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Rebecca Ferguson: Freedom

21 February 2014 Charlie Kenber

“I’m more of a writer than I am a singer, which is something that people don’t properly understand."

Rebecca Ferguson is back. Since taking the UK by storm in 2010’s X Factor competition and with her 2011 double-platinum debut album Heaven, the singer-songwriter has been working in America as well as writing new music.

When her new album Freedom was released in November last year critics applauded the newfound confidence of the music, which Rebecca tells me reflects a personal attitudinal shift. “I used to be so self-conscious and obsessed with being perfect,” she says. “In the end I think I just accepted that I’m not perfect and I’m just a person that’s trying. That’s what the album’s about really: letting go of whatever’s held you back and just being yourself.”

The tone of her music is different to Heaven too, with Freedom expressing a more upbeat attitude. “It’s funny, it’s one of those albums I think you play if you’re feeling down. It’s very uplifting. When I was writing it I wasn’t in a happy place, but I wanted it to be positive, I wanted it to be about strength and about getting through it. Freedom pretty much is just my life experience. It’s the last couple of years of my life – mainly about me becoming a woman and becoming stronger.”

Whilst Rebecca agrees that for many musicians the second album can be mightily difficult, this isn’t a problem she found herself. “It’s funny because I thought I would find it hard. I think artists struggle with second albums, because they’ve made the money, they’ve got success, and all of a sudden it seems empty: ‘what do I write about?’ But with me I had that much crap going on with my own life. The first day I struggled and then all of a sudden it was like all hell broke loose!”

The writing process is clearly something that differs for everyone. What’s Rebecca’s approach? “It’s quite instinctive,” she says. “If someone plays me a melody I normally write a verse and the chorus within the first twenty minutes. But then I have a break for an hour! I normally have a cup of tea, and then I’ll go back and write the rest. It’s very instinctive, it’ll come to me straightaway, but then once I’ve done that it’s like my energy level goes back down and I need to recharge.”

For Heaven, Rebecca worked with a number of collaborators and producers, and that trend continues with Freedom. “I work with some amazing people: Eg White…Jared Rogers. He’s just really cool and he’s such a perfectionist and production-wise he made me a totally different sound.” Rebecca also worked with people on specific tracks, “I love Mr Hudson. He’s really cool. He sits back and lets the artist be an artist. He’s such a brilliant writer and just unbelievably talented. We’ve done a few sessions together and Beautiful Design was the one that we felt was the best.”

In support of the album, Rebecca is embarking on a UK-wide tour this March. “I can’t wait for that,” she tells me. “I’ve just got a new confidence now and I don’t care what people think as much. I normally take people with me – family and stuff. We just have a laugh!” And what does she think of the London audience? “They’re quite good you know…a bit more mouthy!”

With so many amazing venues around, even older musicians can find it hard to get to them all. Rebecca however has a few she’d particularly like to play, including the Royal Albert Hall. “I’m doing it!” she says excitedly, “that was one of the places that I wanted to do but I’m getting to do it which is good. I’d love to sing for the Queen as well. I got invited to sing for her this summer but sadly – I can’t really get into the details of it – but it all messed up, due to somebody hacking my email and stuff.”

So what’s next for Rebecca? Impressively she’s already started work on her third album: “When it comes to work I’m always pushing. I’ve been doing little bits of recording just in my spare time really, just getting in the studio with people at any opportunity I can. Trying to play with different sounds.”

Clearly then Rebecca is not going anywhere anytime soon, and in fact she hints that we may be seeing more of her in a slightly different capacity. “I want to move into writing things for other people, because I actually enjoy it more than I enjoy singing.” For now, however, she remains tight-lipped about any possibly collaborations, “I can’t say yet, but we’ll see… I’m happiest when I’m writing.”

Rebecca Ferguson plays at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 16th March. Tickets cost £29.75, available here.
Rebecca is also performing in Symfunny at the Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday 4th June. Tickets available here.

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