X FACTOR UK: OLLY MURS ANNOUNCES HE WON'T BE RETURNING 0 154

In the battle of TV hosting career vs making more music, it looks like music has won, as Olly Murs has quit The X Factor after just one year of hosting – and has been swiftly followed out the door by his co-host Caroline Flack.

The singer announced his decision in an interview with The Sun, where he shared that he wants to return his focus to making music.

“This was an incredibly hard decision to make and one I didn’t take lightly as I’ve really enjoyed co-hosting The X Factor,” Murs said.

“It’s been one big adventure and I loved every minute of it. But my heart belongs to music and I want to concentrate 100% on making my next album and getting back to performing.”

Last year’s X Factor commitments led to Murs pulling off quite the balancing act, which saw him promoting his single ‘Kiss Me’ alongside co-hosting the live shows every week, and it doesn’t seem like the singer is keen to repeat that this year.

He added: “Last November I was doing the show, promoting a new single and I felt increasingly like the music side of things had to be shoehorned into the TV schedule.

“Now that I’ve started working on my next album I couldn’t see myself having the time to do both.”

Murs’s announcement comes hot on the heels of the news that Nick Grimshaw has exited the series as a judge.

But at least it seems like Simon Cowell doesn’t bear Murs any ill-will, tellingThe Sun: “It was fantastic having Olly on The X Factor last year and now this year he has to concentrate on his new album.

“In addition to this we have agreed to work on some other TV projects in the future.”

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KRISTINE ELEZAJ TALKS “OVER & OVER” & LOOKING TO THE FUTURE 0 45

Having first been noticed while performing at the Sugar Bar in New York, Kristine Elezaj has grown considerably both personally and professionally over the last couple of years, with such growth being displayed most evidently through her music. The video for her new track “Over & Over” has already amassed hundreds of thousands of views, and she chatted to ThisIsTheLatest about artistic inspiration, her dreams of playing MSG and her excitement about the future.

TITL: For those who have yet to discover you and your music, who is Kristine Elazaj in a few words?

Kristine Elezaj: I’m a passionate and curious person who has never stopped dreaming. I never stopped wanting to soak in everything life has to show me and put it into my art.

TITL: Which artists have you been most inspired by throughout your life and how do those inspirations filter through to the music you make?

KE: When you love music, you are inspired by every artist in some way. Growing up and with my dance background, Janet Jackson was always one of my idols. I love to be able to create music but also have the ability to bring it to life through dance. Through movement, I’m able to add another layer to the story, and that is very inspiring to me.

TITL: You first started out at the Sugar Bar in NYC, where you were discovered by hit song-writing duo Ashford and Simpson as you performed Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” Looking back on that time from where you are now, did you ever imagine a single performance like that could change your life so drastically?

KE: At the time, I didn’t know when I started that performance that night that Nick and Valerie were actually in the audience. Not knowing that they were there helped my performance because my stage fright might have kicked in. I would have felt the weight of the performance even more. Looking back on it and just some other things that have happened, it’s really important to live in the present moment and to realize how precious each moment is. You never know what’s around the corner for you. It was a small intimate venue, performing that evening, started one of the greatest ripple effects of my life and I’m forever grateful.

TITL: You then came to more public attention in 2016 when you placed within the top 20 of Macy’s iHeart Radio Rising Star contest. How much of a boost in confidence, and also in your audience/fan base, did your involvement in that contest give you?

KE: The Macy’s iHeart contest was a huge boost in confidence for me! I was coming out of a place where my career had tested my soul. It was reassuring to know that I was still on the right path and have people appreciate the art I was making. It wasn’t about winning; just being noticed was a win enough. I had another chance to be on a platform to do what I love and hopefully inspire others a little. Even more special, it inspired me all over again!

TITL: You’ve been referred to by Billboard as a cross between Britney and Rihanna. Would you say that’s a fair comment, or would you like to be seen more as an artist in your own right?

KE: Of course you want to be seen as an artist in your own right. I have my own life experiences and point of views that I want to give to the world, and I didn’t take that article in a bad light. They are two of the most successful female artists and I saw it as a compliment to be thought of as being able to be at the same level.

TITL: Who or what is your biggest inspiration when it comes to music and song-writing?

KE: It might sound simple but for me, just really living my life, and trying to be as much in the moment is the biggest inspiration for writing. Even if I’m going through a hard time, it’s a blessing to be able to try to witness all of my emotions and feel them completely. I’ve loved that my sessions have become a safe place for me and my team. All of them start out as just conversations with a core group that I trust. It has been the best environment for creating music because it’s pure raw emotion.

TITL: The video for your new single “Over and Over” has already had close to half million views since its release. What do you think it is about the visuals in particular that have drawn people in to watch it?

KE: I’m so excited about this video; it’s been the first one in my career to be growing in the way that it has. I think it has a lot to do with the energy and space that I’m in. I have such a great relationship with my team, I’m able to just be myself and create authentically. I have a team that supports my visions and that’s so inspiring for me! I believe my fans can sense that with my music this time around. I’m not trying to create a character, I’m just being myself, showing people what I think is beautiful. In the pop culture world, especially today, I think that is hugely important and is what’s making the difference for me.

TITL: The director of the video, Jose Omar Hernandez, is perhaps best known for his work with Justin Bieber on the likes of “Purpose”, so how did the two of you come together? How did you find collaborating with him to shoot the clip?

KE: I’ve known Jose for years, actually back to the start of my career. Jose wasn’t even directing then. He’s an incredible dancer and has worked with all of the top artists. He’s been a part of many live stage and music video performances. I later found out that he had a passion for directing and was shooting things on the side. Jose’s background and knowledge of dance plays a major role in how he shoots and edits his videos. His style of shooting inspired me to want to work with him. We first collaborated on my song, “Echo” and creatively fed off of each other. From then on, I knew I wanted to grow with him when it came down to all my visual content. Since then, we’ve done four videos together. Every time it gives me the same feeling I had when I was a little girl just having fun with the arts. I’m so grateful for him as a collaborator and more importantly as a dear friend.

TITL: Do you have any upcoming performances you can tell me about and are there any plans for you to head across the water to Europe?

KE: There are not hard dates set right now for performances but that is definitely on the agenda for the near future! My focus has been to engage more with my fans outside of the states. Some of my most loyal fans who have been with me since the beginning are overseas. I’d like to go out there and give back all the love they have shown me over the years. There are some remixes in the works as we speak which I’m really excited about.

TITL: Which one venue, anywhere in the world, would you most like to play and why?

KE: I think every artist dreams of performing at Madison Square Garden. I’m a native New Yorker so that would be incredible. I’m not greedy though. Just being able to perform anywhere someone cares enough to go see you is a blessing, especially considering how hard this business is.

TITL: With the year inching ever nearer to a close, what have been your biggest highlight so far, and what are you still hoping to achieve in the remaining 3 months?

KE: I’ve learned a lot this year. The biggest highlight for me has been how amazing my team is. I just feel that for the first, time I’m in a really good and safe place. I’m watching that result in how my work is being received. I’m excited to see how that energy keeps me growing artistically. In the next three months, I’m looking to have more new music finished and release new singles as well as show dates to share.

TITL: Looking further ahead, what are your artistic and personal goals? What one or two things would you have to achieve for you to look in the mirror and say ‘I’ve made it?’ or do you already feel that way?

KE: The biggest thing for me as an artist is being able to voice my opinion without being scared when it comes to my career. I feel like I have that now. It sounds easy but that is a big hurtle. Now that those doors are open, I’m excited to see where that takes me and how far I can really push myself now. Whatever comes from that space comes and that’s what I’m most excited about because I’m at peace.

Check out the video for “Over & Over” below and for more information on Kristine Elezaj, visit her website, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

LIVE: THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS @ MILANO ROCKS – SEPTEMBER 8TH 2018 0 53

On the closing day of Milano Rocks 2018, after two nights of (what I read were) great performances from The National and Imagine Dragons, it was the turn of US rock band Thirty Seconds To Mars to entertain the scores of music lovers in attendance.

Before they took to the stage however, it was first up to electronica duo Sonars to warm the crowd up. They tried their best, but with all of their tracks sounding ridiculously the same, it didn’t take them long to lose the attention and interest of the thousands upon thousands present, the majority of whom occupied themselves instead by soaking up the scorching Italian sunshine, having a few drinks, or doing both.

Mike Shinoda, whose support slot announcement had gone down a storm with fans particularly on Twitter, was a hit from the moment he stepped on stage, opening his set with the Fort Minor song “Remember The Name” before following it up with “When They Come For Me” and “Roads Untraveled.” It wasn’t until the fourth song in his set that he introduced his own tracks, and he chose a great one to start off with: “Ghosts,” which had the fans before him singing along to every word.

Taking the time to look out over the mass of people that stretched back as far as he could see, Mike spoke about how he liked to meet fans before shows and about one guy in particular who had asked if he could play guitar on one song. Moments later, he called that guy on stage and sure enough, picking up the instrument, the young man did a great job of playing along with Mike and his band, receiving a huge round of applause for his efforts.

A few songs later, Mike took a few minutes to express his appreciation and gratitude to everyone who had supported himself and the band over years, and especially during the past year or so. Addressing the difficult time he and the band had gone through since Chester’s death, he thanked everyone who had come together to be there for them, and for one another. “You came out on social media, you came out in person…you honoured the band, and more importantly, you honoured Chester.” What followed was a highlight of his set as he asked if the crowd would sing Chester’s parts, and began singing “In The End” – the sound of 60,000+ people singing in powerful and heartfelt unison was enough to raise goosebumps on arms everywhere.

The rest of Mike’s set was just as good as he delivered a little something for everyone – the likes of “Numb” and “Papercut” thrilled the LP fans, while those more into his solo material were ‘rewarded’ with “About You” and “Make It Up As I Go”. As he closed out his time on stage with “Running From My Shadow”, the cheers and applause that he received echoed long after he’d disappeared from view.

After a wait of around half an hour and with the sun having set some time ago, the lights on stage went down once more and the powerful intro that is “Monolith” saw the crowd once again come alive roaring their approval and excitement at what was to come. “Up In The Air” kicked in and the venue became a mass of jumping bodies, before “Kings & Queens” saw the first – but not the last – massive sing-along of their set.

“From Yesterday” has long-since been a fan favourite and so, when the opening notes began playing, the response was instantaneous, with a huge cheer echoing around the massive space, and at Jared’s instruction, the crowd duly sang along, then took over for a part. Fan interaction has been a big part of the Monolith Tour and tonight’s show proved to be no different with Jared calling up a number of people from the pit area to join him and Shannon on stage. Within a couple of minutes, he had several new ‘friends’ gathered around him, including a couple of guys in shark and unicorn onesies and he had the group, as he got each side of the crowd to sing the “Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh!” that would eventually lead into “Do Or Die”, decide whether the left or the right were loudest. As the left had often been victorious at recent shows, it was a refreshing change of sorts to see the right side (AKA mine) to come out on top, and the performance itself saw Jared pick up and proudly wave an Italian flag as he moved from one end of the stage to the other.

“Hail To The Victor” soon had the place jumping again, before “Rescue Me” saw Jared call up a few more people as he asked for “the worst dancers I’ve ever seen in my entire life”, but what he actually got was a young boy who put his own flossing skills to shame. Next, Jared requested that everyone to take out their phones and hold them up, as “City Of Angels” turned the arena into a stunning sea of lights.

Ever since the Echelon had first discovered that “Remedy” was in fact sung by Shannon and since he first performed it at a US date on the tour, European fans everywhere had and have been hoping they’d see and hear it at theirs. Tonight they did, and, with Jared off stage, the elder Leto got his chance to shine, and duly took it, delivering a fantastic performance that included a long and high note in the middle that I for one had never heard him do before which duly impressed everyone present and saw him receive a huge and lengthy cheer and round of applause.

As the set began to draw to a close, and with Shannon back at his kit, Jared walked back on stage having changed his pants into a pair that were slightly looser, and the pair, after a slight technical issue which saw them re-start the song, launched into “The Kill.” Given the fact that the song is largely responsible for a lot of their success, it wasn’t at all surprising to see and hear the thousands present sing along at the top of their voices to every word and harmonise surprisingly well during the “oh-oh-oh-oh” parts. What many people perhaps didn’t expect however was Jared leaving the stage and making his way to the barrier, standing and leaning over the crowd as he sang the closing chorus.

Once back on stage, he asked the all too familiar question: “Anyone want to come on stage with 30 Seconds To Mars?” Said stage was soon filled – as usual – with VIP’ers and scores of lucky people picked by Jared from down the front area including one guy who, perched on someone’s shoulders, was spotted with a moustache and wearing a bra; not exactly something you see every day. With easily close to 80, if not more, people now standing behind him, and around Shannon, “Closer To The Edge” saw the venue once again come together to sing the “No! No No! No!” parts, with thousands upon thousands of people losing themselves in the music, and the moment. The performance rounded off a set that had entertained the crowds from the start and hopefully meant that the band wouldn’t be gone too long before coming back to Italy.