After Classical-Crossover.co.uk had a bit of a whinge on our Hot Property article that we loved Bad Boy of Opera but knew nothing about him, we were kindly given the opportunity to give the man behind the name his first ever and exclusive interview. We investigate what he is about, what he wants to achieve and how he is going to create an explosion into the usually quiet and polite world of classical crossover. We can also stop whining.
Who is behind the "Bad Boy of Opera"?
Well, that is myself, Ki Fitzgerald; there are no other people, just me!
So you're not a band?
No, but there are a lot of plans about how I want to do this live, and I think there will be a band on stage, but it's just me at the moment.
Where has your musical background come from?
I've always really been into classical music, but I've also been into heavier rock. My parents are very musical as well so I had a wide variety of music played in the house from Andrea Bocelli to Pavarotti and from Led Zeppelin to Guns N' Roses; lots of different things, so I kind of grew up on that all the way through from my early teens to now. My dad's a singer and he always used to sing 'Nessun Dorma' in his show; I've been hearing that since a kid and I always tried to emulate him doing it because he did it so well. He was extremely into classical music, Pavarotti, Placido Domingo... all the greats. I have a love of really great melody, great sounding songs and the emotion in classical music. On the other side I love rock and pop music - it's all kind of one big melting pot.
When did you start your journey into music?
I've been doing music since I was thirteen/fourteen. I wrote songs in my first band, Custom, which was more of a school band. I've been doing music from that point on. I took it up professionally when I left school.
Do you play any musical instruments?
I play guitar, that's my main instrument and have been playing it on the album. I play a bit of piano - not as good as Harry [Sommerdahl] who is producing my album, but I'm learning from him as we go along really. I'm getting a little bit better but I'm a bit rubbish to be honest. I can play the bongos a little bit... [laughs] That's a joke, I can't really! But maybe it should be something I take up next. Move the way forward. Perhaps the Bad Boy of Opera playing bongos live could be the concept of the second album?
... I'm not sure it would be that interesting...
Are you sure? I think it could catch on! Classical crossover bongos! I'm telling you, it's going to be the next big thing!
Er, we'll take your word on that...
You must. You must!
So what inspired you to start this project?
It kind of just came around, it was almost like a fate thing because I was working with two people who I still work with, Victoria Horn and Harry Sommerdahl, and we all just got together, started writing some songs, and it was the first time I was writing songs where I didn't have an end vision of what it would be. It kind of just developed itself which I loved and simply ended up being the "Bad Boy of Opera".
Why have you named the project the 'Bad Boy of Opera'?
Well, when it comes out it may not be 'Bad Boy of Opera', but I just wanted a title that summed up exactly what we were doing, so it was almost the unofficial title of what I thought the sound was, the feeling that was going into it and the "Bad Boy of Opera" just felt right so we kind of stuck with that. I'm not 100% sure yet it will stay that way, but it will feature somewhere in the project, whether it be the official name or anything else, but that will be decided later down the line.
What are you hoping to achieve with your music?
I'm just hoping to be able to tour; that is a huge thing for me! To connect with fans, and that fans love the music; hopefully that will translate to them... buying the album... [laughs]. I just want to be able to get out there and play live to everyone, really!
How will you be launching your music?
We want to come out big, be huge, explosive; that's how we see the record coming out but there will be a lot of viral stuff - videos, songs, coming up over the next two months. A lot of different content that the fans can follow what we are doing in the studio and so on. We want a snowball effect. When the time is right, the album will be released.
What classical elements can be heard in your music and voice?
I think when we wrote the songs, the clear vision was that these songs had to have a classical structure to them - that's how I wanted it to be. When you are writing, you are putting a lot of yourself into the song and it just came naturally so I think there's a bit classical structure to all of the songs. But obviously there are elements of pop, rock and there are some songs on the album that are completely orchestral, there's no guitar and songs with just piano and orchestra. The core of every song on the album is influenced by classical music.
What do you think makes you different from other artists in the market at the moment?
I think there are a lot of great artists out there at the moment, but I hope I'm in my own little corner. The songs I write are really honest - it is me and I'm not trying to be like someone else - the idea when we started this was that it had to be me and it had to be real, the music speaks for itself and lends itself to its own kind of little world, whatever that world may be. It allows for comparisons of different artists and people can hear it sounds like this and that but I hope that it's in its own little place.
I get a lot of tweets and Facebook messages comparing me to Josh Groban, and Josh Groban is awesome - I don't cringe or anything, I just think 'great', but I don't personally think it sounds like that, it's just about trying to be who you are and that's the key to music. If that connects with people, then, amazing, but if it doesn't you are still happy that you did something you really love and love listening to. I listen to the records and I'm like 'wow!' I like it! If you don't like it, I'm guessing other people aren't going to like it so, this has been the most fun I have ever had making music and making music with people I love working with in different places of the world. Every day has just been incredibly fun.
You write your own material, but you covered U2's 'Beautiful Day' recently, what kind of material can we expect from your debut album?
I think it's going to be all original music and maybe a cover or two, I'm not too sure right now. It's going to be a heavily classical influenced pop, rock and a touch of epicness (if there is such a word) kind of album. There's also a lot of energy in the music, at least, I hope there is! I think having Harry Sommerdahl producing what we have been doing so far has added so much. We kind of have an open door to each song of how it should sound which is great.
Did you write 'Forbidden'? (two of his songs were sent over to us and the atmospheric, dark, rock ballad, 'Forbidden', was one of them)
Yes, with Victoria and Harry. It was written a few months ago - one of the quickest songs, actually! It was written in an hour or two. Some songs can take months to finish, but the stars were aligned that day and it just kind of happened!
Can you predict when the album will be released and does it have a title yet?
I think it will be released in the New Year. Obviously they'll be lots of viral stuff happening before that running up to Christmas so you'll be seeing a lot of videos and there will be more music content on Youtube, Facebook and Myspace. Album will be out hopefully in the New Year. As to the album title - I've thought of a couple of things but shouldn't say right now! But I'm hoping it will be one of the song titles of the album.
Will you be touring to promote the album and if so, where and when?
At the beginning of next year; there won't be any shows this year: we were planning to do a show around Christmas but we just want to focus on finishing the album, and moving forward with that. That's one of the main things that I am about - I want to get out there and perform. There will be a band, an orchestra - a whole big live show. When we go on tour, it's going to be done properly, done the right way; it's got to be right. From the very start of this project I imagined a band, the orchestra; almost like a rock show within what I'm doing.
You have a big following on Twitter...
Twitter is just great because it's such a good way to connect to fans on a more personal level: having direct contact with them and seeing what they like and what they don't like - it's a good way to do that while you are making your record because it makes you aware. You can be sitting in the car, studio, anywhere and you can tweet straight away about something you've just written; a good song, and you want to brag about it! [laughs] Or tweet random things which I am a big fan of!
Classical crossover artists are often accused of "dumbing down" classical music. Do you think that's fair?
I think it is its own take on it, really - it brings it to the mainstream a little bit more than 100% authentic classical music; crossover brings it to national attention. I don't think there's anything wrong in that. I'm not a huge fan of all the covers that people do; it would be nice to hear some new songs and that's rare in crossover. Josh Groban has some of his own songs; I love the song he did with Imogen Heap, 'Now or Never'; it's such a good song and I am a big fan of her. I do love the version that Katherine Jenkins did of 'Hallelujah' which I thought was one of the best classical crossover versions.
Do you listen to any other artists in the field?
There's some stuff out there I really like. I just love Sarah Brightman. She's awesome. I would love to see her live, I've seen Andrea Bocelli, he's incredible, but never Sarah Brightman. I would love to do a song with her. I like Katherine, as well. She's a lovely girl - I've heard some of her new album which I thought was great - it was darker and particularly loved the Evanescence one she did. I'm really into Evanescence. I would love to hear [Amy Lee] do something more classical, I think that would be amazing. What they do is really fresh and I love their original songs.
Is there anything you want to say to our readers or your fans?
The response of Twitter has been amazing and the response to the videos we put up on Youtube has been great. Just want to thank all the fans and supporters for following us. Some of the comments have been fantastic. I hope we can keep up to everyone's expectations! I think they are pretty high so I will have to work non-stop!
You can check out Ki's progress on his Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and/or Myspace.
Interview by Nicola Jarvis: 3rd September, 2010