Interview: Lucy Spraggan on her US touring, approach to music and more!
While music is very much my world, not only do I cover it, but I’m also immersed in it in my side hustle working at a newer venue in Boston and it’s completely refreshed me. And something incredible about it is the new music it’s opened my ears to, be it really incredible local acts to rock and roll veterans like Alejandro Escovedo, more then just ‘Galway Girl’ from Steve Earle to upcoming acts I’ve never heard of. One of those acts was Lucy Spraggan, who’s first show I bartended and instantly fell for when hearing her audition song from The X Factor, “Last Night”.
So when Spraggan was coming back through town, I knew to jump on the opportunity to talk this talented performer. Especially since she was fresh off the release of her fifth album, “Today Was a Good Day”. Spraggan’s outlook on her US touring was incredibly refreshing and made for a great conversation about international acts coming to the states, her approach to music and much more. Find our chat below and keep your eyes peeled for much more from Lucy!
This is your second time here at City Winery in Boston, still so early in the US touring. Maybe going into this US run, going into these US dates, something you learned from the last time you were here and preparations going into this run?
I think I’m less nervous because I know what an American audience is like now. They’re so nice. I think a lot of Americans, I don’t want to speak for all of Americans, just like music. It’s quite different to being at home and I’m really enjoying it. So, I’m less daunted because I have a little bit of experience now.
Now you know what it’s like, even despite the seven-hour drives. You’re doing it on your own, I know obviously it’s really expensive for people to come over here from the UK. With visas and everything. I was supposed to interview two bands a little earlier this month and both of their visas got delayed so they had to cancel their tours.
No way. You know, usually I’m here with Josh my keys player who was here last time with me or my band in the UK. But I just decided to do this as a challenge as well. To just come out on my own and see if I could do it. Because I used to do this, like my first tour, I came here for three months when I was 18, just on my own.
Before everything really started.
Oh yeah, I was just a kid with my guitar playing pubs and stuff. And I did 32 states in that three months and it feels a bit like that again. Meeting people and stuff, it’s fun. Because you’re a definite certain version of yourself when you’re on your own and it’s good. It’s challenging.
That’s so daring. 32 states at eighteen?
Yeah, it was a bit mad.
Then looking at that, you have some years now under your belt, you just released your fifth album. But looking at that, what inspired that run, you know coming over here so young.
I got a gig in Florida, in Orlando. Played that show in Orlando and then fell in love with this woman and just traveled around with her. Didn’t even know where we were going, ended up in Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. Was really hitting up the big spots.
The hot spots, the A markets.
I just realized my Visa lasted for three months so it was like why would I not use it. I just had a guitar and a backpack. And that’s kind of how I live life anyways. Just take every opportunity that comes along so that was one. Denver and Florida.
Then your fifth album, “Today was a Good Day”, only came out in May. You’ve put out so many albums. When did this album really start coming to fruition? When did you really start working on this one?
It was finished literally right before it was released. I had a deadline for June 2018, and I gave it to them in like December. It was really just kind of rushed a bit, but I write songs all the time. So, they just happen to land every couple years. I’m trying to get this one to not be a couple of years. More like a year but time goes so quickly.
Like speaking of the next one.
Yeah, but I doubt it.
Then considering you’ve been writing for so long, is it something where you kind of always write by yourself? Do you write with other people?
It’s a bit of both really. I write with other people because I just think it’s really good to bounce off people. I get really bored on my own, but when I’m traveling, I write alone loads and loads. I think it’s because there’s a lot of experiences that you have, and I listen to a lot of music. So, you just constantly are being inspired. Maybe that’s the key. If I stay on the road, I’ll have an album by next year. Probably not, again!
Then I wanted to ask you just from looking at some interviews that you’ve done, I know the song “Lucky Stars” was inspired by your sister. She had posted a status about meeting her boyfriend or something.
Yeah, ‘I thank my lucky stars’.
And you were inspired by that moment?
I just liked that phrase. No one says that anymore, I’ll take that one! It’s the only one of my songs that’s been inspired by Facebook.
When you approached this album, were you purely writing songs for this album, were some of them older?
This album is the first one that didn’t have any older tracks on it. Like ones that didn’t make it to another album. Because normally I’d just chuck a couple of those on but I didn’t really have any left, so I took them all fresh. Lots of effort. I think so anyway; they were all new.
It’s good, keeping it fresh. Is it a large part of your set?
I’m doing like a combo. I think it’s important when I’m in the states to showcase everything. Not just the new stuff, because I think the older stuff is best. I think most artists think that. You were younger, you feel more when you’re younger.
All the feels.
Yes, all of them.
Then I was reading a little bit of your story and how you and your wife do this amazing thing, you’re still so young, and you’re fostering all these kids. When did that kind of start? Was it always something you intended to do when you met your wife, or did it just come naturally?
No, we just saw an ad for it on tv. We went down to the town hall and asked them about it. It turns out that 250 kids at any given time need somewhere to be in that moment. And that’s us being in a small town. So, we were just like yeah, let’s do it. We’ve just moved to another county, so we have to resign from that county and reapply which is a quite long process. I’m just trying to do more in general because the world’s kind of shit at the moment, isn’t it? So, the more slight changes that you can do, that’s what we’re trying to do for sure.
And you’re still so young, it may seem crazy to some people.
I feel old. All my joints ache. May as well be 40,50.
Maybe what’s the most kids you’ve had one at time?
We had these two babies at the same time. Two boys that were unrelated, under two, both of them. That was stressful. Kids are nuts, people with kids are crazy.
Well it’s amazing. Then just talking from a lot of people that have experienced shows like American Idol, The Voice, X Factor. Obviously, it was several years ago for you now.
Seven. Told you I’m old!
Talking to people like Kris Allen from Idol, Sawyer Fredericks from The Voice. Maybe something you took from the experience, obviously you had to leave a little early, but you were favored and from looking at the audition, clearly, they loved you. Maybe something that you’re maybe grateful for from that experience?
The sheer exposure. I still get recognized every day from the show. My fan base is not every day while I’m here because nobody recognizes me here. And it’s great! I mean I do want to be recognized here though, maybe one day! But, the exposure yeah, and my fan base is completely different now then it was. I guess not too many people get to experience that kind of thing in life, so it’s kind of an honor to be one of those people. That whole overnight fame thing is a fucking bizarre phenomenon. And again, not many people ever witness that. Not that it was always positive because it wasn’t. But it was quite amazing to witness.
I think it was the X Factor, but I interviewed JLS a lot when they were trying to come here. It was the same thing it was this overnight success story in the UK and then they came here, and it was like crickets. They’re so kind, I interviewed them like three times in a short span, and they were trying to come here. I’m sure you’ve seen it playing these shows, but it was like a shock to them because they were killing it in the UK and here it was to nobody.
I think the difference is as well, not exclusively, but a lot of people who go on those shows have never done small shows. I’ve been playing shows since I was twelve. I’ve played to fucking seven people.
You’ve seen it, it’s not something where you’re like oh no my career has ended.
Oh yeah. By the time I was on the show, I was doing pretty well in the UK. I had signed a development deal, I had a few labels interested, that wanted me to change my name to Lucy Diamond and lose thirty pounds. I didn’t go for them. But I was doing like five shows a week at that point. So, there aren’t shows that phase me. I sold twelve tickets in Milwaukee. They were like, ‘Do you want to cancel?’ and I was like ‘No’. I had never even been to Milwaukee; twelve people is amazing. Because twelve people isn’t no people and even no people is fine. Because I’ve never been there. You got to start somewhere. If you turned down every show where there’s going to be no fucking people in the room. Like this show hasn’t sold crazy, I think it’s like thirty-five but to me that’s amazing.
People care and they want to see you.
It’s just cool. I know a lot of people are scared to do that. I know people sometimes see less tickets as a failure. I used to think a lot like that, now I’m like actually I’m living my life! I’m in America because of my music. Twelve tickets is a win!
Then to end it off, you’re on this second tour of the US. Well you used to tour in the beginning.
This is the second official tour. With the right Visa to tour.
Well with a working visa. And the last show here wasn’t that long ago, maybe six or seven months.
Yeah not long ago. I plan to just keep coming.
Just keep steadily coming. So, speaking of that, the album is still so new, only coming out last month so just keep coming out in support of that.
Yeah, and I’d love to do some support slots with other people here. I’d love to just bounce around doing that. That would really work. I really want to find somebody who’s doing the same thing here that I’m doing at home so I could just be like, let’s tour swap. Boom! That would be amazing.