Without any doubt, Lucy Spraggan is one of our brighter stars. Anyone that can release 5 albums in the past 9 years with an exciting sixth on the way early next year, play world famous Glastonbury twice, with this year’s third appearance sadly postponed, has certainly stood the most important first test for any artist, the test of time. That she should be more excited now about the future than feasibly at any time before, looking forward to a record she thinks might just be her best proves she has so much to give.
It’s been a turbulent year for Lucy having split up with wife Georgina Gordon after 3 1/2 years of marriage and a six year relationship, launching herself into a fitness regime that has seen her lose three stone and start her own fitness business, ‘Fully Rewired’, and getting sober for a year. This is a woman who is not afraid to look forward.
Her new single ‘Flowers’ dropped on September 11 with a grittier, sexier almost Arctic Monkeys vibe and a cool new video. I had the privilege to chat with Lucy last week and came away inspired.
EP: Does it drive you mad that every article written about you starts with a reference to X Factor ? I even hate asking the question as it falls into the same old trap, but at least we can put it to bed straight away.
LS: It was nearly 10 years ago but I understand it. It’s a funny one because to do an article about somebody means that it’s newsworthy so you’d assume that somebody’s either going to read that article based on the contents of it or not. So, to say Lucy Spraggan or X Factor’s Lucy Spraggan…. you may as well not say it, but I understand that my name is synonymous with that show. So, it does annoy me as I could be Glastonbury’s Lucy Spraggan because this would have been my third year at Glastonbury, it could be album selling or seventh album writing Lucy Spraggan.
EP: This was my point because since X Factor you’ve pretty much released an album every two years, you’ve found a lot of critical acclaim, you’ve played Glastonbury twice, as you say, with what would have been a third time lined up this year. I’ve seen you play a few times and it drives me a bit mad as there’s so much more to you than X Factor. I was curious to see what you thought…
LS: Part of the magic of being the anomaly I am is the way that some people think I am a “celebrity” and other people think I am a musician, a credible songwriter and then there are people who have absolutely no idea who I am. But, from being born kind of out of reality TV and then ditching that and going back into my roots of playing the club circuit it gave me a different place to anyone else I know.
EP: With the release of the brilliant song ‘Flowers’, and Spring’s release of the album ‘Choices’, where do you see your musical direction ?
EP: I guess so , yes. I think ‘Flowers’ is, well, not a change of direction, but it feels a little grittier?
LS: So, I spent a lot of time in the Midwest of America last year and I really love that Tarantino ‘Once Upon A Time in Hollywood’, ‘Pulp Fiction’ sound and I wanted to come at this album in a different way. I could continue making the same kind of album over and over again for the next ten years but I wanted to come back and say yes this is me, but I’ve changed a lot as a person and I really wanted to reflect that in the album. I felt like ‘Flowers’ is a good one to start on….quite a lot of difference but not straying too far away.
EP: It feels a little like a relaunch for you? With all of the great songwriting that came beforehand still in there but just a little more punch, I thought….
LS: Yes, I’ve kind of had a bit of a relaunch in life to be honest so….I wanted to do something different, something sexy, something pretty.
EP: I love it….
LS: Did you notice that it’s slightly based on ‘Fur Elise’ [Lucy bursts into a beautiful hummed ‘Fur Elise’ followed by the opening lines of ‘Flowers’].
EP: Wow, of course, I can’t believe I didn’t spot that!
LS: Nobody has…I love it. That was the point, it was trying to get into peoples heads with a familiar tune…
EP: Yes like Jason Derulo and the Tik Tok song haha, not that they are in any way the same …it creates an instantly familiar earworm without the listener realising why!
LS: This is the thing, I’ve done it with a few songs so I like that approach. They are all songs without copyright, like ‘Happy Birthday’, or ‘Humpty Dumpty’, but I was messing around with melody sitting at the piano and thought aaahh how about ‘Fur Elise’….cool!
EP: Going back to your life relaunch, away from the music it’s been a tough year but you seem to be looking forward from a healthy place….given what an honest songwriter you are ‘Choices’ must feel quite therapeutic. Did that make it the easiest album you’ve written with so much raw personal inspiration or did every word feel a little like laying your soul bare?
LS: It always feels like laying my soul a bit bare. That’s kind of what I do it for I suppose. I always say to my friends, “where do you put your emotions if you don’t write songs?” That’s what I’ve always done. It’s a diary but that’s how I process things. So at first there were a few songs that I was like “I don’t want to sit down and write this because I didn’t want to know how I feel about it”. You can push emotions away quite easily unless you have to lay them out on the table and write about them so it was emotional , cathartic but it’s what I do. I write about me and I can’t not write about the truth really.
EP: This last year whilst filled with some sadness has, on a positive note, given you lots of inspiration?
LS: It’s been massively positive. There are things in life , a turbulent period that you look back on and think…ok that’s why that happened…..
EP: I hate to pry, and please tell me if I am, but I was reading about your split from your wife and how that has panned out. If something so traumatic can have a positive aspect, it really feels like you’ve come out on the other side in a far better place
LS: 100 percent. There are things in life that you end up being surrounded by and you have no idea that they are holding you back. Situations, financial commitments, and when you find yourself out of those places it’s liberating. Sometimes it’s to the detriment of other people, I accept that, but this is the year for me of completely being inward and if that seems selfish then that’s what I’ve been but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
EP: Sometimes you have to look after number one and if for some people that seems selfish, for others it will feel like making sure you are looking after yourself and believing in yourself . It depends which way you come at it I guess.
LS: I couldn’t have done many of the things I’ve done, I’ve pushed boundaries, done stuff with my body that I have never thought imaginable. I would not have been able to do that last year…
EP: That nicely brings me to your fitness initiative ‘Fully Rewired’. You’re looking amazing, by the way!
LS: Thank you!
EP: Has this new personal impetus helped you? The discipline, the goals ? My son is a personal trainer and a songwriter and he really embraced the discipline and felt that working to goals and understanding his body helped him better understand the emotions he was writing about? Targeting different physical parts of his body helped him target different emotional parts…
LS: 100 percent! 100 percent! Its not just that, It’s the across the board discipline with food. I don’t drink anymore. We’re all coming from striving and thinking I could do better and it’s the same with the music this time around. It’s like…this is what I’m writing, if it’s not good enough I’ll change it. There’s a song on the album called ‘Run’ which starts, “I want to run to the end of the world just to see if it’s possible”, and it’s about running, it’s kind of metaphorical as it’s about running but it’s also about keeping going, don’t stop until you achieve your goals….
EP: Absolutely, not just the goal I guess but the journey to it. One foot in front of the other…I think physically you must have proved to yourself that anything is achievable…
LS: Literally, anything is possible!
EP: That must give you massive confidence with the music to push on…
LS: It’s like, I’ve never had an award or an Ivor Novello or anything like that. I’ve never had any accolades and I was thinking it used to really piss me off that I’d just written the best that I can, really tried to stay in this industry as long as possible and to some people it’s a massive surprise. They are like “How the fuck are you still doing albums?” Honestly, now, I think if I make the best record I can I don’t give a shit. My accolades are from people saying this album’s great or this album did this for me. I know this is a good record, probably the best record I’ve ever written and I’m ready for people to hear that.
EP: I guess one of the positives of lockdown is that it’s allowed artists time to be a little more in one place and forced artists into social media contact with their fan base and new listeners alike. Do you think that’s brought you closer to your fans?
LS: I’ve always been pretty personal with fans, quite up close. I have a quite personal relationship. I think that’s because of the stuff that I sing about. I did a lot of lives over lockdown even though my internet is shit, it was a terrible lockdown for internet in my house but I do think that. I think you do become more introspective; I’ve never stopped, never sat down and stayed somewhere in my life and this is the first time I’ve done that. At the beginning I was like “oooh shit what is this?” I’d been on tour for eight years…
EP: I can’t wait to get back to seeing live music and feel a bit like I took live music for granted. I think an upshot of this is that music fans will never take live music for granted again!
LS: I hope not!
EP: But on the other hand it’s been inspiring to see the live music on line which has really helped people through lockdown, and singers have carried on doing it even if there has been only 20 people listening . One of those people could have been saved by your music on-line…
LS: I’ll never take playing live for granted again. At the beginning I thought I’d be ok, but then after a few months it was like I’ve never not played shows since I was 12 when I did my first show. Removing that has been really crazy!
EP: For the musicians it’s been tough not playing, but for the fans too it’s been tough not seeing their favourite singers!
LS: I can’t bloody wait!
EP: Well you’ve got a lots of exciting things ahead. A great single, a sexy new video, an album and hopefully a tour in early 2021 if we ever get back to normal.
LS: Fingers crossed.
EP: Good luck with everything, it’s been a real pleasure chatting with you Lucy!