Entertainment & Arts

'Control freak' Lauren Pritchard dances to her own tune

Image caption Lauren Pritchard has just released her debut album, Wasted in Jackson

Veteran performer Neil Diamond will take to the stage in north London on Saturday on the final night of the BBC Radio 2 Electric Proms.

Sharing the bill will be Lauren Pritchard, a US singer-songwriter starting to make her own name in the world of music.

Having spent two years working off-Broadway in the musical Spring Awakening, the 22-year-old from Tennessee has now moved to the UK to develop her career.

Here she reveals why she likes to keep control of her work, what kind of music she performs and why she owes Lisa Marie Presley a special debt.

How are you feeling about performing on the same bill as Neil Diamond this weekend?

I'm excited actually as my parents love him. I grew up listening to him so it's cool to take part.

We're going to be doing two songs - Neil's Forever in Blue Jeans and my track, Not the Drinking.

As well as that track, you have another single called Painkillers and your album is called Wasted In Jackson. Is there anything you want to tell us?

I don't actually have a problem [laughs]. The titles are more metaphors, although it might make for an interesting story, I guess.

I think there are many ways to relate to a problem. For me, Not the Drinking and Painkillers was a way to show that I wasn't turning to [drink or drugs] - that no matter what cure people might find in them, they weren't any help to me.

What sort of artist are you?

I think I slot into two musical genres. I think I slot into a pop area, but I'm also quite alternative.

Image caption The 22-year-old says she is a huge fan of Neil Diamond

There's a sort of folky, soul element to my music, so I think that's maybe what makes it veer to both sides. I don't know if I would fully put myself in one category, though.

Your album was released this week. Where are you hoping it will go into the charts on Sunday?

I don't want to know until Sunday! I think I would like it to end up in a high slot eventually, but it's going to take time and a lot of work.

We've come a long way just being in the UK in the last six months. We've seen a lot of activity and people have been buying the record.

I think it's going to be a few months before I see myself in the Top 10. I hope I am and I plan to get there.

In the UK it helps to appear on The X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing to boost record sales. Are you keen to perform on one of those shows?

Not necessarily. For me I understand things like that are really important. A huge element of record sales is exposure because people don't just have the radio anymore.

I think if they would have me it would be a really cool experience. I'm fascinated by shows like The X Factor and American Idol and think being a part of it would be really interesting.

What fascinates you about them?

The way the show works week after week. All of it is so in your face, and it's so out there for the whole world to see.

I'm really fascinated by it because I know what goes into making a record. But to have your life on TV... If I had to have my life on TV, I think I'd die.

Does the concept of manufactured pop go against your musical principles?

Yes, but I wouldn't necessarily say it that harshly because I think there's something for everyone. I think each artist is different and people want different things.

I have always been the person who needed to create. I need to create my own music, I need to create my own art - I need to be involved very, very heavily. That's the kind of person I am.

But then there are people who don't necessarily want to be or need to be in control. It's strong to say but when it comes to work I am a control freak.

By the end of my previous record deal, I wasn't doing any of the writing, I wasn't doing any of the creating - I didn't feel like I was being myself. And then they were telling me to look hot, and I just thought that this isn't who I am.

You appeared in Spring Awakening for two years. Why did you decide to move away from musical theatre?

Broadway was a welcome but nonetheless massive detour in my life. I moved to LA wanting to be an artist and I really needed a job. I had $15 in my bank account when I booked the show, so I took the job.

After the show I needed to go back to what I wanted to do, which is sing and write. If the right thing comes along in the future I'd love to go back to theatre, but it is a humongous commitment.

You have previously said you owe a lot to Lisa Marie Presley. Why is that?

I moved to LA when I was 16 and Lisa's daughter is one of my best friends.

Basically my mum had to move back home because my brother was in a really bad accident and after a few weeks she told me I couldn't stay out there by myself.

A few days later Lisa rang my mum and told her she really thought I should stay with her because I'd been working so hard.

They are my surrogate family and I love them. I wouldn't have anything that I have now if it wasn't for them. They have given me so much and I am forever grateful.

What advice did she give you about the music industry?

To be honest. She's all about honesty and telling the truth whether you want to hear it or not. I have definitely taken that to heart.

The Neil Diamond Electric Prom is broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 on 30 October at 2000 BST.

Wasted in Jackson is now available on Island Records.

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