Jai McDowall used to be a careworker for young people with disabilities - this year, he's become a star since winning Britain's Got Talent in June.

We chatted to Jai about his upcoming album Believe, his carework, his time on The X Factor in 2010 and more

-Your debut comes out next month - excited?
Aye. Well, I'm excited on the inside. Everyone is like - “be excited on the outside“, but you don't wanna see it! Trust me. I am very excited, but I'm trying to keep calm about it too, just in case.

-Has it felt like quite a quick process, quite stressful, getting it out there?
I wouldn't say it was stressful - kinda quick-paced, quicker than I thought it'd be. With doing covers, it was slightly easier cos I knew most of the songs anyway.

If I'd wrote my own stuff, obviously it would've been a longer process. I just finished the show in June, and album's coming out in December - it's been a really quick process, I suppose.

-Is writing something you'd like to do more of in the future then?
Yeah, definitely. I'd love to try my hand at it. I don't play an instrument at this point in time, but I'd love to learn. Writing is something I'd like to do. I love hearing other artists who write their own stuff, cos you can relate to what they're writing about. I'd like to be that kind of artist in the future.

-You do have a good range, going from the Green Day track ['Boulevard of Broken Dreams'] and the duet on 'The Prayer'. Does that reflect your own taste?
Yeah - that was one of the things they talked about at the time. They asked me what was on my iPod. I was like...well...everything from Iron Maiden to Britney Spears!

I have got a very eclectic taste in music, and I think it's served me well during this whole process. I'm quite open minded, so it's been pretty good.

What happened in the process of picking the songs was I came with a list I liked, and the guy from Sony came with a list. We just picked through them all. Most of the songs he came with, I liked anyway. It was quite an easy process.

-In terms of the actual process, has it been much of a collaboration, in the sense that you've been able to get some control over the album?
Yeah. I'll be honest, I was quite surprised with the amount of input I had with the tracks, the cover and what it's all about - and the image.

Obviously when you see previous contestants they tend to say they didn't get that much control. It's an awful, strange thing, cos I was like - I got a lot!

Obviously I didn't get complete control, I'm new at it and I don't know the ins and outs. I was quite happy to hand over most of it, to be honest. I think I'd get bored in the studio trying to edit clips of my own voice.

-Going back to June, how did it feel to win the competition?
To be honest, there's no words to describe it. Because of where I'm from, what I've been doing with my life up until now, everything's been normal.

To have something like that, to be catapulted into this completely different world - it's a strange concept to try and grasp. Everyday, I'm pinching myself to make sure I'm not dreaming.

-It was quite tight between yourself and Ronan [Parke, runner up]. Are you pleased to see that he's still getting a chance to make a career?
Oh yeah, definitely. I'm actually doing a gig with him - I'm chuffed I'm getting to see him again. On the tours, all the contestants got really close, but I think cos me and him were the two singers, it was a nice to have that kinda connection.

It's strange how quickly we bonded, considering, on the show, there was a lot of controversy in the papers. For me and him, it didn't really matter - it was nice to put it aside and say "I like you, you like me - let's get on with it."

-You originally auditioned with 'Anthem'. What was it that drew you to that song?
Well, I used to do amateur theatre at home - that was how I got into this style of singing. The role I got was the part of Anatoly, the Russian chess player in the musical Chess, and he sung this song, 'Anthem'.

I thought if I was going to show off my voice and talent, I might as well do it with a song I love. I was just lucky that everybody else liked it too.

-You've always had a background in music, with your theatre roles too. Was that always the dream?
Yeah, from a young age. My dad's very musical, all four of my grandparents were quite musical - they liked a lot of karaoke-type stuff.

It was always something that was there, I was lucky that way to have that push. It wasn't until I was 15 or 16 that I decided - I'd love to do this as a career. Before that, it was just a hobby. I got into musicals by chance. It was a bit weird.

-Since winning Britain's Got Talent, you've had the tour. How was that?
Oh, that was awesome. Most of the places, besides Glasgow and Edinburgh, I hadn't been to. It was good even just for that, to see the country and meet the people that appreciated what I was doing.

It was a completely different experience from singing in an empty pub or something like that. I actually can't wait to go touring again. I love performing live, you know? You get a buzz off it, especially when the crowd's on your side.

-In terms of playing live, you'll play your biggest show so far next month, at the Royal Variety Show. Are there any nerves ahead of that, or just excitement?
Well, a bit of both, but I'm definitely nervous! They're still here, I just move around the stage a lot more so I can control them. I think the shaky legs will definitely come out. It's the Queen, I can't not be nervous!

-Last year you auditioned for The X Factor. After getting to Boot Camp there, how was it moving to BGT and going all the way?
It was weird, it was a different experience. I thought about it right at the start, before I entered. I don't know if I could've gone back again, if that makes sense. For years I've tried things like demos and auditions, and never really got anywhere.

I got a bit of a buzz on The X Factor. I got through to the Boot Camp stages, and I enjoyed the process, but I think the Britain's Got Talent process was a little nicer.

X Factor, because they're trying to make you a pop star, it's more rigorous, longer hours.

Britain's Got Talent...you have to do a lot of work on it, but they're focusing on your talent as such, not trying to create something you're not. I suited that well, cos I didn't wanna be something I'm not.

-Both shows do come under criticism from people in the industry. Do you think the shows are still good platforms for up-coming artists?
To be honest, yeah. Well, obviously I'm biased, but my life has completely changed. I've had to do lot of hard work since the show - it's not easy, and you're not automatically the cat's pyjamas, going to sell hundreds of record.

You've gotta get the fans, gig and travel. It's definitely something that if a friend of mine asked if they should go on it, I'd say "Yeah, go for it," if they had what it takes.

-Before the shows you were a support worker for young people with disabilities. Did you ever imagine, at that stage, you'd get this platform?
No, not really. One of the guys I supported, he loves The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent, and he went on the tour last year. He came back from the tour, and he was telling me all about it.

He went: "You're better than most of them." I was like "Aye Robert, ok son [laughs]". "You should go for it" - "Ok, son." I thought...well, I'm not good enough for that.

One day, I had time off work, I'd just got a new house, I was doing it up. I was on the internet, and it came up on Facebook. I clicked on it, sent for an application and didn't think anything of it. I got an audition date, when I'd forgotten I signed up for it. Here we are!

-In terms of the work you did before, are you hoping to use your platform to raise awareness for charities and things like that?
Well, recently - in the last couple of months - I've been affiliating myself with Mencap. It's about getting young people with disabilities out into their communities and living their own life. I used my previous knowledge from my job to work to help.

It's something that goes unspoken at times. It's only really fairly new that people that I used to support would be able to get their own houses. I met a boy that I used to support the other day, his parents live in the same village I do.

He was dead chuffed, I had to apologise I hadn't seen him, cos I'd been travelling the country. He gets it. He did say that he missed me, I miss him too.

You form a bond - you spend more time with them than your own family, some weeks. It's a difficult thing to break away from, but that's why I wanted to stick with it.

It sounds dead corny, but I don't just wanna be the singer celebrity guy - I wanna do something with it. I wanna make it worth my while, and worthwhile to the guys that believe in me and got me where I am. I just wanna give something back.

Female First - Alistair McGeorge (Follow me on Twitter @AlistairMcG)

Jai McDowall used to be a careworker for young people with disabilities - this year, he's become a star since winning Britain's Got Talent in June.

We chatted to Jai about his upcoming album Believe, his carework, his time on The X Factor in 2010 and more

-Your debut comes out next month - excited?
Aye. Well, I'm excited on the inside. Everyone is like - “be excited on the outside“, but you don't wanna see it! Trust me. I am very excited, but I'm trying to keep calm about it too, just in case.

-Has it felt like quite a quick process, quite stressful, getting it out there?
I wouldn't say it was stressful - kinda quick-paced, quicker than I thought it'd be. With doing covers, it was slightly easier cos I knew most of the songs anyway.

If I'd wrote my own stuff, obviously it would've been a longer process. I just finished the show in June, and album's coming out in December - it's been a really quick process, I suppose.

-Is writing something you'd like to do more of in the future then?
Yeah, definitely. I'd love to try my hand at it. I don't play an instrument at this point in time, but I'd love to learn. Writing is something I'd like to do. I love hearing other artists who write their own stuff, cos you can relate to what they're writing about. I'd like to be that kind of artist in the future.

-You do have a good range, going from the Green Day track ['Boulevard of Broken Dreams'] and the duet on 'The Prayer'. Does that reflect your own taste?
Yeah - that was one of the things they talked about at the time. They asked me what was on my iPod. I was like...well...everything from Iron Maiden to Britney Spears!

I have got a very eclectic taste in music, and I think it's served me well during this whole process. I'm quite open minded, so it's been pretty good.

What happened in the process of picking the songs was I came with a list I liked, and the guy from Sony came with a list. We just picked through them all. Most of the songs he came with, I liked anyway. It was quite an easy process.

-In terms of the actual process, has it been much of a collaboration, in the sense that you've been able to get some control over the album?
Yeah. I'll be honest, I was quite surprised with the amount of input I had with the tracks, the cover and what it's all about - and the image.

Obviously when you see previous contestants they tend to say they didn't get that much control. It's an awful, strange thing, cos I was like - I got a lot!

Obviously I didn't get complete control, I'm new at it and I don't know the ins and outs. I was quite happy to hand over most of it, to be honest. I think I'd get bored in the studio trying to edit clips of my own voice.

-Going back to June, how did it feel to win the competition?
To be honest, there's no words to describe it. Because of where I'm from, what I've been doing with my life up until now, everything's been normal.

To have something like that, to be catapulted into this completely different world - it's a strange concept to try and grasp. Everyday, I'm pinching myself to make sure I'm not dreaming.

-It was quite tight between yourself and Ronan [Parke, runner up]. Are you pleased to see that he's still getting a chance to make a career?
Oh yeah, definitely. I'm actually doing a gig with him - I'm chuffed I'm getting to see him again. On the tours, all the contestants got really close, but I think cos me and him were the two singers, it was a nice to have that kinda connection.

It's strange how quickly we bonded, considering, on the show, there was a lot of controversy in the papers. For me and him, it didn't really matter - it was nice to put it aside and say "I like you, you like me - let's get on with it."

-You originally auditioned with 'Anthem'. What was it that drew you to that song?
Well, I used to do amateur theatre at home - that was how I got into this style of singing. The role I got was the part of Anatoly, the Russian chess player in the musical Chess, and he sung this song, 'Anthem'.

I thought if I was going to show off my voice and talent, I might as well do it with a song I love. I was just lucky that everybody else liked it too.

-You've always had a background in music, with your theatre roles too. Was that always the dream?
Yeah, from a young age. My dad's very musical, all four of my grandparents were quite musical - they liked a lot of karaoke-type stuff.