Roberta Howett has always had a passion for music, but since appearing on The X Factor back in 2004, she has made it her career – singing backing vocals for a number of acts, from Nathan Carter to Ronan Keating and Sharon Corr.
We caught up with the Dubliner to talk stepping into the limelight for her solo career, and her new single 'Love Like That'.
What are your earliest memories of music?
My earliest memories for me are going to piano lessons at school when I was 5 and watching The Sound of Music at home, hearing my dad sing Edelweiss!
Did you grow up in a household with a lot of music around?
Yes, my mum played piano and my dad sang. I have a big family with quite a few piano and violin players…I’m lucky!
Who were your childhood heroes, growing up?
Musically, my hero was Michael Jackson – his music is incredible.
When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
When I was studying for my Leaving Cert, but it was only in college that I gave it a go.
You appeared on The X Factor way back in 2004 – what are your thoughts on that whole experience now? Any regrets about how it did or didn't turn out?
It was a great experience and I would do it all over again. I met really fun people and got to see how the industry works. It was more about the entertainment side of things than creating the music itself, but ultimately I was led to creating it anyway, so no regrets.
What are your thoughts on The X Factor these days?
I think it’s always really entertaining! It’s a show and it's fun and easy to watch. I haven’t had a chance to catch it this year, but I love that it gives singers a platform to perform.
You've had a successful career as a backing singer for some well-known acts – why is now the right time for you to step into the limelight?
I love being part of a band so really enjoy singing back up for artists - but I also love songwriting, so when I feel inspired about something I want to share it. That’s why I’m releasing this song.
Can you tell us about your new single 'Love Like That'?
I wrote it a couple months ago and recorded it in London with a friend of mine call Edward Bainton. I’m always honest in my songs so every word of it is true…inspired from love!
Is there a plan for an album at any point in the future, and what are your plans for the next year?
I will release a couple more singles I think, and keep writing music. Yes, hopefully an album too.
Can you describe what you're doing the minute before you walk on stage?
I get really excited so probably just being silly or messing with whoever is close by…poor them!
How do you wind down after a gig?
Sounds randomm but if I've a big drive ahead of me after a gig I just blast some music and sing some more. If I'm staying in the same place, it's always fun to have a night out after with the band!
What’s the one song you wish you’d written or recorded first?
Ah, so many! Elastic Heart and Bird Set Free by Sia are awesome songs and also Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis (written by Jesse McCartney & Ryan Tedder).
What’s your favourite venue to perform in?
I played to a sold out London O2 before and that was incredible! The venue is epic.
What's your favourite city, and why?
I played a few gigs in Barcelona and loved the city – seems like such a great lifestyle, lots of fun places to go out, and it’s by the sea….what's not to love?
Your best and worst gig so far?
I played a festival on Formentera which was awesome – it had such a chilled vibe. Worst was probably recently in Italy, when we were due to play outside, and about 10 minutes before starting it lashed rain, and stayed that way for hours…we tried to cover everything but just couldn’t play in the end!
You can only have three albums on your phone/in your house at any one time - what three would you pick for today?
I'm in the habit of listening to playlists, but if I had to choose three albums today they would be Drake – Views, Daft Punk – Random Access Memories and I know it’s not an album, but I love Alicia Keys' ‘In Common’.
You’re ordering take-away, what do you get?
Thai prawn curry with coconut rice – delicious!
You’ve been given €100,000 to spend, but only 1 hour to spend it. What do you buy?
Random, but a G wagon! It might have to be a second hand one, though…
Roberta Howett's 'Love Like That' is out now. See www.robertahowett.com for more info.