7 March 2012
THE BEST LIVE MUSIC AT A VENUE NEAR YOU
Rebecca Ferguson: Where’s that bleeding taxi?
Rebecca Ferguson: Interviewed By Ben East
Tour dates: 8/3 Cardiff St Davids Hall 9/3 Liverpool Philharmonic 12/3 Bristol Colston Hall 13/3 London Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Hailed as perhaps the first credible pop star to graduate from The X Factor, Ferguson’s journey to the release of her stunning debut album Heaven has been nothing short of remarkable. Losing out to Matt Cardle in the final but taking her time to record an album of wonderfully emotive soul, the 25-year-old
Liverpudlian has finally, deservedly, made it after years of struggle and knock-backs. Rebecca’s debut ‘Heaven’ has sold over half a million copies, and her new single ‘Too Good To Lose’ is out this week. Famously, you turned down all the songs the record company offered you. As someone who rose to fame via The X Factor, that must have been quite a difficult conversation. Not for me! If something doesn’t fit with me then I won’t do it. To be honest there wasn’t that much of a
struggle with the record company. I just told them that if they wanted me to be credible artist then they definitely needed to let me write the album. And, pretty much, they went along with that. Once you knew that this would be “your” album, what happened next? It’s quite a classic sound you’ve gone for, rather than one that draws on the sound of 2011. Well, I wasn’t actually listening to any new music when I started writing it, I was completely concentrated and focussed on my own material for seven months. I
Rebecca Ferguson do have the most random iPod, everything from Swedish House Mafia to the classical singer Lisa Gerrard, to Katy Perry and Kings Of Leon. But my real love is that classic old school soul sound; Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke. There’s just something about them as singers isn’t there? They just ooze soul. They feel every word. I would love people to say the same about my music, so the inspiration came from them, really. You worked with some great songwriters in the end, including Eg White. How was that? I had some help! But I wanted my songs to mean something, so it just felt really important that they came from me. I think people can recognise when songs are sung from the heart. Your debut single Nothing But Real Love is a case in point - it’s really heartfelt. Can you explain what you were thinking when you wrote it? I’d had a bit of a bad day in the studio and I was having this conversation with Eg about how the most important thing for me wasn’t money or cars but my family, the people I care about. That’s what’s real, after all. And he jumped up and said “wow, let’s write about it!” It’s so interesting to see how easily people Rebecca’s debut album Heaven has sold over 500,000 copies.
I’ve always said to myself that no matter what happens, I want to make an album that I’m proud of. To be honest, how successful it is doesn’t matter so much to me as whether I can listen to it and say “that’s me, and I believed in that”. get caught up in the things that don’t matter, isn’t it? So once we’d talked about that some more, it all flowed out. It must be difficult to keep your feet on the ground though. You’ve had an incredible journey from a relatively tough upbringing, being a single mother, to the release of one of the most eagerly awaited albums of the year. Well, I’ve always said to myself that no matter what happens, I want to make an album that I’m proud of. To be honest, how successful it is doesn’t matter so much to me as whether I can listen to it and say “that’s me, and I believed in that”. And I think my journey is reflected in some of the songs. I mean, I talk about what it’s like to be a singer when nothing’s really happening for you, or about not relying on things which could so easily slip away. I’ve made quite a “real” record, I think.
Rebecca Ferguson It’s interesting you should talk about being a struggling singer. Looking back now, was The X Factor your last chance for a singing career? I’d agree with that. I’d been sitting in studios and sending off demos for years and I was just losing the will to keep doing it. So I said to myself I was going to give myself one last chance and then I’d have to go and do a “mum-career”! I got the e-mail from The X Factor asking me to audition and I must admit, I’d forgotten that I’d applied because I’d arranged something else that day. I decided to go to the audition - but it was more by chance than I care to think about now! So what was it like going back to The X Factor this year? It must have been quite weird in some ways. I loved it, not least because I knew I could sing my song and get off the stage, rather than have to stand in front of a panel and wait for a bad comment! But I did make a conscious decision to enjoy it, because you never know whether you’ll get the chance again. It was very emotional too, going back a year on. So much has changed. What was the moment when you realised what you’d achieved? When I turned on the Christmas lights in Liverpool. The crowd that turned out was amazing. I stood on the stage and had one of those moments where I thought “what is going on!” I couldn’t believe how many people were there to see me. With fame comes the unfortunate by-product that everything you say is picked up on. Are you a bit more careful with your opinions these days?
It appears that there’s more interest in your record than Matt Cardle’s, who of course beat you to first place last year. Do you think male winners find it more difficult? The women do seem to do better, don’t they? I mean, look at Alexandra Burke and Leona Lewis. But when you get to the final you have that chance of a career in music whether you win or not. It depends on the person really. In the same week as your X Factor performance in front of millions this year, you played in a pub. How was that? You know what, it was much scarier than playing for a huge audience because you can see everybody’s reaction! But there was something great about it too. The spontaneity of live performance with musicians is fantastic - when something goes wrong you just have to get on with it. Anything can happen, it doesn’t have to be squeaky clean. I can’t wait to do the tour next year. Presumably you had sung live before your X Factor success? Yes, but not a selection of my own album tracks! That’s what was interesting in the pub, you could see how these new songs were being received. I was slightly nervous actually because you can never really tell how people will take to someone who was on the X Factor. People have opinions, don’t they, about the show - and not all of them are positive. But thankfully, everyone was really lovely. And the reviews for the record are pretty good too.
I know, and I must admit I was nervous because it’s not a typical pop record. But I hope people get what I’m trying to do with it. Selling millions of albums would be It is difficult. The problem is with me, I’m too honest! great, of course, but if just one person came up to me I’ll never be a robot, a poppet that people can put in a box. I’ve learned over the past year that you have to be and said “you know what, your song really helped me”, that would be amazing. Everybody Hurts by REM true to yourself if you want to stay sane. It’s quite a Scouse thing, I think, to be quite straight up with people came on the radio one day, and really helped me out of - I’ll get in a taxi in Liverpool and the driver will be full one of the worst times in my life. And that’s what I want one of my songs to achieve. That’s what I love of advice for me! It can be misinterpreted of course, about music - it has that power. but I think in the end being honest is respected.