The singer and make-up entrepreneur, 26, opens up about confidence, being a role model and starting a family
Did you always want to be a singer?
Yes, always. One of my uncles nicknamed me Cilla. We used to live on an estate and all the houses were close together; I would run down the street singing and my family would be able to hear me and I’d be able to hear him saying, “Cilla’s on her way!”
The sound of your solo music is decidedly different to the music you released with Girls Aloud. Was this a conscious move to distinguish yourself?
It wasn’t just different from what I used to do with the girls, it was different to what anybody else was doing as well. I was really proud of that. So, yes, it was important to me to be different. I really wanted to do my own thing.
You’ve mentioned in the past that you were quite shy as a child; was performing an outlet for you?
Yes, but it wasn’t performing; it was singing. I didn’t really know how to perform for a long time and I didn’t feel comfortable with it. Even when I was on stage with the girls on our first few arena tours; I’d be enjoying myself because I was doing what I loved, but I couldn’t really perform. I just stood there. I had to learn to have confidence.
The songs you’ve written have all been quite honest; about love or bullying or self-esteem. Did you find them difficult to write?
I didn’t. It’s as simple as writing a song about a situation you’ve been through. And the things you haven’t experienced? You imagine how it would feel. We’ve all got friends and family members who have got life experiences and we remember how they dealt with those situations.
Apart from age, what are the key differences you see in yourself from when you started out in Girls Aloud to now?
I don’t know where the last 10 years have gone. It’s all been so fast. I think I’m more collected as a person. I have good morals – to a degree [laughs] – and I feel like I know myself very well. I know why I say things, why I do things; I know myself inside out.
What are your hopes for the future?
To constantly be working towards a goal. I’ve had a goal since I was 11 years old. I don’t ever want to work on something unless I feel really passionate about it and know I can give everything to it; otherwise it’s not truthful and I hate that. I want to work on anything I can be ultimately creative with too.
Would you like to have a family one day?
I’m one of four so I’m very family orientated. Me, my sister and my two little brothers are like the four musketeers; it’s us against everyone else. We’re like a little pack. I do want to have a family one day, but I feel too young at the moment.
Does the pressure of fans looking up to you affect you?
It doesn’t stop me from doing what I want to do. Everyone needs a role model – myself included – but you have to be yourself; don’t live your life for anybody else. At the same time, I do appreciate the importance of being a role model.
Who would you say is your role model?
I don’t model myself on just one person because I don’t think that’s healthy. My little sister is one of the nicest people; she’s got the biggest heart of anybody I know. And my best friend from school, Sammy. Then you look at somebody like Beyoncé and she is just the most incredible woman who teaches women how to be, well, women.
Nicola’s album Cinderella’s Eyes is out now through A&M Records
Picture credits: Rex Features