Ipswich: X Factor’s Rebecca Ferguson talks fame, heartache and why she’s happier just being herself

Rebecca Ferguson plays the Ipswich Regent tonight

Rebecca Ferguson plays the Ipswich Regent tonight - Credit: Archant

X Factor finalist Rebecca Ferguson plays the Ipswich Regent tonight. Entertainment writer Wayne Savage talks to her about her battle with fame, heartache and how new album Freedom has given her a new outlook and lust for life.

Expect songs from new album Freedom, plus all the hits

Expect songs from new album Freedom, plus all the hits - Credit: Archant

Trending on Twitter after collapsing halfway through performing new single All That I’ve Got on ITV’s Loose Women last month, Ferguson was all laughs when I called a few weeks before. Sat by her fire, cup of tea in hand, she’s joking how she’d like a nice bacon butty but they’ve no bread in.

Rebecca came to fame via hit ITV1 show the X Factor

Rebecca came to fame via hit ITV1 show the X Factor - Credit: PA

Excited about her latest series of concerts, only her second full UK tour, and new album Freedom; the singer - who reassured fans after the incident that she just needed a rest - sounded perfectly relaxed as she talked openly about her tough upbringing, those difficult post X Factor years and even the new man in her life.

“I don’t talk about relationships anymore but I will say I’m happy now. I feel like I’m comfortable in me own skin as well.”

So caught up in other people’s opinions, recording Freedom proved therapeutic.

“I’m going to go out today and I’m not going to wear make-up and I don’t care whether you think I don’t look nice. It’s about getting to the point where you’re like I’m just going to live me life and be me.”

It wasn’t easy though, said Ferguson, who admits to going through a lot of heartache, deep depression even, while writing it.

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“The place I’m in now is so different to when I wrote it. I remember driving me-self to the studio thinking ‘I’ve gotta write this’, because there was moments when I wasn’t going to. I was determined to write it because I couldn’t find an album at that time that related to how I felt. I wanted this to be one that when people played it, it encouraged them to get out of ‘that place’.

“Someone who was suffering from alcoholism messaged me and said ‘did you write that album for me’. I wasn’t in that situation, but to me it’s about certain things that you go through and songs can help other people who are suffering in totally different ways to yours.”

Ferguson’s no stranger to hard times.

Raised by mum Anne after her parents split, she later spent time with family friends, foster parents and in care when Anne became seriously ill. Her dream of a pop career stalled when she fell pregnant as a teenager, winding up as single mother-of-two. Qualifying as a legal secretary, she had several stabs at making it on to various talent shows.

It paid off in 2010 when the 27-year-old Liverpuddlian finished as runner-up to Essex’s Matt Cardle on the X Factor.

Life after the show can be difficult. Ferguson was very nervous and self-conscious for a long time. She’s spoken in previous interviews about attracting the wrong type of people, clingers-on who wanted to use her.

Less bothered about making a mistake now, she feels incredibly lucky to have a job she loves and is intent to enjoy the ride because life’s too short.

“I’ll forgive people for the worst things... it relates back to how I was brought up - forgive, forget, love everyone. I’d done that to the point where the people around me saw me as weak, as a pushover. I think there’s a nice balance of being a nice person but not being an idiot.

“I think I went the other way really, I think people did mistreat me but people will only get away with what you allow them to. I’ve learned to take ownership (of her decisions) because it’s so easy to blame other people for how they treat you.”

While you should always aspire to succeed, life, she said, is about more than money and chart positions.

“I give it 100% but at the same time I’m just like let’s just have a laugh. It’s less tense now, I think I’ve just chilled.”

Ferguson sounds like she’s conquered her main struggle - to be normal.

“All of a sudden (after X Factor) I had money... I had nice clothes which I’d always tried to have by shopping cheaply where I could. My struggle was being able to say actually ‘Rebecca, you’ve made it now. Enjoy it and stop trying to dumb yourself down to make other people feel okay’, which is what I’d do,” said the multiple MOBO award nominee.

“I’d find it hard to be round people. I’d feel like I was always overly compensating because I had money, I’d have to be the one that’d pay for everything when we’d go out which has always been my nature, I’d look after people.

“There came a point where I’d have to say ‘just relax, enjoy it, don’t feel guilty for doing good, you’ve worked hard’. I think that’s the struggle for a lot of people, there’s a wrestle between keeping your feet on the ground but accepting that you’ve done good as well.”

The new album’s title says it all, added Ferguson, whose nine-year-old daughter Lillie May and eight-year-old son Karl will be joining her for parts of the tour.

“It’s a bit like me new outlook... It’s funny, because I had such a crazy couple of years and a lot of people know about me past. I think sometimes your past can affect who you are as a person... sometimes you do things and you wonder why you do them. Then you relate it back to your childhood or relate to something someone told you which has always made you act a certain way.

“Freedom is all about becoming a new person and letting go of anything that has ever held you back. I wanted it to be an empowering album. It’s a bit more expressive of me (than her multi-platinum selling debut Heaven) in the sense it was someone who wasn’t holding back at all.

“When I was singing the lyrics I wasn’t bothered about what anyone thought... All That I’ve Got is quite an angry song but people see me in the ‘Sweet Rebecca’ box but I was ‘this is how I feel, this is what I want to get across’. I think Freedom’s a bit more of someone who’s become a woman really. Sound’s dead cheesy but just someone who just doesn’t care no more.”

Rebecca Ferguson plays the Ipswich Regent tonight. Freedom is out now.