Liverpudlian had always dreamed of, but like many before him, the rug was quickly pulled from under his feet.
Quinn’s first record, Doing It My Way, sold 127,000 copies in its first week, charting at number one in the album charts and reaching platinum status, so it came as a shock when he was ruthlessly dropped by his record label, RCA, within the same year.
He maintained his public profile by starring in a number of West End shows and winning Dancing on Ice – twice – but all of this slowly meant the 25-year-old was finding it more and more difficult to establish himself definitively as a singer.
“I’ve had the chance and opportunity to do so many different things because I love variety,” he says, “but looking back at the music path – I just love it so much.
“Not a day goes by when I don’t listen to music and it’s very influential on everything to do with my life: the clothes I wear, the things I listen to, the car I drive and the people I surround myself with.”
As anyone who’s seen Quinn perform will know, swing specifically is the thing. Growing up as a child in Liverpool, his father played it around the house non-stop and that love quickly transferred. The young boy began to perform at open mic nights around the culturally-burgeoning city, but it was not until, as a fresh faced 17-year-old, he wowed Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne and Simon Cowell in the auditions for X Factor that his career truly blossomed.
“I went on The X Factor and lost to Leona Lewis, but people could see I had a passion for music and a passion for a certain type of music, which was swing. I’ve loved it since I was a kid and I’ve been blessed in my career over the last seven years or so, performing on Dancing on Ice and in the West End.
“Obviously it takes time for anyone to know exactly what you want to do, though, and what person you want to be. Having a family has helped no ends: I’ve got a wonderful wife and a gorgeous little boy who inspire me to do something different every day and it’s meant that now I finally know exactly who I am.”
This week, Quinn has begun to lay the foundations for a journey which will attempt to see him re-establish his direction as a singer; culminating in the release of his second album. He is playing a series of intimate, 50-ticket shows at The Rabbit Hole – a music venue in Hampstead’s The Duke of Hamilton pub.
The shows will directly fund his new record, which he will be flying out to record in New York after an exciting stint at Las Vegas’s Caesars Palace. Fans will be at the heart of this journey and those who buy tickets for the nights will also find their names on the sleeve of the new album.
Looking back at why he was previously dropped by Simon Cowell, Quinn says: “I was 17 and didn’t understand the industry; I was still learning. I didn’t go in saying, ‘I want to do this, I want to do that’, so I suppose they didn’t see the drive that I have now.
“But they handed me such an amazing stepping stone in my career and took me to theatres and gigs all over the place, in countries like Italy, Egypt and Dubai. I’ve been to some amazing cities around the world and that was all through X Factor. What they’ve done for me was fantastic so I’ve got nothing but good things to say about them.”
Is he aware, though, of how others in the music industry perceive such talent shows and the instant gratification they offer? “I think that attitude’s changed massively, for sure. They’ve created this unbelievable platform for people like me and I couldn’t be happier that it was a whirlwind.
“One minute you’re on the telly with only 200 or 300 people watching you, but then you walk outside and realise how many people are supporting you. But they weren’t just there for me for a few weeks, they’ve kept supporting me through so many years. They love coming to see me perform, which I’m very grateful for, so I wanted to show them my commitment for a change and take this opportunity and be proactive with it.”
The new album, Quinn says, will have “a swing feel, but not one that’s dated whatsoever”. He is co-writing many of the songs, but has also enlisted the help of industry veterans like singer Linda Lewis, who he performed with last week at The Jazz Café in Camden Town.
He is also looking forward to Las Vegas, where he will be taking to the stage with Matt and Luke Goss, and says he can’t wait to follow in the footsteps of heroes like “Elvis and Donny (Osmond)”.
“When I went over to Vegas the first time to record my debut, I did a video shoot, but I wasn’t actually there for that long. And because I was so young, I wasn’t even allowed in the casinos,” he laughs.
While he still retains the youthful glow of his teenage years, however, Quinn is no longer a boy. He now has a wife, West End star Emma Stephens, and a two-year-old son, Harry, to also think about. The key, he says, is balance, and now Quinn is confident they can make the next step together.
“We’ve got great support behind us,” the singer continues, “and this is now the end goal for all of us, not just me. They and everyone else are going to be on this journey alongside me and that’s the most important thing of all.”
Ray Quinn performs at The Rabbit Hole tonight (June 5) and on June 9, 11 and 13. Tickets are £50. Visit rayquinn.co.uk.