It’s been two years since Essex cheeky chappy, Matt Cardle won our hearts and votes to claim the winning spot in ITV’s The X Factor.
He scooped a £1million recording contract with Simon Cowell’s label, Syco and this time last year his debut solo album, Letters went platinum.
What more could a rising singer-songwriter want, you ask? The chance to reclaim creative control and make his work his own - and that he has.
He’s now parted company with Syco and signed to So Recordings for the release of his second album, The Fire, which he released last month. Just weeks on, and it’s already claimed 8th place in the Top 10 album charts. And the modest multi-musician couldn’t be happier.
We caught up with Matt to talk about the new album, the X Factor effect and how it’s ok not to be in love.

Music News: Your new album, The Fire was released last month and has already landed a place in the Top 10. How does it differ in sound and feel to your last, Letters?

Matt Cardle: It differs greatly. It comes from a completely different place to the last album. When I wrote Letters I was in love, so a lot of the songs were quite cheesy. And I was also part of the big X Factor machine, so it was part of a much bigger process. But I think above all, my head and heart were in a very different place back then. I’d just broken up with my girlfriend when I started work on The Fire. It’s a lot more me. I still write the songs, but I also play all the instruments on the album, bar the violin and some of the really tricky piano parts. I’d say it’s a lot rockier too.

MN: You’re now signed to So Recordings, having parted company with Syco. How did this impact on the recording process for this album?

Matt: It changed things a lot. It’s put the power back in my hands, which is what I really wanted and am ready for. I’d always been a singer/songwriter, and I wanted to have the chance to have much more control over the songs that featured on this album, which I have done. It’s been great.

Music News: Is there any truth in the rumours that you left the Sony group, because they were focusing more time and attention on promoting and producing One Direction?

Matt: It’s not really for me to say. What I will say is Syco does pop so brilliantly. And it’s very easy to market a boy band as good as One Direction, so it’s natural and right for them to want to do that. My reasons were really based more on me wanting to take more control and be involved in the entire music process.

MN: Your debut album, Letters went platinum. Did you experience any feelings of fear and/or intrepidation in releasing a second album, following the success of the last?

Matt: I think there’s a level of fear in releasing anything new, be it an album or single. So yes, there was naturally that feeling. But I’ve written the best songs I can, and played everything to the best of my ability and skill. So, I’m really pleased with the album. And really proud it’s gone into the Top 10 album charts at number 8, and less than a month after its release. I’m very happy with how it’s going.

MN: If there’s one key message people take from your new album, The Fire what do you hope it is and why?

Matt: I wrote the new album with a broken heart. There’s a message in one or two of the songs, but I think it’s more to the person I was in love with, rather than fans. I think what it does say, is that I’m aware of the power of love, how great it can be and how it can save people. But it’s not all good, especially if you’re not with the right person. So, I guess I hope it tells people it’s alright not to be in love. And also not to worry or stress about it, as you’ll find the one, some day. I think everyone does.

MN: Lots of people are now debating the merits of talent shows such the X Factor, especially in light of last weekend's eviction of Ella Henderson. How do you think the show has helped you, if at all, achieve what you want to in music?

Matt: I wouldn’t be here now, if it wasn’t for the X Factor. And I’ll always be very thankful to Simon, Talkback Thames, Syco and everyone involved in making it happen for me. It’s given me the start I needed.

MN: What advice would you give to anyone going through it all now on the show?

Matt: Enjoy it! It’s a once in a lifetime experience and should be a really exciting time for anyone lucky enough to be involved.

MN: What’s next Matt? Are you going to take the new album on tour?

Matt: We’ve been doing lots of live shows this year. And we’re going to be playing more international shows next year.

MN: Any festivals lined up?

Matt: I hope so. We did the Isle of Wight last year and shows in Canada and LA.

MN: What’s on your playlist at the mo?

Matt: Oh all sorts. I’ve got some Rihanna, a lot of Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam and Kate Bush. A real mix, I know.

MN: When you’re not writing and making music, what do you enjoy doing?

Matt: I love skateboarding. I’ve been skateboarding since I was eleven. In many ways it was my first love, as I tended to make music in the evenings. I also go away snowboarding when I can too.

MN: Where and what will you be doing for Christmas and New Year?

Matt: I’ll be heading home to Essex to spend time with my folks, friends and family. I’m looking forward to kicking back, relaxing and getting drunk with them all.

MN: What one thing would you like to find under the tree this Christmas Matt?

Matt: Ah, that’s a tough one. I can’t think of anything I really want or need. Hmm, maybe an everlasting supply of clean pants and socks. Yeah, that would be pretty cool.