What was I expecting from Matt Cardle? The sound of screaming women, the X Factor announcer’s voice saying ‘here’s M-A-T-T C-A-R-D-L-E’, those piercing blue eyes and lonely voice singing me a few bars from his new album as he strums along on his guitar?

Sadly, none of the above materialised. But having fallen for the painter and decorator’s stripped-back voice and emotional delivery, the question was could he live up to the promise? Matt is aware this is the question on everyone’s lips.

“Yes there is a lot of pressure to be super-successful, but I want to be super-successful,” he says earnestly. “And if I had been signed by a record label as an unknown I would be putting the same pressure on myself anyway.”

Instead, Matt won 2010’s X Factor in front of 17 million people and now has the job of proving he’s more than just a reality TV-winning puppet. This is why he penned most of his new album Letters himself and is touring the country at more realistic venues than London’s O2 arena, such as Oxford’s New Theatre on Sunday night.

“This is the bit I’ve been waiting for,” he says. “My music with my band. It’s the ultimate dream – that people would buy my album and then come to the show. Of course it’s strange that people know my face before they know my music, but that makes it more interesting because now I have to show them the artist and prove myself. I’m used to working hard,” the 29-year-old adds.

Matt’s already played to arenas around the UK with the entire X Factor crew. So all that time, is this what he was dreaming of? “It’s a totally different atmosphere playing to an arena because when you’re singing to 20,000 people you can’t really get a good vibe from the crowd because it’s so big. That will be different in the theatres, so it’s going to be amazing.”

What can people expect? “It’s essentially a rock show but there is also an acoustic session in the middle because I wanted to stay true to myself musically. This is a totally different crowd to the X Factor. Lots of people have the album and are genuine fans.”

Despite having warmed up in Ireland and Scotland, Matt is still nervous about the impending UK tour. “I’d be nervous in front of four people though.

“I’m happy performing any gig, whether it’s live in an arena or to 10 competition winners in my hotel room. Gigs are right up my street,” he grins.

But what about him? What does all this fame and fortune do to a man? “It hasn’t changed me at all, I don’t think,” he says. “I’m still the same person I always have been. If all this had happened when I was 20 I might worry about what I was missing, but I’m 27 and I’ve done all the going out and messing about that I want to, so I’m happy to knuckle down now.

“Yes, there’s a fun side, but I don’t get to see my friends as much as I’d like to, and when I try to go out with them I spend a lot of time talking to strangers. My real friends are the ones who were there to start with and everyone who jumped on the bandwagon afterwards obviously isn’t, but I have also met people who have become friends since. I still speak to Aiden a lot and One Direction,” he adds.

The very X Factor buddies he’s now competing with for a place in the charts.

“Well, yes they are competition, but then so’s Tinchy Stryder and James Morrison. They are all out there doing it.”

At least Matt is bucking the trend and writing his own songs and album. “I’m always writing songs and already have lots ready for a second album,” he says.

Are they sad like all the others? “The songs haven’t been that happy have they?” Matt grins again, “but I’ve been working on a few more upbeat songs in the past few days, which might surprise people. And because they are my songs and my feelings, they are very personal.”

Another happy ending then?

“It does still feel a bit like it all happened to someone else,” Matt answers, “and it’s still difficult to get my head round, but I think that takes a long time, to be fair. It can be awkward dealing with the fans sometimes, but I’ve spent 14 years trying to make it in the industry and I’ve finally got my call so I’m going to work my backside off for it.”

Matt Cardle will be appearing at the New Theatre on Sunday night. Log on to the box office at newtheatreoxford.

org.uk or call 0844 8713020 for tickets