Earlier this month Lucy Spraggan was playing at the Fairweather Festival on the Isle of Wight, a festival which aimed to highlight awareness of issues around mental health.
It’s a subject that’s close to Lucy’s heart – as an adult she has battled with depression.
Speaking with The Guide two days after performing there, she’s still enthused about the event.
‘The organisers let us know they were interested and obviously, anything that promotes good mental health and reaching out to people is great. There were a lot of cool things going on there. There was a group I was talking to there called Music Support, which focuses on the mental health of people in the music industry.
The music industry can be such an isolating place – often you’re working in a really fast-paced atmosphere and whether you like it or not, there’s a lot of alcohol around, and a lot of recreational... sorts of things. We lose a lot of artists every year to that sort of thing, last year was pretty mad for it. Because of the high-pressure nature of the industry it can be difficult for people to deal with.
‘A lot of people have to adopt a persona and they have to be in a good mood towards everyone all the time, and human beings aren’t naturally like that. It can be quite difficult to maintain that.’
At the start of this year, Lucy released her fourth album, I Hope You Don’t Mind Me Writing. Its lead song, Dear You, came with an affecting video co-directed by Lucy with her friend Damien Reeves and starring This Is England actor Thomas Turgoose.
‘I had this idea that I wanted to do something really powerful, and to get Thomas Turgoose on board was incredible.
‘It was pretty intense. They showed it at Raindance Film Festival – it’s been shown at Leicester Square, which is amazing, but again it’s about raising a bit of awareness,of thinking a little bit more about mental health.’
And she’s proud of how the album has done – it’s the second she’s released on her own label, CTRL Records.
I wish more people could experience the music industry the way I do nowLucy Spraggan
‘It got to number 12 which is pretty cool as we haven’t had any sort of national radio play – people ask why don’t we hear you on the radio? And I have no idea! We’ve had quite a bit of regional support though, which is lush. It’s pure fan-power, which is quite a statement to make.’
And this tour sees Lucy deliberately playing more intimate shows.
‘The last tour we did was 1,500-2,000 people every night, we did Koko in London, the Ritz in Manchester, and we sold out most of the places we played.
‘We sold 13,000 tickets in the UK, so this one I really wanted to just do something rootsy – we’re just doing shows that are a lot smaller and a bit more personal.’
Lucy first came to the attention of the mainstream when she appeared on the X Factor in 2012, but she’d already had a self-released top 30 album by then. She made it to the live shows but dropped out due to ill health. After being on the show she signed to Columbia and released Join The Club.
One gets the impression that being an independent artist suits Lucy.
‘I’ve had four top 40 albums, and three of them have been self-released. For me, I get to write what I want to write, and when it’s ready, it’s ready. It’s not being pushed by someone’s ulterior motives.
‘I feel really relaxed about it – I feel like it’s my job, and I have a very normal life and normal friends.
‘It’s a nice job, I get to meet a lot of interesting people, and it’s doing things the way I want to, which is so important.’
And she’s already started writing the next album, but isn’t putting any pressure on herself with a release date.
‘It’ll probably be mid-2018, maybe before, the songs kind of just happen and when it’s ready, I’ll release it.
‘It’s like most things in life, if someone’s telling you to do it, you never want to do it, but if you’re doing it because you love it – which is where I am now, after so many years of not feeling so great about it, it comes naturally. I wish more people could experience the music industry the way I do now.’
And how does she look back on her time on the X Factor juggernaut now?
‘It’s part of my story. I actually look back on it quite fondly. A lot of people try and brush it off and try to get rid of it, but every single day, 10, 20 people come up to me in the supermarket or wherever and say: “You’re Lucy Spraggan aren’t you?” Which is wicked. I don’t think you can get that kind of exposure from anything else.’
The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea
Wednesday, September 13