Reporter Andrew Trendell talks to last year’s X Factor winner Matt Cardle
X FACTOR winner Matt Cardle has been on a long and surreal journey. Now, as he releases his debut album, reporter Andrew Trendell talks to him about his wild ride.
“It’s strange,” says Matt Cardle, thinking about how his life has changed since winning the X Factor last year.
“Adjusting to being a recording artist has been easy because I’ve been doing it for such a long time. I’ve been writing songs since I was about 12-years-old – but obviously not very seriously back then.”
The dreams of a 12-year-old are one thing, but X Factor thrusts people into the limelight in quite a surreal way and the transition of going fro, a young dreamer to one of the most recognisable faces in Britain can be a tough one.
“None if it’s been a struggle – it’s just something that you get along with,” he says. “You just get on with it because what else can you do? You can’t freak out in the street if someone recognises you because that’s going to happen.”
Lucky as he feels to have achieved what he has, Matt says he ended up on the X Factor by accident.
“It was actually my ex-girlfriend’s friend who put me up for the show,” he remembers.
“She sent in a video of me singing cover songs in a pub and that got me onto the show. Some people know that I’ve writing all my life and that this is what I do, but a lot of people will have the preconception that I just went for the show, it was a laugh and now I’ve made an album and it’s not a huge deal – but it is huge, it’s my life.”
Now Matt says he’s keen to shake off his association with the hit TV talent show.
“Will Young is not Will from Pop Idol any more. Seven years ago he was, but ten years later and you forget,” muses Matt. “Time is a great healer.”
“I’m just going to stay true to myself. If you do that and people buy in to who you genuinely are then it’s OK.”
And Matt has stayed true to his singer-songwriter roots and it may surprise some to learn that he co-wrote his album.
Matt goes on: “I’d have been devastated if they’d have just given me a bunch of covers to sing or songs written by someone else.”
“That’s why Adele has been so successful because she’s written about herself and people are going to buy into that and they get it.”
He adds: “It’s all authentic and I want people to know that.”
So authentic in fact, that Cardle co-wrote every song on his debut Letters except one - a song penned by Take That legend and X Factor judge Gary Barlow, which would become the hit single Run For Your Life.
“I’d been trying to write that kind of song for a long time – one about not being good enough for the one that you’re with and wanting to run and hide,” admits Matt.
“But every time I tried it would end up just being me slating myself for three and a half minutes! But Gary got it bang on.”
To keep with mantra of delivering songs from the heart, Matt tries to avoid singing other people’s songs - but when he does, he says he has to feel it.
He ran with Biffy Clyro’s Many Of Horror and took it to Christmas number one last year because it was a song he loved, but still received a great deal of backlash from Biffy fans and rock purists.
“You’re going to get haters wherever you go, and people love to hate the X Factor,” he laughs.
“When you start messing around with these really great rock songs like Many of Horror then you’re going to rub people up the wrong way.”
Are there any other songs that Matt wishes he’d written himself?
“Oh God, yes, millions - I wish I’d written Crush by Dave Matthews, Black by Pearl Jam and Sleep Now In The Fire by Rage Against The Machine, to name just a few.”
So how does Matt feel about sitting and watching this year’s X Factor as a viewer and a veteran?
“Obviously I pick up on a lot of stuff from backstage and can tell that a lot of the way certain things are filmed and shown won’t be how it happened in real life, which is interesting,” says Matt.
He continues: “I think that they see something they like on the first day and then try to build them into what they want them to be – in some places it works and others it doesn’t, in some places what you see is true and others it isn’t.”
Any there any contestants that he’s behind?
“I’m getting right behind The Risk – I think they’re great. They put in a great vocal every week, their performances are tight and they’ve done really, really well.”
Will Matt’s upcoming tour be anything like his own performances on X Factor?
“It’s just going to be me and my band rocking out live – no tricks, no dancing or anything like that. It will just be a great live show.”
Matt Cardle plays Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall on 7th March 2012. Tickets are on sale now.
For tickets visit www.livenation.co.uk
His album Letters is out now.