Andrew WilliamsTuesday 25 Feb 2014 6:00 am
Rebecca Ferguson has had plenty of drama to deal with but is still ambitious about her music (Picture: Tom Dymond/Thames/Rex)
‘It was like something from a film,’ says Rebecca Ferguson of her tumultuous past 18 months.
‘I had stalkers, court cases, every crazy person you could think of was on my case. I was going through the mill and finally got to the end and thought: “Life’s too short to stress and worry and be anxious.” You have to be thankful for the blessings you have.’
Such was the inspiration for not only her second album, Freedom, released in December, but also for her new outlook on life, because Ferguson, endlessly sold to viewers as the shyest person on 2010’s The X Factor, isn’t shy any more.
‘I was overly concerned with what people thought of me,’ she says. ‘I was shy when I wrote my first album, Heaven, but I finally decided: “I’m not bothered about what people think any more.” I was scared to say the wrong thing and look like an idiot – but then I thought, well, I am an idiot and I’m not bothered.’
She laughs at this, as she does through much of our chat. Ferguson, it turns out, has a good sense of humour and is very down to earth – qualities not synonymous with your typical X Factor diva.
She finished as the runner-up to Matt Cardle and a year later reached the Top Ten with single Nothing’s Real But Love – showcasing her husky, soulful vocal style – and No.3 with album Heaven. She promoted the album in the US and even found time to front a crisps advert.
As well as her pop duties, she had her two children, Lillie May, nine, and Karl, seven, to look after. But by July 2012, she was worn out and launched a well-publicised Twitter tirade against her management company, who are in charge of One Direction and Little Mix, claiming they overworked her. A court case ensued, which Ferguson says she’s not allowed to discuss.
Rebecca Ferguson, Katie Waissel, Cher Lloyd and Cheryl Cole on The X Factor in 2010 (Picture: Talkback Thames)
All this turmoil left her giving interviews last year saying she was depressed. She’s not too sure about that now, though. ‘I said it was depression but it was just circumstances,’ she muses. ‘A lot of people say: “I’m depressed,” but really they’re just surrounded by idiots. I wasn’t depressed – I was just surrounded by idiots. Now I’m not and I’m happy.’
How long did this clear-out take? ‘A good year,’ she says. ‘I had a few clingers-on but I’ve shaken them off and I’m happier for it. You just have to surround yourself with positive, happy people who care for you and will be there for you no matter what your circumstances are financially.’
Ferguson reflects on this catalogue of disasters on her latest album. ‘But even though I was going through a bad time, I didn’t want it to be depressing,’ she says. ‘I wanted it to be empowering and uplifting.’
It’s the same story with her new single, All That I’ve Got. ‘It’s about not taking any crap from anyone,’ she says. ‘It’s a song you can play when people are messing you around and hopefully it will give you a kick up the arse.’
Ferguson may be trying to be upbeat these days but has admitted that after her X Factor success, she could be a ‘bit of a bitch’. What was her biggest diva strop? ‘It was more panic than being a bitch,’ she says. ‘I just wanted some control over my life because so many other people had control over it. When people panic, they can look like they’re being a bitch…’
Her brother Sam chips in from across the hotel room: ‘Yeah, I’m not being a t***, I’m panicking!’
‘Ha, ha, ha, shut it, you,’ she responds. ‘No, I wasn’t mean to anyone,’ Ferguson assures me.