ATYPICAL X-Factor contestant Lucy Spraggan made history when she appeared on the ITV talent show in 2012.
A rare contestant who attempted to impress the judges with her songwriting as well as her singing voice, she became the first contestant in the show’s history to score a Top 40 single and album when the show’s viewers began to search out her independent album Top Room At The Zoo.
Although Spraggan’s time on the show was cut short by illness – with Middlesbrough singer James Arthur going on to be named season nine winner – it led to her debut major label album, Join The Club, which reached the UK album chart Top 10 in October 2013.
The Buxton songwriter is currently on the road for some more intimate shows, including Tuesday’s set at The Ironworks in Inverness, but first paused in her travels to answer some questions about herself and her music.
You’ve said this tour is a bit different to the others you have done over the past couple of years, so what makes it special?
It’s my first acoustic tour since about 2011. I’ve been going out with my band, which is obviously so different to being on stage on your own. It’ll be a different experience for anyone who’s been to see me play live over the last three or four years.
You’re no stranger to playing in our part of the world and you have some Scottish family connections of your own. Is there anything you particularly look forward to about playing on our side of the border?
I absolutely love Scotland. I love the food, the people and the support I get up there. We’ve played T in the Park and Belladrum, which is a fantastic festival. I always feel at home in Scotland.
Now that a bit of time has passed and dust has settled, looking back on your time on X-Factor, what advice might you give to any artist thinking of going down the talent show route?
Just to be absolutely sure what you want to do and who you want to be. Don’t compromise for anyone or anything and be yourself. It’s not for everyone, but it can be a successful route.
Unusually for a show of that type, you sang your own songs. Do you think of yourself as more songwriter than singer?
Absolutely. I’ve always considered myself a songwriter. Naturally my writing has evolved over the last few years, it’s different but I can still relate to my older material too. I’ll be playing new and old on this tour.
You famously took X-Factor winner James Arthur to task for homophobic comments. Have we got to the stage yet where being an LGBT artist doesn’t matter?
I’m not sure it ever did matter. But in a general sense you only have to look at the amount of Pride events and the way they’re growing to see that there is a definite place for the LGBT community in the music industry.
You have been on a major label and now have started your own. Did you ever feel constrained by being on a major and are you looking forward to independence?
Not so much constrained. There are obviously pros and cons to being on a major label as there are releasing under your own steam. Definitely releasing on my own label gave me more freedom and allowed me to do it exactly the way I wanted to do it.
I have a new release out now called the Home EP. It’s just a little taster for the fans of what’s to come on the next album. It’s a small collection of new songs and also a reworked version of Tea and Toast (Spraggan’s original song which gave her a standing ovation from judges and audience when she sang it on The X-Factor).
What are you looking forward to for the rest of 2016? I know that you have a big non-career event in marriage to partner Georgina Gordon, but what else are you hoping the next few months will bring?
It’s going to be a busy year in and outside of music. As I say I’ll be writing and recording the next album as soon as the tour is over, then before we know it’ll be festival season which should be pretty busy.
There’s plenty going on!
• Lucy Spraggan’s acoustic tour visits The Ironworks, Inverness, on Tuesday February 16.