will.i.am steps into the spotlight

Voice judge Will.i.am. Photo: PA Photo/Handout.
Voice judge Will.i.am. Photo: PA Photo/Handout.

Whatever will.i.am does, he doesn’t normally do it on his own.

As one of the Black Eyed Peas, he is flanked by the more prominent Fergie and the other two whose names escape most people (Taboo and apl.de.ap, FYI).

As a judge on The Voice, a position he’s held since it first came to the UK from the US in 2012, he has sat alongside Tom Jones, Jessie J and Danny O’Donoghue from The Script.

Even as a solo artist he is regularly joined by the likes of Cheryl Cole, Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, Britney Spears or Snoop Dogg, meaning he’s never truly on his own.

And as a producer he’s been happy to pull the strings for everyone from Michael Jackson and Carlos Santana to Diddy, U2 and Mariah Carey.

So with a career as a consistent collaborator, his solo tour in December is something of a big deal.

“All this time in music and this is the first tour I’ve done by myself,” says the 38-year-old. “I’m nervous and it’s going to be emotional.

“In a group like Black Eyed Peas, people show up to see us and I share that experience with the rest of the people in the band. This time people are paying money to come and see me perform.

“I’m not opening up for anyone, it’s not a festival where I’m sharing the stage or arena with other people, so for me this is very emotional.

“It’s another thing I’ve accomplished, when I didn’t know there was anything left to accomplish.”

“I never saw the need,” says the star, asked why it’s taken him until now to do a solo tour, and until the release of his fourth album, #willpower, to play live. “I just wanted to tour with the Peas,” he adds casually.

He won’t be drawn on which guests can be expected, although he promises there will be a few surprises. “It’ll be unique, let’s leave it at that.”