He became one of Love Island’s most popular residents when he joined the show in 2018, and now boasts 1.6 million followers on Instagram and 420,000 on TikTok.
But for Wes Nelson, music is now his focus. He’s turned down hundreds and thousands of pounds in prospective brand and TV deals, but it seems his decision is working out well – his debut single, released this week, instantly attracted notable fans such as Anthony Joshua, Derek Chisora and Idris Elba.
“I’ve done a lot in 22 years,” says the former Muay Thai champion and nuclear system design engineer. “Music is the only thing that’s really resonated - this is the one thing I really want to do. It’s not a passion project or a whim. I’m in this for the long haul.”
The single, See Nobody, was written at the beginning of lockdown after Wes split from his girlfriend. Setting up a makeshift studio in his friend’s spare bedroom, Wes taught himself how to use music recording and production program Logic and spent the following weeks writing and producing songs. See Nobody is the very first track that Wes recorded and it came out fast, in less than two hours.
“It’s about committing to your ambitions and going clear, making your way through the hustle and bustle and coming out on top,” says Wes of the track. “I’ve left everything behind to make music and I’m happy to do that.”
But Wes was aware that the move to music could be met with scepticism. He said: “I knew what the stigma would be and I knew some people would think ‘Oh he’s trying to cross over, he’s just trying to capitalise on it, fair enough, but the music is going to be rubbish’. I want the music to do the talking.
“As long as you’re producing good music, people’s opinions and perceptions of you will follow. You can’t get people to like you before they’ve even heard anything you’re gonna release. I’m not going to fight a losing battle – I would rather put all of my energy into making good music and then when it’s released people can have their opinions.”
And this dedication runs in the family. “I’m a perfectionist,” says Wes. “I think all my family are perfectionists. My cousins are Olympians, my dad’s a successful businessman, my brother’s a footballer. Everyone’s super focused on their craft.
“I’ve always been a jack of all trades and a master of none but I always knew that I wanted to be a master of music. I just never went for it. I’d get distracted by doing this or that and put 100 per cent of myself into something else. So then my dad said ‘You need to focus on one thing – what do you actually want to do?’
"He is super, super supportive of everything that I do but I think for me is just a moment of realization – and I think it has for a lot of people in lockdown – of what’s really important for my happiness, my wellbeing, my career moving forward.
“Music is the only thing that I see me doing from now on. I think that’s all that I want to do. I love it to pieces. When I put my mind to something, it becomes obsessive. It seems like this is what I want to do because I don’t like making excuses. If I lose because I’ve not put effort in or all of the effort I possibly could have been put in, I will kick myself. Yeah. If I lose, knowing that I put every ounce of energy into it, I don’t know. That’s my fault. I only have myself to blame.”
And he’s thrilled with the reception from celebrities. He said: “ I haven’t got over that yet! I called Anthony Joshua and he was on a private jet! Idris is a busy, busy guy - he’s A-list! I was super humbled.”
The single was released on September 18 and is available from streaming services.