BWW Interview: Jai McDowall on MAD ABOUT THE MUSICALS
BWW catches up with Jai McDowall to talk about his upcoming Mad About The Musicals UK tour.
Most people will know you as the winner of Britain's Got Talent in 2011 - what have you been up to in the past couple of years?
Years? Crikey, I don't know what I did last week never mind the last couple of years. Gigging, songwriting, touring, gigging, going on holiday [laughs]. I've been doing a lot actually and this year I started doing cruises so I've been able to work and travel at the same time which is great because it's two of the things I love.
I've been out songwriting in LA a couple of times as well so I'm trying to build that up. I didn't do that until after the show (BGT) and I've been trying to get contacts out there and it seems to be the best place to go!
Tell us a bit about the Mad About The Musicals tour
It's myself and a guy called Michael Courtney and two female singers, Roz and Kerry. So there's two guys, two girls and we're doing a lot of musical theatre songs and there's a couple of Disney songs chucked in which is great because I love Disney. There's a lot of songs I've not sung before which is quite scary - not gonna lie!
Do you get to choose the songs?
I got to choose some of the songs. I got to choose the solo numbers that I sing. Michael Courtney does the panto at the Gaiety in Ayr which is how I know him, he phoned me up and said he wanted it to be easy and stress-free and then added in a 20-minute medley of Les Mis songs. That is not stress-free! He's chucked in a couple of ones that I was kind of like "Whaaaat" - one has Latin in it. It's not Spanish, I thought it was Spanish but I had to phone my old language teacher and ask him how to translate it and also how to sing it.
It's quite a massive tour with 34 dates - is it hard being away from home for that long?
There's a couple of days off in between, I'm home on 25 September because friends of mine are doing Jesus Christ Superstar and I'm managing to make it for the opening night.
I've got a couple of Scottish dates in a few weeks, which isn't so bad, because it means I get home for a day and a half. I wouldn't say its hard because you're busy all the time and traveling. I'll be meeting a few new people because there's a band as well so there's going to be nine of us plus a driver - well, I'm assuming there's a driver! Maybe we'll all just take turns...
So there's going to be lots of time to get to know people which kind of takes your mind off of it. However, I have told my parents I'm going to miss my dog more than them.
He's a tiny little fluffy cloud so he's quite a lovable wee guy.
I've never actually been away from home for this length of time before. I've done panto and I've been away for seven or eight weeks but I've never toured for this length of time. The last time I toured it was Scottish dates with just a few in England so we just traveled away for those and then came home.
What would your dream stage role?
I've not seen it yet, I'm basing this on the movie but I quite like the look of The Woman in Black as an acting role.
As a musical role, it would probably be Phantom-esque. I was actually gutted, earlier on in the year I auditioned for Jean Valjean and I got through to the last stage but my agent phoned me just as I was stepping onto a cruise ship where I would be at sea for five days. My agent was like, "You need to do it!" but I couldn't because I was literally boarding the ship. I couldn't let them down and if I'd walked away I might not have got another booking. Sadly I didn't manage to do the callback because they could only do one day. But what's for you won't go by you!
There's a lot of new shows coming soon though like Dear Evan Hansen - I really like the music. Obviously, everybody likes Hamilton, but I don't know who I'd play in Hamilton..
I also love Chess so it would be great if I could play Anatoly, because that was the first amateur show that I took part in.
You're quite active on Twitter and Instagram - why is it important for you to stay connected with fans?
Because I get easily bored! No, I'm kidding. As cheesy as its going to sound I wouldn't be able to do what I do without fans. I wouldn't be able to do concerts and sell music without the people that come and see me.
If I meet people at gigs and things I tend to reply to them more because it becomes easier to know what sort of person they are. My sense of humour is quite dry so I say things sometimes and I don't realise they're...not funny. So I like to meet people first to get a sense of how I can approach them.
I'm quite lucky as my following has been very loyal. It's been six years since I was on Britain's Got Talent but they've been constant and they've been really good at sticking by me. I released stuff after the show and then left the production company and had to release more stuff - they've been very patient.
Are you planning to release anything else?
Yes! Well, I'm actually in talks with a songwriter to release stuff later in the year. We're going to do it in a slightly weird way and release it on actual real CDs. A lot of the fans are older and they always say that they can't get hard copies.
It's quite difficult at my end if I have to mess about with royalties from iTunes so it's easier if we sell a hard copy and we know what cut we're going to get. Also, it's better for older fans because they can put it into a cd player and listen to it and not have to rely on a phone or iTunes.
What is your style of music?
Well, it's kind of funny - one of the songs is on Soundcloud at the moment and it was sort of moulded round about the idea of "To Where You Are" by Josh Groban. The guy that wrote the song was the piano player on my Scottish tour and he said he really liked me singing that style of music. So he wrote that and another couple of songs. One of them is a duet and the other one is me singing with a female backing vocalist who is phenomenal.
What's next for you after the tour?
I'm home for three days and then I'm away working on a Caribbean cruise. Then I'm home for a week and a half and it's panto in Redditch for six weeks. The best bit of that - they gave me a sword!
Full tour dates for Mad About The Musicals are available on Jai McDowall's website