Upcoming Event
SYDNEY EVENT Wednesday 13th June 2018 at the International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour

Cyrus Villanueva - Winner of the seventh season of The X Factor

Winner of the seventh season of The X Factor, 19 year-old Cyrus Villanueva is one of the most captivating and talented performers ever be discovered on the Australian talent series. Audiences around the country have witnessed his quiet-confidence blossom and the depth of his talent unveil, as this unassuming, chilled-out and grounded young man from Wollongong has sung his way to victory. Fans – including mentor Chris Isaak, have joined the TV show’s audience in praising Cyrus’ soulful and measured performances, and with the release of his debut album CYRUS, this young singer/songwriter has commenced his professional career with great admiration and respect.

Following his win, Cyrus quickly hit the studio to record his debut solo album featuring ten full-length recordings of songs he performed on the show, alongside his debut, original single ‘Stone’ which has already debuted at #4 on the Aria singles chart despite not having being on sale for a full week. It’s been a whirlwind of activity that’s swept Cyrus up, but which he’s unsurprisingly adapted to with his cool, calm demeanour, taking it all within his stride.

“I hadn’t really thought about what would happen after the show. Like for example, stepping into the studio was only the second time in my life that I was in a studio in front of a mic, recording. I’m still getting use to that whole process. I’m learning how much effort goes into recording a track. It’s not just singing into a mic and then putting that file onto a CD – there are so many more elements involved in the process. There are also so many people involved in the project, it’s not just a handful of people – there are so many people working hard to help make the project a success. It’s not something that I’d thought about previously but only now that I’m coming to terms with.

“To be honest, it’s not really intimidating for me as such. I find the recording process especially a lot of fun because I just get to sing over and over, and that’s what I love to do. It was definitely more enjoyable than scary.”

Growing up in a Filipino/Australian household, Cyrus was exposed to music at an early age, soaking in the sounds which would go on to form an important influence in his talent and ability.

“My dad’s been a musician for the last 25-30 years so I grew up in a house that always had music playing. Whether it was Dad singing or playing guitar or it was a Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder record playing, music was around me from when I was born.

“Outside of assemblies at school my first performing experience in front of people was at church. I started off by playing guitar at the back of the stage, and then day there was a song that wasn’t in the right key for the singer and so they asked me to sing it. Ever since then I’ve been singing regularly in church alongside Dad; he plays bass, and I play guitar and sing, alongside a full band. That’s where it started to take shape for me as a performer.”

After finishing high school Cyrus busked around local venues developing his style and earning a growing reputation in his community, which then led him to take a chance and audition for The X Factor. Despite being a consistent performer on the show, and never falling into the Bottom 2 throughout the entire series, Cyrus was initially unsure of his ability.

“At the start of the process I felt like I didn’t belong at all. I went to the auditions and looked around and there were all these talented people who were under certain management or certain talent agencies, and I felt like I didn’t have a clue what I was doing up against them. I doubted myself very much, but getting the response I did from my first audition gave me a massive confidence boost. Although, even at Boot Camp stage I still didn’t think I had a chance to go further because everyone seemed so professional already, and I was just a rookie compared to everyone else.

“After the 5-Seat Challenge, where I played at the piano, I kinda felt that was a turning point for me – I felt I had proven how much I enjoy what I do, and that my love for music was important than what I look like or how much experience I had. Making it to London after that was such a great opportunity and it changed my headspace in regards to the whole process.”

A string of outstanding performances followed, including interpretations of Adele’s ‘Rumour Has It’, and Phil Collin’s ‘In The Air Tonight’, but it was his mesmerizing performance of his mentor Chris Isaak’s iconic ‘Wicked Game’ that stopped the nation in its tracks and truly raised Cyrus to new heights.

“I really didn’t think it was going to be such a successful performance - the response was amazing. It reached #1 on ITunes and was a Top 10 single on the Aria charts, so all of that was a big surprise for me. Being able to perform it and be given it by the man who wrote and performed such an iconic song was a huge honor and a massive privilege. I think it was cool that I was able to change it up a little and deliver it in my own style as opposed to just copying the original version.”

With his debut original single ‘Stone’ already a certified smash hit, Cyrus is proving that he has the talent and appeal to go beyond the cover versions he performed on the show. Featuring an international collaboration from the US, UK & Australia including TMS (One Direction, Jess Glynne), Bobby Andonov (Afrojack, Neon Trees) and Sean Douglas (Jason DeRulo, Madonna), ‘Stone’ is the kind of single that puts Cyrus on the pop map alongside the likes of Maroon 5 and Conrad Sewell.

“When I first heard the song I imagined my voice on it straight away. I was over the moon when I first heard it. I was a bit worried going in that session, wondering what kind of song they were going to give me to record and whether it was going to suit me and reflect the artist I want to be. It was awesome to hear it and instantly fall in love with it. The first thing I did when I heard it was to learn it on guitar and put my feel on it and that helped me to connect to it in a more intimate way. I’m going to be able to perform that song in many different ways and so the ability to do that as an artist is very exciting. In that sense it’s exactly the kind of music I want to make – great songs that aren’t defined just by a genre.”

Rerecording full-length versions of the songs he performed on The X Factor for his winner’s album CYRUS, the young performer has been given the chance to showcase his expanded vision of his interpretations.

“There were two songs that I particularly enjoyed recording for this album – The Weeknd’s ‘Earned It’ which was my audition song, and Labrinth’s ‘Jealous’. Before the show, ‘Jealous’ was one of my absolute favourite songs and I’d previously recorded a cover and put it on Youtube. It’s my dad’s favourite song to hear me perform. It’s so well-written and emotional, and even when I rehearse it on my own I’ve been in tears because it’s just so emotive and easy to relate to.

“There are certain songs that you go into the zone with when you’re recording, and deliver even better than you hoped for, and I think these two songs really felt like that for me. They were really easy to record for me because I just connected with the content of them so easily. I think they both sound even better than my live performances of them on the show.”

A dedicated and an appreciative fan of artists like Alicia Keys, John Legend and Sam Smith, Cyrus hopes to continue his own songwriting, once the initial flush of fame and attention allows him time to finish off the songs he’s started writing on guitar and piano over the last year or so.

“I’ve got a bunch of notes and ideas that I wrote down whilst I was going through the X Factor experience because it was such an emotional experience for me, and that’s often the best time to write and get inspiration from. All of it is workable as I move forward, I just need to have time to focus and pull ideas together to make the most of it.

“This is just the beginning of everything for me. In my mind, all I have to do as an artist is to enjoy what I’m doing and stay true to who I am. I understand how difficult the next few years are going to be trying to establish my career, so I know I have to just remain grounded and work hard to achieve all I can hope to achieve. Ultimately it’s all about the music for me, nothing else.”


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