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Is this the first time you have worked together?
Kerry: We have done a concert together previously but we didn’t actually get to sing a duet so this will be the first time we actually get to sing together which I’m really excited about.
Matt: I had the pleasure of meeting Kerry at the London Palladium for a special evening last year. We’ve sang on the same stage before but never together, so that’s exciting. Kerry invited me to see her mind-blowing performance in the show Murder Ballad and we got talking after that. She just oozes talent and I’m honoured to be working with her.
What can we expect from the show? Will it be a mixture of genres as you both come from very musical different backgrounds?
Kerry: I think the show will be a real mixed bag Matt and I will obviously bring our own flavours to the show but also I’m sure they’ll be a few new surprises in there, duets that people haven’t heard before and just a lot of fun.
Matt: We’re still planning it but it’s going to be a journey for the audience and us. We’ve both had very varied paths that we’ve followed that are connected by our love for music. It’s an exciting show to be doing for me because I’m normally up there on my own. I’ll certainly be performing songs I’m known for, as well as some new stuff, covers and of course duetting with Kerry. It’s going to be so much fun.
Is there any connection to Suffolk for either of you?
Kerry: This concert came about because we are both from Suffolk originally. It’s what we have in common and the reason for doing the shows at the Apex. We wanted to do something in our home county.
Matt: Kerry’s a local girl and I grew up in Colchester, even though I was born in Southampton. Both Kerry and I have done shows at The Apex before. The atmosphere and the sound inside that place are mind-blowing so we thought it would be great to do something together and something special in Bury.
You both have very successful careers. What else have you both been up to this year?
Kerry: I’ve been on tour with a musical called Wonderland written by Frank Wildhorn who is a musical genius. I’ve also released a new album with Brian May call ‘Golden Days’ which has been great fun. I have been busy with my solo concerts and performances, I’m also about to start a new project called ‘Heaven on Earth’ which is an Arena tour that’s opening in December.
Matt: I haven’t seen much more than four walls of a recording studio this year! I’m releasing new music this summer from what will be my fourth album. I’ve taken my time over this one and I’m so happy with the results. I’ve done a few live performances here and there to test out some of the new material too. I’ve found in the past that you can record an album and then tour it and wish afterwards that you’d done some of the songs differently. So this time around I’ve wanted to test the waters and perform the demos live first before making some changes and releasing the album. Back to front really but I’ve found it very helpful.
What artists did you grow up listening to? Who inspired you? Who are your musical influences?
Kerry: I had a real mixed bag of influences growing up. It was anything from Meatloaf and Queen to the Beatles and Status Quo. Streisand, Liza Minelli, Elaine Paige and Michael Ball. I think this is why I think the way I do today. I love all kinds of music and can appreciate all different styles.
Matt: I would listen to a lot of Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Elton John and Michael Jackson as a young kid. I used to go out and play touch rugby by ten or eleven and I was listening to Rage Against The Machine and Pearl Jam by that stage! I’m lucky that my music tastes are so varied.
Kerry you are a mother. How do you juggle motherhood with a successful musical theatre career?
Kerry: I don’t! I am still trying to figure it all out but I love that I get to have a career that I love doing as well as being a mum – both best jobs in the world.
Matt. You dipped your toe in the world of Musical playing the lead in Memphis in the West End. What was that like for you? Would you embark on another Theatre project?
Matt: My memories of Memphis only bring a smile to my face. I had the most incredible time doing that show. Beverley Knight was off the scale with her vocal talent so to share a stage, in London’s West End, with her every night is something I will never, ever forget. She had so much faith and belief in me from the word go when I was doubting my own ability and wondering if I’d made the right decision. I accepted the role based on a few scenes, not a two-hour show that if I wasn’t on stage I was doing the quickest quick-change in the wings! I’d love to do another theatre project, definitely. I’ve had a few auditions but the right part hasn’t come my way. When it does I’ll grab it with both hands and dive straight in. Memphis was a magical time for me.
You have both played Arena’s. Do you prefer performing on that scale as opposed to a more intimate venue? Which do you prefer?
Kerry: Both have the challenges and excitement. I like the variety and the fact that I get to do both.
Matt: The ‘Intimate & Live Tour’ I did last year – including a show in Bury – is the most fun I’ve ever had on tour. I love both the smaller theatres and the big arenas for different reasons but you adjust the show you’re doing accordingly.
If you weren’t a performer what other career do you think you may have perused?
Kerry: I don’t think I could do anything else. I’m very fortunate to have a career I love as well as a wonderful family. However I do love working with animals so possibly something to do with that but honestly performing is what I do.
Matt: I grew up wanting to be a marine biologist! I loved the sea, partially sharks. I also wanted to be a professional skateboarder but I couldn’t commit to it as I was in and out of bands. Then, eventually, I found myself on The X Factor and I’ve been very lucky not to have had to think about a career change since.
What is the most gratifying part or your job?
Kerry: Well it’s always great to be applauded at the end of your day however it’s not the important part for me. It’s the creation, the performance, the delivery, the ability to move people and have a reaction of an audience. Speaking to people after a performance and knowing how much they’ve enjoyed themselves is just the best.
Matt: Obviously I get a personal happiness from performing, especially when I’m with my band. However as the years have passed I’ve relalised that being able to provide a little escape from real life for people – be it through listening to my music or coming to a show – is what makes this all worthwhile. The world is a strange place at the moment but music connects us all in a joyful way and we need more of that.
Which current artists do you listen to?
Kerry: I’m loving James Bay at the moment. Ed Sheeran of course and Lana Del Rey. I love Katy Perry’s new song I’m a big fan of hers. I generally love having the radio on and listening to new music all the time.
Matt: I haven’t stopped listening to the Christina McQueen album since it was released. I really want to see her live. She’s amazing and her production is incredible. I also love the new London Grammar album.
How important is fame to you? Do you enjoy being recognised?
Kerry: I don’t think it’s about recognition for me. It’s about the quality of my performance or product. If that’s good then I’m happy.
Matt: It’s a by-product of doing something that I want to do. Sometimes it can be stressful, particularly if something personal is going on in my own life. People I meet on those days still expect me to be Mr Nice Guy and it’s not always possible. We all have bad days. We all have days when it’s hard to have a laugh and a joke. However I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m having the time of my life.
What is the most embarrassing that has happened to you on stage?
Kerry: There have been so many things I’ve been in theatre a long time so I don’t have time to tell you about them all. I have fallen over many times on stage, dealt with pieces of set not arriving, costume dramas, losing Wigs. I could go on and on.
Matt: I fell down some stairs in the Manchester Arena on tour once. Not my finest hour especially when I heard 14,000 people gasp!
Musical collaborations. Other than working with each other obviously, who would you love to collaborate with?
Kerry: There were lots of people I haven’t done many female collaborations so perhaps someone like Céline Dion would be incredible. Also maybe someone closer to home I do you love Beverly Knight who Matt has also worked with. I think she is fantastic.
Matt: I’ve had the incredible fortune of collaborating with Melanie C and I’m happy to class her as a friend. I’m a huge fan of Hannah Reid from London Grammar. It would be awesome to work with her in any capacity.
What was the first album that you bought?
Kerry: I think it was that long ago it was a cassette and it was one of them now albums, I also had the cast recording of Les Miserable very early on that I would sing along to.
Matt: Music For The Jilted Generation by The Prodigy. I remember it like it was yesterday. I bought it on CD at an airport in Denmark and couldn’t wait to get on the plane and listen to it on my discman!
What projects have you got coming up in the future?
Kerry: I’m about to open in an Arena tour of the new show called ‘Heaven on Earth’ which is very exciting. There is also a little more music in the pipeline which I am very excited about. Plus lots more concerts of course.
Matt: Finishing off my album will take the next few months to complete. I’ve been out of the music scene for a while in terms of releasing music so I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. I’ve also got some summer festivals with The Trevor Horn Band across the UK. I did some shows with them last year. Their catalogue is beyond incredible and it’s a pleasure to be part of such a legendary band, if only for an hour or so.
Matt Cardle & Kerry Ellis come to The Apex on Wednesday 23rd & Thursday 24th August. For more information, visit: www.theapex.co.uk