Young but older: Will Young on life at 40

Will Young.
Will Young.

Having another hit album is certainly cause for celebration.

But for Will Young every day is celebratory since finding his happy place in life after years of mental turmoil.

Diagnosed with anxiety, depression and PTSD, the pop star knew something had to change – and he’s now at peace with himself.

Moving to an independent record label and working without management was part of that process, and it paid off last week with Lexicon, which debuted at number two last week.

“I had a lot more space and less pressure on this record, and we all work better when there is less pressure,” Will said.

“It’s about finding the ways we can create our little world, so we have as little pressure as possible.”

After years of working nonstop, Will reached breaking point. “I think I was done with the constant output and I had also been very ill. I shouldn’t have been working and I was tired of that. My uncle died and I was pleased the funeral was going to get me out of being in the studio. I knew that wasn’t right.

“I can’t believe the difference between this album and the last one. I was on the floor the last time, but now I’m actually looking forward to performances and touring.

“Creatively I was always happy, but it’s about setting the pace. And being self-employed I can do that.

“I know if I’m really busy today, it’s OK because I have a day off tomorrow.”

Will now works a four-day week and says we should all try it.

“It’s a brilliant thing,” he continued. “It seems whimsical, but I think we should all do it. Your output of work doesn’t change. In fact, you actually work better. It’s been a revelation.

“It’s about finding out what works for you and then enacting it.

“If you look after yourself, everything else is so much better. When you are wobbly, it’s tricky to do good work.

“It took a lot of hard graft to get to this point – seven years. But, in comparison to the 33 years of life before that, it’s understandable it would take time.”

Turning 40 earlier this year didn’t upset him.

“I loved it and I love being a pop star at this age,” he smiled. “It feels like a special place.

“You’ve seen so much of it already, so this feels like a second career.”

Since winning Pop Idol in 2002, Will has expanded his horizons far beyond singing.

He also has a successful podcast, acts, is a stage musical star, and writes.

“I like to do different things,” he said.

“The podcast has been a revelation. I go around giving mental health talks, I’m writing a book on gay shame, and I’m also working on a musical drama with my friend, Michael Gracey, who directed The Greatest Showman. We’ve collaborated for 16 years.”

Charity is also close to his heart and he is involved in a number of projects.

“When one is lucky, we have to help those who are not so lucky,” Will added.

“It’s not an ego thing, it’s just nice to help people. Even just taking clothes to the charity shop, we all get such pleasure out of it.

“And there’s nothing wrong with feeling better about ourselves.”


Will Young, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, October 25

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