It’s been almost eight years since Aston Merrygold stole the nation’s heart as one quarter of JLS. But for the past couple of years, the back-flipping crooner has been hitting it out on his own.
Now, he’s back with a brand news single, I Ain’t Missing You, as well as an accompanying music video. We caught up with Aston to talk about changing up his sound, touring with Jason Derulo and the challenges facing this year’s X Factor cohort.
Your upcoming song is a bit of a departure from what we’ve heard from you before. What inspired the change in direction?
There’s no real change in sound I suppose. When I started writing, I said this is just going to be an array of pop music, so there’s no real direction that I actually wanna stick to and say this is just my lane, this is all I can do. It’s just one of the many sounds that I’ve got for the upcoming album. It’s everything I enjoy listening to, and what I enjoy performing at the same time.
Speaking of performing, you’ve been touring with Jason Derulo. How’s that been for you?
Yeah, it’s been wicked.
Whats the reaction been to your new music on the tour?
It’s actually been quite amazing, which is quite surprising! When you hear a new song, you don’t know it, you don’t really know where it’s gonna go. But everything that I was playing got a great reaction. So I was very surprised, if I’m being honest, that it was going down so well.
And did you get time to hang out with Jason on tour?
Yeah, a couple of times. He’s so cool, man. Literally so down to earth, so chill. And he’s hard working, he just wants to work all the time. We got to chill after [the show] a couple of times, but like there was no time to party because he just constantly wants to work.
The X Factor‘s back on our screens now. The nature of the game, and fame itself has changed quite a lot since you and the JLS boys auditions eight years ago. Do you think contestants now are facing challenges that you didn’t?
Well, with that show it’s always a challenge, because you’re always gonna be surrounded by great people, whether that be just from a vocal standpoint, or a personality standpoint, likability, whatever. You’re always gonna face some kind of challenge within that show. But in terms of the industry now? Everything’s changed so much. Everything’s so accessible now, you really do have to stand out in the crowd. I think the talent they get this year is gonna be exceptional, but it’s definitely gonna be tough year to kind of cut through a lot of the talent that’s already showcasing itself online. It’s gonna be quite difficult, but the show always seems to prove itself. It’s spurred some great artists along the way. So doing the show is still a great thing.
When you were starting out with JLS, there wasn’t much in the way of social media. Are you happy that everything wasn’t so immediate and accessible at the start of your career?
Yes and no. For myself and the boys we were kind of in that funny period. We were literally on the cusp of Twitter starting. I guess it was the Olly Murs and One Direction year where things really started to play online, and you saw the change. It’s a great thing, on one hand, but on the other, you’ve got to really stand out from the crowd because you can have anything you want at the click of a button. For any artist now, it’s about reinventing yourself. And what better place to do it than online, you know, your fans can be right there with you.
But at the same time, careers can be ended in 140 characters now…
Of course, but if you want to take it that seriously, and say ‘this is where my life is, this is all that matters,’ then that’s up to you, you know?
Along with the band and your solo stuff, you’ve been one of the more longer-lasting acts to come out of the X Factor. What’s the secret to maintaining a career when the initial hype dies down?
[Laughing] I don’t actually know, to be fair! I’m sure the boys would tell you with their careers, that it’s not really down to us. We have such a loyal fanbase, and they literally said ‘we’re with you ’til the very end,’ and it’s proven, do you know what I mean? They’re still here now, and they’re still more loyal then ever. So I dunno, I don’t think there is a secret – it’s down to a great fanbase.
As well as your music career, you do a lot of work for charity. You have the JLS Foundation, anti-bullying charities, you’re raising money for loads of causes. What inspired you to be so philanthropic?
Whatever you’re giving in life, everyone can take a slice of the pie. Everyone can be happy. I just think it’s about putting out what you want back. I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am, and I know someone, somewhere else is doing the exact same thing. So why not give a helping hand if you can? It’s not all about take, take, take.
Your new single is just about to come out, and the tour with Jason Derulo is wrapped up. What’s next for you?
A couple more singles! And an album. There’s gonna be a lot of travelling, which is fun. And there are a couple of little bits I’m trying to plug into. I’m very interested in acting, and just every form of entertainment. So trying to put my fingers into many pies.
And I have to ask: is there a reunion on the cards for the JLS boys?
Whenever someone’s hears that it’s usually from other people! We’re all very happy right now. We’re all starting different careers. And we’ve only been apart for under two years or so. People are just starting families, so it’s just nice that we can take a break and be comfortable. We actually have an annual meet-up, and we’ve just had that with myself and the boys. We all went out without the girlfriends and we’re all going on a nice little family holiday soon so we’ll all be together then. And I’m sure we’ll have a couple of JLS songs playing and have a reminisce!
You hear a lot about bands splitting acrimoniously, but it’s been the opposite for you?
When you hear those stories about other bands, it’s just like, ‘how?’ If you’e been together that long, how do you hate each other? You’ve been through so much. You’re all different people of course, but you share so many amazing memories. The fact that me and the boys can sit down and share so many memories. Even when I was on the tour with Jason, the boys came. I go to Marv’s DJ gigs. It’s just nice to be able to support each other.
‘I Ain’t Missing You’ feat. LDN Noise is out now. Check out the video below: