If you are a seasoned viewer of the X Factor, you will know exactly who Kitty Brucknell is. Appearing in the eighth season back in 2011, Kitty made the finals in the Over 25’s category and was mentored by Louis Walsh alongside Sami Brookes, Jonjo Kerr and Johnny Robinson. The finalists that year were Amelia Lily, Marcus Collins and, eventual winners, Little Mix.
Kitty was an absolute pleasure to talk to. She is well-spoken, unassuming and a hard worker. She is not trying to achieve her goal the easy way such as going on Big Brother (despite the fact that she has been asked!). She wants to make her name in the music business and I wish her every success.
Kitty is now making a run for next year’s Eurovision Song Contest, something I recently had the chance to interview her about, as well as her time on the X Factor and various other subjects…
Tell me about your bid for Eurovision…
There was a long list of countries to bid for but we picked Switzerland as we really felt it was the best one. As a country, they are very open to helping new artists and they really want to win! There are some countries who deliberately don’t want to win because they can’t afford to host but Switzerland really do. I would absolutely love to represent the UK but the BBC won’t entertain any X Factor acts doing Eurovision because of their deal with The Voice. Basically, their reply was a “no” without even hearing what I had to offer. I always wanted to enter Eurovision and I had a number of ideas. Trying to find the right song was hard but I was determined.
So how do we vote for you?
This is the final week to get votes in for Eurovision, it closes on 17th November, so I’m trying to encourage as many people to vote as possible! There are 209 artists in total but only 9 can get through to the next round. Voting is free – all you do is go to http://www.votekitty.co.uk.
What has feedback been like so far for your new single, ‘Glitter in the Sky’?
It’s been amazing! I had no idea what the reaction would be but everyone has been really positive. I co-wrote it with a song writing team in Swansea. Originally it was going to be an album track but when we heard it, we decided we just had to release it.
You used Pledgemusic to finance your album. What did you think of it?
It can be quite expensive as they take 15% but it is specifically for artists, so it does have credibility. A lot of major artists use Pledgemusic and I’m definitely amazed by the response I have had and am really grateful.
What sort of music sounds and styles best work for you?
I’ve know for a long time that the kind of music I love listening to is not necessarily what I am best at singing! I listen to a whole range of music; heavy metal, jazz, everything! I tend to like specific songs and artists rather than genres but I have definitely gravitated towards rock music – big, theatrical songs; those are my main love. My first single is very pop but I really wanted to do it as it fitted my image.
I’ve heard that you are an accomplished musician…
Well, I was going to go to music school but ended up going to an independent school that focussed on the arts instead. I was in the National Music Theatre and National Children’s Orchestra and, when I was really young, I did my Grade 8 violin as well as getting one of the highest marks in the country for piano grade 8. I got a crazy high score – 142 out of 150 – I didn’t realise at the time just how high it was! They told me it was the top 0.5% in the country! I thought it was a fluke to be honest but I love playing piano. Viola and violin were both great but now I use the piano to write many of my songs. I love to be able to sit down and do that.
What lead you to want to be a Britney Spears/Lady Gaga Tribute Act?
I had bills to pay and needed the money! I did that from 21 to 25 then had a break and did the X Factor. At first, I really enjoyed doing the Tribute act – it was great fun. I started to do a lot of international tours, doing Lady Gaga when she was at her peak so I was getting a massive amount of bookings from that. But by the end, I wasn’t really enjoying it. The whole industry can be really vile. The tribute bands were really cool, a lovely bunch of people and they don’t take it as seriously as the solo acts do. The people I met who were solo acts were awful. I got really ill in 2010 with Guillain-Barre syndrome and I couldn’t tell anyone because I knew that if word got out, I would lose all my bookings. People managed to find out anyway and other acts started to take all my work, saying that I was not doing it anymore. That was when I moved on to the X Factor.
What did you hope would come from your time in the X Factor?
I had no idea how far I was going to get in the competition. I thought Boot Camp would be great publicity for me if I could get that far. It definitely helps if you come from nowhere – it gives you a chance you never had. People used to like my music but, because I had no profile, they weren’t prepared to give me a chance. Instead of 1,000 Twitter followers, I was told I needed 100,000. You either need loads of money or loads of publicity to get started, so you either get investment or you go on the X Factor!
One of the things that was said about you on the X Factor is that the judges felt you weren’t connecting with the voting audience. Why do you think that was?
I think that’s got a lot to do with how I was portrayed in my first audition. If I had had more support on how to go about that particular audition, then I think people’s attitudes towards me might have been different but, after they saw what they were shown, that was it… you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!
The two girls who auditioned right before me were amazing vocalists but the judges stopped them after about 10 seconds to tell them they weren’t what they were looking for. That made me extra nervous and I knew I needed to make an impression. X Factor isn’t just about the voice, it’s about standing out. So I sat on the edge of the stage to be a bit different and help them remember me. If I hadn’t done that then I might have got further but if I hadn’t have done it then I may have not got through at all! Looking back, it wasn’t the best first impression to make maybe, but I do feel like I turned it around as the process went on though.
You ended up as the last one in your category – did you feel like you were always meant to be the ‘alpha’ in Louis’ group?
I always thought Johnny was the main act in our group. Louis and Johnny were best friends. At the beginning of the live shows, we sat down in Louis dressing room and he said that Sami would be the first out and then I was going about week 6 or 7 and then Johnny might come 3rd or 4th but not win. Of course, I was determined to change this! I did the best I could.
How much support do you get DURING the show from your mentor? Do they actually mentor or is it all just for show?
Louis tried really hard to mentor us and made himself available to us any time, day or night. We could always text him or phone him but the problem was I wanted more than that. I wanted career mentoring. I do love Louis and was really grateful to him for picking me but I knew he didn’t ‘get’ me as artist. I think Gary, Tulisa and Kelly took it more seriously – they were also mentoring on style, fashion and stage presence. It wasn’t just about the songs and I feel I missed out on that. Louis always invites us back on the show though and is very welcoming.
How does it feel being judged by people who perhaps haven’t got as strong a voice as you?
Success in the industry really is not all about the vocals. Tulisa was really young but she was the driving force behind N-Dubz and made it all happen. Kelly was successful but I felt it was more because she was riding the coat-tails of Beyonce. She had no time for anyone either, I never bonded with her. Gary, Tulisa and Louis would always have time for any of us. Kelly didn’t. She was always busy.
How does it feel when you find out you’re in the bottom 2?
I was devastated but I knew it was coming. Everyone backstage had been raving about my performance but I knew I was going to struggle to change the audience’s perception of me. Everyone was really supportive but I was gutted. I was realistic about it all though and I knew I was never going to win the show.
Do you think voting on the show is a decent indicator of who might sell records?
I do feel that the people who vote on the X Factor and the people who actually go out and buy records aren’t the same demographic. For example, Only The Young could sell the most records this year because young kids will love them but the demographic of voters for the show won’t go for them so they won’t win. There is a definite disconnect there.
Is there any post-show support given?
Most of my bad experiences came after the show, not during. The people who dealt with us after we left told me I was worthless and should give up singing. I could have gone home and slit my wrists and no one would have known. I wanted to get my career going but the management company told me that wasn’t right for me and I should go on Big Brother! I wanted a singing career – I want to be a credible artist.
What did you do after the X Factor finished?
After the show, I went and toured China. I had a friend who booked gigs over there. When I got back to the UK, a friend of mine who had a single deal put me in touch with his connections and we decided to do an album and, of course, now my new single.
So how much it would mean for you to get to Eurovision?
It would mean the world to me. It is a really big deal, like ten times bigger than the X Factor. It doesn’t really matter where you end up because you are in front of 150 million people! If I get through, I will definitely end up panicking about that – but I need to be in that top 9 first so I really hope people will go to http://www.votekitty.co.uk and vote for me!