© 2016 Sarah O'Connell. Get in touch!
Having been performing for the past 10 years, how did you get started in music? Was it always something that you wanted to do?
Like most full-timers, I was singing in my crib. Always have, always will (weather permitting). I’m married to my work and it’s one of those traditional 1950s marriages so even if we fall out we’re stuck together.
You are also known as Tall Dark Friend. What is the story behind it?
Tall Dark Friend is my full-time stage name and has been for 10 years. All of my work is under that name. I am appearing on The Voice under my birth name for the sake of clarity. People will figure it out I just put a band together for the 1st time in 10 years so, moving forward, we will probably play under the TDF name as 6-piece.
You will be making your debut on BBC1's The Voice on Saturday 13th February (at 7:15pm). Can you tell us how you got involved with the show?
It’s a loooong process but it’s been rewarding. However things go down on Saturday night, I’m glad I took the plunge.
By Sarah O'Connell on12th February 2016
What attracted you to The Voice, rather than the likes of The X Factor or Britain's Got Talent?
For me The Voice is the show with the most integrity. I also like the fact that my gender doesn’t come into question because the coaches can't see me. Saying that, the audience will… so I suppose it’s an interesting dynamic and I’m all for that.
The Voice has a fantastic panel of judges this year, including Will.i.am, Boy George, Paloma Faith and Ricky Wilson. Did you have any favourites before entering the show and anyone that you hoped would turn around?
Paloma Paloma Paloma. I adore the boys but I have always wanted to work with Paloma. She champions new and emerging talent like it’s her life’s mission. Plus, oh my gosh, have you *seen* her? Fox.
Who are your musical inspirations and how would you describe your style?
Most of my influences are men, growing up as a boy I suppose that’s natural. Michael Jackson, Jeff Buckley, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Marilyn Manson, David Gray… but I also grew up with the likes of those big country divas like Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Reba McEntire... thank goodness. Right now I am massively into Alt-J. I sound like a mix of everybody I’ve ever listened to you because I can't commit to one direction.
There's a wonderfully diverse range of performers and even a few familiar faces this year, including Liberty X's Kevin Simm. Who have been your favourites so far?
Kevin is a powerhouse performer. And the nicest person. Ditto goes for Lydia Lucy (we share a county). Cody Frost is an absolute legend. As is Beth Morris. As is everybody on the show. On a personal note, I’ve made mega-friends with a shockingly talented lass called Mia Sylvester who’s also appearing on Saturday night. We have bonded over our shared love of Alan Partridge.
What can you tell us about the day of the audition? Were you nervous beforehand and how did it feel to be on stage?
You’ll see on Saturday night - for me nerves last right up until the moment I sit down to play. And then: serenity. I adore my job. It’s everything that comes with it that’s the chore. I’m mildly socially awkward so off-stage is the scariest place for me.
You will be singing Bob Dylan's Just Like A Woman for your audition. How did you go about picking the song and did it particularly resonate?
‘Just Like A Woman’ might sound like a bit of a coy joke to the uninitiated. That’s why I chose it. Because it is THE MOST beautiful song. I wanted to re-appropriate it as a Trans* anthem. So whatever happens tomorrow night, I will be proud I took that song with me onto national television.
When was the audition filmed and has it been difficult keeping it all a secret since?
I really can’t say, it’s been such a blurrrrrrr.
You came out publicly as transgender in 2014. It's wonderful that you have the chance to raise awareness and inspire others on the show. How has your transition been so far?
Everybody’s transition is different and some people's mountains are others’ molehills but truthfully, it’s been average. Confusing, exciting, painful, heart-breaking, empowering... I quit drinking 2 years ago so that the oestrogen would have the maximum effect. Physically, I feel amazing. Mentally, sharp. Emotionally, it's a rollercoaster.
Do you have any messages for others going through transition or society in general?
• To young Trans* people or people who feel they may be Trans*: do your research, be confident, do not compromise your life’s happiness for other people's comfort.
• To society: you're doing great, keep going.
Finally, where can we follow you for all the latest updates?
… and if you actually want to FOLLOW me then just get behind me and we can do a big sexy conga.
Many thanks for your time and the very best of luck on The Voice!