Cape Town - The Voice Kids UK is back for a third round on ITV Choice (DStv 123) Sundays at 18:00, with Jessie J stepping in as a new coach.
The Price Tag singer is no stranger to the red chair as she has previously been a coach on The Voice in the UK and Australia.
In this Q&A Jessie J tells us more about the new season and what it's like being back in the red chair.
How does it feel to have joined The Voice Kids?
It feels great. I’m feeling all kinds of different emotions. This is very full circle for myself in coming back. It’s definitely celebrating my experience and my knowledge and, in a way, giving it back to the new generation that’s coming up to create music. To be back with will and have an opportunity to work with Pixie and Danny; to represent the UK in the UK on a show that really celebrates UK talent is really important to me.
Does it feel like coming back? Like a Voice homecoming or does it feel really different on The Voice Kids?
It did feel like a return on the first day – the people, the chairs – but as soon as the kids auditioned it felt different. It’s a whole different way of approaching the experience and how the kids are makes you different. I definitely feel like it’s really beautiful to be a part of.
It’s like when you get anything from its purest form you connect with it in a different way. Seeing a person grow from a newborn to adult is just a different connection to when you meet someone at the age of 20. It’s a different energy.
What are you looking out for?
I don’t know. I said to Pixie and will on the first day I just don’t know what I’m looking for. Then I heard an audition and said ‘ooh I love this’ but I didn’t get them on my team. It made me realise – oh wow this is a competition and I’d forgot. It really is that star quality. With technique I can hear it and someone can be super talented but it really is how they channel it. And what they want and where they’re at emotionally. Being that young, a lot of it is down to emotion. What I’m looking for sometimes comes from someone I didn’t realise I could get it from.
How do you think your team is shaping up this year?
They’re great. My team are great, man. They’re so bright and light. They’re just so shiny. They light up the room. I want to go into the room that they’re in! They’re really nice to each other. I’ve always been lucky with my teams and again I’m lucky with this team. They’re nice kids. I don’t know any of the other teams as well as I will as time goes on but my team are just really hungry for it. They want to learn and I think that’s because they know the kind of coach I am and what I do as a coach is different to maybe some of the other coaches in what I focus on. They ask me a lot of technique questions and how to look after their voice. And that’s really important to me. When I saw them all again after the Blinds, I bought them all a pad and a pen, manuka honey, peppermint tea, lemons and gave them all cards with a message in. I wanted to make them all realise that this is an inside out journey. You have to look after your mind, your heart and your health before you can do anything else. And your voice. This is like boot camp. Even me now – I was a contestant for four months in China last year. Even with all my experience. I didn’t need to do that and people were like why did you do that? And I did it because I wanted to learn, in a different culture and in a different way that I wouldn’t be able to do had I always been the person giving the advice. You have to top up what you’re giving advice on and experience it from the other side.
Do you feel like that experience last year has added a lot to your coach’s tool kit, in a way?
Oh massively. A hundred per cent. Just understanding being on the other side of it. And the different kind of fear I had. You’re always proving yourself but when you’re an established musician the only other time I feel like that is when I’m at festivals, when it’s not just me. At my own shows I know they’ve come to see me but at festivals the front two rows could be hardcore someone else’s fans and I have to win them over. And that’s the feeling I got doing the China show [Singer 2018] but way worse! The nerves made me really understand what these kids go through. And I’m old! I’ve done this for a long time so it really put it in perspective, how hard this must be for them.
If you could go back and be, say, 10 years old and you’re singing to the backs of four chairs. Who would those people in those four chairs be for you?
Instantly, there would be Whitney Houston and Lauren Hill. At 10 – The Spice Girls probably! All squeezed on to one massive chair. And…probably Aretha. They’d be my four. The Spice Girls would be so different to the others but…yeah, that’s probably the four… Ooh Anastasia I loved when I was a kid! Pink. I was obsessed with Pink. Gwen Stefani. Luther Vandross.
Did you always want to be a singer?
No. I wanted to be a hairdresser. And my mum said what about if you had to do someone’s hair with nits?! And she didn’t really mean it but I was, like, oh my God and I never wanted to do that again. And then I wanted to act and I focused on drama. That was my major thing. My main focus at school as a child. I didn’t even do music at secondary school. I took drama and art. I’d draw and paint and I acted for a long time. Even when I was older, like at 15, I didn’t do music at school. And then when I went to do my A-levels I wanted to do drama but I wanted to do singing and dancing so I took musical theatre. And then obviously I had sung when I was a kid and bit by bit acting went on the back burner and singing became what I was applauded for. Acting is something I’m going to pursue again. I’ve always loved singing though. My first words were ‘jam hot!’ I was good at singing, that was what my talent was but did I want to be a singer as a kid? I don’t think that was in my mind. I was never, like, I want to be a star. I wanted to do well but it was more the reaction of people around me to me singing that made it more of a thing.
If you could give advice to your younger self, what would that advice be?
If someone’s mean to you it says more about them than you. And always try and give people that are hurting you a hug because they’re hurting too. It’s hard for kids to understand that but I get it now. People that are mean need love. And wear what you want, sing what you want, stick up for yourself.
So, Pixie has won both series. Do you think you’re going to do it this year?
Who knows? There’s a one in four chance. I have a very strong team. The thing is though I don’t talk about being competitive ever because I know if I was ten years old and had a coach who was going ‘I wanna win, I wanna win’ – that’s not really about me, it’s about them [the kids]. If I say it, it’s putting extra pressure on them and I would never want them to feel that. I don’t want them focusing on that, I want them focusing on things like how they’re feeling today and did they learn their words and did they drink something that’s good for their voice and are they enjoying themselves. They’re the things they need to be focused on. Not am I gonna win?! It’s like buying a wedding dress when your single! Just focus on meeting someone and take it one step at a time.
The Voice Kids airs every Sunday at 18:00 on ITV Choice (DStv 123) less than 24 hours after its UK broadcast.