BY her own admission, 2011 was a difficult year for Diana Vickers.

Having parted company with her record company, global music giant RCA, the doubters were only too quck to herald the demise of the former X Factor semi-finalist from Huncoat.

But you write off Diana at your peril and now she’s bouncing back with a new, more mature outlook and plenty of optimism for the year ahead.

“I’m in a really happy place at the moment,” she said.

“This is a very significant year for me and I’m really looking forward to it. Last year was difficult but I think people forget that I’m still only 20, I’m still learning about the business and about myself.

“It was the right time to part with RCA last year. I was in Los Angeles working on my second album and they wanted it to sound one way and I wanted another. I was being pushed and pulled about with others in control.

“I think the time was right for me to take control of what I’m doing.”

Diana first came into the public eye as a shy teenager on TV’s biggest talent contest.

Although she didn’t win, she went on to have both a number one single and album Songs From the Cherry Tree, plus a spell in London’s West End in Rise and Fall of Little Voice for which she won a best newcomer award.

“I was so young when I went on X Factor,” she said.

“I left school and went straight into an industry I knew nothing about. I was naive and in a way I was in a bubble. I have learned so much since then. I think I am more myself than I have ever been.”

Having interviewed Diana on several occasions there is a noticeable change.

Her enthusiasm is as infectious as ever but an increasing maturity is clearly evident.

No longer is everything “amazing”, instead every question is considered and the answer thought through.

“With my music I want to write what I want to write.

"You only get one chance in life to do things properly and now I have got a small team around me who I trust completely and we all get on so well.”

A new, as yet untitled, album is due for independent release in March or April with every track written by Diana.

“It’s all coming together really well,” she said.

“It’s essentially a pop record but I think people will notice it is different. I’ve been growing up all the time and the album reflects this, it’s got songs that I would want to hear on the radio.”

Two low key dates are planned next month - at Manchester’s Ruby Lounge on Wednesday, February 8 and Cargo in London the night after. A full tour is being planned after the release of the album.

“I’d love to think that the album will win over a new audience,” she said.

“I can understand those people who are sceptical about the X Factor and there is a pressure to prove yourself. But people may do that in different ways. I have been on the West End, I have written a new album plus songs for other people like Jennifer Lopez and Enrique Inglesias.”

As well as putting the finishing touches to her new album in the studio, Diana has also released her second fashion collection under the Dee-V label for fashion retalier Very.

Taking its inspiration from the Fifites and Sixties, the new collection is another sign of Diana taking control.

“Away from music, fashion is my great passion,” she said.

“I’m always seeking out vintage shops or going to fashion shows. With Dee-V they are very much my ideas. Of course I don’t sit down at a sewing machine and make them but I work with a designer who sketches my ideas and I have final say on every garment before it is released.”

Diana now lives in London with her older sister Charlotte.

“She keeps me grounded,” said Diana. “If I start getting carried away she’ll say ‘Diana what are you doing?’.

But East Lancashire still has a big hold on the former Westholme pupil.

“I get back home whenever I can,” she said.