Moving Mountains, Tea and Toast, Love and Life with Lucy Spraggan

Lucy Spraggan (credit: Andy Gannon)

From being a contestant on the UK TV Show “X-Factor” where she was first discovered, to recently tying up a tour with Melissa Etheridge, Lucy Spraggan is a bubbly fun sounding singer, who will catch you with some up beat music, delivering some of the most heart touching subject matter.  She will entertain you with her wonderful sounds, and you know her heart is Titanic-sized, and it will sink you just like the Titanic. She is married to (as I have been told) a drop-dead gorgeous woman, whose purpose in life seems to just give as much love as possible to everyone. She buries herself into the mental health crisis, hoping to let people know, it’s important to seek help.

I had a wonderful conversation with Lucy who hails from the UK, regarding her new album, the inspiration for her songs, and even renting a space suit for a video (the only one available had an American flag). Her songs will leave you touched, moved, and inspired. In the same musical genre as Mumford and Sons, but you’ll love her more than that. I can’t make it through too many of her songs without crying, as I am in awe at the depth of her heart. She is kind, and generous, and as if taught by Ghandi and Christ alike, she sings it “Love is the best revenge.” 


Jeremy Hinks: So, Lucy, I’ve covered artists from Swedish Idol, champions from “The Voice” here in the states, Americas got Talent, and now, you, a contestant on “X- Factor UK” so we are breaking new ground here.

Lucy Spraggan: I didn’t win, but I got pretty far…

 

Yes, you left ‘cause you got sick as I understand, BUT, your song on there “Tea and Toast” that one encapsulates your music for me, the sound, the beat, and the beautiful gut wrenching and REAL feeling. You have not seen what I look like, but, I’m a BIG guy, shaven head, earrings, tattoos, 18” arms, Type A Military kind of guy, and I am not ashamed to say, your music on almost every song will make me cry.

Ah I love it!!! Well, not that I love making people cry, but it’s always a compliment to invoke emotions of any kind. 

But you do it really well, it comes across as so simple, but it’s so real, and what I have gotten out of it is you have an amazingly HUGE heart, and not afraid to open all of that up, and you have this incredible vibe of LOVE for everyone. You’re this evocation of LOVE for people, and the need of love in people.

That is the way I feel about music, at times it’s very observational, and it’s how I feel. And to give people the opportunity to feel it, as close to what I was feeling at the time. Like I say, making you cry, it’s not a particularly nice thing, but I want people to feel things.

 

Might not be the best way to describe it, but, that song by Florence + The Machine, “Kiss with a Fist” it’s a fun song, but what it’s about, really makes you think. Your music is like that in where it actually takes people, I think how do you that is an amazing talent.

I appreciate that. For me, the music is always changing because of the experiences I’m having are always evolving as well. So, I try and keep it that way, like my music was starting to say toward being slightly more political, so now this is next record has gone in the opposite direction. The new album is going to be more light hearted, there are only two songs that are sad. One is called “The Waiting Room” and one is called “As the saying goes.” They don’t really cover the depth of sadness like my last album. I wrote one called “All that I’ve loved for Barbara” and that was about my wife’s grandmother dying of dementia. And then there as one I wrote called “Dear you” that was outlining the issues that we have on this planet, not just in my country, covering male suicide. This new album doesn’t really cover any … topical issues. Its more personal, and it’s happier, I hope by the end of it I’ll have you smiling more than crying.

 

Talk to me about “Stick the Kettle On”, that one really stands out.

“Stick the Kettle On” was a song I wrote with the band “Scouting for Girls.” They have sold millions of records and we wanted to write a song together, and we’re both British artists, and we both sing with British accents. (Side note: It’s a very British thing to say, “Stick the Kettle On”, meaning, make some tea, we are going to be here for a while. Also, she has such a darling accent, she can’t say a consonant at the end of a word, it’s SOOOO charming … Back to the story). And me and Roy are both advocate of positive mental health, and we released the video for that song with the “Campaign Against Living Miserably” CALM, it’s about men bottling up their feelings. We thought the lyrical content should be pretty hard hitting. I was really proud of Roy for being involved in a song like that, ‘cause there he is, a man, and he is in the public eye, and it’s so difficult for men to really speak about how they feel.

See, that’s so cool.  My father was the son of a long line of alcoholics from Glasgow and…

HEY!  ME TOO!!!

 

Right! So, he was also gay, in the closet his whole life, and I live in Utah, where we have the highest LGBTQ suicide rate in the country. So, my father keeping that his secret his whole life, it’s what finally destroyed him, I guess. So much of my current activism, even why I am talking to you right now is bringing an end to all of that suffering. So, when you say men aren’t able to talk about their feelings, believe me, I get it.

YES, that’s the stigma, and letting people talk about it, to me is really important, and so much of my career up until now has been around that. IF I’m speaking on TV, it’s about mental health, and looking after yourself.

 

So, the rumors are first, that you have a drop-dead gorgeous wife, so, congratulations.

Hahaha, yes, thank you.

 

And another side of it, is that you and your wife are involved in charity work, with children.

We are foster parents for the state. When children are removed from households, we provide a place for them in “emergency placements.” Sometimes they come to us from abusive households, we look after kids, it is something my wife and I decided to move forward with. But I do as much charity work as I can, and most of it is in the mental health sector. We have been doing that since 2017, and that’s been really great.

 

Wow, you are putting yourself out there. I think if everyone out there was driven by that much love to just love their fellow man, and help them like that, we would eliminate 99% of all the problems we have as a species. Just look out for each other.

Yeah, we don’t have a lot of time to do things, but if everyone just took the time, like once a year to go do something like that to help someone, make the world a better place. We decided we have a space for it, and we have “SOME” time, so we decided to do that.

So, back to your story telling, that is what did it to begin with for me was the “Tea and Toast” story. Was that someone that you knew?

Actually, that was from when I used to busk in the streets a lot, just playing my guitar on the corner (I interrupt here, THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN WONDERFUL TO SEE).  This elderly couple walked past me holding hands, and I remember thinking “Oh that’s really cutesy,” them holding hands like that, and literally, as I was looking at them the lady collapsed right in front of me. Then I tried to help them as best as I could, and her husband was completely adamant that he wasn’t going to leave her side, even after the paramedics arrived. He would not leave her alone, or even let go of her hand. And I went home and wrote that song that night. 

 

Well that was the first song I heard of yours, and then “Stick the Kettle On” and then I went back and watched your audition on X-Factor, and that performance, that alone encapsulates your music. It was wonderful, the song about this couple, how they grew old together, and so much love was there.

Well that part of it, was actually when my grandmother died in 2012, and my granddad told me that was basically the story of how they met, down to the music hall they met in, that they met through friends, and it was the story of their lives together (Now you really need to see this video to get the story, promise it will make you cry). It was uncannily similar to theirs, and that’s the song that they played at her funeral, and he always says that’s the song that I had written about them. So, I don’t know, maybe I knew that story subconsciously when I wrote that song.

Or you just saw a great motif to place it to.

Well, of course, we Brits love our tea and toast.

 

So, talk about “Moving Mountains.” Again, there is an old person telling a young person, stories, and to go do something amazing, those great things are out there waiting for you to do them.

YES, that was released on the “Join the Club” album in 2013, I wrote it when I was about 19. Sometimes you meet people that inspire you, and I’ve always had that sort of drive to keep going regardless of what happens. You can see that in my last album from 2017, I wrote a song called “Fight For It,” it was also along the same vein of “Mountains” and on the new album, they are all songs about being productive, a song on there is called “Breathe,” it’s a similar vibe to “Mountains” as well. That focused in on improving yourself, and reflecting on your flaws, and just keep on going.

Is that what your message is to young people?

YEAH MAN!!! I’ve got a lot of young fans, and it’s like you have got to be a positive role model.

 

This has come up in other interviews what you just said. Here in the states, it’s a big deal, because of all the stigma about it STILL, but… When did you know that you were gay, and how did that play into developing your musical journey.

Well, I’ve actually always known that I was gay, and attracted to the same sex, and my songs have always been the pronouns always being neutral. That wasn’t to hide the fact that I’m a lesbian, but to make it all to be very inclusive of everyone.

 

Do you find yourself addressing the young gay girls more or is it just to everyone.

Actually, it is to everyone, everyone feels love in the same way, if you were to say “this is not a way that a straight person feels a feeling” you are canceling out the thoughts of the equality. My songs should mean the same to everyone, so I don’t want to discriminate against straight people, or gay people, ‘cause it is the whole point to reach everyone.

(BTW, that is one of the most simple and wisest things I have ever heard “We all feel love in the same way”)

 

I’m going to interject something here. I am involved as a volunteer for the LOVELOUD foundation. It was founded by Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons. It’s to bring an end to all the LGBTQ Teen suicides in Utah, because there is so much stigma and oppression against them by the Mormon church.

I’ve actually heard about that charity, and I think Dan Reynolds is an amazing guy.

 

I do it out of love for the community, because it hits really hard. That’s why I’m involved in all of this. But, maybe you’re too young to remember this, the band “Chumbawamba”?

No, I don’t know them.

 

Well, I know the guitarist sort of, he was raised Mormon actually. But, they did a song called about “Clause 28” (called clause 29). It was somewhere in the laws of Great Britain to make it illegal to portray or speak of homosexuality in a positive view in public or the media. It was so absurd, everyone turned over there, and blew it off. I can’t believe that laws like that were even put on the books. But here in the states there is a lot more of a stigma attached to it, but I look for the day when no one gives a shit, when it’s no more an issue about a person than if say, someone was bald.

Agreed.

So, new album, not political, good to know. You are touring on this Melissa Etheridge cruise … tell us about that.

Yeah, I am actually, I have been touring and opening for her across Europe and the UK.  She has been amazing to me. I mean, just incredible, she has been championing my music and just in general being an amazing person. Well, she just did an interview in the UK in “Diva” magazine, and she was talking about ME, and pumping me up. I know its “Don’t meet your heroes” but she is the ONE exception to that rule. She is an amazing musician, and her crew are just as wonderful. When you hear people talk about her, EVERYONE has nothing but nice things to say about her, and that is a testament to the longevity of her career.

 

So, next on then, do you plan on doing your own tour of the US? I mean SXSW congratulations.

Yeah, that was the 2nd time around for that, and, we are looking at definitely coming back to do a tour in September.

 

Well, I do hope to see you.

Well, I’m not sure I’ll be coming through Salt Lake.

 

Well, even if you are just driving through on your way to another gig, let’s stop for a pint. Tell me about that song “You’re too young.” That was PAINFUL, so I just need answers there.

I wrote that one when I was sixteen, and it was about watching some friends go down the wrong path, I had been a few situations that I realized if I didn’t change my behavior I was going to have some serious consequences. I wrote a lot of dark stuff in the songs when I was a teenager.

 

So, tell me about that AWESOME SONG on the new album “Lucky Stars” (first up on YouTube) and that astronaut suit with American flag on it (I’ve played that one to my wife a few times).

Actually, that [suit] was the ONLY one I could hire for that video. And I wanted people to see, that, that’s how I feel when I am anxious, and paranoid, I feel like I’m in a space suit. I need to put on this suit to leave the house because I’m so overwhelmed. Sometimes you feel like you are alien.

Well, out of all your music, I can honestly say, I have not heard anything that I didn’t really like. Now comes the final question, this is where I end every interview. Every time I ask this, I see how different everyone is. What would your message be to the young LGBTQ kid, the one who is hurting, who is afraid to come out, and is in that really vulnerable state. What would you say to that person?

Be yourself, it is so hard to direct someone through their journey and experiences, but it’s always important to be yourself as much as they can. AND not to feel alone, I know that’s a really hard thing to do, but especially how to feel.

 

Well thank you so much Lucy…

 

https://www.facebook.com/lucyspraggan/

Instagram: @lspraggan


About the Author: Jeremy “Jacques” Hinks

An indie GONZO music journalist in Salt Lake City, and an Anarchist behind the Zion Curtain. Jeremy Hinks is an obnoxious Type-A Male, who is embarrassingly straight and a staunch LGBTQ Ally with little tact, and a big heart. He has supported his LGBTQ friends since he was a teenager.

He has photographed on multiple tours U2, The English Beat, Peter Hook & The Light, and is somehow making a name for himself photographing Pink Floyd Tribute bands, The Australian Pink Floyd Show, Britfloyd, Dead Floyd. He is one of the photographers for the LOVELOUD Foundation in Utah, an organization to bring awareness and support for the young LGBT community in Utah, and to bring an end to the epidemic of suicides there.  

He also drives a Vespa, and wears kilts, is rarely seen wearing pants, should be considered armed and dangerous, so do not approach without extreme caution.

Leave a Comment