Spending quite a bit of time in leafy Kent over the past year, X Factor alumnette, Amelia Lily has been working on her forthcoming first record at pop masters’, Xenomania’s picturesque country house studios in Westerham.
The 18 year-old, who boasts an admirable set of vocal folds, may have only come third in the competition’s 2011 series (the winners, you’ll recall, were Little Mix), but her debut single, You Bring Me Joy, with its sombre-pop whiffs of Girls Aloud’s ‘Call The Shots’, managed an impressive number 2 in the Singles Chart towards the end of last year and its parent album promises many more hooks where that came from.
Relocating to London from her hometown of Nunthorpe (that’s just a few miles outside Middlesbrough, Geography zealots!), Lily is currently promoting her second single, ‘Shut Up (And Give Me Whatever You Got)’, which gave us an excellent opportunity to check in on her and see how she’s getting on in the Big Smoke.
Before going on the X Factor, did you have much exposure to London as a teenager?
Yes, my brother lived down here working, so I’d spent quite a bit of time hanging here with him. Now I try and go and visit back up north as much as I can, though.
After your time on the X Factor, you got picked up by Xenomania, whom you have worked with on your debut album…
Yeah, I made my whole album at Xenomania, it’s been an amazing experience.
What do you make of their famously “collage”-like way of writing pop songs?
I hadn’t done much writing other than on my own before working with them, so I don’t know any different! I know some artists find the method strange but I love it. We put down so many ideas, it’s like a massive brainstorming session. It’s an honour to work with top producers and writers. They always write hits!
Were you aware of their stuff before you started working with them?
Yes, as I was a massive Girls Aloud fan!
What are your choice vintage Xenomania moments?
Cher’s ‘Believe’, Girls Aloud’s ‘Sound of the Underground’ and Sugababes’s ‘Round Round’.
The new single is ‘Shut Up (And Give Me Whatever You Got)’. Who are you shushing here?
It’s basically about girl power and I was trying to tell girls (and guys!) that you should be able to stand up for yourself and speak up, not be controlled!
Now, based on your X-Factor performances, people expected you to sound a bit more Pink than Girls Aloud with your studio material. Do you consider the direction you’ve taken as a departure from your X-Factor days?
I don’t think I sound anything like Girls Aloud although it’s an obvious comparison as we both work with Xeno. I love Girls Aloud and their songs and music but my style has more edge to it! I’m a huge fan of pop and dance music and I feel like, with Xenomania, I’ve managed to combine that sound with my more rocky edge. We’ve used a lot of guitars and live drums. I never got to show people on the X Factor how diverse I am as an artist and hopefully when people hear my album they will realise I am not just a one trick pony.
‘You Bring Me Joy’ had massive chart success last year. When you were recording it, did you think to yourself ‘this is going to be big’?
I could always hear the potential in the song but never thought it would do as well as it did. It sounded so different when we were in the early stages of making it and then it just turned into this awesome tune. I’m so happy with how it turned out.
What do you like the most about living in London?
I love how busy it is and that there is always something going on.
Do you have a favourite area to hang out in?
Camden, because of its quirky style!
Your album is coming out later on this year. It feels like it’s been a long wait since your time on the X Factor. Have you felt impatient about wanting to release new material or did it feel like you had to take your time with the first record?
I definitely had to take my time, because with a first album people have high expectations of you and you have a lot of people to please, so for me it was important not to rush it. I wanted to make sure that at the end of it, however long it took, I had something I can be proud of. I know I’ve given it my all and done everything I can do so here’s hoping!
Have you chosen a name for the album, yet?
I’ve got an idea but I need to get the label’s approval first [laughs].
Will there be another single before the album comes out?
Yes, there will be a 3rd single before the album, but I don’t want to give away too much just yet. But it’s very fun and sounds very today’s generation!
Shut Up (And Give Me Whatever You Got) is out now via Sony.