Bounce Magazine’s Rachel Ducker speaks to Matt Cardle about his time in the X Factor, discusses mental health and new album…
Matt Cardle makes a most welcome return to Sony Music with the release of his new album ‘Time To Be Alive’. Lead single ‘Desire’, an electronic, hook laden delight serves as the perfect introduction to Matt’s new sound.
The striking record sees Cardle collaborate with Jim Eliot (Kylie, Will Young, Ellie Goulding) Christopher Elms (Bjork, Anohni, Alanis Morrisette) Dan McDougall (Liam Gallagher), Dimitri Tikovoi (MNEK, Goldfrapp) and James Hayto & James Jackman (George Michael).
Matt has reinvented his sound on ‘Time To Be Alive’, fusing electronica, gospel, rock and soul. The lyrics are all personal observations on addiction, redemption, atonement and eventual contentment. It’s a collection that will surprise, and one Matt is incredibly proud of.
All but one of the album’s 14 songs were co-written by Cardle. They reveal a portrait of an artist struggling with personal battles, but ultimately winning the war. ‘Time To Be Alive’ was mixed in Stockholm by Christopher Elms, best known for his work with Bjork.
Early into the writing process, Matt spent six months in the lead role of West End hit musical ‘Memphis’. He received the Best West End Debut award from ‘What’s On Stage’ for his portrayal of Huey Calhoun.
As the resounding winner of The X Factor’s highest rating series ever in 2010, over 19 million viewers tuned in to see Matt triumph with his breathtaking four- octave vocal range.
As he launches new album Matt opens up to Rachel Ducker, about his rise to fame and battle with his prescription drugs.
Hello Rachel, hi how are you?
R: I am really good thanks Matt, how are you?
Yeah, I am great thank you darlin’ thanks for your time.
R: Well, thanks for your time, I am honoured [laughs] if its cool I’m going to fire straight into the questions?
R: How did you first get into music?
Firstly… ohh! I was seven years old I think, and I found a tape of ‘Bad’ by Michael Jackson. I was initially just intrigued by the man on the cover [laughs] he had this freaky leather jacket with studs on it and looking a little bit like a girl [laughs] and that was it really, I was just absolutely fascinated.
I had always sung as a kid, my mum said I used to hum myself to sleep. I was always musical but it was just that moment really of finding Michael Jackson’s music… I then decided then and there what I wanted to do and who I… well I didn’t want to be him, but that was the life I wanted really… to be a musician.
R: That was going to be my next question actually, who were your musical influences growing up, was there anyone else?
Yeah, my music taste changed quite drastically, quite quickly. We’d go on trips with my dad and he would play us Crowded House, Sting, Elton John, REM, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. When I was about 11 or 12 maybe, I first heard Nirvana and that was it for me and then onto Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins, then Korn… Slipknot and then really heavy mental. Now I am into everything.
R: So we can say your grunge days are safely behind you now?
[laughs] Yeah we can! I still listen to them though. Rage Against The Machine are my favourite band of all time. Like myself, I doubt a lot of people create the music they listen to?
R: We saw you emerge onto the music scene publicly, through the TV Show ‘X Factor,’ in 2010, I have to say I voted for you every week, what was that experience like?
Aww thank you, you’re so sweet! I loved my time on the show, and I would do it all again although it would probably finish me off if I did!
You know… you watched the show, I don’t think anyone saw it coming, I don’t think anybody realised how big it was going to be that year.
Its an odd start to any ones career. I mean, essentially what you are going out to do with the X Factor is to get a record deal, but you’re doing it in quite possibly, and definitely, the most public way possible, do you know what I mean? So everybody knows who you are before you’ve even put pen to paper with regards to writing your album.
R: You received the most votes every week from week 2, how did it feel to have so much support?
To be honest I found that out after the show and I was more shocked, genuinely, by that, than I was that I won. The competition was a slow process, eliminating people one by one, until it was then just me and Rebecca at the end. When there is just two of you its a 50/50 chance, but winning it, blew my tiny mind, I never thought that could happen. It was only when I was on the Xtra Factor when someone came out and told me you realize you won every week apart from week one. That melted me then.
R: I have spoken with Rebecca before actually and she’s incredible lovely, but you were on the show in the same year as ‘One Direction’ are you still in touch with any of the guys?
Yeah I am, I mean just look at what they have managed to achieve? I was talking to someone the other day actually, about how they have all managed to branch off and do their own thing so successfully and I genuinely think social media has such a huge part to play know because they all have their own individual Instagrams, Facebook’s, Twitter. Now, you can be an individual and be in that band, where as a band like Take That, for example, or N-Sync or the Backstreet Boys, they were just a band. I love what thy are all doing. I mean they entered that competition as solo artists and finally they now have got their opportunity.
R: Like any chapter in your life, you’ve got to go through stuff to get to where you really what to be? Looking back now ‘When We Collide’ was your first release, does that feel like a long time ago now?
No, do you know what, it feels like five years ago, but yeah, it’s a long time ago now, like you say you have to go through things to get to where you want to be.
I truly believe now I am finally where I want to be musically, back with Sony, and releasing this album, a lot of stuff has to happened you know, even going into the darkest places of my life, that had to happen to get here, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. I’ve got to be thankful for it.
R: You entered the media spotlight quite suddenly, what’s the hardest thing for you being in the limelight?
The hardest thing for a lot of people in my position is the fact that its public, whether its good or bad, I mean its great when its going brilliant!
When its not, and its public, it sucks and its hard, it’s a hard thing to deal with. I mean if your working for HSBC and you get fired, you know about it, your boss does and a couple of other people, its not on the front page of the Daily Mail, you know?
R: So onto that, you’re now back with a new album ‘Time To be Alive’ and if I am not mistaken a new sound? Can you tell us about this?
Yeah absolutely, I wanted to develop as an artist. I am a huge Coldplay fan and I just love how they have managed to develop as a band throughout the years, but it doesn’t seem false, they just consistently progress.
I did three albums in three years, which is a lot and because I did it so quickly, and the second two albums independently… and to be fair when I was doing the last album ‘Porcelain’ I was… I wasn’t really here, I was somewhere else, but I didn’t get the opportunity to try and develop further. So that’s what this album has been, I wanted to get in the studio after I came out of rehab.
I was clean and serine, I started writing again. I didn’t want to do an Indie Rock album, it was just to keep myself, and my fans interested and to expand my fan base.
R: I hope you don’t mind if I ask this question, and you don’t have to answer it, but I am a huge supporter of mental health and I think being in the public eye, to go through something like going to rehab must have been quite difficult, do you think by going through that and through your own experiences you can help other people?
Well, on a one on one basis, I don’t know? I have the requisite and the experience to talk to people in that position and you know, to know what they are going through, for example now I am talking about it on the other side, for me, it is more the fact that I can maybe just shed a little light on the dangers of prescription drugs.
That word prescription is tricky you know? It can make something appear safe basically, that’s what I am trying to say.
I mean you think oh my doctors gives me these, they aren’t gonna kill me, these are great, and they are not, they are some of the most dangerous drugs out there and if misused, you know, the way I was misusing them, with alcohol and other substances, they become lethal within seconds.
We’re losing people left right and centre in the public eye down to prescription drugs and alcohol and if there’s anything that I could do at this side of my experience I will throw a little light on it.
R: The reason I ask is that I’d previously suffered with anxiety myself, but luckily enough for me my doctor recognised the fact that prescription drugs like Diazepam can become very addictive. So I can fully appreciate how much of a slippery slope it might be.
Absolutely, well that’s the thing, I know so many people who are taking them, and you and I know first hand how it feels?
R: Yeah its gets rid of the panic?
If you’re struggling with life, unfortunately there is a way out and its that. I was struggling really hard, with life and my career and stresses and I found a way out, I took the door and ran through it, but there is only so far you can run.
R: I hope you don’t mind me discussing it but I feel it’s really important to raise awareness.
Well, yeah, I mean, mental health is being talked about more and more each day, which is amazing and it should be because, like Russell Brand was saying in his new show, its tough out their for the mind and not everybody is fully equipped to deal with the way the world throws things at us.
R: I think everyone suffers with something.
Yeah, I truly do believe that, I would happily say that, some people hide it well, some people grin and bare it, some people don’t even know. It’s hard to diagnose and it’s impossible to treat.
R: Thanks for your honesty Matt… So, can we class you as a Suffolk lad, as I believe you went to Stoke College and spent a bit of time around here?
I grew up right on the edge of the Suffolk boarder so you definitely can, I have spent a lot of time in Bury St Edmunds.
R: I am sure we have mutual acquaintances, such as a few of the guys from LP?
Oh no way, f*cking hell no way, do you remember The Hide Bar?
R: Yeah I used to live right over the road!
So did my drummer! So we used to go in
there all of the time. I helped them paint
LP black, I think it was one of the last things I did before going on the X Factor! Small
R: Lastly, I wondered what your plans are for the rest of the year?
We will tour the album, but that’s to be confirmed for later this year or early next year, but again just promoting the single and album, lots of work to be done.
R: It’s been such a lovely chat, thank you so much and I wish you every success with the new album.
For more information see www.mattcardlemusic.com