Today sees the release of winner of The Voice SA, Richard Stirton’s debut album, ‘Middle Ground’. We caught up with Richard to find out more.
Congrats on winning The Voice SA! What was it like competing in the competition?
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.
Was it difficult to choose a coach, and do you think Kahn was the right coach for you?
In the moment it was an exceptionally difficult decision. I wasn’t expecting all of the coaches to turn and I was absolutely blown away by the fact that they all did. It basically came down to their pitch and what they said that would sway my decision. It’s a weird thing having the biggest names in the industry giving pitches as to why you should be on their team. In Kahn’s pitch he said that I inspired him and that he wants to make music with me that will inspire others. After he said this I knew I would choose him. I started music/singing because a singer a few years ago had inspired me through his music and he had made me want to do the same to others. I am very glad I went with Kahn. It would have been an honour to work with any of the coaches, but Kahn and myself have become really good friends since the beginning of the show and he has really helped me in a lot of different aspects of life. He was more than just a coach in the context of The Voice; he became a life coach of sorts. He has gone the extra mile when it comes to supporting me and helping me with decisions, both during and after the show. He is one of the nicest guys you could every wish to meet. So yes, I feel very happy that I chose Kahn to be my coach.
How much has your life changed since winning?
My life has changed drastically since winning the show. I am able to pursue my dream of a career in music and I probably played more gigs in the first three weeks after the show than I had in my entire life. I am travelling the country playing music to lots of different people. An idea, that this time last year, would have only been a dream or a goal that didn’t seem attainable in the near future. I am typing these answers on a flight to Joburg right now, if that gives you an idea of the life change. If I hadn’t done The Voice I would be studying for final exams right now. I have been able to record original music and release my first album, Middle Gorund, which is coming out on the 7th of October (another dream of mine). So yes, my life has changed drastically and I am now able to play music for a living and pursue my dreams in the music industry.
Are you planning to stay in Cape Town or will you relocate to Joburg?
I am still undecided as to whether or not I should move up to Joburg. I am a Cape Town boy through and through and I love everything about it. The mountains, the ocean, the vineyards, the countryside, the air, there’s just something about that is so magical and that makes every day that much better or more bearable when things get hectic. People tell me that all the work is in Joburg and that’s where you make it. But at the end of the day, especially as a musician when you are trying to keep inspired and creative, you have to be in a place that feeds your soul and I genuinely feel that Cape Town does that for me. I’ve never been into the big city, traffic, and the whole concrete jungle idea. It is a big decision, but I am leaning towards sticking to my roots. After all, Joburg is only a 2-hour flight away.
What advice would you give to people wanting to enter to next season of The Voice?
Go for it. You have nothing to lose. It is one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had and if you have a dream of being successful in music it is an amazing platform to start from. The biggest word of advice I could give to anyone entering and progressing through the show, from round to round, is to never forget why you sing and what you are singing about. If you believe in what you are singing, if you connect with what you are singing and the message of the song, then others will too. It is very easy to forget why we started singing when things are stressful and the competition is tough, but always just remember, at the end of the day why it is you do what you do. And believe in yourself. Use the nerves to lift your performance rather than hinder it. Use the nerves to lift your performance, let them take you to a place of wholeness, where you are able to get completely lost in the song. And just go out and enjoy yourself and give it everything you have. No experience is ever wasted, good or bad; it’s what you take from each experience and how you use it into growing your self as a human being.
Buy MIDDLE GROUND on iTunes HERE: