Our summer 2016 singing competition winner, Vangelis, has had a busy year – making it to the live semi-finals on BBC One’s The Voice UK 2016!
After performing Live with Boy George, closing The British LGBT Awards in the company of Bryan May, Adam Lambert and Sir Ian McKellen, and touring and performing at iconic venues such as Alexandra Palace, Heaven Nightclub and The Grand Connaught Rooms, Vangelis Polydorou has taken time to answer our questions on his recent success in the music world.
You made it to the semi-finals of The Voice this year!! And now you’ve won the VoiceCouncil Singing Competition Summer 2016 (an infinitely more prestigious contest!) Where next for Vangelis Polydorou?
Haha, it feels so amazing to have won this… at least I won something! Thank you so much! It’s been a crazy year for me really. I’m currently touring around the UK and have just signed to an agent. I’m also going to be working on my debut album with the help of my fans using Pledge Music.
Vangelis Polydorou – Semifinalist on The Voice
Seriously, getting so far in The Voice is an incredible achievement. What has appearing on such a high-profile show done for your career so far? And what would you say to other singers considering entering a big televised singing contest?
It’s been an amazing platform. Never in a million years did I think I would make it through to The Semi Finals.
I think a highlight since the show has been closing the British LGBT Awards. Bryan May, Adam Lambert and Sir Ian McKellen were all there and I couldn’t believe that I was. I’ve also been gigging around the UK which is something I never had done before. I’ve really improved on performing in front of a crowd. I think the show has given me more worth, more credibility and recognition.
I will say though, to anyone auditioning: it’s first and foremost a TV show, and I think some people expect their lives to be made once you appear on it. You have to put the hard work in yourself, get emailing people and really use this as a stepping-stone to further your career. Don’t expect anything to come to you, put in the work and you will see the rewards.
One influential singer, and what it is that makes them stand out to you?
Celine Dion. Her control, emotion and unique tone.
Biggest challenge to breaking out and sharing your music with new people?
I think it’s a challenge to not over commercialize your music to fit into a certain group or genre within the charts. Be yourself that’s what will make you stand out.
Something that’s worked for you in reaching a larger audience?
I honestly would say singing songs and creating music I want to sing rather than trying to do something that I think people will want.
A performance FAIL?
Cracking on a high note in rehearsals for the quarter-finals of The Voice. I was pushing my voice too much and not drinking enough water and hadn’t warmed up properly.
A performance SUCCESS? (And why…)
I’d say a performance success was when I sang my first audition on The Voice, it was a real moment for me. It was finally my time.
Favorite vocal gear & why?
I love my SM7B, it’s got a nice clear crystal sound and I often use a plug-in called Ozone in Logic Pro 9 to give the vocal a real forward sound.
A few ingredients of a memorable vocal performance?
Judy Garland singing Over The Rainbow. I love that she used to sing the line ‘If happy little blue birds fly beyond the rainbow, why oh why can’t I?’ with such optimism but in this performance she sings with sadness, she hasn’t been given the chance to fly and she’s desperate to be free. It’s sad but beautiful.
A musical lesson you’ve learned the hard way?
I’d say not knowing my theory has hindered me in some ways. I often hear a chord that I want someone to play in my head but I cant say what inversion of that chord I want because I don’t know.
A vocal-singing lesson you’ve learned the hard way?
Taking everything a vocal teacher says as the gospel truth. You have to figure out what works for you, everyone is different.
Most important lesson you have learned about social media?
I think keeping active on Social Media is important. Retweeting and commenting and connecting with your fans is very important.
Most important lesson you have learned about vocal health?
I have to warm up to keep my voice in top condition and also practicing regularly. You can really notice a difference even if you don’t sing for a week. Also, I never use any throat sweets anymore I find that they do more damage than good but numbing the voice. Sleep and steam!
Favorite music to listen to?
I love stripped back songs, and then I love Electro and a bit of R&B and dance. Some songs I love listening to but would never sing.
Vangelis’ warmup routine
You have incredible control over your voice; soft and delicate, but perfectly executed. How do you do it? Do you have a particular warmup routine?
Thank you so much, I think it’s just years and years of being a perfectionist and never resting on just being a good singer, I want to be the best singer I can be. On a day I need to sing, I wake up and get some water so that my voice has time to hydrate.
Normally this can take up to a few hours. I start humming and doing some light warm up exercises such as lip bubbles. I also find that a nice open vowel like YAR on a scale really helps open up my sound and if you use that vowel sound with a slight nasal quality you can really get into a great forward placement.
I have to warm up my belt separately to my head voice/chest voice which ends on about an E4/F4. I tend to not exercise my voice on a show day as I don’t want to tire my voice out. I went to a vocal teacher called Leontine Hass and I have set exercises from her that I use to train my voice. I highly recommend her!
What do you do when you’re not entering contests? Where do you sing?
After the show I did a lot of emailing. I’m performing at a lot of prides and carnivals this year. I no longer work at the frozen food shop!
What sort of musical opportunities has growing up in London afforded you?
I feel like everyone moves to London for music, and I’ve been very lucky here to be able to go to auditions and not have to pay a lot of money for travel. I won a contest called N21’ Got Talent and I recorded at Livingston Studios which was an amazing experience.
What is an area of your singing work/career that is a little (or a lot) unique or different that you could elaborate on?
I used to sing for a company called Lucky Voice, I would promote their Karaoke Machines by singing on them in department stores and try to sell the kits with my voice.
Finally, what question do you wish we asked you? And what would your answer be?
What did you think of the sound mixes on The Voice? – In all honesty, the sound on some of my performances and some other performances were awful. I’m actually a lot louder and more powerful in real life and it’s true what they say, the soundman can make or break you. The Mic I was using was not a great microphone for my type of voice and I would encourage other singers to find the right microphone for their voice type.
Vangelis Polydorou reached The Live Semi Final on BBC One’s The Voice UK beating 50,000 singers for his place on the show. His version of ‘Do You Really Want To Hurt me’ has close to a million views and he is currently embarking on a UK Tour and has just signed with an agent.