Interview: The Voice UK's Mark Howard On His Journey To The Final – LeftLion

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Our Music Editor Gemma Cockrell chats to Nottingham’s Mark Howard about his journey to becoming a The Voice UK Finalist…
Congratulations on getting through to The Voice UK final, how are you feeling?
I’m happy, it’s settling in. Although now I’m back in the office!
The competition must be so different to what you’re used to doing as an estate agent. What are the biggest differences that you’ve noticed in your life since going on The Voice UK?
Well, obviously, I’m not normally on the stage in front of crowds and stuff. I’m not used to being in that kind of environment, really. So going from an office and walking around houses and stuff to being on stage in front of people, and the show being viewed by three or four million people a week is a massive, massive jump.
What has it been like knowing that you’re on national TV and that millions of people are watching you?
It was a bit of an out of body experience. It was filmed quite a while ago as well. Living in Nottingham, it’s quite a big city so I didn’t really get recognised or anything like that. It only really set in when I went back to my original hometown of Doncaster where we know a lot of people anyway, and I got recognised a lot more. That’s really when it kind of hit me.
How did you choose the song you were going to perform at your blind audition?
I wanted to sing a song that I was comfortable with, so I made sure I went for something that I’d sang before – something that I connected with and that I could put a little bit of a spin on as well. I sang a song by P!nk and Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, who both have relatively deep voices. So, there were a lot of different things that connected to it, and the producers do help you pick your song as well. That one just kind of felt the most natural, which is why I chose it.
Were you expecting to get a four-chair turn?
Definitely not! Running up to it, people were asking which coach I was going to pick, and I didn’t know. It wasn’t something I wanted to think about, because it wasn’t something I thought was going to happen. I wasn’t expecting anything. And so, when all four turned around, it was overwhelming, to say the least. I think when people asked me quickfire, I always said Anne Marie if I had the choice, but I definitely didn’t expect to get to choose!
What’s it been like working with Anne Marie behind the scenes?
Honestly, she’s amazing. She’s just like, one of your mates. We’re a similar age – well, I’m a little bit older than her, to be fair – but she’s just really chill and really normal. I think that’s the vibe I kind of needed, because we had a chat about nerves and anxiety, because she had similar issues when she was coming up as well. She’s just really normal, normal and crackers! There’s such a high energy about her, but at the same time, she knows what to say to calm you down when it’s needed. So yeah, she’s been amazing to work with.
You mentioned your experiences with nerves and anxiety, how have you learnt to cope with those feelings as the show has progressed?
I think as the rounds went on, I got better when it came to confidence. But the first couple of rounds, I was just petrified the whole time, I couldn’t talk or stop shaking and I got emotional, which is not normally me. I mean, I’ve struggled with anxiety a little bit. but I’ve always managed to control it, because I’ve never really been in that kind of environment, and it was hard to control in that environment. But I think as the process has gone on, I definitely became more confident, and the semi-final was the first time that I genuinely just enjoyed myself.
The show has been pre-recorded, what has it been like watching yourself on TV?
I was at my niece’s birthday party watching the semi-final on Saturday, and we all watched it as a family, which was lovely. I think it was pre-recorded because of COVID, because we began filming a year ago in September. And there were still restrictions about and because of the kind of show it is, if one person gets it, the whole production has to shut down. So, I think they worked out ways to make it pre-recorded but as normal as possible, so that if somebody did get it, then they would have time to re-edit and reshoot. The format did change a little bit with the call-backs because of this.
What did you think to the new format of the call-backs as a performer?
I know a lot of people online weren’t huge fans of it. But for me, I think I preferred it as the performer. I don’t think I could have done the battles. I found them quite a stressful experience to watch, so I don’t know if I’d have been able to do them. But then saying that, when I was sitting and watching three people singing the same song as me, and then having to sing it myself, it was probably just as stressful. But I liked the experience of it. I think watching it, the battles might have been slightly more exciting, but actually being there and doing it, I really enjoyed the call-backs.
What was it like having the songs selected for you by Anne Marie in both the call-backs and the semi-final?
It was strange for me, because even for karaoke or something, I’ll find a song that I like, and then I’ll sing a million times before I even sing on karaoke. I like to work on it a bit before it is sung in public. So then being given a couple of weeks to learn it, to then sing on a national telly was an odd feeling. In the call-backs, I sang Better Off Without You by Becky Hill, and I love that song, but I would never have chosen to sing it normally, because I’d have never done a version like what I did on the show. But we got to do our own little spin on things, and we had the backing to make it a bit more ‘us’, which I don’t think I’d have been able to do without the team.
What has been the highlight of experience of doing the show for you?
I think the final, which is airing this Saturday, is probably a highlight for me, because we do the coach duets. That was an experience I’ll never forget.
What would you say you’ve learned from your time on the show?
I think I’ve learned to trust myself a little bit more, and to trust my voice a bit more as well. I could have never imagined singing at certain pitches before. And having the support of the team and the vocal coach and Anne Marie telling me ‘you can do that’. And when I said no, they told me just to try it, and reassured me that I’d end up doing it. So, I think I’ve learned to trust myself and trust my voice. Listen to people a bit more. And stop being so negative!
What’s next for you?
I’m just starting to work on a song with one of the other contestants, actually. We’re going to try to get something ready to release over the next month or so. So possibly some new music, which will be nice, as it’ll be my first ever song I’ve officially released. Then, booking a few bits and bobs, a couple of appearances, like performing at the West Bridgford Christmas lights switch-on which will be great, something local to home. Working on music and booking to perform at places!
Best of luck to Mark in the final of The Voice UK, which will air on Saturday 29th October at 8pm.
@mark_howard_music
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