Lucy Spraggan: I had a bad time after the show, but I'm glad I did it
The Belfast-bound former X Factor contestant talks to Chris Jones about her struggle with writer's block, her engagement, and the Jim Wells controversy
Lucy Spraggan is a young woman with plenty to say. That stands to reason - her mum Anstey is a freelance journalist, so Lucy was brought up to be confident expressing her opinion, and it doesn't take much to get her going.
Such as right at the end of our interview, when after accepting congratulations on her recent engagement to her partner Georgina Gordon, she brings up the issue of the Jim Wells controversy.
"I'm very excited and very happy indeed," she says. "(But) very sad to see all the commotion going on in Northern Ireland. It's really s**t. I've been following it, tweeting a lot and speaking a lot about it. It's just a massive shame.
"The thing is, I'm so excited to be engaged and so over the moon to be able to be who I want to be here. There's so much diversity in this country, and it makes me sad that in the same UK (by) just hopping over a little bit of water, you could be penalised or refused service or denied your love for somebody else. Imagine if they went, 'Actually no, black people can't marry white people again'. It's just the same. Everybody is entitled to love."
Despite the controversy, Lucy says she feels right at home in Northern Ireland having visited several times before. "The Kremlin is my go-to place in Belfast - I love everything about it!" she smiles. "I played Belfast Pride as well a couple of years ago. The attitude from people - from everybody actually- in Belfast is great. There's an extra little bit of love and welcoming there."
It's three years since Lucy shot to fame on The X Factor, when she was the first person ever to perform a self-written song at the audition stage. That song, 'Last Night (Beer Fear)', was a huge success and remains her calling card, but despite being one of the favourites to win the competition, she was forced to leave the show due to ill health. And things got worse from there.
"I had a really bad time after I came off the show and suffered quite badly," she says. "You can't ever prepare for someone constantly following you around with a camera, not being able to go out anywhere and things like that. Also, on social media you get told so much that you're ugly or you're fat, and all of a sudden you start to doubt your identity. Little pieces of you start to disappear."
Lucy says that the most difficult thing to deal with was a year-long writer's block, a struggle that inspired a song on her new album called 'Uninspired'. "I was pretty numb," she says. "It took me about two years to get back to the same person that I was before I went on (X Factor), which was quite a dark process. I suffered quite badly from depression and was on antidepressants for about a year."
She credits friends, family and "focus" as the reason she pulled through, and now she is about to release her second album since The X Factor, 'We Are…', which includes a collaboration with Boy George. "He's wicked!" she says. "Very spiritual and very humble.
"(We Are…) is like a grown-up version of the other album," she adds. "It's a really raw and honest album, but sonically it's bolder than the other record."
Despite the familiar tale of post-TV talent show woe, Lucy says that she doesn't regret going on the show, and she sounds convincing.
"(The X Factor) is not something that I'm super ashamed of," she says. "I managed to maintain my credibility at all times and it did great things for me. I'm not trying to shed that."
Lucy Spraggan plays the Limelight tonight