Andrea Faustini captured the hearts of the nation on The X Factor last year with his penchant for diva ballads, the Spice Girls and pugs. Fortunately, our favourite Italian is back, and The SPG caught up with him to discuss his debut album, Mel B and THAT devil outfit!

Hi Andrea! Your debut album ‘Kelly’ has been out for a few days now. What’s the public reaction been like?
I’m loving the reaction so far. I put a lot of myself into the album, and the thing I’m most happy about is that some people are changing their minds on what they expected from me.

That’s great! Is there a standout track that fans have gravitated towards?
There’s quite a few actually – one of them is ‘The River.’ I’m so pleased the fans are enjoying that because I really wanted to do the song justice. However, I think the biggest reaction has been to the Italian song on the album [‘Lascia Tutto Cosi’], which I’m particularly proud of.

You co-wrote the single ‘Give a Little Love’ – what was the inspiration behind the track?
‘Give a Little Love’ was actually the last song we recorded. I felt the album was missing the positive part of my personality. I co-wrote the song because I like to smile even in tough times, and be positive and kind to the people that surround me. I think the song puts that message across.

What artists would you like to ‘Give a Little Love’ to and duet with?
My biggest dream would be Stevie Wonder, but I’m not quite sure if that is possible…

That’s a good choice…
[Laughs] I know! From the newer generation of artists, I would love to collaborate with Jazmine Sullivan, Lianne La Havas or Sam Smith.

Jasmine Sullivan is quite a surprising pick. Do you like singers with a bit of attitude then?
Yes – I’d quite like to collaborate with people that are different me, so I can learn new things!

So a song with Slipknot could be on the cards perhaps?
(Laughs) Maybe…

Previous X Factor contestants like Sam Bailey have been criticised for releasing cover albums. Did you fight to record original tracks?
I’m actually so blessed, and maybe lucky, that RCA gave me the opportunity to record original material. I wanted to show the kind of artist I could be, so it was very important to have original songs on the album.

Obviously, I included the cover of Whitney’s ‘I Didn’t Know My Own Strength’ because the song was representative of my time on The X Factor.Well you definitely put your own spin on that song…
Thank you very much!

Has Mel B [Andrea’s mentor on The X Factor] heard the album? If so, what did she think of it?
We sent Mel the album a few days ago, so I’m sure it will be with her in the States soon. Mel tweeted me a few days ago to say how proud she is, and I’m so glad I met her because she’s supported me throughout this whole experience.

You mentioned there is one Italian track on the album. Do you plan on recording a full Italian version?
I wouldn’t record an Italian version because it can be very hard to translate songs between languages. If a song is created in English, I think it is best to leave it to that language. It’s too early days for that at the moment, as I want to grow with the UK audience. In the future though, I can’t see why not?

You had such a fantastic experience on The X Factor, but do you regret dressing up as a metallic devil on the live shows?
(Laughs) Maybe! No it was Halloween week, and I was enjoying the fun atmosphere. I had performed a lot of big ballads, so I needed to do something very different. (Laughs) Maybe we went a little too far! The only reasons I wouldn’t do it again is because it took ages to get the gold paint off!

The X Factor has welcomed Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw to its judging panel. If you had applied this year which judge would you have liked to mentor you?
I would have liked to work with Nick – he’s coming from a different point of view so I think that would be interesting.

The likes of Jessie J and Sam Smith supported you on the show, but have any stars been rude to you?
No! I’d hate to meet one of my idols and have them be rude to me. Thankfully, that has never happened. Jessie J, Ed Sheeran, Alexandra Burke and Sam Smith are all on my iPod, so it was lovely to have them appreciate what I do.

You’re moving to London soon. How have you prepared for your new life of independence?
My Mom taught me how to iron my shirts a few weeks ago, so I can do that now which is an amazing achievement. I’m not a very good cook – I can do a simple pasta dish, so I promise I won’t die!

Are you planning on buying a pug to keep you company?
(Laughs) I don’t think so. I need to learn how to look after myself before I buy a dog. I wouldn’t want it to die!

Andrea Faustini’s debut album ‘Kelly’ is out now.

By Thomas O’Connell