Half the contestants on this year’s season of The Voice seemed to be newcomers with tragic back stories, while the other half were people who had already spent several years working as professional musicians but were looking for a boost to their career.

While not as recognisable as contestants like Tim Morrison from Trial Kennedy or Abby Dobson from Leonardo’s Bride, Nicholas Roy was nevertheless one of the second kind, having spent several years gigging in and around Melbourne as a solo performer as well as producing music for others. Although his time on The Voice was limited – after impressing all four judges with a rendition of Glenn Hansard’s ‘Falling Slowly’ and joining Team Seal he was knocked out in his second battle – Roy doesn’t regret deciding to enter the competition. He describes the experience as “pretty positive” overall.

“It was really interesting to see how it’s all put together and how what you see on television is nothing like what really happens behind the scenes,” he says. “There’s hours and hours of footage and it all gets cut down to 15 seconds. It has to be very two-dimensional, so your experiences, your life, your whole career has to be summed up in one sentence in order for it to come across in that TV format, which I found a bit challenging.”

Roy’s own one-sentence summary was “the Melbourne producer,” which isn’t quite as attention-grabbing as “the 67-year-old soul survivor” or “the one who has a stutter.” Nobody can entirely be summed up in a snappy phrase for television, however. “Meeting people and getting to know these artists and then seeing how they’re portrayed on TV was quite fascinating. From an outsider’s perspective it was really interesting. From an actual participant’s perspective it was pretty stressful; not like anything I’ve done before. I’ve been gigging for 10 years and I thought I was OK at it and then it’s a different kettle of fish – 90 seconds of live TV when you’re being judged.”

The most important thing Roy says he got out of the experience was meeting other musicians who have spent years doing the independent thing, gigging around their hometowns and playing what we call “intimate” shows, i.e. small ones. Two of those other contestants, Jac Stone and Imogen Brough, will be supporting Roy when he launches his new single, ‘Ghost’.

He’s had plenty of time to work on the song thanks to a contract all contestants on The Voice have to sign saying that they won’t release their own music for several months after leaving the show. “You have to wait a while and I guess that’s because Universal, they don’t want people releasing a glut of stuff when they’re trying to focus on the people who won or came second or third or whatever. So I can see their reasoning.”

‘Ghost’ is a pop song that, appropriately enough, is about how we simplify people so that we can understand them and then are surprised when we eventually realise they don’t fit in the convenient box we’ve built for them after all. “You know when you fall in love or have that connection with someone and you realise you’ve kind of made them up in your head?” he explains. “You love the idea of someone but maybe not the actual person. You get to know them and ‘you’re not the person I made up in my brain!’ It’s that sort of idea.”


Nicholas Roy plays the Factory Theatre with Jac Stone and Imogen Brough on Friday July 19.

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