Rebecca Ferguson is back!
This week saw the soul-filled songbird’s new album ‘Freedom’ land in stores. Preceded by ‘I Hope’, the hotly anticipated set arrives two years after the Platinum-selling success of debut effort ‘Heaven’.
With the LP currently blazing iTunes, That Grape Juice sat down with the Liverpool-bred beauty to discuss the project, the hardships brought on by success, and much more.
Our EXCLUSIVE interview with Rebecca Ferguson awaits below…
Transcription: David Asante
That Grape Juice: Hi Rebecca! How are you?
Rebecca Ferguson: I’m good, thank you. Excited to be speaking with That Grape Juice again.
As are we (to be chatting with) you!
It’s been two years since the release of your debut album ‘Heaven’. What have you been up to in time away?
Since the last album….to be honest, it doesn’t really feel like I’ve had a break. I finished work on promo for the last album in the December (of 2012) and then I had January off, but then I was back in the studio in the February. It feels like I haven’t stopped (laughs), but the public haven’t seen me in a while so it feels like a long time.
Your second record has a very appropriate title… ‘Freedom’. A lot has been written in the press (regarding management changes, personal drama, and the like), but in your words…why this title? What does it represent?
Freedom to me means being free from your past; being free from whatever held you down as a person. I feel like my childhood and upbringing affected a lot of things and affected the person that was, and I feel like coming off of a huge show (The X Factor UK) and the process of being “famous” was quite hard. So freedom is basically not caring about what people think- I say that in the nicest possible way! (Laughs) I say that in the sense I’ve started to live for me, not what people think of me.
How does this album differ sonically to the previous? What can fans expect in the way of song, lyrics, and message?
I think it’s got a more a modern feel and sound to it. I feel like it’s got a different elements to it, it’s got a touch of Hip-Hop to it, but only a touch because it’s definitely not a Hip Hop album (laughs). Some of the beats have a lot of bass, so I’ve added different elements to it musically.
The overall message of the album is overall positivity, even though I wrote it when I was in a dark place. The whole purpose of the album was for it be positive. I want you put on when you’re feeling down and feeling blue (to uplift you). When I say dark place, I felt like I wasn’t surrounded by good people and they had latched on because of the first album’s success. I couldn’t trust people, so it was a big learning curve for me because I felt lost- it affected my outlook on people. However, in the end it happened for a reason, because without that year I couldn’t have created this album.
And what an album it is. We’re loving it.
You joined forces with John Legend for the album…how did that come about?
Steve Robson who wrote the track with John got in touch with my label and asked if i’d like to sing a track with John. I couldn’t believe it. So I went to Steve’s studio and recorded the song and he loved it. The plan was for John to come over so we could perform it together, but it didn’t happen because he was had flown elsewhere to get married. So hopefully it’ll happen next time. I’m very grateful because he’s one of the people you watch when you’re trying to make and think ‘he’s good.’ I can’t wait for the live duet.
We’re loving your new single ‘I Hope’, but if you had to pick three tracks that best “sell” this album what would they be?
I would say ‘My Freedom’…
Oh this is hard (laughs)
‘My Best’ and ‘All that I’ve Got’. It’s hard because I (genuinely) love all the songs on the album.
I love ‘My Best and ‘All That I’ve Got’ so I think it would be one of them, I love them so much, but we’ll see.
Having enjoyed Platinum flavoured success with the last album, what would success be with this one?
I want it to just enjoy the process and not say ‘I need a #1’. But if you do that and don’t get that #1 you’d be on the biggest downer. At the same time, I always feel like you should strive to be better each day as a person so I want it to achieve more than ‘Heaven’ – which I don’t know how that will play out be because ‘Heaven’ did sell quite well (laughs). Hopefully I’d like it do more than ‘Heaven’, because I believe you should always push harder.
Onwards and upwards!
You rose to prominence on The X Factor. Do you still watch the show? What do you think of it these days?
I’ve been watching little bits but not all of it. I think Tamera’s great, she’s got great star quality and will go far! It’s hard because I’ve only seen bits and pieces and not all of it but I think it’s great Saturday night TV. When I finish work, I just chill so it’s perfect to watch when you’re with your friends and just want to unwind.
For all it’s pro’s, the music business can have a not-so-bright side. In light of drama, what advice you’d give to someone getting into industry?
You have to educate yourself, it’s a business. First of all you have to be true to yourself and your artistry, people love to see who you are and if you do it it will shine through and people really love and respect that. Artists can be really emotional- like myself- and we’re built that way, but the music industry is a business and you have to get your head round that before you enter.
You’re not there to make friends – which is sad. I mean you will meet some great people- but it really is a business.
Shifting gears a bit, what would you say is your most embarrassing musical moment?
I had to do a showcase once in America for CBS and there was no microphone and it was this huge, huge auditorium. I was there with my guitarist in front of all these important record executives. I was just sitting there and I suddenly had this major coughing fit and they were all staring at me and I think I had a meltdown at the end of the performance (laughs)!
As an act that has enjoyed critical and commercial success, what do you feel is the key to longevity in the music business?
I’m learning that you can’t get stuck in your ways, I’m such a nana- I’m such a prude, so sometimes I can cling onto old ways but I’m learning that I have to be open to new sounds even though I’m still staying true to myself.
I’m learning that it’s an evolving industry so you have to be open to new things while keeping your morals and your ethics. I think artists should think like Kanye West because his new album is so weird but wonderful and artists should learn from him rather than getting stuck in a box where they make music just for the radio.
‘Freedom’ is available in-stores now!