So, I'm sitting backstage of the Nicki Minaj: Pink Friday Tour, sipping on hot water, lemon and ginger before I go on stage in Dublin. Nicki is one of the biggest artists in the world right now, and I'm supporting her. If you'd asked me 18 months ago, what this year had in store - I don't think I could even have imagined it. It's been crazy. Good crazy, but definitely, insane.
My second single Do You Think Of Me is out and it went straight into the Top 10; that just blows my mind. I'm still buzzing from performing at the MOBO Awards, where I was nominated for Best Newcomer and now, I'm about to go on stage supporting Nicki Minaj! Wow.
I will never say I regret doing the X Factor. It was a difficult experience but I learned so much from it. Without having been through all that I don't believe I would be where I am now, so I will always be grateful for the platform it gave me.
Apart from the X Factor tour, this is my first time on the road, as an artist. Road life is an experience for sure! You have an 'entourage' - management, tour manager, hair, make-up, stylist, choreographer, tour DJ and two of my best friends in my case. And you're together for two-three weeks, almost constantly. But it's fun, we have fun.
We've been playing to huge arena venues. So it's a lot of walking around - even from the tour bus to the dressing room. I've been nipping around on my scooter. The empty arenas in the day before the fans arrive make it the perfect scooter venue. So far, so good - I've only had one little mishap with a clothes rail...
I love performing live. Which is a far cry from before I went on X Factor - I used to suffer from stage fright. So badly, that I couldn't even face the audience when I performed and I used to sing with my back to them! I decided to take matters in my own hands and forced myself to go busking on the streets of Manchester to overcome it. I gradually started building up my confidence as people seemed to like me and crowds started gathering.
Saying that, performing to a massive arena still gives me butterflies and I was so nervous the first time, but I just wanted to go out there and have fun. I repeat "Nerves into energy" to myself just before I go on stage as the adrenaline rush can be channelled to improve my performance. And I have my tour DJ Manny Norté on stage with me so that definitely helps. I always have such a great time on stage and I think the audience can feel that, as their reactions are amazing!
Another great part of touring is that I get to meet fans from up and down the country. My 'aliens' mean the world to me and it's still so overwhelming when someone says the liked your performance or that your song has touched them. It's the best feeling in the world.
It can get tiring on the road and you do miss friends and family. I've recently moved from Manchester to London for work and so I know what it's like to miss people. It's what my song Do You Think Of Me is about. I still get that feeling when I'm in London and someone will drive past in the same car as my brother and I'll think it's him, until I realise, erm, no he's in Manchester.
There are sacrifices with this career, this life, but you make them to reach your end goal. It's not always easy though.
My mum always says "life is what YOU make it" and despite the rollercoaster ride, the ups and the downs - I feel like I am where I'm meant to be right now.
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