On the 7th of October The Voice winner, Richard Stirton, released his debut album, entitled Middle Ground.

You’ve had an interesting journey through music. What advice would you give to young people wishing to pursue a career in music?

Practice, practice, practice. It is a very difficult industry and if you ever feel like you are practicing hard, just remember that there is someone out there practicing harder than you are. And just keep going, you may get knocked down a few times but as long as you learn from it and grow, it’ll just make you stronger. As cliché as it sounds, you just have to keep going and if you want it bad enough it will happen.

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What is it like being on The Voice?

It was the most amazing experience. It was nothing like what I was expecting. It was the most beautifully run production. It became like a massive family. Everybody became very good friends, from the crew, to the wardrobe, to the ushers, to the sound guys, to the coaches and directors, we all got along well and it made the entire experience that much better. I think it starts at the top, though. Darren Hayward, the director of the show really did treat all of the talent like gold. Before our blind auditions (Probably one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the show, especially because we had no idea what to expect), Darren sat each group of talent down and spoke to them about the audition. He always reminded us that they wanted the show to be as positive as possible and that they will do everything in their power to make us look good. Darren told us all to focus on enjoying the moment and to take as much as possible with us from the experience. He used the trampoline analogy that we are all on the same trampoline. Some of us will get big bounces; some of us will get small bounces, but that at the end of the day it’s about what you take from the experience and how you add it to your toolbox or box of skills.  It’s the ethos of positivity that filtered through into every facet of the show and I believe is the reason why the show is so brilliant and translates so well on Television. The experience was amazing. I feel like I grew a lot as a person from it and I have also made friends for life as a result of the experience.

How has your experience on The Voice changed you?

It was an amazing learning experience, I don’t think I have changed because of The Voice, I have just learned some valuable lessons that have allowed me to grow as a human being.

Taken by: Canton Parker

Taken by: Canton Parker

Tell us more about your debut album, Middle Ground. What was it like creating it? Which song stands out for you and why?

The name ‘Middle Ground’ came from the process of selecting the songs for the album and deciding on the vibe we were going with for the album. I was very lucky with the A&R team that I have worked with from Universal Music, they have given me a lot of opportunity to have influence in the music, something that I know is not very common for an artist who has just come out of a reality TV show. Middle Ground comes from the compromise myself and the A&R team were able to make between my more alternative musical tendencies and the commercial sensibility that is most definitely needed in this day and age. The name is a tribute to this process that we went through. The songs that I wrote on the album were songs that I had written before the show so at that stage it was relatively care-free, from the heart writing. I did learn very quickly, however, that there are certain criteria that have to met in order for a song to have ‘commercial sensibility’ and to be able to be played on radio. In light of this, with the help of Denholm Harding (The gentleman who produced the album), we were able to meet such criteria. It was amazing working with a guy like Denholm. He has a phenomenal way of helping you create the type of music you envisage, so I was very lucky in that regard. All the songs have there own aspects of them that I love, it’s difficult to isolate one as my favourite or as a stand out. I feel as if they all have certain aspects that make them unique.

What are your next plans?

Our next plans are to continue building the brand and playing to as many people as possible in as many parts of the country as possible. There is a saying that I believe is very true in music, you are nothing without other people. Now we are looking to do a countrywide tour to thank everybody for all the support and appreciating the music, because without the supporters we wouldn’t be able to do this.

Taken by: Canton Parker

Taken by: Canton Parker

What is your ultimate musical success and what are you going to do to reach it?

I don’t want to put a ceiling on anything. I will just keep giving everything I have and see how far it takes me.