On the first series of the BBC’s Fame Academy, Malachi Cush kept everyone guessing over his relationship with fellow student Sinead Quinn.
Now he becomes the first graduate – before Sinead, Lemar, winner David Sneddon and cheeky Ainslie, to release an album, and his debut record suggests an intention of pursuing a different marketplace to his peers.
The arrangements give the eponymously titled record a very Irish feel – and it includes covers of songs by U2, Van Morrison and Shane MacGowan. We caught up with the the big Irish lad to get the lowdown…
“I don’t mind being compared to people like Daniel O’Donnell and Ronan Keating because if I sell half as much as they have I’d be smiling!” says Malachi.
We caught up with him at his record company just before the launch of his debut LP, which has been called romantic. Malachi explains the album’s musical style as “the type of music I’ve been brought up with – love ballads. I’m not a pop star and I’ve never seen myself as one,” he says, somewhat disarmingly.
“I’m not a pop star, and I’ve never seen myself as one, but hopefully there’s a market for everything.”
The album is dominated by covers, and I asked if he was happy with that. “I’d have been happier with more of my own stuff on it,” he says, “but the covers are ones that I’ve had all my life, songs that I really like.” He cites time and budget constraints as reasons why there isn’t more of his own material on the album. Indeed, his favourite song is the self-penned Eyes Of Blue, and he promises original B-sides for his first single – these are still being worked on.
The 16-track album includes, perhaps inevitably, a duet with Sinead, called You’re The One. So… is she? “We’ve been seeing quite a bit of each other,” laughs Malachi, “but we haven’t branched that into a relationship as yet because we’ve been so busy,” he explains. “We’ll take our time and see how things go. Maybe in the future there’ll be something, but at the moment, no.” And what of Ainslie? “No relationships there either!” he laughs.
As far as Fame Academy’s result goes, Malachi says David Sneddon is a worthy winner, but his heart was elsewhere… “Personally I’d have preferred Sinead to win,” he confirms, “but I think on the night he was the best performer. He wrote a good song. I’ve seen quite a bit of David since the Academy, we get on well, so I’m happy he won.”
He also lets slip that third-placed Lemar has signed a record deal. “You’re going to see a lot of Lemar!” he says.
One of Fame Academy’s successes was the notion that anyone could take part, regardless of their musical style – something that made the format popular with balladeer Malachi. “There was a classical singer in there,” explains Malachi. “And I wouldn’t have lasted in Pop Idol.”
He believes the Academy changed him for the better, but that the music industry is “a lot more hard work than I expected”.
“The Academy’s matured me a lot and taught me a lot of lessons not only about the music industry but about life in general,” he says, “and how to cope with situations. Cary Grant helped me increase my tone and my vocal range. It’s given me opportunities I would never have had before. I could never have paid for the experiences and the learning I got in there. I’m not in a position to moan and I really am having a good time!”
On the forthcoming Fame Academy tour, Malachi is quietly confident that he’ll like the experience, just as he did with the house. “It’s going to be a great learning experience for me and it’ll be good to see everybody again,” he says. “It looks like it’s going to be a nice, relaxed show, good fun and good value – so get out and buy your tickets!”
“We have been seeing quite a bit of each other…”
So who’s going to buy his record? He believes Ireland and the Irish is where his market is. “It’s the older audience I’m going for – 30s to 50s,” he says. Radio 2 rather than Radio 1? “Yeah – Capital, Magic, that kind of thing.”
But Malachi believes younger music buyers may also like his musical approach. “I can see kids enjoying my music as well – I was a kid and I enjoyed it,” he says. “It’s a love album. Hopefully people will make love to it!”
His first single comes backed with more romantic songs – called Until We Meet Again and Loneliness Of Loving You. “I’m an old romantic at heart – a big softie,” he shrugs. “That’s why I’ve been so unlucky in love.”
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