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Issue 1084

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Aston Merrygold: All the right moves

Aston Merrygold @bluesandsoul.com
Aston Merrygold @bluesandsoul.com Aston Merrygold @bluesandsoul.com Aston Merrygold @bluesandsoul.com Aston Merrygold @bluesandsoul.com

Having first shot to fame and fortune as one quarter of UK-chart-topping pop/R&B boy-band JLS, singer/songwriter/dancer Aston Merrygold this month makes his eagerly-anticipated solo debut with the Sixties-R&B-flavoured single âGet Stupidâ. Whose musical blend of celebratory horns, pulsating bass groove and vibrant rhythm topped off with Astonâs charismatic vocal delivery also precedes the upcoming October release of his all-important debut album âShow Stopperâ.

Indeed, with Merrygoldâs main creative collaborators being hitmaker Edwin âLilâ Eddieâ Serrano (Usher/Jessie J) and Talay Riley (Ellie Goulding / IggyAzalea) with additional input from songwriting duo Karen Poole and Sonny J. Mason, âShow Stopperâ overall boasts a live instrumental vibe whose musical moods range from the infectious âShow Meâ and seductive Prince-style funk of âOne Night In Parisâ to the raw, single-take vocal of the romantic ballad âYou, Me And The Moonâ and effortless pop/gospel/dancehall mash-up of âAmerican Girls.â

Born Aston Iain Merrygold on February 13, 1988 in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire to a Jamaican father and Anglo-Irish mother, a young Aston would go on to attend his hometownâs Jack Hunt School while pursuing his initial aspirations to play football professionally. Nevertheless, after developing a nerve problem in his left foot, he would ultimately end up opting to pursue a career in singing and acting instead. A decision which would soon lead to a series of television appearances (including in 2002 appearing - and coming second! - as a young Michael Jackson on âStars In Their Eyesâ!) and endless auditions before in 2006 teaming up with Oritse Williams, Marvin Hulmes and J.B. Gill to form the R&B/pop vocal quartet UFO. Who, following the groupâs entering the sixth series of British high-profile TV reality contest âThe X Factorâ in 2008, would eventually go on to change their name to JLS.

Following which, with the foursome eventually ending up in second-place to the showâs winner Alexandra Burke, JLS would go on to sign with Sony Musicâs Epic Records, for whom they would go on to release four UK Top Ten albums - 2009âs chart-topping ,Quadruple-Platinum âJLSâ; 2010âs Double-Platinum âOutta This Worldâ; 2011âs Platinum âJukeboxâ; 2012âs âEvolutionâ - while also impressively scoring five British Number One singles (2009âs âBreathe Againâ and âEverybody In Loveâ; 2010âs âThe Club Is Aliveâ and âLove You Moreâ; 2011âs âShe Makes Me Wannaâ). Alongside which other ground-breaking career highlights would include in 2010 winning two BRIT Awards; becoming one of only three British groups ever to sell out 10 dates at Londonâs 02 Arena; plus, via their own documentary film âJLS: Eyes Wide Open 3Dâ being shown exclusively for three days only from June 2, 2011 in over 300 cinemas, creating the biggest-selling music event in UK cinema history.

Nevertheless, April 24 2013 would surprisingly find JLS announcing they would be splitting following their then-upcoming âGoodbye The Greatest Hits Tourâ, which would end with them performing together for the last time on December 22, 2013 at Londonâs 02 Arena, in turn bringing a close to a career that had seen the quartet sell over six million records.

All of which pretty much brings us up to date. As an articulate and charming, now-solo Aston meets up for the first time with âBlues & Soulâ Assistant Editor Pete Lewis at Warner Musicâs buzzing Kensington HQ to discuss his aforementioned new single and upcoming album in addition to his reflections on his heady chart-topping years with JLS.

His debut single âGet Stupidâ

âIt was actually a song that started out sitting on a hard-drive for probably about two weeks. You know, myself, Karen Poole and Sonny J. Mason did the session; we knew it was a good song; I spoke to my A&R and the record-label team about it and told them I just needed to go back in and finish it⦠So I did that, and literally a few minutes after I sent it to them I got a phone call from the label where they were like âThis is IT - this is the one weâre gonna go with as the first SINGLE!â. Which kinda THREW me a bit! You know, I was like âOK, weâve got a single - this means itâs time to get back to WORK!â!... And then in terms of the title itself, I guess the best way to describe âGet Stupidâ is that itâs me basically saying âLet loose and be FREE!â! You know, itâs like âWhen Friday at five oâclock hits and the weekend starts and youâre ready to party, just be yourself and get STUPID!â!â

What we can expect musically from new album âShow Stopperâ

âMusically you can definitely expect a lot of real instrumentation. Because though when we were in JLS we had a lot of stuff that was programmed and it sounded great, for me what Iâve always loved - and whatâs still my go-to stuff when Iâm in the car today - are the records that used the real instruments back-in-the-day. You know, to me like the live horns, the keys and basslines were the things that really kinda gave you that groove that made people just wanna bounce ALONG. Because it not only SOUNDED good but it FELT great TOO. Which is why I wanted my first solo record musically to have that kind of live vibe to it, so that it can truly reflect what I as a person see music AS.â

How Aston today looks back on his chart-topping days as one-quarter of JLS

âI remember it as the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, sometimes all at the same TIME! Like there were a few family things going on in JLS in terms of illness and stuff like that, and this would be like when we were celebrating being Number ONE!⦠So yeah, there were some sad times, but then when you look at the professional side, to be as successful as we were here was just AMAZING - the only down-side of that being that it was never taken anywhere ELSE. Which was something we didnât UNDERSTAND. You know, internationally we never felt JLS got the push that we felt it DESERVED. Because even TODAY, if we still walk around these streets NOW, people are like âOh my God, itâs JLS!â! You know, weâve left a legacy where we have opened up a lot of doors⦠So yeah, aside of the international side of things and some family problems it was an amazing seven/eight YEARS. Where we went from having nothing and driving to gigs up north in Marvinâs Volkswagen Golf - Marvin was the only one that had a car at that time - and splitting the paycheque of like £100 between us, to where we were propelled into an unbelievable realm of Number One records, millions of dedicated fans... Which for us I guess was all a little SURREAL, where we just felt blessed every day to be in the situation we were IN.â

The single âGet Stupidâ is out now and the album âShow Stopperâ will follow in October, both through Warner Music astonmerrygold.com

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To read more from our exclusive interview with Aston Merrygold, including his thoughts on his new album and his journey from band member to solo artistâ¦Pick up a copy of the latest Blues & Soul magazine at your local magazine retailer, inc; WH Smith, Menzies + selected Euro Foods, Cost Cutters and a plethora of independents everywhere⦠if they don't stock it, ask for a "B&S shop save" and they will get it for you.
Words PETE LEWIS

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