ESP’s Sarah Tempest interviews the pink haired pop star…
The term ‘roller coaster’ is often overused but they’re the perfect words to describe the career so far of 18 year-old singer Amelia Lily. First appearing on our screens in the 2011 series of X Factor, Amelia was famously sent packing by her mentor Kelly Rowland on the first live show before being sensationally voted back in with a massive 48% of the votes after another contestant was disqualified (thank you Frankie Cocozza and your dedication to partying). Amelia then went on to win third place in the competition behind Marcus Collins and eventual winners Little Mix.
In the 18 months since then, Amelia’s stolen the show on the X Factor tour, released three singles, supported Girls Aloud on their farewell tour and is about to release her debut album Be A Fighter. In amongst a whirlwind round of TV appearances and promotion, the pink haired popster found time to pause for breath with ESP Magazine and talk style, music and a campaign close to her heart.
“I’m really tired,” she laughs “but you’ve got to work hard and I enjoy my job. In fact, I love it! My new single Party Over is currently available to download on iTunes – it’s a drum and bass track and it’s about a break up, like the end of a party, but I wanted to put a spin on it and make it an upbeat song so people don’t feel depressed.
“I had so much fun doing the video for it, it was a 17 hour shoot and I was doing things like jumping in the pool fully clothed, pretending to get wasted and having a pillow fight. It was absolutely hilarious but the pillow fight was fun, it was, like, feather city, I had feathers in my mouth and everything, it was disgusting!
“I worked on the video with a guy called Travis, who did Connor Maynard’s video, Vegas Girl, and I connected with him really well. He’s probably one of the coolest guys I’ve met in my life and he completely got my vision and was, like – ‘you know exactly what you want and I’m just going to let you take charge’ – which was actually pretty great that he had so much trust and confidence in me.”
All in all, things are going pretty well for Amelia Lily. She bubbles over with excitement and enthusiasm for her music and her work. “I am so excited about my debut album being released in May. I feel like I’ve been working on it now forever, obviously since the X Factor, but I took my time because I want it to be perfect and I didn’t want to just rush something and regret it afterwards. I wanted to be really proud of it. My favourite track on the album is The Hills because it’s the most personal song to me. I wrote that song about my life and the journey I’ve been on to get to where I am now.” And she freely admits that the setbacks she’s suffered and the hard slog to carve a career post X Factor are what inspired the album’s title Be A Fighter. “Everyone has seen how tough my journey’s been,” she says, “I’m not always getting the easier route and I want people to be inspired by that, like ‘if I want to do something I’m going to get up and fight for it’.”
Despite all the ups and downs, one thing that hasn’t changed is her style, and she’s remained true to the ‘rock chick’ style that we came to recognise her for on X Factor. “With my style, I’ve never really looked up to anyone on a fashion term, I always just kind of wore what I liked, what I felt comfortable in, and what I felt suits me best. I have tried lots of different stylists but I felt like they didn’t really get me and then I found Victoria. I met her at a magazine shoot and I just kind of connected with her and every time I see her she always brings me something I like – lots of leather and fishnet things, she’s great. I think you’ve got to have a good relationship with the people you work with otherwise you won’t feel comfortable, you won’t be able to be yourself.
“My pink hair is my little trademark. It went pink on the X Factor, they just felt it would suit me and I was pretty scared when I got it done but I did it. When I went back blonde last summer I kind of missed my pink hair so I went back pink. And at the mention of Helen Mirren copying the trend, Amelia roars with laughter “I know! How weird!”
As well as her dedication to her music, Amelia has been unveiled as the latest celebrity to support the Make Mine Milk campaign and charity Beat Bullying, launching a new competition for creative youngsters across the UK called Find Your Voice. The competition invites young poets and songwriters to write a short piece based on the subject of ‘finding your voice’ or beating bullying, and the winning entry will be produced as a song and performed by Amelia Lily herself.
“I really want to be able to inspire kids who at school aren’t being accepted for who they are and what they like. I went through that and I think kids look up to me and think – ‘Amelia went through it, no-one really accepted her or understood her but look what she’s doing’. So that’s why it was so personal to me to get kids involved, to get them to write a song for me to sing and kind of write about what they’re going through.
“I think it’s great that they can relate to me. I wouldn’t say I was bullied, I don’t like to use that word, but I was never accepted. I always dressed a bit quirky and liked rock bands and none of the other girls liked that. They would all wear Abercrombie and Fitch and Jack Wills and I felt like a bit of an outsider. I’m glad I never changed though because I think it has made me who I am today.”
Amelia recently supported Girls Aloud on their final tour before announcing their break up and is set to perform with JLS, who also recently announced they’re to split. She laughs off the suggestion that she may be a bit of a jinx but all the same, One Direction fans must be praying she doesn’t tour with them anytime soon! “Supporting Girls Aloud was unbelievable,” she says,“I had such an amazing time. The girls were so lovely. It was crazy! I went to see them four years ago and then four years later I’m opening for them. How did that happen, like seriously?! I definitely had to pinch myself.” But at the suggestion that she spill the Girls Aloud gossip, Amelia the workhorse is a total let down! “I wish I had gossip!” she says. “The only gossip is I used to go to bed after every show! I was boring!”
Back on the subject of her career, Amelia cites watching her first single climb the iTunes chart as one of her high points, although her reaction was somewhat unusual – “I actually threw up with excitement! The nerves and stuff just got to me but it was really funny at the time!”
There’s no denying that X Factor was a massive springboard for her career but is that ‘reality show’ association a blessing or a curse? “I think it’s all about how you express yourself to the public. It’s always going to be hard to get people to take you seriously when you come out of the X Factor but I am an artist and I am a performer and I feel I changed a lot of people’s opinions of me when they saw me on the Girls Aloud tour. Before they might have just thought ‘she’s an X Factor contestant’ and now they’ve seen me live and thought ‘hang on, she’s actually a singer’ so that for me is really important.
“My hopes for the next five years are to keep doing what I’m doing now and hopefully travel more and release four albums. I want to grow and grow and grow. I’m still really young, I’m only 18 and I think I forget that sometimes but I grow and learn more each day.”
With her determination, focus and fighting spirit, there’s no doubting that Amelia Lily can achieve it all starting with her debut album Be A Fighter which is released for download on Monday May 20.