Matt Cardle looks for new challenges and questions his X Factor past
PUBLISHED: 17:29 16 March 2017
East Anglian pop icon Matt Cardle talks to Arts editor Andrew Clarke about added dates for his summer concert, his new album and the importance of musical independence
It’s not often you meet a musician who feels that, perhaps, they have released too much music too quickly. The music industry is so precarious and the battle for the top is so long that when that break-through moment arrives you just want to unleash your music on the world. But, East Anglian X-Factor winner Matt Cardle is not your average pop star and while it would be wrong to say that he regrets releasing three albums in quick succession, he is concerned that perhaps they don’t entirely capture who he is as a musician.
Speaking, as he is currently recording his fourth studio album, he says that he is now more concerned with finding his authentic voice and exploring more musical avenues than firing off a series of albums that sound very similar.
In addition to finding his own voice, Matt is also enthusiastic about collaborating with other artists and finding new ways to make music.
“I have been working on my new album, slowly but surely over the past year or so. I have deliberately been taking my time because I did three albums in three years and whether it was right to do so many so quickly is questionable.
“I stand by them, I am proud of them. I am proud of what I did but what I didn’t realise at the time is because I am an artist, I don’t always have to be putting stuff out there. I know now that the time to put out new material is when it is right, when it is ready.
“I am finally doing something that I think is right and will soon be ready. It will be released when it is finished in the way that I want it to be.
“Although, it’s taken a while to do but I have been out on the road in the meantime and one of the joys of the process is getting to road-test the new material. I have said, in the past, the way to record an album is to write it, tour it, find out everything you can about the new songs, what works, what doesn’t, what needs changing and then go into the studio and record it.
“I can guarantee you that would be a better album than the way that albums are currently made. You would practise singing these songs, you would learn to breathe life into these musical creations. The process of creating music has always fascinated me. It seems perverse that when someone puts a vocal down on a track, they have probably only sung it a handful of times, if that.
“How can you bring out all the emotion and the nuances of a lyric if you are essentially only singing it for the first time in a studio? By contrast, out on the road, you learn so much about a song, you refine the technique of singing it – but sadly that’s not the way the music industry works.”
Matt won X Factor in 2010, when the series was in its prime, and provided the nation with plenty of water-cooler moments. In fact 2010 was something of a vintage year, as Matt had to see off competition from Rebecca Ferguson and One Direction to win the nation’s vote.
But, Matt believes winning X-Factor is something of a mixed blessing. Without doubt it gave him more exposure than any young artist could wish for but at the same time it landed him with a wealth of expectation that is very hard to live up to.
Matt is trying to counter that sense of expectation and the need to deliver similar sounding albums by experimenting with a new musical world. “My new album is electronica. You have to pursue ideas. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. By it’s very nature experimentation means that some avenues lead to a dead-end while others progress and lead on elsewhere but until you do it, until you put out that music, you don’t know. You will always be wondering. That’s the case with those first three albums, some songs, some albums worked better than others but that’s the nature of the business.”
Having control is something that Matt feels very strongly about. “The first album I did after X Factor was so controlled, by everyone but me, that after that I wanted so much control that I went overboard on the second album. It was all me – I wrote it all, I sang it, I played most of the instruments – I wanted to control every little part of it and it wasn’t what I should have done.
“But I’ve done that now. It’s out of my system. Now I want to be part of something more collaborative. I’m not an expert in electronica. I am learning and I am working with great musicians who are.”
He’s looking forward to playing some of his new music alongside Kerry Ellis at their joint gig at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds this summer.
“I love The Apex. I played there last year, on my last tour, and I was blown away by the sound and the atmosphere. So Kerry’s local and I’m local and we thought it would be great to do something together and something special for Bury.
“It’s going to be a real collaboration. Kerry will do her stuff, I’ll do some of mine and we’ll do some duets. I want to get Kerry involved in some of my new material because she has got a fantastic voice. We will have a lot of rehearsal leading up to the show, so we can figure out exactly what we are going to do together.”
Matt Cardle adds that he and Kerry Ellis are thrilled that their Apex gig has sold out in record time and needed no persuasion to add a second night to their Apex concerts. “We can’t believe our first show has nearly sold out. So we’ve added another one on August 24th.”
Booking for the second night of the Matt Cardle/Kerry Ellis gig at The Apex opens today. You can get more details at www.theapex.co.uk