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Ray Quinn: 'It just never felt like the right time to bring out a new album'

Former X Factor star Ray Quinn has had an incredible career on the stage, small screen and on Dancing On Ice over the past decade or so, but hasn't released an album since his debut in 2007. Lucy Mapstone chats to the multi-talented star about why he finally decided to release his long-awaited second record

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Ray Quinn

Ray Quinn

PA

Ray Quinn

Stepping back into the music industry after more than a decade away is a daunting task, especially if you were as successful as Ray Quinn when he made his debut.The singer and actor found fame on The X Factor, coming second behind Leona Lewis in 2006, before going on to release his hugely successful number one debut album, Doing It My Way.

He made history by becoming the first artist to have a chart-topping album without having released a single, and he followed it up with a sell-out tour.

It was a wild time for the young and bright-eyed star, who won the hearts of millions of viewers with his renditions of swing and jazz classics, so coming back into it now with his first album in 13 years - as a man in his early 30s in a very different landscape - must feel rather intimidating.

"Of course I'm nervous, I think it'd be silly for me to say that I'm not," he says in his familiar Scouse accent.

"The music industry has changed so much, the whole downloading and streaming thing, that wasn't around when I first started," Ray adds with a booming laugh, lightly poking fun at himself and appearing to double his age.

With so much potential and possibility, why did it take Quinn - who was dropped by his record label shortly after releasing that impressively triumphant debut - so long to release a second album?

"I guess it never felt like the right time, it never felt like I was quite ready," Ray explains.

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"It was always in the back of my mind, it's something I really wanted to do and I knew I always wanted to come back and do music, but it just never felt right.

"And then I did a pop album about three years ago and I was, like, rediscovering myself and trying to find out what was right for me, where I fitted in after so many years, but it just never felt right. It was never released.

"Then I did this gig somewhere and the audience was brilliant. I was just back to singing my swing and big band songs and early Eighties contemporary popular music, and they loved it.

"I remember coming out and going, 'What am I doing? Why fix it when it's not broken? This is what I love, this is what I grew up around, this is what made me who I am, and it's a huge part of me, so why am I running away from it?'

"So I went back to the drawing board and we got some songs together.

"I chose all the tracks to be recorded and then we found a few more, recorded them, and my album Undeniable was born.

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Ray Quinn on Dancing on Ice

Ray Quinn on Dancing on Ice

Ray Quinn on Dancing on Ice

"That's what it was, it was just a journey, a progression into it. As I said, it was always in the back of my mind, it was always there, it just never felt like the right time."

He adds: "Now being in my 30s, with my kids, you have a different outlook on life and finally I'm doing something that was my choice for me and makes me happy."

Despite having had many a job in the entertainment industry over the years, including starring in Hollyoaks as a right-wing extremist and having a handful of theatre roles, as well as winning Dancing On Ice twice, going back into a recording studio again after all that time was a strange experience for Quinn.

"It was scary, if I'm honest," he says.

"I wasn't used to it, it felt a bit alien, but I knew I always wanted to do it.

"It was sort of like going to a water park, and you know you want to go because it's got the best rides, but when you get there you end up going, 'Oh, it is a bit high, oh yeah, it is a little bit scary, oh, I don't know.'

"And when someone says, 'Go on, you can do it,' and you go, 'All right, yeah!' And you just go down that slide and it's the best feeling ever. That's the best way I can describe it."

The album is comprised of some of his most beloved songs, such as If I Never Sing Another Song, Mercy and I Who Have Nothing, as well as four new tracks, all recorded with an orchestra in a big band style at Liverpool's prestigious Parr Street Studios.

Quinn says the record is full of "passion and heart", and is one of his proudest achievements.

With that in mind, he is careful not to put too much pressure on himself about how well it performs in the charts.

Reflecting on his debut album's mammoth success, he says: "I'm never going to match that level again.

"It's so difficult for anybody out there in today's world of music to break that barrier.

"That was so big for me, selling 330,000 copies and going platinum in the first week, and having a number one album without selling a single, having sell-out tour dates... that was the power of The X Factor, that's the power that programme had.

"It was so good to me and I learnt so much, I grew up quickly there and I had so many great opportunities off the back of that, so, no, I wouldn't expect to match that again," he says.

"I'd never put that pressure on my shoulders. I've achieved what I wanted to achieve with this album. I wanted to bring my version of, like, Frank Sinatra into the 21st century with the orchestral big band.

"A lot has gone into it, so I've achieved so much more internally than I'm expecting to achieve on the outside.

"I'm definitely not expecting it to skyrocket like my first album did, but I hope it goes well, I really do.

"I'm optimistic, because I'm very proud of the music."

Ray Quinn's album Undeniable will be released in July.

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