Matt Cardle: I’m so glad I won X Factor but it’s time to go alone now
X FACTOR winner Matt Cardle has spent the last year working on his debut album. The 28-year-old chats to Andy Welch about writing his own songs and standing on his own two feet
A former painter and decorator, Southampton-born Cardle, 28, had been in various bands before winning the X Factor last year.
He released his debut single When We Collide, a reworking of Biffy Clyro's Many Of Horror, which duly went on to be Christmas number one.
His debut album Letters is out now.
You performed on the first live show on this year's X Factor. Was that nerve-wracking?
It was. I was on the Sunday show, and because everyone had been singing so well on the show the night before, there was extra pressure I thought. It's a tough thing to do, and I was singing a song Gary Barlow wrote in front of Gary Barlow. He said he enjoyed it, so that was good.
Your album is out now. Was it enjoyable recording it?
I loved every minute. You get the most amazing feeling when you're recording something you've written. It's one thing being happy with something yourself, but then when the label and manager and everyone in your team says they're happy too, it's an even greater feeling.
It's almost a year since you won the show. Have you been working solidly in that time?
Yes, I haven't had a break at all. I've just been in the studio, co-writing the album. It went better than I could have hoped, and the pressure gave me an extra kick to work hard.
You wrote songs with James Walsh from Starsailor and Eg White, who worked on Amy Winehouse's first album. How was that?
I wrote with a few people, yeah, and I really clicked with Eg and James. We tried to have meetings beforehand, and to get to know each other. We'd just swap ideas, really, and talk about what I was feeling, what's happened to me and so on. It has to be personal to me because it's my album. I might have a chorus ready, and then we'd flesh the rest of it out.
Did you feel worthy of being there?
On the writing side, I didn't have a problem. I've been writing since I was 11, all of my musical playing career, really. In terms of the number of songs I've written, I'm on album number four, nearly five. I was comfortable with them. Writing is what I do most.
There was a recent interview where you said you'd compromised yourself by appearing on the X Factor. Do you feel the album is exactly what you want to do?
The album is exactly who I am and where I want to be. Obviously there is going to be a progression from here, and things to try. It's all drawn from my experiences and I haven't compromised one bit on the album, apart from the Biffy Clyro song, perhaps. But that was a number one, so you can't argue with that.
Do you want to distance yourself from the show?
I'll never deny where I'm from, that would be biting the hand that fed me. I won The X Factor, and I owe a lot to it, so I am eternally grateful for the opportunity it's given me. Who doesn't want to be a solo artist standing on their own two feet, though?
You'd obviously dreamed of making it before you were on the X Factor. How different is the reality now you have actually recorded an album and signed to a major label?
I've always dreamed big, so I'm not going to stop now. I could never have imagined to be signed to Columbia Records. I'm on the same label as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Kings Of Leon. That's something I didn't expect, even in my wildest fantasies.
You've got a tour lined up for next year. How is that coming together?
It's going well. We haven't announced anything yet, but it's all coming together. We did some small shows earlier this year in Scotland, and playing live is something that I really want to concentrate on. And it means a lot, too. It's about people buying a ticket, coming out on a cold night, getting to the venue and spending money, maybe £100 for a couple to come along. That's a real show of support and means a lot.
Who are you tipping to win this year's X Factor?
Well, I liked Amelia, but she was first off. She sounded great, confident, really pretty, and I don't get why she went. I don't know who I think will win now.