Pop singer Freya Ridings is playing her first ever Glastonbury, after an astonishing 12 months that saw her shoot to fame, thanks to ITV2’s Love Island.
Her song, Lost Without You, was the tear-jerking ballad that played as Jack and Laura’s romance collapsed in front of three million viewers.
As a result, the piano ballad ended up in the top 10, with more than 200 million streams and endorsements from Radio 1’s Scott Mills and Radio 2’s Michael Ball.
It was the first time in six years that a female singer-songwriter had hit the top 10 with a track they’d written completely by themselves.
The singer continues that theme on her self-titled debut album, which comes out in three weeks.
She describes it as a “time capsule” of the last 10 years of her life – as she fought dyslexia to win a place at the Brit School, and made her name at open mic nights before signing a record deal.
Arriving at Glastonbury at the crack of dawn to speak to the BBC, she was full of wide-eyed wonder. “Just being here is like having a caffeine hit,” she said as she sat down to chat.
This is your first time here. Driving in through the gates, what did you think?
We had the best cab driver. He was born and raised here and he just gave us a complete history of the festival on the way in.
We were like, ‘This farm must be massive!’ but he explained that Michael Eavis has to rent land from other farms to be able to put the festival on.
Does playing your first set at Glastonbury give you the jitters?
I’m not going to lie. I haven’t had anything that’s made me nervous a week in advance in a long time!
I was watching Dua Lipa’s set from the John Peel stage two years ago, and it suddenly hit me – that’s a really big crowd, and I’m getting to do that.
Have you planned anything special?
There’s a part of me where I was like, ‘That’s a crowd where you should crowd-surf,’ and if I didn’t do sad songs, I would so do that. Just fling myself in there. But I’m a bit clumsy, so I’d probably break someone.
Your album is out three weeks today…
Oh my God. Oh my God! We did a TV show the other day and they held up a copy of the vinyl, and it’s the first time I’d seen it. They thought I was really geeky but I was just freaking out because that’s the last 10 years of my life on an album. There’s something intangible about it. But I’m so, so proud of it, and I can’t wait to share it with all the fans who’ve been so supportive.
It’s called Freya Ridings, which presumably means it’s a very personal record?
Totally. I’ve been writing for so long, and writing got me through so many hard times – because I was so isolated at school, and I couldn’t read music.
So, to be able to put out an album where I’ve written every song on it… I’m so proud of the little girl who didn’t have any friends, but did have a piano, and now there’s an album because of that. It’s a crazy journey.
What’s the earliest song on there?
I think it’s probably Poison – which starts the album with this cinematic, gothic element. I’ve always been obsessed with film music.
If there was a film you could do a soundtrack for, what would it be?
Literally, doing a film soundtrack, or writing a song for a film, is one of my total goals.
They’re shooting a new Bond film right now.
[Gasps] Are they? I mean, ugh, that would just be an honour! But there’s part of me that’s like, there’ve been so many pinch-myself moments that I’m like, ‘I can’t push it. I’m at Glastonbury, I should just be happy.’
Let’s make this the start of the official campaign to get your own Bond song.
Oh my God, if they ever need anything, I’m here, I’m ready.
The last year has been crazy for you. What’s it like to have a top 10 single and your own headline tour?
I remember, a couple of years ago I was playing my first headline show, and it was to 100 people in St Pancras Old Church in London; and me and my mum were like, ‘We don’t know 100 people, how are we going to sell these tickets?’
And this time, we’re playing a headline show in the Apollo in London, and my mum was joking, ‘We don’t know 5,000 people!’
It’s just incredible what having fans can do. I’m so used to playing these songs at open mic nights, and them shouting, ‘Play something we know’. So to have people come out specifically to hear my songs is an honour. I’m just going to push the boat out every night.
On YouTube, you have loads of cover versions that you recorded at public pianos around the UK. Can you still do that without being mobbed?
This is an interesting question. I feel like you can still totally do it, but if we tell people we’re going to be there in advance, it’s slightly different.
We did some at Bristol bus station last time we did a headline show there, and it was so sweet because this homeless man just ambled over and joined in. It was one of those moments where you realise that everyone has that musical soul within them, but some people just don’t have the opportunity to play. So I love playing those pianos.
Your father is the voice of Peppa Pig’s dad. Are you sick of being asked about it?
I understand it. If Florence + The Machine’s dad did the voice of Homer Simpson, I’d want to know about that, too.
Does he break the voice out to impress kids at parties?
Well, the thing is, that’s just the way he speaks normally!
You’re playing two shows at Glastonbury. Who do you want to see between gigs?
I love the acoustic sets. Growing up, me and my dad would always watch those because we loved seeing the songs stripped back. But hopefully I’ll see Hozier and Lizzo. Although I’m supporting Hozier on tour, so part of me’s like, ‘Maybe I should just save it all up’.
You’ll be so sick of Take Me To Church by the end of that tour.
That’s physically not possible. I will sing that song at the top of my lungs every night.
Next year is Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary. If you were Emily Eavis for a day, who would you book to headline?
I’m obsessed with Beyonce. She’s just effervescent, I love her. So I’d probably get Beyonce back with Coldplay and Bruno Mars – and they could do their mash-up like they did at the Super Bowl. If they all just played their hits, that would be an amazing show.