Aiden Grimshaw was never your average reality star. Having stirred up the musical stylings of 2010’s X Factor with his dark and moody covers of such classics as Thriller and Mad World, nobody expected his departure so soon into the live shows. In retrospect, the early exit might be seen as a blessing, leaving him free from the clutches of Simon Cowell and his boring ballads. Instead Aiden has had free reign on his debut album, a unique mix of dance and pop filled with catchy if unconventional songs unlike anything thus far produced by an X Factor graduate. FAULT caught up with him at one London’s best new venues for creatives, Apartment 58 in Soho, before he set off on his first UK tour for a filmed interview on everything from fashion to failed relationships…
FAULT: Many people will remember you from when you were on the X Factor, how does it feel to have been a part of that show?
Aiden: It’s good. It’s weird watching it on TV again. It’s like, I remember watching it last year and being dead scared thinking I’ve got to rush a song out because there’s a whole new batch of people on, but it’s amazing. I watched it last week with Nicole on, and I was like, oh, she put me through on my audition. That was well funny.
Do you feel like both your fashion and music sense has changed since then?
I think my music sense has changed a lot because I was only 18 and the two years between being 18 and 20 are pretty mental, so my mum says. Fashion sense no, I’m still pretty scruffy! Same old.
What were the main influences for your new album?
The main theme that runs throughout it is kind of like love, and all the questions you ask when you’re in love and breaking up and questioning all the ideals of love and relationships.
What kind of music were you listening to whilst you were writing the songs?
I didn’t really listen to anybody when we were writing the album. I thought that if I listened to too much music then I’d steal other people’s ideas. So I had a weird phase of listening to Eva Cassidy’s ‘Wade in the Water’ for like 4 weeks. So I didn’t really listen to much music. But when I gave the finished album to my dad and my friends they were all picking out bits of music that I might have heard in my childhood. I think you just pick the best bits of everything that you’ve heard.
And how long did it take you to write the album?
We started it in November and it was finished in February. So, three months…?
Did it worry you, when you released your first single that it was probably unlike what people who saw you on the X Factor were expecting?
It didn’t worry me as such, because it’s been such a long time, it’s been two years, and I’ve done so much stuff between being on the X Factor and being here now, I remember it, but it feels like a world ago. I feel like I’m here because I made some good music, not just because of doing the X Factor thing.
Was it quite freeing having such a long time in which to make the record?
It was good. It was important for me to get away from the whole bubble thing, it was like as soon as I got rid of the quiff I went back to being a normal person. That was quite nice and gave me a chance to go away from it and be normal and write some normal things.
You worked on the album with Jared Rogers and Joel Pott, one of whom has worked with lots of pop acts and the other who is the front man of Athlete. How did those contrasting sounds influence the sound of the album?
Its good working with a wide mix of people but the majority of it was just Jared and me I think. The most important thing in something like this is that you find someone who connects with you well and gets what you’re saying. It’s important for me because I say so much weird stuff and it was amazing getting Joel in to help us. It’s nice to get different sides and opinions.
Which producers would you like to work with in the future?
I haven’t really thought about it! Who’s the guy who made the record with Justin Timberlake? Timbaland. He’s a cool dude. Instead of Ayo technology we can call it ‘Aiden technology’.
You’re about to head out on tour headlining some pretty big venues- are you excited or nervous?
I’m well excited! It’ll be different from the last tour I went on, just to get out there and sing your own stuff after waiting around for two years.
Are you excited to connect with your fanbase, for whom it’s probably the first time hearing your music?
It’s just exciting for people to be able to see it live. Listening to an album is one thing, but seeing it in your face is another! I brought my mum down to her first gig a few weeks ago and I spoke to her last night and asked her what she thought and she was like “it was amazing just to be able to see it live!” that’s kind of the reaction I want!
What kind of things are you listening to at the moment?
I downloaded this 90s soul-dance mash-up album the other day, it was good. It’s got loads of cool things on, like “Bust a Move”. I had it on in the gym the other day and I was trying to go on the treadmill for longer than twenty minutes, and I was on for sixteen and I was going to stop, and then Bust a Move came on and I was totally persuaded to keep going.
Is that an area you see yourself moving into? 90s style dance-soul?
I can do a pretty good rap!
Can you rap for us now?
No, I’m saving it. Album 2- there’s going to be a lot of rapping on that!
What can Aiden Grimshaw fans expect from one of your shows?
Loads of Aiden Grimshaw! Just loads of me.
What is your FAULT?
I’m really late – I always wake up too late in the mornings.