As long as there have been boy bands, there have been boy band members going solo. Michael Jackson, Robbie Williams, Justin Timberlake, Zayn. It's a time-honored tradition that goes way back into pop history...and we got a front row seat for another former teen pinup who's now traveling the refreshing path of artistry and independence.
Before taking an indefinite hiatus, Nathan Sykes was the youngest member of the British outfit, The Wanted. You of course know this band. A few years back they were inescapable with their single "Glad You Came" occupying pretty much every single radio on the planet and enjoying serious song of the summer consideration, for good reason. "Glad You Came" is one catchy piece of ear candy that sounds as good today as it did when it was released in 2011.
When the band decided to take a break, however, Sykes saw it as an opportunity; something he told us all about when he swung through Brooklyn for our newest NEXT Session. "When you spend five years in a band you get used to writing for other people. But now...I can just sing...for me. And I can write for me." They're words that ring like a deep, relieving exhale from an artist who most likely needed it.
Though he's spent the last couple of years releasing singles, Sykes' is only now preparing for his first solo album titled, Unfinished Business. During his visit with us, Sykes gave us the scoop on what motivated him to finally do his own thing. "I always tell people to go and follow their dreams. Go and do what you love. And don't let anyone get in the way of that," Sykes explained. "So why don't I listen to my own advice? So I did. I've got unfinished business, I've got more to give, I've got more potential to show to people, I've got more music to write."
One of the singles Sykes had already released is "Over And Over Again"; a piano ballad Sykes collaborated with Ariana Grande on. During his conversation with our managing editor, Kirsten Spruch, Sykes spoke of the emotional side of songs like "Over and Over Again". "For the first time...I've really managed to learn to take my barriers down. So I'm writing really, really personal stuff."
In session, Sykes demonstrated just how far he was willing to break down his personal barriers, sitting at our piano alone (with slightly wounded vocal chords from an intense run of shows no less) for a powerful rendition of the hit single. It's a emotional approach alright, and when Sykes sings the hell out of a song like "Over and Over Again" (as he did in his session with us) it's so easy to connect with every word.
Music, and we are here with Nathan Sykes. Something happened, babe Only you can make it right - What kind of, like, influenced your sound as an artist? - I think just kind of really finding out who I am as an artist, because I think when you spend five years in a band you kind of get used to writing for other people. But now I'm just going, "I can just sing for me, and I can write for me. " - Your debut album, "Unfinished Business," is coming out. Can you explain the title behind that? - Yeah. Well, you know what? I had unfinished business before I had any of the songs, so that was the first thing that I thought the minute that... - So the title came before the... - It did, yeah, and it came before I knew what sound I was going with. It came before I even knew I was going to finish an album. Don't leave me, girl I know you're down To give it up - As I always tell people, go and follow your dreams or go and do what you love, and don't let anyone get in the way of that. And I was like, "So why don't I listen to my own advice?" So I did, and I was like, I've got unfinished business here. I've got more to give. I've got more potential to show to people. I've got more music to write, more songs to write. That gave me a lot of confidence to go and start writing music, and write the songs that I've written on the album. Baby, I want some more I want some more Can't get enough - You were, I think, 16 years old when you started The Wanted, or joined it. As you became more of an adult, did you find that you were writing about specific themes? Are there any sort of... - There's two very different sides to he album. I think there's, like, the fun, playful, funky side of the album, where the lyrics are quite cheeky. Like I said, they're very playful. But then there is the more emotional side, for the first time, because I'm not writing for four other people as well, I'm just writing for myself. I've really managed to learn to take my barriers down, so I'm writing really, really personal stuff and some of the stories that I've told in the album I really didn't think I'd be able to say. So that was a really, really fun part of it, breaking down those barriers and really finding a way to connect with people who are going to be listening to this album. From the way you smile To the way you look You capture me Unlike no other From the first hello Yeah, that's all it took Suddenly We had each other And I won't leave you Always be true One plus one, two for life Over and over again So don't ever think I need more Because I've got the one to live for No one else will do And I'm telling you Just put your heart in my hands Promise it won't get broken We'll never forget this moment We'll stay brand new Because I'll love you Over and over again Over and over again From the heat of night To the break of day I'll keep you safe And hold you forever And the sparks will fly They will never fade Because every day Gets better and better And I won't leave you Always be true One plus one, two for life Over and over again So don't ever think I need more Because I've got the one to live for No one else will do And I'm telling you Just put your heart in my hands Promise it won't get broken We'll never forget this moment We'll stay brand new Because I'll love you Over and over again, baby Oh, over and over again Girl when I'm with you I lose track of time When I'm without you You're stuck on my mind I'll be all you need Until the day that I die I'll love you Over and over again So don't ever think I need more Because I've got the one to live for No one else will do And I'm telling you Just put your heart in my hands Promise it won't get broken We'll never forget this moment We'll stay brand new Because I'll love you Over and over again, baby Over and over again, oh Over and over again - Are there any fun collaborations on this album, or do you need a little solo break? - Yeah, you know what? I very much thought I'd be doing that. I was like, "No, I'm going to do the whole album myself. No, don't need no help no more, I'm good," but then I found myself...that I wrote a song called Over and Over Again, and I was there one day and I was like, "You know who would sound great on this? Ariana would sound great on this. " And we did a song previously, called, "Almost is never enough," and that went down really well, so I was like, "You know what? I'm just going to send this song. " And then we've got Jeezy on the record, as well. We've got Jeezy on "Give it Up. " In Sydney in front of Aussies, right In a show in London on the longest flight Well it's been too long and you're always right Just trying to see you after a hard day's night Listen, it's between us, our secret, don't tell It's Beatles mania when I leave the hotel - What was it like working with him? - He's awesome. He's so cool, so effortlessly so cool. Like, when I try and be cool I'm really trying to be cool. But he's the nicest guy as well and, obviously, incredibly talented, so it's a privilege to have two massive artists on this debut. But for a record that wasn't going to have any collaborations quite strictly, it's ended up having two really great ones. - Which song are you most excited for your fans to hear? - It's a good question. You know what? I'm going to say there's a song called, "I Can't be Mad," and it's a piano ballad that I wrote with Babyface, which was the most surreal day of my entire life and really, really told the most heartbreaking story. So I think for people to hear that, people are going to see a whole new side of me that normally I don't let that in. But yeah, I'm very proud of that song. It's going to be a real moment. I got to give to up
Nathan Sykes AKA Nathan James Sykes was born on April 18, 1993. He grew up in Abbeydale, Gloucester. He started singing and Performing at the age of 6 and attended Sylvia Youngs Theatre School at age 11.
Sykes performed as a child singer in various competitions including 'Britney Spearss Karaoke Kriminals in 2003 and got to kiss Britney as his prize.
Hes also participated on The Cheltenham Competitive Festival of Dramatic Art in 2003, appeared on ITVs 'Ministry of Mayhem in 2004, won the Door Youth Projects 'Undiscovered Youth Talent Contest, and performed for 'Live and Unsigned music competition in 2008.
Sykes also attempted to represent the UK in the 'Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2004 in Norway. In the qualifying finals he came in 3rd overall.
Currently Sykes is 1/5 of the Boy band The Wanted.
The group formed in 2009 through mass auditions which saw over 1000 people attend, held by Jayne Collins. The auditions took over 9 months and originally just Max George, Tom Parker and Nathan Sykes were involved with Siva Kaneswaran and Jay McGuiness joining later. The group revealed in their autobiography that after they were informed of the line-up. Their first single topped the Charts earning them their first number one single with All Time Low.