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I TALK TO Emma Willis, Pixie Lott, and Danny Jones

This weekend sees the return of The Voice Kids and this time around the series will be stripped across eight consecutive nights on ITV at 8pm making it an unmissable TV event.

Pixie Lott, and Danny Jones all return to their big red chairs as coaches and of course it wouldn't be the same without her, so Emma Willis is back on hosting duties.

After four nights of Blind auditions, the competition then moves on to the Battles where three singers from each team perform together for each spot in the Semi-Final. The competition then comes to an end on Saturday 21st July with a spectacular live final which this year will see all three coaches perform Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra.

But what about the winner? Well, same as last year, the winner will be given a £30,000 bursary towards their musical education plus a dream family holiday to Disneyland Paris.

On Thursday night, I attended the press launch for series two of The Voice Kids at Madame Tussauds in London and after a screening of the first episode, I sat down with Emma, Pixie, Will and Danny to find out more about the new series.

First of all Pixie, congratulations on winning last year. Have you kept in touch with last year's winner Jess Folley?

Pixie: Thank you! Yes, not long after she won she came to one of my summer schools and she also sang at my acoustic unsigned night for new singers. She came and sang her own material that she'd written in the studio and it was really great. She blew everyone away as always! She's one of those performers who you don't have to worry about.

She's doing really great and obviously she's still super young so she's just working on getting her material together and waiting for the right time. Kids shouldn't be in a rush, you have all that time to learn and The Voice Kids is a great show to learn from.

I started writing for my first album at 13 and I always thought I was ready to go and was like "Why aren't they releasing my stuff yet?" - it didn't come out until I was 18 and I signed my deal when I was 15 so I always frustrated about why it was taking so long. But looking back in hindsight it's a blessing that I did wait until I was 18. It's good to go when the time's right and that was the right time for me, even if I didn't think it at the time.

How do you feel watching yourself back on the big screen?

Danny: Have you ever watched yourself back on a family video and gone "Oh my God! Is that what I look like and sound like?" Every time I saw myself I cringed and thought "What a plonker!" but I love it really and on a big screen like that as well, woah!

Emma: That's what he kept doing all the way through it, "Oh my God I'm such an idiot!"

Danny: Some sound even better on TV than they do in the room. What I didn't realise is the faces that you pull when you're trying to listen!

Pixie: Just watching it then, I was like "Why didn't anyone turn for that person?" They deserved to go through. But you can't really explain it. Sometimes it's not about an amazing pitch perfect voice. Sometimes you connect with their personality or the way they tell a story and that makes you press the button without realising.

How much do you enjoy doing the show?

Pixie: Oh it's so much fun. I think you can tell through the screen how much fun we had and I think it all comes down to the kids. That's what makes the show and if they find talented kids, it's always going to be a great show and they did last year and they definitely have again this year.

Will: To call it The Voice Kids, kind of belittles the talent because these kids are better than the adults in my opinion. I enjoy doing the kids Voice more than I enjoy doing the adult Voice.

I like the kids one because it's not about money or fame or trying to have another shot at a career - "This is my last chance" - this is as pure as it gets. There's no jadedness it's just "I like to sing".

At the start of the first episode we see younger versions of the coaches. What advice would you give to your younger self now about the music industry?

Will: I actually pray to my future self and my past self all the time. I'm eventually 60 and whatever life I'm living whether easy or tough, I should be able to pray to my 40 year-old self to either take the path where it's easy or not take the path where it's tough.

By 40 I'll know the mistakes I've made as a 20 year-old. Or the tough times that I had as a teenager. Don't do drugs. What told me not to do drugs when all my friends were doing drugs? In my minds eye I'm praying to myself to tell myself not to do drugs. That's what kept me on course.

So to that question, I talk to my younger self all the time. Ever since I was 18.

Danny: I would have probably just said "Enjoy it more." You know when a moment or a gig is so big that you can't take it in? It used to freak me out. I'd be so nervous and overthink things. Whereas now, it's just music and let people enjoy it. I think only in the last four years have I actually tried to master the skill of enjoying it.

My father-in-law wanted me to play a few tunes on the acoustic at his birthday party and I couldn't relax and it was actually him who said to me "Danny, people just enjoy listening to ya" and I went "Oh... really?!" 14 years later!

It's only music and that's why I'm doing solo stuff now. Who cares? I'm still in McFly. There's still a chance of McBusted coming back. But right now it's solo stuff. It's just music and I'm loving it. I've got things to say and things I've written to get closure on stuff. I'm loving it!

Talking about performances, Danny you recently performed at a certain someone's 10th wedding anniversary...

Emma: He wasn't scared about getting up on Saturday night. It was amazing. Danny sung quite a few didn't you?

Danny: I did yeah. When Matt text us, he put us in a WhatsApp group called 'Wedding Band' - so I thought "Is that what we've become now? A wedding band!" Best wedding band ever.

It was really lovely, I watched the boys do some Busted songs, then Ricky got up and sung I Predict a Riot which went OFF and then I got up and did some Beatles and some Bruce Springsteen.

Emma: His Bruce Springsteen was amazing!

Are you looking forward to reuniting with your acts on Saturday for the final?

Danny: I can't wait to see them. Throughout the process you see them develop as mini artists and they become a brand. I try and make them into something that they want to be.

For the first audition, they just come on and sing their song. I don't want them to do just a karaoke version. So working with them is the really exciting bit and the two that I've got are very exciting. I'm very happy.

Do you enjoy working with the kids?

Danny: They're like sponges. They take everything in and they listen. I didn't realise how impactful my experiences and stories are for them.

It's sometimes hard to explain to them. How do you explain nerves? Or how to separate nerves from anxiety or stress? All you can do is relate it to your own experiences. This is what I do and if it helps them, great.

My two finalists came to a gig I did the other day and they really got inspired by it because they've not seen that side of it. They've only seen this side of it, or even their bedroom, so it was nice to take them out and show them what they could potentially be doing in the future.

Are you surprised by how well the kids take rejection?

Emma: Yeah, I mean that was something we noticed last year actually. We were all absolutely terrified. These guys (the coaches) were like "What are we going to say if we don't turn? How can we let these little human beings down?"

But we learnt very quickly last year that they deal with it much better than the grown-ups do. They're so innocent. They just soak it all up and have such a good time. The older ones get a little bit more disappointed because they're probably more aware of the industry and what they want from it.

Danny: If I was in that position that at age I would have been so scared. I wouldn't have been able to sing. I'm like that now. If I get nervous I lose my voice. The kids are handpicked already, so they're going to be fairly decent so all we have to do is tell them to work on this or that, take our advice and come back. That's the beauty of this show, the no turns are really positive.

Will: The kids are stronger than the parents. The parents are crying and the kids are like "Mum you're embarrassing me!"

Do you find it difficult to not press the buzzer?

Pixie: It is hard because they're all really good and you only have twelve spaces so you want to make sure you get the good ones and not fill your team before they all come out. It's a balance which is the tough bit.

Will: We're getting the cream of the crop here. Every single kid is talented. What I try to look for is someone that has uniqueness but at the same time, capabilities of singing and rhythm. And then powerful voices. So it doesn't matter if they're unique and flat or limited and rhythmic or powerful. I vision what songs they could sing.

If you were to audition for the show at 10 years of age, what would you have sung?

Pixie: When I was little and I used to do auditions, my top songs were Mariah Carey Hero, Whitney Houston One Moment in Time or Greatest Song of All and Roberta Flack Killing Me Softly. They're ones that showed my range.

Will: Macho Man by Village People.

Who's your biggest threat this year?

Danny: Pixie normally goes for big singers and won it last year. Will's a veteran so it's time for someone new to win it. And to be honest I can't remember who they've got!

Emma: Their acts are all very different, especially to yours Danny... He's got a very strong team. You can't predict it.

Danny: That's what's hard but I must be doing something right because one of my acts last year got the Golden Buzzer on Britain's Got Talent and the second act was on America's Got Talent, so c'mon British public... catch up! I set them on their path.

Pixie: I think it could be a lucky second year running for my team. But they're all very special and talented so it's really nice to see them all in the final and reach their full potential.

Will: All the time that I think someone's going to win, they don't. So I don't want to say. I really thought England were gonna win the World Cup so I'm a jinxer. I shouldn't have said anything!

The Voice Kids airs Saturday 14th - Saturday 21st July at 8pm on ITV


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