Lucy Spraggan, an English singer and songwriter, chats with Kevin Cooper about the release of her cover of t.A.T.u’s All The Things She Said, being ten months sober, her X Factor experience and the release of her latest album, Choices, on 16th October 2020.

Lucy Spraggan is an English singer and songwriter. She auditioned for The X Factor in 2012, performing her own composition, Last Night, and was successful in getting on to the televised rounds. However, in November 2012, it was announced that she would be quitting her run on The X Factor due to illness, so she subsequently finished in ninth place, and second in her category. She was the first contestant in the show’s history to achieve a top forty single and album before the live shows had aired, with her independently released album Top Room At The Zoo.

Signing with Columbia Records her debut album, Join The Club, was released in October 2013 and reached number seven in the UK charts. Since then she has released three more studio albums on her current record label, Cooking Vinyl Records.

Spraggan married her partner, Georgina Gordon, in June 2016, but unfortunately the two separated in November 2019 after three years and five months of marriage.

Whilst busy putting the final touches to her latest album during the national lockdown, Spraggan took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what she had to say.

Lucy good morning, how are you?

I’m very well thank you Kevin; how are you doing?

Not too bad thank you. I’m currently climbing the walls like everybody else is (laughter).

I know what you mean, it’s not too bad when the weather is nice but it’s awful when it’s raining.

I totally agree with you, it’s lovely when you can sit outside in the sunshine and do absolutely nothing.

Exactly (laughter).

You and I have something in common.

Do we, what’s that?

Without gigs neither of us are earning any money.

That’s very true, so yes, we really do have something in common (laughter).

These are strange and terrible times that we find ourselves in at the moment, but the good thing is that we are all banding together in an attempt to beat this thing.

Yes, we are, and I am sure that we will get through this eventually.

Now before we move on, let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

It’s not a problem; thank you for taking the time to speak to me.

And how are you coping with your lockdown hair (laughter).

(Laughter) I keep hearing everyone complaining about their hairdressers being closed but to be totally honest with you, apart from having a few hairdresser friends who obviously need to work, a haircut is absolutely the last thing that I have been thinking about (laughter). Just what is wrong with these people; don’t they realise that they won’t have any hair to cut if they die of a global disease. Just how stupid can people be? I really do despair at times but hey ho.

Anyway, swiftly moving on, I have to tell you that I photographed and reviewed your gig on the 21st February last year.

I bet you wrote that ‘it was a terrible show’. No, I’m joking (laughter). Which one was it?

You opened at The Town Hall Birmingham for Melissa Etheridge.

Really, well I have to say that I loved all of those shows.

They only gave you thirty minutes, but I have to say that you totally blew me away.

Nice one, thank you. That was such an amazing tour. Over the last eight years I haven’t really played that many shows at the smaller venues and it is something that I really would love to do again. The Birmingham Town Hall is amazing, and I would love to play there again. Being a support act, for me, is like stress-free touring (laughter).

We are going to be talking about what you are currently up to, but if I may, I would like to take you back to May 2019 and your last album Today Was A Good Day. I have to say that I think that it is a fantastic piece of work.

Thank you very much for saying that, thank you. To be honest I was really cautious about putting that album out simply because it wasn’t my favourite album that I had written. Having said that it was really well received which I was quite excited about.

At that time, your UK fans were saying that it was your best work to date. Would you agree with that?

No, I don’t (laughter). That’s always the way isn’t it, whoever you speak to, artists never seem to like the album that everyone else likes especially when they have written it (laughter).

Many of the artists that I speak to say releasing a new album is like giving one of your children away.

(Laughter) yes, I know exactly what they mean when they say that. However, I have to be honest and say that I really do like the album that I am writing now, so maybe everyone will think that this album is shit (laughter).

My two favourite tracks on the album are Stick The Kettle On and Breathe. I think that they are brilliant.

Thanks very much Kevin; that is so nice to hear.

Now, coming right up to date. You have released the single All The Things She Said, a cover of t.A.T.u. Who took the decision to release a cover, something that you have never done before?

I have to put my hands up and say that it was all down to me. What drove me to make that decision was that what you have to remember is that back in the day it used to be all about being on the radio to get people to hear your product, whereas now, it is all about being on streaming platforms. One of the easiest ways to break through alga rhythmically on streaming platforms is to record a song that people already know and are aware of. That way, there is a chance that you will be added to more playlists, making the single stronger and maybe even move higher up the playlists. So, I decided to take a song that I really enjoy and put my own spin on it.

You mention streaming platforms. Do you agree with them or are they simply a necessary evil?

What can I say; I feel that I am currently stuck between a rock and a hard place in relation to streaming platforms. You have to remember that the world progresses and everything changes, and sometimes things will even go backwards. I was recently looking at my own streaming figures and believe it or not I have currently been streamed over eight million times, and I’m still not a millionaire (laughter). So, in that respect, it’s not that great but it actually means that if your work is readily available across the globe, then people do not have to walk into a record store in order to buy your songs. It really is a double-edged sword. Having said all of that, I am a touring artist, I put bums on seats and that is where my revenue comes from.

You have briefly mentioned the new album Choices; I see that you have a release date of the 16th October. Is the album still a work in progress or is it all finished and ready to go?

(Laughter) well, what can I say, it’s all good except for the vocals. The producer and I have been working together remotely, and in the next couple of weeks I will be going up to Scotland to record the vocals.

Just make sure that you are not stopped for driving too far (laughter).

I know. My only bloody car is my camper van and knowing my luck I will be the first one who gets bloody stopped (laughter). Perhaps I should stop every few miles in a lay-by and have a cup of tea (laughter).

What can you tell me about the album?

What can I tell you about the album, well it is a very tenacious album, and it really does have an attitude and a maturity about it, something which my other albums haven’t had. It is very personal, but on the other hand I hope that it is easy for the listeners to relate to.

Does the album reflect the place which you find yourself in at this moment it time?

Yes, it does. That is something which I am proud of, and I would have to say that the album pretty much rounds off the last year of my life in a very detailed fashion.

You have pencilled in a tour for later in the year. How optimistic are you that the tour will go ahead?

Personally, I don’t think that it is about optimism at the moment because I feel that we should all be realistic about these things. I am more concerned about protecting the health of the people who come along to my shows. So really what is important is me keeping my realistic cap on. I don’t know what it is going to look like, but I do have other plans in place should the tour not be possible. But in answer to your question, I don’t know.

I personally feel that the music industry is about to enter a new era. Would you agree with that?

Yes, I would, I think so, but I have to say that it is not looking good for the humble touring artist I would say (laughter).

Moving away from music for a while if I may?

Okay go for it.

I have seen your recent pictures all over the internet and I have to say that you are looking fantastic.

Thank you.

Has your new look given you a new lease of confidence within yourself?

Yes, it has, absolutely. I actually feel healthy for the very first time in my life and let me tell you that is very liberating. I now feel athletically able to do things that I had struggled with in the past. In total I have lost three stone but for me, it’s not all about the weight loss, it really is all about agility and health. I feel great for it and yes, I now feel very confident. A lot of it is down to healthy eating, running and working out at the gym, but I have to be totally honest and say that what also helped in a big way was me giving up the booze. I am now ten months sober and that has played a massive part with regard to the health side of things.

I have to ask, did your separation from Georgina (Gordon) play a part in helping you get to this stage in your life?

Absolutely, and I think that finding yourself is liberating, even if that doesn’t fit into your old lifestyle. If your new lease for life doesn’t fit into the lifestyle that you previously lived in, then it’s tough titties as my mother would say (laughter). You have just got to live your best life; you have to care about yourself. It’s not a rehearsal, we don’t get a second chance, you just have to do it now.

You have mentioned being sober for ten months now, congratulations with that.

Thank you.

What was the eureka moment; when did the light bulb switch on and tell you that something just wasn’t right?

Whilst I was going through the separation I found myself going out and about. I would do what I always did and that was I would drink to excess, and there would be a lot of drama, a lot of arguments, and I woke up on the 28th July and said to myself “no, I’m not doing this anymore, I’m out”. And, I am proud to say that to this day I haven’t had a drink since. Drinking is a cultural thing that we have here in the UK; it is how we deal with bereavement, grief, happiness, everything is about having a drink or wetting the baby’s head. It is just not like that in other countries. Once you break free from it, it is so very liberating.

You mention the cultural aspect of drinking here in the UK, don’t you find it strange that whenever someone offers you a drink and you refuse, they look at you as if you have got two heads.

(Laughter) yes, they do, I know exactly what you mean. When I refuse a drink people will always ask me “what’s wrong with you, are you an alcoholic” and I say, “yes I am I guess, if you think about it”. That really does make them feel uncomfortable (laughter). For me, it’s all about breaking the mould. I am a twenty-eight year old woman in the music industry, and to be honest with you, I don’t know how many of us don’t drink but you find yourself wanting to tell them about it; you want to tell them just how much better their lives would be if they didn’t drink. I personally feel as though it is a bit of a cult being sober in the music business.

Will we be seeing a Lucy Spraggan Workout DVD in time for Christmas (laughter)?

(Laughter) I don’t think that people buy DVD’s anymore but if someone offers me the right money, then who knows.

Perhaps you should do a Lockdown Workout.

Yes, it’s true, perhaps I should.

I can hear it in your voice, but I am going to ask you anyway, is Lucy Spraggan currently in a good place?

Yes, I am, absolutely. I would even go so far as to say that I am currently in the best place that I have ever been, and I would put that down to a combination of fitness, health and happiness.

You will have to forgive me for this, but I couldn’t speak to you without mentioning The X Factor.

(Laughter) of course.

Was being on the show an enjoyable experience for you?

No (laughter).

(Laughter) let me put it to you another way, if someone was intending to go onto the show, what would your advice be to them; would it be a yes or a no?

No (laughter).

(Laughter) okay, for what reason would you advise someone against going on the show?

I would simply say that the show really is so contrived, and in very short layman terms, television is nothing to do with the music industry. You might be utterly successful every weekend for twelve weeks when you are nineteen years old, especially if that success is down to having Gary fucking Barlow telling you that your song choice is great (laughter). However, if you want to sell records, or you want to tour, then simply don’t bother. The platform might be great but then establishments like the BBC and the like will absolutely douse any credibility that you ever had in fuel and set it all on fire. It takes a long time to rebuild and rekindle the confidence that these organisations rip out of you at such a tender age.

People will often say to me “you did so well on The X Factor” which always makes me laugh simply because I didn’t fucking do anything (laughter). What I have done well since then is to persevere in a music industry, as a woman, and someone who has been dropped by a major record label, when a hell of a lot of people would have simply given up. That is my success, not a TV show.

I recently interviewed Shayne Ward, who as you know was the winner of the second series of The X Factor. He told me that he was left distraught when Psyco dropped him from the label via a text message.

I know; it’s awful. I like Shane; he is such a lovely guy. Psyco drop everybody and that’s why I didn’t sign to them, I actually signed to Columbia. I didn’t fancy the stratospheric global campaign which they do, and then drop people.

I understand that you refused to partake in The X Factor Winners tour.

(Laughter) that’s absolutely correct, I did. Psyco were offering me five hundred pounds per show for an arena tour, so I just said no. Back then I was playing to two hundred capacity venues, and the daft thing is that I was making more money (laughter). In my opinion, the people who go along to watch The X Factor Tours in an arena are not the same people who will come along and watch you in a two hundred capacity venue. I really can’t wait for the show to die on its backside.

You have been active in the music business for eleven years now and despite everything that has happened along the way, have you enjoyed the ride so far?

Yes, what can I say, it’s been interesting (laughter). It’s a very different industry to be in, but I haven’t been in any others so, yes, I like it.

Did you have a plan B just in case the music didn’t take off?

Yes, I always had a plan B. However, having said that I don’t have one now (laughter). Back in the day I studied to become a fire fighter, although now I suppose that I would be a personal trainer.

Would you do it all over again?

Yes, I would, however I would do things differently but then again who wouldn’t. I certainly do not have any regrets simply because I feel that regrets are a constructive thing to have. It’s always good to look back and say, “Wow, I made a massive fuck up there, I won’t do that again” rather than looking back and saying “I wish that I could change that”. It’s just a total waste of your brain space.

What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?

That would most probably be playing Glastonbury.

Correct me if I am wrong but are you not the only reality TV or X Factor contestant to ever play Glastonbury?

(Laughter) yes that’s right, I am guilty as charged (laughter). It’s not just the milestone of playing Glastonbury; it is also the milestone of finally gaining some credibility once again. That for me was really amazing.

Who has influenced you musically along the way?

Wow, there have been so many but the ones that spring to mind are Don McLean, Kirsty MacColl, Dolly Parton and Peter, Paul and Mary. I also like rappers too, guys like Tupac Shakur, so I should really say that I love folk and rap.

What was the first record that you bought?

That was Americana by American punk rock band Offspring.

Who did you first see performing live in concert?

I can’t be totally sure, but I think that it was most probably Goldie Lookin Chain (laughter).

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

I have to be honest with you and tell you that I haven’t been listening to any sad music at all, because I don’t like crying (laughter). I’m really not sure, so I don’t think that I am able to answer that, sorry. Don’t get me wrong, I can usually cry at the opening of an envelope and that’s why I am currently trying to avoid all the sad stuff that is out there.

On that note Lucy let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been a pleasure.

Thank you very much Kevin, you stay safe and I hope to see you at a gig sometime soon. Bye for now.