Brimming with talent and equipped with a guitar in her hands, Lucy Spraggan quickly caught the attention of the public when she burst onto the music scene a few years back. Her individuality as an artist, instantly allowed her to craft her own path and stand-out in the industry; performing original tracks that shone with creative storytelling lyrics. A factor of Lucy’s craft that has become a distinctive quality of hers. From her very first independently released debut album Top Room At The Zoo in 2011, until now, Lucy has built an impressive collection of releases under her belt. Welcoming us into her world a little further with each one, as her own life experiences continue to serve as her biggest source of inspiration. It’s fair to say, the singer-songwriter has well and truly put the work in over the years, and although she may not have had the easiest ride at this music game, her focus and determination is admirable. However, she is hopeful that things may be on the up, aided by a whole new mindset and attitude towards her career. As Lucy gears up for the release of her fifth album Today Was A Good Day, out on May 3rd, we enjoyed a chat with the straight-talking musician to talk about the new record, as well as some of the positive changes in her life that has got her here.
Hey Lucy, how are you doing?
Very good! I’m tired because of being on tour for like 9 million years; I just got back from America last week where I was for a month, and I was in Europe for a month before that.
How was it?
It was amazing! I love it.
You’ve got a busy few weeks lined up, with the release of your new album and your own tour…
I’ve got a tour, yeah. Europe and UK, and I’ve just had an American tour announced for June as well.
How are you feeling about it all?
I feel excited. This year I feel a real lease of life and Glastonbury has just been announced which I’m playing this year. I played it in 2017 and it was a proper career highlight.
Let’s talk about your new album ‘Today Was A Good Day’ — It feels very personal, almost like we are having a peep into your life — how does it feel sharing that kind of stuff with the world?
I feel like this albums proper happy, like my last record was a bit down. But this one’s just, yeah… all my songs are a view into what my life is, because that’s what I write about. I observe and spit out whatever I’ve just looked at. So, yeah it is personal. I guess it’s a reflection of the last couple of years, like getting married and just being a grown up.
Do you have any favourite tracks on the album?
‘The Waiting Room’ is probably one of my favourites, and ‘Connies Bar’. I went to a biker bar in North Florida, my friend was like ‘go there and get some burgers’. I turned up and was like ‘I’m gonna get shot’. There was blacked out windows and neon lights, and this woman was behind the bar. She was probably in her fifties, with a tank top on, tattoos everywhere, scars and like, just really cool. Then she started speaking and I expected her to be like right-wing, sort of, you know. And she was like this well-travelled, really interesting woman and I just started writing that song in my head.
That’s cool! You’re very creative. A storyteller, as well as a musician.
I just talk bullshit all the time *laughs*
But I feel like you could probably turn any situation into a great song.
I try, bloody hell I gotta keep living, because with this record, I really struggled to gather those experiences and turn them into something. I gotta keep writing, so I’m glad you think that.
What goes into your songwriting process when you get an idea?
If I have an idea, the lyrics will be bam straight into my phone. My phone is like a vault of ideas. I record a melody into my phone and I put the lyrics, and I’ll either sit at the piano or guitar. Mainly piano at the moment. I bought a piano, because I’ve always been quite crap. So I just bought this piano, put it in my kitchen. Then you walk through and ‘ah I’ll have a little play’. Now I can bloody play it! So I’m writing songs on there. It changes all the time the creative process.
Your music is like a diary, how does it feel to keep reliving moments from your life through your songs?
It’s interesting, I was talking about that yesterday with a friend. Some things get easier to sing, like my second record was about heartbreak basically—a relationship and then a heartbreak. And there’s songs on the last record about really dark stuff. There’s a song called ‘Uninspired’ from my third album that when I play it now, I feel… it gives me doom. Because I was in such a bad place when I wrote it, like really bad place. And that’s probably the only song that stays like that for me. But, it gets easier. I love the songs, but some of them remind me of dark times, because that’s what they’re about.
And it must take you back there, even for that little moment while you’re performing them…
Yeah. And then there’s songs that are about Ex’s and stuff that I play. And sometimes I play them and I think ‘ah that’s weird’. It is like a diary and it’s like reading it back every time.
Your new albums opening track ‘Breathe’ feels like you’ve come to a point where you are accepting who you are and just owning it — how has having that mindset had an impact on your life and career?
I think personally this last year I’ve come out of my shell more than I ever have in my life. I thought I was confident in the past, but I’ve never been confident; I’ve always had this projection of myself that I thought was confident. And up until now, I wouldn’t say like I have this overwhelming confidence, but I’ve made some personal [changes]. I’ve changed my hair for the first time in my life. I lost a bit of weight. I wear different clothes and sort of feel like myself a bit more than I ever have. Career-wise, I think that’s kind of what started that off. Because I left Columbia [Records] and was like ‘fuck this, I’m gonna do this on my own’. Like I’m not gonna have people dictate my life any more. So I started CTRL records. Did a record, it was alright. Did the next record, ‘I Hope You Don’t Mind Me Writing’, got a Number 12 on my own, and that was just me and my fan base. Then I signed to Cooking Vinyl this year and I got the deal that I wanted, on the terms that I wanted. I don’t care about pissing people off, or saying no anymore. I’ve been such a yes woman for the last seven years and this year I’m coming into my own. It’s cool, because once you stop giving a shit, stuff starts flying in.
And you’re doing things your way, life’s too short to follow someone else’s lead.
Yeah, you have to trim the fat and just do what you want. You’ve got to be happy.
What was the moment when you just thought ‘Fuck this’?
It’s been a gradual upward incline and I had a quite, well I’ve had a series of shit managers, but a few years ago, I had a particularly bad manager and I was just like ‘what the fuck?’. I was like ‘I’m not dealing with this’. I fired that manager a few years back and then from then I’ve just been working. And do you know what, I do a lot more than other musicians in my position on the level that I’m at. I am so involved — accounting, how many records I’m selling weekly, how many tour tickets we’re shifting. I speak directly to sync deals, publishers. Like I don’t want anyone else to do that for me.
What are some of the positive changes you’ve made that’s got you to this point?
Just not giving a shit, I don’t give a fuck. Actually, I give a fuck about the right things now. And like I say, the personal changes that I’ve made have enabled me to be a bit more confident and be a bit more in the forefront and stuff. Positive changes… I’m just living. I’ve had a real awakening—I hate that, like you’re woke *laughs*. But I haven’t had an awakening about anything else other than me and how I should be living my life. I’ve cared so much about what people think for so long and now I don’t care. I’m just gonna do what makes me happy.
I think that’s the best thing. As soon as you reach that stage, things feel like they start to get better.
Yeah and my music will reflect that. And it will just be a perpetual cycle and hopefully I’ve managed to stay in this zone. I probably won’t but… fingers crossed.
Maybe this new mindset will change everything.
It could be the one. It’s the blonde hair *laughs*
So, ‘Today Is A Good Day’ serves as your fifth album. You’re building a massive collection of releases under your belt. How has this creation process been different to your previous releases?
Mental innit! This one was quite hard actually, because it felt quite constructed. Whereas my last record was… I just wrote a load of songs and then picked them out. Whereas this I was like ‘ergh, I actually need to deliver an album by June!’. I delivered it in January by the way. I was like ‘you can’t rush art’ *laughs*. I kind of felt like I had to construct it, which was a bit of pressure. That was the only difference really. So I’m still coming to terms with it as a record, because I haven’t had very long to sit with it. But that’s the only difference. I just had to extract those experiences in a different way.
You definitely say things as they are and we hear that through ‘Don’t Play This On The Radio’ — how does it feel to put your heart and soul into something and have it potentially not get the attention it deserves?
When it started it was awful, and up until the last record, it would keep me up at night. I would do so much to try… I’ve spent tens of thousands on radio pluggers. Tens of thousands of my money to try and get on the radio. Then the last record I said ‘I’m not doing this anymore’. I’m not going to keep dipping into this uncertain part of my career where I don’t have much luck. There’s quite evidently somebody or someone that doesn’t like me. My fan base likes me and when I play at festivals, I get to win people over. The industry, they don’t seem to like me very much. I’m not sure why that is, but it is what it is. So as soon as I wrote that song, I was like ‘this is going on the record’. The record label were a bit scared of that song.
It’s one of my favourites…
Me too. It’s a pop song. I wanted to write the most radio friendly pop song I’ve ever written.
It’s kind of like a middle finger up to it all.
Exactly! It’s like, I write the songs. I’ll write a song about you not playing me on the radio. Fuck it.
I don’t feel like the radio fully represents the level and quality of talent we have here in the UK — how frustrating is that as an artist?
It’s frustrating because it’s the one part of my career—that and streaming—that I’d love to have a bit higher. My streaming moves every week, like we did a hundred thousand listeners, last week we did a hundred thousand more. It fluctuates. But the radio thing, is the part of my career that I wish I had. However, I’m working towards it. I’m getting somewhere on this record with a new plugger, so maybe that song has made all the difference. Good things come to those who work really hard.
What do you think needs to change?
The music industry is very clicky. So is every industry. And I’m not a very clicky person, I’m a bit of a lone ranger. So that needs to change. But that will never change, you know. There’s certain awards and awards ceremonies that I know I’ll never be nominated for, let alone invited to. Ever.
You’ve definitely established who you are as a musician — how important do you feel that individuality is in the industry?
It’s the most important thing in the world. Because without individuality everybody is conforming to the same thing. Like some of the examples we were just talking about.
You have racked up a lot of experience — what would you say is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far?
Just don’t listen to people. Take on constructive criticism, but don’t let the dickheads drag you down.
What’s been some of your highlights so far?
Glastonbury in 2017 was amazing. This last tour that I did, I played Manchester Academy. It was fucking huge and I was just like ‘WHAT!’. Just being able to tour and travel the world, it’s amazing.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would that be?
I’d say think about things for longer than you did.
Where do you hope the release of ‘Today Was A Good Day’ will take you?
To more territories around the world hopefully. Australia, fingers crossed.
Who are your biggest musicial influences?
Blackalicious and Dolly Parton
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Lana Del Ray and Watsky
Earliest musical memory?
Listening to a tape deck of Kirsty McCall in the back of my Mum’s car
What does your perfect day look like?
My dog and my campervan, with my motorbike on the back.
Finally, what are you afraid of?
Pre-order Lucy’s new album Today Was A Good Day here
For more on Lucy Spraggan, her new album and tickets to her tour visit: lucyspraggan.com
Interview by Demi Leigh