Cher Lloyd left Simon Cowell over "creative differences"

Cher Lloyd is only 20 years old. But as someone who broke into the recording industry at the tender age of 17, after competing on the 2011 UK edition of The X Factor, then scoring a breakout smash single with "Want U Back" from her first album Sticks & Stones, the singer is already used to the attention she gets. Now however, as the notoriously outspoken songstress prepares to release her long-overdue, and aptly titled second album, Sorry I'm Late (due on May 27th), she says she’s a far different, decidedly more mature individual. “I feel like a real artist now,” Lloyd told “This record, regardless of how it’s going to do or how people are going to respond to it, I’m so proud of it.”

Lloyd, who married Craig Monk in November, cut professional ties with Simon Cowell last year, citing creative differences. So now that means the pressure is solely on the singer's shoulders to deliver the goods. But as she told us when we rang her up on a recent morning to talk her new album, evolution as an artist, and longtime love of hip-hop, Lloyd relishes the opportunity to lay it all on the line. “It’s my responsibility to take the reigns,” she said. “It's up to me to make the big decisions now.”

It’s been a while since you put out your debut album. You must be thrilled to finally release a new album?

I feel like I’ve waited way too long. I’ve now gone past that stage of really needing it to come out. I’m now at the point where it’s like "OK, I’m done with waiting. My fans are done with waiting too." I wish I could just put it out tomorrow. And I feel like this album is completely me. I’m not saying that my previous album wasn’t me; it was pieces of me. But I didn’t have as much control over it. And this album I’ve had one hundred percent control: I’ve chosen the track list, I’ve chosen who I wanted to work with. So it’s a massive step for me.

Your new single, the soaring ballad “Sirens,” reflects your increased maturity and evolution as an artist.

It exposes me. I feel like it shows the exact artist that I am. I’ve waited so long for a song like this. It gives me a massive opportunity to show people that I can sing. I’m not used to singing ballads; it’s what I did in the beginning. So it’s nice to bring that back. And it’s nice to have a song with a lot of meaning as opposed to previous singles where it’s all been a bit bubblegum and kind of childish. Now I’m trying to be a lot more grown up and show the softer side of me.

When did your impulse to fully grab the creative reigns occur?

I think everyone grows. For me I’ve made a massive step. In my life as well. Regardless of my music, I’ve changed as a person. Recently I went on a tour and I was singing all of my old songs. And while I was onstage something just didn’t quite feel right. There was just something missing. And that was the point where I felt that I really needed new material. And I wanted to sing my new material because it’s so me. It's not because I don’t like my old songs. I’m just past that now because I have different views on life and I have different experiences.

You quickly achieved massive fame in the UK. It's been more of a slow build in the U.S.

I’ve put so much concentration into being in the U.S. and trying to make things happen here. It’s really difficult. There’s a lot of people back in the UK thinking, "Is she going to do it? Is she not? She’s been out there a long time. Are things moving?" And that makes it a lot harder for me.
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