Rebecca Ferguson may have come second on last year's series of The X Factor, but the likeable lass from Liverpool looks destined for success with her debut album, Heaven.
After finally stepping out of Matt Cardle, One Direction and Cher Lloyd's shadow, Ferguson has already had a top ten hit with lead single, Nothing's Real But Love, and is now about to unleash her new LP onto the charts.
Following almost a year of hard work in the studio, we caught up with Rebecca to talk all things Heaven, how her relationship with One Direction's Zayn Malik influenced her writing process and rocking out with the Kings Of Leon…
Q: It’s been almost a year since you came second on The X Factor, can you tell MTV.co.uk what you’ve been up to?
A: Since The X Factor I’ve just been pretty much been in the studio. I did The X Factor tour which lasted for about 2 months. But for 11 months, it’s pretty much been in the studio.
Q: Your new single, Nothing’s Real But Love is the lead single from your album Heaven - what made you pick that song as your debut?
A: The single, Nothing's Real But Love, pretty much sums me up as an artist in the sentiment of the song. It’s not particularly commercial; it is a bit different from what’s being played at the minute. I think it’s important to put my own little stamp on it and hopefully that’s what I’ve done.
Q: We read that you have co-written most of the tracks on Heaven, where did you draw inspiration from?
A: When I wrote the album, I have drawn it all from previous relationships, family members relationships and things I’ve seen go on around me that hurt me or I was moved by.
Q: We heard that some of the songs were about your split from One Direction’s Zayn Malik, was it hard to get your feelings down on paper?
A: I didn’t focus on Zayn, the relationship didn’t last that long. I’ve been in relationships pretty much since I was 17, so I wrote it about general and my life and meeting certain people and if it’s worked out or not. But some of it isn’t about that, it's about the transition - going from being a normal Liverpool girl and dreaming and wanting things. One of the songs 'Fly Away' is about before The X Factor and me dreaming of becoming successful.
Q: Do you think it’s important for artists to pen their own songs?
A: I don’t think it’s important for every artist to write their own songs. There are some really successful artists who haven’t written their songs. I think it’s important to connect to the songs and I just connect better when I’m writing my own songs.
Q: Did you have much input when it came to selecting tracks for the album?
A: Yes, I was really heavily involved and not just the album, but the artwork too. I’ve written little poems inside. I picked what pictures would be in the artwork. I was heavily involved in the album making, I’ve been really lucky and they’ve trusted me and allowed me to be really creative.
Q: Is it true your record label wanted you to sing cheesy cover versions on the record but you refused?
A: To be honest the suggestions they gave were really good but they just weren’t for me. I think they’ve just been really good in the sense that they’ve let me be quite free on how I created the album. Some of the suggestions early on in the recording just weren’t for me, I’m not saying they were particularly bad songs, but just not what I’d like to sing. There’s nothing wrong with a little cover but for my first album, but I just wanted it to be me.
Q: Your music has previously been compared to that of legend Aretha Franklin. How does that feel?
A: Aretha Franklin to me is like the queen of soul, so on one hand, I like being compared to her but on the other hand, I don’t think I’ve achieved anything yet to be compared to someone who to me is an absolute legend. I’m literally just starting out and it's lovely and I feel really blessed that people are comparing me to her, but to me she’s in a total different league... she’s Aretha, she’s like soul diva. So hopefully good willing in the future when I’ve come to her age I will have earned that, but I don’t feel I have yet.
Q: How would you personally describe your sound?
A: Quite soulful, I don’t know what you compare it to. I’m just me.
Q: What did you make of Simon Cowell's message on Twitter saying he was “blown away” by your return performance on The X Factor a few weeks ago?
A: I just thought it was lovely of Simon doing that. The tweet was so sweet. I take it as a huge compliment really and he’s been supportive of me all along and throughout the show he was supportive and I’m just really grateful.
Q: Do you feel pressure to succeed after seeing how well Cher Lloyd and One Direction have done?
I don’t know really. I say this but I think I’d love to be as successful as previous contestants but I think our music is so different. I’m really proud of them, I’m really proud of Cher. That song with Mike Posner 'With Ur Love’ keeps playing in my head; it’s really catchy. I’m just proud of them.
Q: You sung with Christina Aguilera during last year’s final, is there anyone else out there you would love to collaborate with?
A: I’d like to work with the Kings Of Leon and Aretha Franklin - I can’t see that happening but you never know. But Kings Of Leon, it would be different and I’d like to see what happened. I just think it would be cool, I love them as musicians and they play really well so I’d love to just write with them maybe...I’m dreaming here but you never know, I could rock out with the Kings Of Leon.
Q: You’ve already announced your first UK tour, what can fans expect from one of your shows?
A: Fun! I’m going to get involved in the creative side so I just want it to be fun and I want people to leave having a good experience. So I’m really going to work hard with how I want it to be and do my research and really get stuck in come January and start creating it.
Rebecca Ferguson - Heaven is out now!
By Joanne Dorken