Singer-songwriter Lucy Spraggan will grace the stage of Whelans, Wexford Street, on Sunday the 3rd of May. A recent chat with the 23 year old Sheffield artist found her busy in rehearsals and just hanging about with the band as she explained that they haven’t been on the road together for a while.
With regards to the venue she said she has never played there before, but she has been drinking there, so the vibe is familiar. On the upcoming gig in Whelans, she said, “I have got a band coming with me, there are three people in the band. Kal Lavelle is coming to play with me and supporting me there. She is Irish actually and it should be a laugh. I have a drummer, bassist, piano player and I play guitar, obviously.”
Speaking of guitars, Lucy got her first one at age ten. “It’s good to start when you are younger,” she commented, and she found that that is what she liked doing, also adding that she listened to a lot of country music like Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton growing up.
How was her experience on the X Factor? I mused, and asked how have things been going since she bowed out of the competition. “My experience was that the people and the production staff were really great. It’s probably not very suitable for a musician. If you want to promote your own stuff you can go on and do your own songs, but if you don’t have your own songs maybe go and do the X Factor,” she said.
“I just managed to do my own thing. I think people’s impressions of success are different from person to person. Some people that watch the X Factor might think, well if I am on the TV, then I am successful. But for me to be able to tour for six months of the year and release a record every year for a long time rather than for some time. To me, that is success and that is always what I have really wanted. I also thoroughly didn’t enjoy being famous,” she added.
Lucy was swiftly signed to Columbia Records in 2012, however when the option came up to do a second record, Lucy decided against it and opted to take matters, and indeed her career, into her own hands. “I have actually started my own record label called CTRL (Control) Records. Another group and I have invested and we are releasing a record, so everyone actually makes some money rather than just the label. Obviously if the fan base is there and you think you can sell enough, I think you should do that,” she explains.
“I made a lot of money in doing live stuff and off the back of the X Factor. With regards to records, my album went to number seven in the top ten and I probably didn’t even see a penny after my advance. I thought this time, you know what, I am going to do things my way.” To that effect the name of her label is very appropriate, commanding and poetically fitting.
With a diverse career path in her wake, Lucy has trained as a plumber, been in rap groups, was a magician, a tour guide in a cave and studied Buddhism in Scotland. On asking about this, she laughed, saying she moved out when she was fifteen and did many things apart from music for a long time. “I was a plumber’s apprentice for a while and I actually really loved that job and if the music doesn’t work out I will go back to fixing people’s toilets.”
Chronologically, her albums are the independently released 2011 debut Top Room at the Zoo and Join the Club, which was released in October 2103 via Columbia. Her latest album is due for release on May 4th, entitled We Are. “It’s basically like a documentary,” she said of her latest and imminent album. Describing it as pretty honest and pretty raw, she explained that, “it’s got loads of different styles on songs on there so it is definitely different. This new album is folk, pop, rock.”
Next we turned our attention to tattoos. On being asked about the fact that she has the name of fellow ex-X Factor contestant Olly Murs inked on her foot, she explained that it was a dare from him. With regards to other tattoos I learned that she has two sleeves, one on her right arm and half a sleeve on her left. “I am pretty much covered in them really,” she laughed, “but I haven’t got any on my hands or neck.”
Body art is such a profoundly personal expression, so does she apply the same passion to the visual side of her music with regards to album covers. “Yeah,” she said, “creatively I like everything to be a bit of canvas really.”
“They are all looked at by me and put in the right dimensions. My mate Wendy takes the pictures and all of my tattoos have got some kind of meaning. I actually go to Zulu Tattoos in Dublin when I am there. I like that place,” she added.
She is staying in Dublin that night after the gig but leaving very early in the morning because she has an album signing the next day in Birmingham, but may try and get another tattoo, time permitting.