Criminal psychology or pop star? Fauldhouse Love Island winner Paige Turley decides she is a singer at heart
Criminal psychology or music? That was the choice facing West Lothian’s Love Island winner, Paige Turley, as she prepared to leave Whitburn Academy – she chose music.
"Leaving school I had to choose between going to work in criminal psychology or music," she reflects, explaining, "I’ve always loved crime documentaries, as morbid as it is, and I have always been intrigued about the mental states of people who commit those crimes. Even when watching films I'm always trying to work out what the twists and turns are going to be, but I took the plunge, I enjoyed music so much that I went to college and university to study that… throughout lockdown, however, we have binged on so many crime shows."
The other half of the we that she refers to is boyfriend Finlay Tapp. The couple met on the popular reality TV show last year, it jettisoned both into the public eye although Paige herself had previous experience of being in the limelight.
From making the semi-finals of Britain's Got Talent at the age of 14 to winning Love Island aged 22, releasing her debut single that same year to, just last month, opening the new St James Quarter branch of Superdrug, the 23-year-old’s life has changed beyond all recognition over the last decade. Now based in Manchester, she admits nothing beats getting back to Scotland.
"It was so good to be back, as I said to my mum, it was so good to go there, do some work with Superdrug, then go home where my mum was like, 'Here's your dinner, hen'. The simple things. It was brilliant."
Down to Earth and upbeat, Paige is on good form when we chat. Brought up in Fauldhouse, West Lothian, where she attended Croftmalloch Primary and Whitburn Academy, she confesses that she has always "loved being the centre of attention."
She laughs, "Everyone at family parties had to watch me dance but I think the first time I properly got on stage and sang was in a school play; in P7 we did Cinderella Rockerfella, which was basically the story of Cinderella with some music in it."
Even back then, someone must have spotted the young Paige’s talent as she found herself playing the title role.
"It was actually dancing that I loved from a really young age,” she recalls. “I started singing when I joined a drama school. Then at 12 I started doing charity gigs and working with vocal coach Kathleen McShane, who was about 70 when I met her. She staged a charity concert every year at which her students sang, that was my first gig and it just snowballed from there."
Her mum and dad, a personal assistant in the NHS and a project manager, were very supportive, she says, when she told them of her dream to be a singer.
"They said, 'If that's what you want to do and that's what you love, go for it.’ They were really encouraging."
Which is how at just 14 she reached the semi-finals of Britain's Got Talent, although it's only on reflection that she realises what a big step that would prove to be.
"As I was so young, I was quite naive to everything that went on and how big the show was… when I got on it, that helped. Maybe if I'd been older and more aware I would have realised just how huge a thing it was. I have very fond memories of Britain's Got Talent but, because it was so long ago, it feels like watching a different person."
What Britain’s Got Talent did do was give Paige a brief insight into the world of TV for when she signed up for Love Island.
She laughs again as she admits, "Actually, I expected to go in and be lounging about, having the odd date. I certainly didn't expect the lack of sleep. Trying to get everyone's story meant we were filming a lot of the time. That was probably the biggest shock, I thought I was going for a holiday. It wasn't".
The hard work paid off, however, when not only did she win, but found love in the process.
"Even now it's still a pinch me moment. In all honesty, I never expected to meet someone. You hear of the success stories never thinking it's going to happen to you. I thought I'd maybe be in there for a week, go on a couple of dates and that would be it. So it was lovely to go in and become one of the success stories."
The initial whirlwind of public appearances that follow all reality TV show wins was curtailed for Paige and Finn when lockdown struck, something she regards now as a bonus.
"We only had three weeks from leaving the villa to going into lockdown. Before that I'd never really processed what had happened. I just went with the flow, going to events, being on red carpets, meeting all these people I'd seen on TV. It wasn't until lockdown that it sunk in and I had time to process the fact that I'd just met this guy on a show and now we were living together with this this new job and new found fame. That was good, lockdown allowed us to digest it a bit.
She reflects, "Watching previous years, I'd always felt that winners had been pulled up and down the country and, for the first three weeks, so were we, I would be in Scotland while Fin was in London then it would be vice versa, so we weren't really seeing each other. It was like, you go on this show to find somebody and then as soon as you are out of the Love Island bubble you never get to see each other.
"We were quite glad lockdown gave us time together to get to know each other. We're thankful for that."
One of the first things she did after winning was catch up with her pals back in Fauldhouse and she remembers, “Going on Love Island happened really quickly, I only told my pals a couple of days before I flew out to South Africa, they were like, 'Shut up! The actual Love Island!'
"When I won they were buzzing. We had a FaceTime and, since they’d seen everything that was happening in my life over the last six weeks, I was like, ‘I need to be told all your gossip and who is going out with who’," she beams.
As we begin to wrap up our chat, Kevin, her “wee Australian labradoodle”, begins to bark as if on cue. So is there anything Paige has learned about herself from the Love Island experience.
"To think before I open my mouth," she says, without hesitation, "but in lockdown, I learned that you need to take time out for yourself; I've been having two hour bubble baths at two o'clock in the afternoon, the water goes cold so I let it out and fill it up again. Giving yourself that time to snap out of the digital world is vital."
And as she dreams of releasing her first album, Paige has this advice for any Love Island hopefuls out there, "Be thick-skinned, have a good support network around you and be yourself. People like you for being you."