Matt Terry: ‘In Miami I had two cops about to shoot me ... they thought I was stealing from the studio’
The winner of last year’s X Factor tells Gabrielle Fagan about his most frightening moment, how a psychic predicted his success and the huge sacrifices that his family have made to help him realise his dream.
Matt Terry captured the nation’s hearts when he auditioned for X Factor for the first time last year, impressing the judges with his rendition of Stand By Me by Ben E King.
The former waiter went on to win the competition and released his winner’s single, When Christmas Comes Around, which reached number three in the UK charts.
Since then, he’s signed a record deal with RCA Records, released his second single, Sucker For You, and his debut album is set to hit the shelves this month.
Here, the 24-year-old talks about body confidence, his fitness regime and how a psychic foretold his future years ago.
How do you look after your health and wellbeing?
“When it comes to fitness, I go to the gym about three times a week to lift weights. I also really enjoy running, because it de-stresses me and clears my mind. I try to drink lots of water and I aim for around six hours of sleep a night. My diet’s not too bad, although I find it hard to resist cakes and pastries if I’m travelling. I really believe in the power of the mind. I think if you put out a positive vibe, good things will flow back to you. I’ve recently started to feel a lot more confident in myself.”
What’s been your biggest turning point?
“I’d been working as a waiter in an Italian restaurant after leaving music college. After 18 months, I was despairing. I was really considering quitting showbusiness because I hadn’t got a break. My girlfriend also dumped me after three years together, so it was a pretty tough time. Finally, I decided to take a chance; I gave up my job and tried out for X Factor, which changed everything. I truly never expected to win. It wasn’t until about three-quarters of the way through the series that I suddenly started to believe in myself. It was a real lesson to me. It taught me not to hold back and to completely go for it when an opportunity comes along.”
Is there anything you would change about X Factor?
“I’d like to say nothing, because since winning my life’s been amazing. I get to travel the world and be involved in amazing charity campaigns, such as Children in Need. But honestly, as a competitor, I’d probably get rid of the six chair challenge — it’s horrendous and nerve-racking, although it’s probably one of the most entertaining parts of the show for the viewers. I also wish they’d bring back the dance’ round — we actually filmed one that was never shown.”
What’s the most frightening thing that’s ever happened to you?
“(While recording my album in Miami) something very scary but funny happened to me. I set off the studio alarm by accident and, before I knew it, I had Miami police holding me at gunpoint. I had two cops about to shoot me because they thought I was stealing from the studio. The first thing I said was ‘I’m from London’ (I don’t know how that was going to get me out of it), but luckily someone from the studio turned up and saved the day. So I’m safe, I’m alive and I didn’t get shot.”
What’s been your most embarrassing moment?
“I was walking through Chinatown in London recently with a friend, and two women came up to me and asked me for a picture. I said, ‘Yeah, sure’ and positioned myself in between them and waited for my friend to take the shot. The women looked at me really strangely — they were obviously bewildered. One of them eventually said, ‘Err no, we just wanted you to take a picture of us together, not one with you!’ It was so cringeworthy, my friend couldn’t stop laughing. Clearly, I’m not as famous as I thought!”
What’s got you through the tough times?
“My amazing family. My mum, Sharon, my dad, Bob, and my brothers, Ben, who’s 26 and Joe, who’s 22. They’re always there for me no matter what. They keep me grounded and supported. I’ve always loved singing. When I was 18, I knew if I was serious about it I needed to go to London to train. We’d lived in Spain since I was 10 years old. Without hesitation my parents said, ‘Right, we’ll sell up our house, go back to England and you can go to college to study performing arts’. It was unbelievable that they did that for me. Those three years studying my craft made me what I am.”
Who’s your celebrity crush?
“Nicole (Scherzinger, his mentor and judge on the X Factor) is so supportive of me. She’s really embraced me. I send her my music and she plays it really loud and dances to it at home. She sends me hilarious videos of her dancing. She’s so proud of me — she couldn’t believe I wrote most of the songs on the album. I’m going to get to hang out with her again at the X Factor live shows, which will be really fun.”
Are you looking for love at the moment?
“Sometimes I’m lying in bed, spread out like a starfish in my pants, and I’m loving life as a single guy. But then there can be moments when I’m hugging the pillow and thinking how nice it would be to have someone there. In reality, I’m so busy performing and constantly travelling around the world that I don’t really have time to date. I only just managed to find the time to go to my older brother’s wedding, but I guess if the right person came along, I would.”
Do you believe in fate?
“Definitely. I think everyone has their own path and their own journey to make. It’s been odd because psychics and palm readers have come up to me and said there’s something about me that draws them. Weirdly, when I was 16, someone stopped me and said, ‘You have this blue aura, you will be a recording artist’. Turns out, they were right.”
Matt Terry surprised pupils at Westminster Academy as part of the Lloyds Bank Big Spotacular schools fundraising campaign for BBC Children in Need. To find out more about the Big Spotacular, visit bbcchildreninneed.co.uk/schools