Cafe Chat: ‘The Voice’ Music Director, Scott Aplin

Scott Aplin performing behind the scenes during the Blind Auditions on 'The Voice'.

Known to millions of Australians as Music Director of The Voice, former Albury musician Scott Aplin is still pinching himself that he remains an integral part of the top rating television production.

With the program underway on the Nine Network for a sixth season, Kylie King caught up with Scott to discuss his journey, and what goes on behind the scenes.

What is involved in your role on The Voice?

There’s a lot of travelling around the country in the preliminary stages, sourcing different singers.

Once the producers narrow it down, I go back and see the ones most likely to end up on stage, work out what song they’ll sing and help cut that song down to a 90 second, short audition piece. I’ll then start preparing it all and getting it arranged for the band, around 130 songs.

We spend a few weeks getting ready and the next thing you know we’re on set, running it with the singers a few times so they familiarize themselves before they come out with their knees knocking to perform in front of the coaches.

It’s quite an intense moment (the blind auditions), not just for us but for the singers on the stage. It’s amazing to watch them step up and deliver considering it’s a scary stage to be standing on with the coaches and audience waiting in anticipation.

What goes on behind the scenes in the rehearsal sessions with yourself and the coaches?

In a lot of cases it’s the singers’ first moments to be around, for many of them, their idols.

They’re anxious, not knowing how they’re going to sing. Often they’re not hitting the notes – it’s an emotional moment for them.

They want to do their best, but don’t quite get it at the early stages. Over time you see them gain more confidence and take on the tips the coaches have given before the next performances.

2016 Coach Jessie J and Scott in rehearsals for last year's show.
2016 Coach Jessie J and Scott in rehearsals for last year’s show.

What are this year’s judges like to work with? (Delta Goodrem, Boy George, Seal, Kelly Rowland)

They’re amazing and they all bring a different style to what they do.

This year it’s really great to have Boy George – he’s very charismatic. Delta has been there since the beginning – it’s nice to have a big Australian star every year, and Kelly Rowland has been really amazing.

She’s done some incredible musical performances during her career. I’ve learnt a lot from her on how she prepares for shows in America with Destiny’s Child and her own tours. It’s fascinating to learn the ins and outs of those mega pop bands in America.

What’s your impression about this year’s show and the contestants?

Every year has its own feel, and this year there are some really big emotional singers, not as many pop ones.

It’s exciting to see a lot of young people coming through this year and we’re in for some really good finals. They’re getting planned now, locking down their songs and we’ll start seeing them getting ready for the first live shows soon.

The live shows are a whole different ball game, there’s a whole added element of pressure when it’s ‘three, two, one and we’re live’.

What do you enjoy most about being involved?

I love the challenges of playing many varied styles of songs every year – over 250 songs. The level and standard of music on this show is great and we really enjoy pushing ourselves musically.

To work alongside the coaches and different performers, hearing fascinating stories and working with people at the top of their game is quite special.

I still count myself very fortunate to have this opportunity. I still remember being at the conservatorium in Albury (Murray Conservatorium) and studying music at Albury High School. I certainly didn’t think I’d be doing this.

Do you still return to Albury?

I do come home quite often to see the family. I like to return in the winter months to go skiing and in summer and autumn I like to get to Beechworth and Bright – that whole area down there is stunning, so it’s great to get out of the city and have a tree change.

I also came back for a school reunion in 2015, so that was great to see old school friends and catch up with a bunch of people.

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