'There’s a bit of sadness and a bit of heartbreak': Eight years in and Lucy Spraggan's still got the career thrill
She made her name on the X Factor. And today that seems odd, because the least interesting thing about Lucy Spraggan is that she made her debut in front of Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh and the usual suspects.
It was a compelling performance that showcased her impressive talent as a singer-songwriter, deft lyricist and assured performer.
And while ill health brought an end to her run, X Factor did nothing more than provide a platform for her talent. She’d already been writing and performing for eight years – and another eight years have passed since.
These days, she’s got the body of an Olympic athlete. After an 11-month diet and fitness plan, she’s got the sort of abs that Dame Kelly Holmes once had.
She’s built an impressive career with an album every two years, all of which have made the top 20 – with the surprise exception of her debut.
She’s planning to record a new album this summer and if social distancing is eased during the autumn, she’ll be back on the road with a UK tour.
Spraggan’s career has been built on chirpy pop songs, though her newer record will reveal harder times.
She’s going through a divorce and has been sober for nine months, while she’s shed three stone in a little more than that.
“I’m positive,” she says. “I’m doing the new record. I’ve got all the songs now and the next thing is to head up to Scotland with a producer to do some vocals. Normally for a record, I’d be sitting behind him, whispering in his ear, but with social distancing I can’t do that this time.”
She’s thrilled with her creative direction; it’s rare that an artist says anything different. But there is a notable shift in where she’s heading.
“I love the tracks. It’s a totally different sounding record. Lots of my stuff has been happy go lucky. This is the stuff that doesn’t care.
“There’s a bit of sadness and a bit of heartbreak. When relationships get a little salty, there are saltier songs. The album will be out in October, with the first single in the summer. It’s very different.”
When Spraggan made that appearance on the X Factor, the quality of her music wasn’t the only notable one. Her humility and vulnerability also stood-out. For a while, it seemed as though she was surprised that people actually liked her music, that they cared to listen. And though she’s now eight years into a professional career, it remains a thrill just to be doing this.
“I feel very privileged to have a career. There’s a lot of musicians who aren’t making anything at all. I’m not in the worst position, thankfully, that’s a massive privilege.”
And any lasting thoughts on the X Factor? Not really. “It was eight years ago now and I don’t remember very much at all. From a career perspective, it was beneficial but it was a strange time.
“I’ve been singing since I was 12. So I didn’t do the show until I was 20 or something. I was as seasoned as you can be at that age but nothing can prepare you for that phenomena. Becoming known isn’t something you can prepare for. I couldn’t offer anyone any advice on how to deal with it. It is a total whirlwind. It’s totally overwhelming.”
The X Factor breeds fame, it doesn’t breed success. And fame is pointless when you need to sell 300 tickets to a show.
“After the X Factor it’s funny. As you see on the TV show, TV is very different to the music industry. You might be on the TV all the time but not be able to sell 300 tickets in London.
“But the people who watch the X Factor are not the people who buy albums. It’s a different league.
“To a degree TV helps but it depends what you want to be. I didn’t want to be talked about or in magazines because that scares me. I wanted to tour and I’ve been touring relentlessly for the last eight years.
“That’s the absolute. To get that longevity is great. And it’s like anything, you get better at it.
“I was an apprentice plumber back in the day, I’d go to work and learn something new. It’s the same with music. You develop and your music gets better. That’s how it is for me. People talk about me being on the show but I couldn’t be further away from that.”
Spraggan has reached the grand age of, erm, 29, and has hit levels of maturity that had previously eluded her. As a musician and as a person, she’s grown. She’s consistently popular, selling out tours and hitting the road in America twice a year and Germany frequently.
Any regrets? “There’s plenty I’d have done differently. I’d think I would have not jumped into so many things with both feet, as a musician and as a person. I’d have walked with greater trepidation, which I do now. I think about things a lot more now and I’m way more of a business person than I was before. I used to care what people think, I’m not bothered now.”
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