Singer songwriter Matt Cardle shot to fame after winning X Factor back in 2010. After three albums in quick succession, he struggled with addiction issues, but now he is back with a brand new album, feeling revitalised, and looking forward to taking to the stage of the Dalriada Festival in Glenarm this weekend.
Many people think the X Factor is a route to fast, overnight success, but the story for Matt is quite different. His passion for music started at a very young age, and he paid his dues for many years, performing with bands before he hit the big time on the small screen.
“I was a singer-songwriter and playing in heavy metal bands,” revealed Matt. “Quite the opposite of who you would expect to go on X Factor.
“I was in a band growing up since the age of 11. Everyone else started growing up, getting married, having kids, and I was the only one left.
“An ex-girlfriend sent in an online audition behind my back although I did thank her for it later. One thing just led to another.
“It seems like its overnight but it takes years and years of hard work, at least it did for me.”
After winning X Factor, Matt released the ‘winner’s single’, When We Collide, which shot to number one in the charts. This was quickly followed by his debut album, Letters, in 2011, The Fire in 2012, and Porcelain in 2013.
Matt seemed to be at the top of his game, but the pressure of work and life in the public eye took its toll. He turned to drink and drugs to make it through, and it was only thanks to the support of his family and friends that he finally admitted he had a problem and went through rehab at The Priory.
“I got my big break and then it got hard,” admits Matt.“I have always been a hedonistic person. You don’t wake up somewhere like the Priory by going for long walks and drinking green tea.
“It was an accumulation of a lot of things, struggling with producing albums, struggling with fame and with relationships. There was a lot going on.
“There are a lot of people out there who use drugs and it is so dangerous. I am proof of how quickly something like that can grab you around the throat and throw you in a hole.
“I am very lucky to have come out of the other side. I have amazing family and friends and I had help from specialists. It is such a slippery slope if you start messing around.
“People can often not realise how low they are until they hit the bottom. I thank the Lord for letting me hit the bottom and come back up.”
While Matt focused on his recovery in the Priory, he was also thinking about what his next album would be like and how he could use his own experiences to influence his writing.
“Three albums in three years is a lot and I was all written out,” he revealed. “I felt my inspiration had run down a little bit. When I was going through my darkest times that’s when I knew there was something to write about.
“I was weirdly thankful for the experiences because I had something honest, heartfelt and deep to write my own album about.”
For his new album, which was released in April this year, Matt has taken a slight change of direction from his earlier work, bringing a newer, more electronic sound to Time to be Alive.
“I took a dark thing and made something special,” continued Matt. “It has taken four albums to find myself in this position.
“I am really happy with the new album. I can see how I might have done things differently but I am really proud of it.
“I 100% feel better about myself as an artist. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. I didn’t know where the journey was going to take me.”
Matt is delighted to be coming back to Northern Ireland and letting his local fans hear his music live at Dalriada this weekend.
“I can’t wait to be back,” he said. “Northern Ireland has always been so good to me, even more so than the rest of the UK.
“I have met so many lovely, friendly, open hearted people there so I always jump at the opportunity to go back.”
Matt promises he will also be back later in the year, but for now he is delighted to be performing at the main stage at Glenarm.
The Dalriada Festival kicks off on Saturday July 14, with a vast array of music, entertainment, and activities for all the family. Matt will be performing on the main stage on Sunday July 15 and he will be joined on the bill by a host of other artists, including Dana Masters, Ben Glover, and Gareth Dunlop.
Other festival highlights throughout the weekend include the Northern Ireland Wife Carrying Championships, craft village, fun fair, County Antrim Pipe Band Championships and much, much more.
For further information or to book tickets, log onto www.dalriadafestival.co.uk.