X Factor winner on music, divas and the truth about Simon Cowell
So you’ve just performed at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival – have you been to the GCC before? It’s really cool, it’s really different. First time in Qatar, I’ve been to Dubai and it’s obviously so modern and everything going as it’s kind of being built up. It’s amazing to see that happening. I think it would be quite cool to come back next year or the year after and see how far it’s come.
Now, before we ask about your album we have to know: Simon Cowell loved you on the The X Factor. We thought he didn’t like anyone! I know! It’s quite special. I feel quite lucky that he actually likes me. We’ve worked quite closely together since the show; I’m signed to his record company. He’s cool offstage. We’ve always gotten along; he’s always been a real supporter of me and my music. [Being on TV] it’s . . . different. It’s like going from naught to sixty in zero seconds. It’s so fast. Everything happens so fast: one minute no one knows you , the next minute 13 million people in the UK are seeing you on TV. It’s really crazy.
A lot of people don’t take reality TV musicians seriously – have you encountered that? Not really. To be honest I think because when I came out with my first single ‘Bleeding Love’ it did so well, it went number one in like 30 different countries, and so from that I’ve kind of proven myself as not to be a sell out or something. And as well people seeing me on the show, I think that when you see it there every week, people are singing live, there’s no miming, like you see so many artists now doing on TV shows and things. You have to sing live, you’re out there in front of so many people and there’s so much pressure on you. So actually in all honesty, it’s a lot of them are a lot more talented than the artists who are actually out right now. There’s no Auto-Tune, no nothing. It’s all raw, genuine, so a lot of the people are actually very very talented.
We’ve heard all sorts of things about crazy riders and diva behavior though. What’s on yours? We’ve got loads of fruit, loads of water, and some of my band add stuff so we can have a drink afterwards. I’ve never seen proper diva behavior but you do feel, like when you meet some people, you do feel a certain all around, a bit like ‘woah, scary’.
So back to the music – what inspires your stuff? I like to make music with a lot of depth. I like the lyrical content to be not anything throw away or gimmicky, some of the songs today are kind of annoying. I kind of try to make music that’s quite classic and timeless, that you can play in 10 years and it’ll still be relevant and just sound like a classic song, like the singers that I love, like Whitney and Roberta Flack. Their music is timeless.
So, what’s on your iPod? When I’m at home, I listen to random stuff. I listen to Raised by Swans, I listen to Fleet Foxes, just a lot of random music that’s not really like my own, just to come out of my head space, where I’m at and just hear different things. So a lot of alternative.
Sounds very cool. . . but what’s your guilty pleasure track? Guilty pleasure track? I love ABBA. They’re great songwriters. I suppose Spice Girls or probably something like ABBA, but to me that’s not really a guilty pleasure, it’s just a pleasure!
I bet your mom is really proud of you. They’re really proud and excited, they’re very into the arts themselves, so it’s cool that I’m able to do something like this. They love music, my mom’s a ballerina so she loves dance, so she thinks it’s pretty cool. I always knew that I was going to be in music somehow, I knew that I was going to be a recording artist. I did have that self belief, but I just didn’t think it was actually going to be this fast. I started really young, when I was six I went to stage school, theatre school. Then I had private singing lessons, I did a lot of classical for a while. And then I just started gigging around and doing auditions and things as I got older. [But] they’re just like normal. All of my friends that I have now are friends that I’ve had since I was really young, everyone is kind of the same. It’s nice to have those people.
You’re working on your newest album, Glassheart, set to come out just after the New Year. Can we get a sneak peek? I’ve been working on it for a while and gone back in the studio to work a bit more. Hopefully early next year it will be ready. It will be different, we’re going back to basics, we’ve a lot of live instrumentation and just amazing songs, that’s the main thing. I just try to have fun. I’m always so thankful to be performing where ever I am, I always feel so lucky so I go out there and perform every time like it’s going to be the last time. Leona Lewis’ third album, Glassheart, is due to be released early 2012.