MATT TERRY TALKS DEBUT ALBUM ‘TROUBLE’ & TOUR PLANS 146

With the current series about to reach its quarter final stage this weekend, Matt Terry, last year’s X Factor champion, is as glued to the show as its millions of fans are. But, with his debut album Trouble out on November 24th, he’s also keeping extremely busy; not that he’s complaining. ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Matt during a press tour for the album to talk favourite current X-Factor artists, tour plans and ultimate ambitions.

TITL: Hi Matt. Exactly how much has life changed for you in the past year or so since you won The X Factor 2016?

Matt Terry: It’s been amazing. It’s been an absolute whirlwind but I’ve loved it. I’ve travelled everywhere; I’ve been to Madrid, Miami…all over the place, plus I’ve been writing the album which I’m so happy with, then there was the X-Factor tour which I absolutely loved. It’s been an amazing year.

TITL: A lot of shows such as The X-Factor have gotten a lot of criticism over the years for a number of reasons, with some suggesting it’s not a viable career platform for artists. How do you feel about that?

MT: I think it’s important to remember that any artist, no matter where they come from, has to work hard if they want to succeed. It’s not just about, you know, coming from The X Factor – when you’re new and out there, you really do have to work hard in order to make a name for yourself and get yourself heard.

TITL: I have to ask, have you been watching the latest series and if so, do you have any favourites or, even at this early stage, anyone you’re wanting to win?

MT: I was actually there on Sunday with Nicole. I love Kevin and, if I’m honest, I think Rak-Su could win. I think it’s time a boy-band finally won it and I think Rak-Su could do it.

TITL: You shot the video for your latest single “Sucker For You” in Miami. Given the fact the video sees you being drowned and set on fire, what was that experience like?

MT: I felt like James Bond, if I’m honest. My label were like “You don’t have to do it, we know it’s daunting…” and I was like “No, no no – I’m doing it!” We had a blast filming the video; I felt like an action star.

TITL: The song is taken from your debut album Trouble. How would you sum it up?

MT: It’s like a diary of my journey over the past two years; life, relationships – stuff like that. I think it’s relatable and that there’s stuff on there for everybody from the new single, “Sucker For You”, some ballads and there’s some Spanish tracks too.

TITL: Could you pick your favourite track from the collection and if so, which is it and why?

MT: I think “The Thing About Love” is my favourite track because it’s just so true. It’s one of those ‘Oh my God yeah, that’s so true’ kind of songs and I hope everyone enjoys it a lot.

TITL: You co-wrote the album. How important to you was and is it that you have/had as much creative input towards the music you put out as possible?

MT: I think it’s so important and I was so lucky with my label; they believed in me and they threw me in the studio and loved all my writing and my creative ideas. I’m really hands-on when it comes to my music and the music videos. I know what I want to do, how I want to perform, so yeah, for me, it’s definitely important.

TITL: In terms of song-writing where do you tend to take ideas from or where and how do you most commonly find them?

MT: My songs are about real things that can be quite bad, but they’re not always sad. Some are more like songs that make you look back on things and think “Ha…” You’re almost kind of laughing about whatever that moment was. I think that’s what artists want to do; you want to write about your life; the experiences you have and how people can or might be able to relate to you. For me, it’s the right thing to do.

TITL: Is there a tour in the works?

MT: We’re currently planning a tour for next year, which I’m so excited for. Depending on where the album does best, that’s probably where we’ll go.

TITL: Are there any particular venues or locations in the UK you’d most like to play?

MT: London has to be somewhere that I NEED to play and be…

TITL: I ask this to every band or artist I speak to and so I’m curious to see what you say. If you could tour with four other bands or artists, living or dead, who would they be and where would you play?

MT: Wow. Great. Right, okay. First off…Michael Jackson. I’d probably stick us around the London area, but in the world, I think Miami is a really cool place so yeah, maybe around there. I love Jessie J, Sam Smith…JP Cooper…

TITL: I saw him supporting The Script a couple of months ago…

MT: He’s unreal, right?

TITL: Social media plays such a huge part in people’s lives now, often both personally and professionally, so to what extent has it impacted your career?

MT: I love speaking to my fans and to do that directly, I think social media’s a really great tool. I try to respond to as many of them as I can and get to know them. I’ve got this one group of fans who follow me pretty much everywhere I go and when I see them, I just go over and talk to them like they’re a group of my mates. What I like about social media is that it can – and does – bring people together. That group of fans I just mentioned all met because they’re fans of mine, so it’s cool that they’ve now got a brand new friendship group. That means a lot to me.

TITL: What advice would you give to anyone looking to make their mark on the music industry, or, given the rise in TV talent shows over the years, those who are maybe considering auditioning for the next series of The X Factor or a similar show?

MT: Being a part of The X Factor was and still is the greatest experience of my life – I have no regrets. I would, in terms of advice, say go for it and give it your all. Be yourself and let people get to know you; open up and let them see your personality. Enjoy it.

TITL: Finally then, what’s your ultimate goal as an artist? What would you most like to be remembered for, and what would you like your epitaph to say?

MT: My ultimate goal would be to just dream big and head out on a world tour. I think I’d like to be remembered for helping others and for having people say that I could sing and that I had – have – a nice voice. As for what my epitaph would say…YOLO!

Matt Terry’s debut album Trouble is out on November 24th and available for pre-order now. To keep up to date with Matt, visit his website, give his page a like on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

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DANIELLE PINNOCK CHATS ‘YOUNG SHELDON’ & THE BODY POSITIVITY MOVEMENT 51

With The Big Bang Theory having proven to be a global hit since its very first episode, it should come as no surprise to learn that its spin-off, a look at the childhood and early years of Jim Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper, aptly titled Young Sheldon, has also become a phenomenon. With the show about to air its debut season finale, and with season 2 already greenlit, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Danielle Pinnock, who plays Ms. Ingram in the show, to find out about her very first audition, her role as a body activist and how she feels about the reaction to and her being part of the smash-hit series that is Young Sheldon.

TITL: At what age did you first realize you wanted to pursue acting as a career? Was there one particular show/actor you watched that made you think ‘I’d like to do that’?

Danielle Pinnock: When I was 19 I was in a production at Temple University called In Conflict. It was a documentary play about war veterans returning home from serving overseas. The show was so incredible. We were even pulled out of school for a year to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Off-Broadway in New York.  All of the vets we portrayed were real people, based on interviews done by journalist Yvonne Latty. The veteran I played, Sgt. Lisa Haynes, was the only one we were unable to get a response from during run of the show. I heard that during her initial interview, her PTSD was so severe once returning home that she may have “fallen off the map.” I didn’t want to accept this, so I took it upon myself to find Sgt. Haynes. I called every VA hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she was from, and was able to locate her and her family. During the run of the show,  I flew down to Tulsa and met Sgt. Haynes and her family. When I returned back to New York, I was determined to have Sgt. Haynes see the final Off-Broadway performance. So in the final two weeks of the run I managed to raise $10,000 to get Sgt. Haynes and her family members up to New York to see In Conflict’s last show. It was THAT show that made me want to act for the rest of my life.

TITL: Can you recall your very first audition? 

DP: Yes! Ha! My very first audition was for the middle school production of Aladdin. I played Halima, Jafar’s evil sister. It was like pulling teeth to get me to audition for this role. I never wanted to be an actor growing up, and was super shy as a child. My audition song was “Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill.

TITL: Which auditions, looking back on them, do you feel went really well or that you struggled with? 

DP: The reason I ended up in Los Angeles is because I auditioned for a production at the Geffen Playhouse called Barbecue by Robert O’Hara. At the time of the auditions, I was still living in Chicago and actually flew up to L.A. to be seen for the project. It was a risky decision and I would not recommend actors doing that, but I knew I had to be on point! I also knew if I was going to move to Los Angeles, I needed a job! Barbecue was one of my best auditions in L.A. Recently, I ran into Colman Domingo and he said: Danielle, you just walked in with your blue dress and commanded our attention. Working with Colman and the cast members was a dream realized. It was an honor to be included in that production.

My most memorable audition that I struggled with also happened in Los Angeles. I was going in for the role of a nurse on a sitcom. A lot of auditions in L.A. happen in “bungalows” which are really just trailers on the studio lots. I only bring this up, because the walls in most audition rooms are extremely thin so you can hear another actors’ entire audition. There was a young woman who went in before me, and her audition was so fantastic that the casting director actually booked her for the project IN THE ROOM! The entire waiting room, full of actors, heard the casting director call this woman’s agent to say the actor had booked it. However, in the waiting room, chaos ensued. People began to leave the audition and I had no clue what to do because I was NEXT! As soon as the actor left the audition room all I heard was: “Danielle Pinnock come on in.”  It was my worst audition to date. I forgot all of the lines and was just unmotivated to even give my all because I knew there was no chance of me getting booked on that project.

TITL: How did you hear about the role of Ms. Ingram for Young Sheldon? What was/is it about the character that made you want to audition for the role?

DP: Funny enough, this was a same-day audition. My manager called me on a Thursday morning and I had three-hours to prepare the sides for an Untitled project. I initially went in for the music-teacher and then Nikki Valko, the casting director, asked me to read for a brand new character they created that week “Ms. Ingram.” It was refreshing to see that casting was considering me, a plus-sized African American woman to play the mathematics teacher. Ms. Ingram is one of my favorite characters to play because she is so quirky, hilarious and extremely no-nonsense.

TITL: The show has proven to be a HUGE success in the US and is also popular here in the UK. Did you or your fellow cast members ever expect the show to get the response and reaction it has? 

DP: It’s surreal! This show is a hit internationally and I’ve never, in my entire career, been a part of such a phenomenon. Chuck Lorre is a genius and absolutely has the Midas touch when it comes to creating successful television! Working with the creators Chuck Lorre and Steve Molaro has been a dream come true. My mom and I were in the grocery store and someone stopped us and said “That’s Ms. Ingram, Oh My God!” In the pilot, my character Ms. Ingram talks about attending Oral Roberts University and the school sent me a gift! I went to graduate school at Birmingham School of Acting UK, now known as the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, so it’s really cool for my friends, family and professors to see it overseas as well!

Aside from it’s obvious TBBT connection, what do you think it is about Young Sheldon that has attracted so many people to watch, and keep watching, it?

DP: The show is hilarious and the main cast give masterful performances. Iain Armitage who plays Sheldon Cooper is a brilliant young performer and is such a joy to work alongside. His portrayal of Sheldon Cooper is honest and relatable.

TITL: You’ve also appeared in Scandal and This Is Us. How important to you is it that you’re able to take on a variety of roles that really put your abilities to the test, and with that in mind, what’s your dream role? Which show would you most like to appear in and why?

DP: Working on those two shows was incredible. I was able to work on Scandal with the genius Kerry Washington; the legendary Viola Davis was the cherry on an already delicious sundae! I’ve had the opportunity to play some fantastic roles both in theatre and on-screen. To be honest, I don’t know what my dream role would be. There are so many great shows out right now. My favorites at the moment: Good Girls, Atlanta, How To Get Away With Murder and SMILF. 

TITL: The entertainment industry is cut throat and competitive, so what advice would you give to anyone looking to make their mark on it? Is there any one piece of advice you were once given that you still look back on?

DP: A colleague of mine once said: “In this industry, you must learn to be plural.” In this industry, especially nowadays, you have to be multi-faceted. This is why there is an uprising of artists creating their own content now.

TITL: Away from TV, you’re an accomplished writer/playwright, and are passionate about creating productions that address life, living and the many issues that come with it. Does your work in that field ever cross over into your acting work and vice-versa?

DP: Absolutely. I’m actually developing an improvised Instagram series with my friend, LaNisa Frederick called Hashtag Booked. Hashtag Booked is a hilarious, raw, and shocking portrayal of what happens during the short period of time in the audition waiting room.  These “characters” are based on real-life experiences.

TITL: How are you finding your role as a vocal activist for body positivity impacting both yourself and those around you? How did you first get involved and would you like to see more individuals, especially those in the public eye, using their status to speak out about important matters as you are?

DP: The first play I ever wrote was a solo show called Body/Courage. Body/Courage was created from over 300 interviews I conducted worldwide, and it was an exploration on body acceptance. This project changed my life. The show is about my journey to find my own beauty through the voices of others. The cool thing about the show is that it introduced a constellation of characters grappling with diverse body issues including weight, illness, disability, skin color, aging, and gender transition. It was this show that got me involved in the body positivity movement. Body/Courage, allowed me to find a courage in myself that I didn’t know I possessed. The body positivity movement already has some fierce voices and it can always use more so I would encourage others to speak out.

TITL: Are there any other plans or projects in the pipeline you can tell me about?

DP: This summer, I’ll be releasing an interview-style podcast called SHOOK discussing true stories of mental health in the industry. I’ve also been asked to be a guest contributor for Shondaland, so check out my essay I’ll be writing for them in the next few weeks.

TITL: Finally then, given that the industry is ever changing, sometimes at a pace even fans can’t keep up with, where do you think the business will go and be 5-10 years from now? What would you like to see happen and do you think that such things will? 

DP: My hope for the industry in 5-10 years is that we can begin to bring more stories by women of color to the forefront. I want to see more women of color on set, I want to see more women of color in the writers room, I want to see more women of color as producers and directors. I want to see women of color win in this industry now and in the future.

Young Sheldon is currently airing on E4 in the UK on Wednesdays at 8.30PM. You can keep up to date with Danielle Pinnock via her Twitter. Header photo credit: Joe Mazza.

REVIEW: THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS – AMERICA 36

Five years in the making, Thirty Seconds To Mars’ new album ‘America’, which Jared promoted this week by hitch-hiking his way across his home country as part of an event called #MarsAcrossAmerica, is most certainly a considerable shift away from what members of the Echelon have heard from the trio (though current duo) over the years. But is this said shift good or bad?

Beginning with “Walk On Water” which introduced both old and new fans alike to the bands’ new rather electro-edged sound, ‘America’ starts off well, especially given that the rather radio friendly “Dangerous Night” follows on from it.

“Rescue Me” ups the tempo somewhat, and with its toe-tapping, body swaying rhythm, combined with Jared’s rough edged vocal, it’s just over three and a half minutes of enjoyable considerably upbeat rock, and the simplistic chorus in particular will work well when – or if – its performed on their current Monolith tour.

Prior to the release of the album, the band gave a sneak peak of one of the album’s collaborations, with A$AP Rocky. Having watched said sneak peak, this reviewer personally felt his involvement was random and pointless. Fortunately however, and for reasons unknown, he doesn’t feature on my (likely all UK albums) version and with the song performed for the most part in a breathy, almost dream-like manner, it would most likely have been completely ruined with Rocky’s inclusion.

The “Monolith” instrumental, AKA track 5, doesn’t really serve any purpose, however it does lead into the album’s one collaboration that REALLY does work – that of Jared and Halsey on “Love Is Madness” – one of the darker tracks, but not the darkest, on the album. She compliments Jared perfectly, enhancing the song and its sultry mood/feel to the point where it easily stands out as a highlight of the collection.

“Great Wide Open” is an inspiring track, and one that’s perfect to listen to when you’re out discovering yourself or exploring this world we live in, or most likely, doing both at the same time. It’s the type of song you can see playing behind a montage of a person’s life, as their friends and family pay tribute to or celebrate them in some form or another, and with that in mind, it’s one of the album’s strongest, and most emotive, pieces.

Mixing simple electronic hooks, plenty of synth and a chorus which, it could be argued, is rather understated, “Hail To The Victor” almost flashes back to the ‘Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams’ era of the band, perhaps included to draw that chapter to an undeniable close. The darkest, deepest number on the album comes in the form of “Dawn Will Rise.” With lyrics including “Come and hit me, strike me while I’m down” and “Fortunes fade in time, I must change or die.”, it’s certainly not a track to listen to if you are in a good mood, as its sombre, almost depressing tone, matched by Jared’s almost defeated vocal performance, will soon shatter said mood to pieces.

If there’s any real surprise on the album, it’s Shannon’s Leto’s vocal on “Remedy.” It’s raw and stripped back in comparison to any track that has come before and comes after it. There’s an organic feel to the song, and Shannon’s performance, although different, is so in a phenomenally good way, and he’s no doubt going to find himself requested to play it live.

The chorus of “Oh Oh Oh”, on “Live Like A Dream”, in a nice touch from the band, was recorded at one of their Camp Mars events, and serves as an audible reminder for those who were there of the project they were involved in (though it’s unlikely they knew what it was for at the time) and the fun they had, while for other members of the Echelon, it’s a nice throwback to the ‘This Is War’ era when many of them featured on that album, having participated in ‘summits’ around the world.

“Rider” has so far proved to be quite a strong, albeit new, inclusion to the band’s tour setlist, and with its rising crescendo as the piece nears its end, it’s quite stirring and powerful. Meanwhile, on the deluxe edition of the album, the acoustic, choir-inclusive version of “Walk On Water” might lack the energy of the original, but with the electronics removed, it brings Jared’s genuine vocal ability to the forefront again, and such has been considerably lacking up to this point.

With remixes growing in popularity, it’s not that surprising to find the band have included 2, the first being a R3hab remix of “Walk On Water.” For those who like a more dance-like and continued electro-feel to their songs, it’s not a bad version by any means, but it’s not the best remix ever made either, and the Cheat Codes remix of “Dangerous Night” doesn’t fare that much better.

Despite the new sound and styles with which the band have experimented on this collection, ‘America’ is still at its heart, very much a Thirty Seconds To Mars album, and if the social media reaction is anything to go by, it’s proving a hit with their huge following. Yes there are tracks on the album that don’t quite work as well as they should, like the remixes, but for the majority, lyrically and instrumentally, it’s a considerably solid piece of work that fans hopefully won’t have to wait another five years for in order to hear its follow-up.