Jahmene Douglas saunters into the room, with a big grin and hugs for everyone.
Dressed in a black T-shirt, navy hoodie and jeans, which are “super tight” because they haven’t been worn in yet, The X-Factor runner-up is in an upbeat mood.
“I can’t complain, I’m blessed,” he says. “I’ve been up to so much. Half the time, I can’t even remember what I did last week.”
This outgoing Douglas seems a different person to the shy singer we saw on the ITV talent show last year, with mentor Nicole Scherzinger telling him to “grow some balls”.
His sensitive soul and nervous giggles hit a note with viewers, and Douglas signed a record deal with RCA after finishing as runner-up to winner James Arthur. “I think shy is a common misconception, I think they get shy confused with humble and reserved. I’ll talk at the right times and when I feel the need to talk,” says the 22-year-old.
“I’m comfortable now,” he adds. “I came from witness protection and not being able to do things and go to parties. I was one of those kids that was just inside all the time, so to go from that to TV cameras in your face, it was intense. I wouldn’t change anything though, because it’s helped me grow to who I am now.”
His earnest brown eyes and smile hide a nightmarish childhood, witnessing his mother Mandy suffer horrendous abuse at the hands of his father, Eustace, who was eventually jailed.
Along with his three siblings and Mandy, Douglas was later entered into a witness protection programme.
While he’s not going into details today, he is using his experiences to help others in the same situation, by becoming a youth ambassador for domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid. He also donated the profits from his single Titanium to the organisation.
“I got annoyed when papers said I’m a ‘sob story’. I didn’t want people going through the same thing to define themselves as being closed, miserable and sad, they should be happy and in control of themselves. People need to know I’ve switched the negative into a positive and am raising money for a good cause,” he says.
It’s incredible to think that, not that long ago, he was working in the Swindon branch of Asda.
He says he had doubts about doing The X-Factor initially, though. “I said no at first because it’s a pop show. It really wasn’t for me and I thought there was no point going on there because I won’t get anywhere. But my manager convinced me,” he reveals.
“I’ve become more comfortable in who I am. The real Jahmene is probably a little bit unhinged and probably needs therapy, but I’m happy.”