Union J are proof dreams do come true

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Katy Wheeler speaks to UnionJ about North East Live

Next month sees an explosion of sounds at the Stadium of Light.

Not only will Bon Jovi and Rihanna arrive in the city to play the home of the Black Cats, the summer of music will be capped off on June 22 with North East Live, an eight-hour extravaganza of pop music.

Headlined by JLS, who recently announced they will be hanging up their mics to break up, it will also see performances from Rita Ora, The Wanted, Conor Maynard and Union J amongst others.

The latter are on the brink of releasing their debut single Carry You after rising to prominence via last year’s X Factor.

Band member Jaymi Hensley said the band are looking forward to bringing their music to Sunderland.

“We’re very excited about playing the stadium, especially Josh, who’s a big football fan,” he said.

“We’re also playing on the bill at Wembley this year, it’s a dream come true for us to play venues like this.

“It shows how far our lives have come, from having normal jobs to playing massive stadiums.

“I used to work in support teaching and it’s about a year since we auditioned for X Factor in London.”

Jaymi auditioned for last year’s X Factor alongside fellow band members JJ Hamblett and Josh Cuthbert as Triple J, before judges suggested they join forces with solo auditionee George Shelley to become Union J.

It proved to be sound advice for the lads as they went on to finish fourth in the hit ITV series.

“We knew it was the right time for us to audition and I think when we became a four piece it made us believe in ourselves even more,” said Jaymi.

“We saw that being a four-piece could take us even further.

“Appearing on X Factor is so different to what you think it will be like when you watch it on television.

“It’s so full on, but it pays off, we absolutely loved every minute. It’s amazing to be part of a show that’s so well watched.

“A lot of people give it a bad rap, but it’s produced some of the biggest artists we have in the country at the minute like One Direction and Leona Lewis.

“Some people are lucky to make it without shows like this, but it’s a great training ground.

“It’s like a nine-week bootcamp, you have all the pressure and rehearsals, but it’s crammed into nine weeks.”

After the show finished Union J went on tour with X Factor and have been holed up in the studio working on their debut album, which they hope to release before Christmas.

With more than 900,000 twitter followers, nine million views on Youtube and a book deal in the bag, Union J hope 2013 will be the year for them to cement a foundation in the charts.

Debut single Carry You will be released on June 2.

“We’ve had some great feedback on Carry You already,” said Jaymi.

“It’s a feel-good summer song. We didn’t want to release something that was too different from what people expect of us at first, but we’ve mixed it up a bit on the album.

“We’ve been through a lot in the short time we’ve been together and this song sums up how important it was for us to be there for each other.

“If you’d have told us at the beginning of the X Factor auditions that we’d have a record deal and would be releasing a single we wouldn’t have believed you.

“We’re so excited to release Carry You and hope everyone likes it as much as we do.”

They’ll be plenty of other graduates from the X Factor stable performing at North East Live including Little Mix, Amelia Lily and James Arthur.

Jaymi says he’s particularly looking forward to seeing the headliners.

“We’re looking forward to seeing JLS. To be on the same stage as them and see them before they break up is really exciting.

“They are the kind of band we look up to, that’s the dream. They’ve worked every day for the past five years, releasing albums and touring, and they can look back on a great pop career.”

Stadium doors will open at 1pm on the day with fairground rides and food and drink available in the courtyard areas from noon.

Capital Radio’s breakfast show team Bodg, Matt and JoJo will be on hand throughout the day to ensure the crowd is kept entertained between acts, with the first band, up and coming boyband starlets The Vamps, taking to the stage at around 2pm. The show is expected to close at about 10:30pm.

* Tickets priced from £25 are still available and can be purchased online at www.aeglive.co.uk or by calling 0871 230 1097 or 0844 477 5775.

North East Live tickets