Parklife Festival Review

It is festival season yet again. To kick this one off we spent the weekend at Heaton Park in Manchester for the Parklife festival. What attracted us to this particular one is the lineup of artists that were on show. The main attractions being A Tribe Called Quest, Damian Marley, George Ezra and Frank Ocean. This is not to say these are the best or biggest acts, although this may be true for some of the artists. A Tribe Called Quest is iconic and don’t often do shows in the UK as far as I am aware, so if the chance comes, you’ve got to grab it with three hands. The same can be said for Damian “Jnr Gong” Marley. This was George Ezra’s second festival ever! Frank Ocean doesn’t do tours, and hardly performs at festivals so again, it’s not to be missed. 


Location:

This was my first time attending this particular festival. The location was quite good, with easy access to the city on the tram and buses. There were also quite a number of coaches run by Big Green Coach from various part of the country. 

Accommodation 
The decision to go was very last minute for me, so it took a lot of last minute planning and rigorous search of the web to find a decent place to stay. To achieve this I took the AirBnB route, which I had never taken. There were a few places listed when we got on but these would quickly get spanned up while we were sending messages back and forth to agree whether we wanted to stay here or not. 
As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for the reasonably priced ones to be gone. We actually had one that we went all the pay to the payment part after selecting dates and everything. Only to be told that those dates where no long available. If AirBnB or anyone who works for or with them reads this, I am of the opinion that just adding a functional timer for booking would go a long way. I don’t know, five minutes where they hold your booking for you before allowing it to be spanned up. 
We stayed at this place: 
The host was brilliant, and very accommodating. His home is extremely clean. 
Acts:

I’m still trying to remember all the acts I went to. Will update this section asap. 

SetUp:

Stages


Frank Ocean’s personalised stage was great. I wasn’t impressed with the fact that the setup of that stage meant that everyone had to wait for an extra half an hour for Frank to get on stage. I don’t know if this stage was a last minute thing, or if the planning was just not done well. Whatever the case may be, no one wants to wait half an hour for an act. By then you had best bring our 2Pac and Biggie. 

Organisation:

Coach parking was a great idea. It was located in a convenient area for all entrances. There were quite a lot of car illegally parked, that made it very hard for the coach drivers to move in and out of the carpark. 

Accreditation 


Accreditation was pretty quick, with the usual festival vibe where it seems some of the people don’t know what they are doing. That being said, we were in in no time at all. We were through the guest entrance, so I don’t know how that would compare to general entrances. 

Sign posting
  

Security:

After what happened at the Ariana Grande show in the same city a few weeks prior to this festival, I was quite anxious going into this. The level of security was very reassuring though. Searches were being conducted thoroughly at all entrances as well as just after the entrance in case someone made it pay the first one. 


There was also a sniffer dog, doing what he does best. One of my friends had to be strip searched on both days, for some unknown reason. They didn’t find anything on him at either time.

I was rather annoyed on the second day when after emptying my pocket, I was informed that I could take my tiny bottle of cologne. It’s non-alcoholic and oil based. I couldn’t make sense of it. What vexed even more was the fact that I had taken it in the first day. The guard asked me to “spray it on” before going in. What a joke.
Crowd:

I’m very picky when it comes to crowds, do pardon me. Dress code was shocking to me. All the females seemed to be dressed in a uniform, bum shorts and a cleavage flattering top. Not that I’m complaining or anything, but what ever happened to individuality. You know? Just being yourself and not dressing like 49000 other people?

Some behaviour from the crowd was appalling. Pushing and shoving through without the least bit of “excuse me”. Excuse me, where are our manners?

Verdict:

I really think it’s ridiculous that it is still common for places at a festival to not access card as a form of payment. What year is this? We are a plastic generation, it should not be tolerated. Whatever their reasoning behind it, please sort your lives out. 

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What to look forward to at NormaFest 2017

NormaFest 2017

Since its launch in 2009, the NormaFest has become iconic with music lovers from across the UK. The fact that it is held at a time of the year where there are no other festivals of note going on, makes its timing perfect. All folk lovers will know of its founder, who the event is named after, Norma Waterson. The legendary folk singer who was part of the group, the Watersons. If for some reason, you are not familiar with her work, here is a taster: Death and the Lady

When is Normafest 2017?

NormaFest 2017 will be held on the first weekend of January. That’s Friday the 6th and Sunday the 8th of January. (Upon checking on the website recently, I am no longer sure if Sunday is still on).

It will be held at the Whitby Pavilion. As you can note from the map above, there are quite a few places to stay within reasonable distance from the venue. I would expect a few of them to have either inflated rates that weekend, or to be fully booked. If you are keen on being a part of this event, you will want to get the booking sorted quite promptly. The Melrose Guest house and Bay Royal Hotel are great options for Whitby Hotels.




Who’s playing at the Normafest 2017?

Friday Lineup:

who is playing at Normafest 2017
3.30-4.30pm Hardeep Singh Kohli interviews Martin Carthy

4.30- 5.15 DJ DOLPHIN BOY

5.30-6.45 STICK IN THE WHEEL

6.45-7.30 Session

7.00-8.00 DJ DOLPHIN BOY

8.00- 9.15 THE WATERSON FAMILY (with Saul Rose opening)

8.45 – 9.45 DJ DOLPHIN BOY

9.45-11.00 PEGGY SEEGER

10.45-11.30pm DJ DOLPHIN BOY  & Session in  bar

Saturday Lineup

Midday-1pm  Film “Land Of Green Ginger” (t.b.c)

1.00-2.00  DJ Dolphin Boy

2.00-2.15 “How I Met Norma” with Ian Clayton

2.35-3.50  Film “Where You Are Meant To Be”

3.00-4.00 Session

4.00 -5.00  FURROW COLLECTIVE

5.00 -7.00  DJ Dolphin Boy

5.15-6.15 Film “Travelling for a Living”

7.00-8.15 LYNCHED (a.k.a Lankum)

8.15-9.00 Session

9pm -10.30 THE GIFT BIG BAND  (featuring Neil McColl & special guest Richard Hawley)

10.30- Midnight DJ Dolphin Boy

10.30-11.30 Session

Sunday:

There have something special planned for this day, as a surprise. We expect that Norma Waterson herself will also be playing on this day, but, we could be wrong. Fingers crossed.

Where can I get Ticket for NormaFest 2017?

Tickets for this event are available to purchase from the Whitby Pavilion as well as on EventBrite.

You can purchase tickets for a single day or for the whole festival. The choice will probably come down to whether you are coming to see specific artists perform or if, of course you are looking to enjoy a wide range of great artists’ performances.




If you can avoid missing it, you really dont want to miss this festival. Perhaps we will run into each other on the dancefloor at the Whitby Pavilion this weekend. Feel free to comment below letting us know of your experiences if you have been to previous years of this festival. If you do make it this year, we would also love to know what your experience is as well. No two experience are necessarily the same. We are certainly looking forward to celebrating this year with the legendary British folk music artist that is  Norma.



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Why we all saw Kanye West in J Cole’s False Prophets

Is Kanye one of the False Prophets in JCole’s Song?

3 days ago, rapper J. Cole dropped a much-anticipated album, “4 Your Eyez Only.” While the artist has built a loyal legion of followers over the years leading to and after the drop of his debut “Forest Hills”, the tracks that he released leading to the release of this new project had a lot of tongues wagging. He dropped two videos just a few days before the album was expected to be officially released. These songs heightened the expectations. Even non-Cole fans were now anticipating it. One of the main talking points was the track “False Prophets.” Most people quickly settled on the conclusion that it was some sort of subliminal dig at Kanye West. The track itself was descriptive in nature, it did not put any names on blast, just described the people he was referring to. Verse one is the one that brought Kanye to most people’s minds.

Hope you have now watched the video. Let’s get into the lyrics that have everyone talking.

False Prophets Verse 1 Lyrics Analysis

Yeah, life is a balance
You lose your grip, you can slip into an abyss
No doubt, you see these niggas trippin’
Ego in charge of every move, he’s a star
And we can’t look away due to the days that he caught our hearts
He’s fallin’ apart, but we deny it

(This is probably the first line that most linked to Mr. West. After his recent on stage rant and hospitalisation. He’s falling apart, but we deny it seemed to fit the bill).

Justifying that half ass shit he dropped, we always buy it

Most Kanye fans will tell you that they are not as impressed with his latest work when it is compared to what he used to drop. The old Kanye, the college dropout Kanye. His art has perhaps matured in that time, but not in the direction that some would have wanted. Even those that dont like it, still buy it. So again here, I can see why most people would have linked this to him again.

When he tell us he a genius but it’s clearer lately

I dont even need to get into that one. I don’t know many rappers who have told us that they are geniuses. Mr. West has done this though quite a few times.

It’s been hard for him to look into the mirror lately
There was a time when this nigga was my hero, maybe
That’s the reason why his fall from grace is hard to take
‘Cause I believed him when he said his shit was purer and he

DO you remember Kanye’s interview on the Ellen Show? He placed himself in the same category as Steve Jobs and Ghandi, with his being the only living entity in that equation. Nothing says purer than that.

The type of nigga swear he real but all around him’s fake
The women, the dick riders, you know, the yes men
Nobody with the balls to say somethin’ to contest him
So he grows out of control

How many times have we all wondered why no one ever speaks to Kanye to get him to tone it down, He has had his fair share of out of control moments. Nobody around him has had the damn balls to say something.

Into the person that he truly was all along, it’s startin’ to show
Damn, wonder what happened
Maybe it’s my fault for idolizin’ niggas
Based off the words they be rappin’
But come to find out, these niggas don’t even write they shit

There was an uproar not too long ago about Ghostwriters. Kanye was one of those that were implicated by this. There is no shame in that. He has made some great music over the years. I dont know why people complain about having someone else help an artist articulate their thoughts. He has never claimed to be a writer.

Hear some new style bubblin’ up, then they bite this shit
Damn, that’s what I get for lyin’ to myself
Well, fuck it, what’s more important is he’s cryin’ out for help
While the world’s eggin’ him on, I’m beggin’ him to stop it
Playin’ his old shit, knowin’ he won’t top it

I am one of those that are waiting for Mr. West to top his previous releases. The newer albums have left me with more doubt than hope. The problem with my view is that music is very subjective, what may seem to be a slump in my eyes is a rise in another person’s eyes. Just because his newer stuff is not as appealing to me as the other releases were, does not mean he has fallen, perhaps it’s an indication of me more than it is of him.

False prophets

 

Only J. Cole can say for certain whether or not this was directed at Kanye, but we can all speculate.

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First Of The Fame Monsters

lady gaga bad romance

It may seem unusual for someone like me to be excited about new Lady Gaga material seeing that I’m primarily into Indie/Rock music but it’s true. A performer like Lady Gaga is something in pop music that in my opinion has never existed and is in desperate need of… a sort of pop anti-Christ in disguise. I find that on the surface her lyrics appear shallow and superficial, but in being so they highlight these negativities by subversity. Lady Gaga is an artist of substance with a meaningful point to make and she’ll be having the last laugh at her detractors when it becomes apparently clear that she’s pulled the wool over their eyes.

This is all speculation based on my perceptions, but I get the impression that the Lady Gaga character is about to have a very public death only to be reborn as a new artist. The hints are all there, the Fame Kills tour that was so suspiciously pulled and the pending release of The Fame re-issue The Fame Monster which just too conveniently features 8 new theme relevant songs to extend the albums lifespan when it’s known that she’s been writing for the next album for some time now. This all hints at a carefully executed strategy for album number two and I’m predicting a surprise release immediately after the Lady Gaga character is found dead in a hotel bathtub under suspicious circumstances.

Perhaps I have an overactive imagination and I’m giving her more credit than is due, but what a brilliant idea I think.

The Bad Romance single features remixes of Poker Face and Paparazzi and like re-issue The Fame Monster is due for release on 23rd November.

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Five minutes with Jamie Cullum

“Steam rooms,” says Jamie Cullum, with a grin on his face. “I really love steam rooms. It’s almost unknown, but Frank Sinatra used to travel with his own steam room and he loved spending time in it with his cronies and gossip. I think that’s one of the reasons he could smoke, drink, stay out late and yet still be able to sing very well.” Anyone hoping for reports of Rat Pack-inspired bacchanalia will be disappointed, however. Cullum, the UK’s biggest-selling Jazz star, is far more likely to be found with his nose buried in a book or tinkering with musical instruments.

jamie cullum interview

“These days we have this great opportunity to travel with so much fun gear, I’ve got loads with me. I like to make funny electronic music and play on my laptop with this Akai USB keyboard I have, or do non-music stuff like taking photos,” Cullum says, revealing that he takes a lot of camera equipment with him when touring. Meanwhile, his love of reading led to several songs on his 2009 album, The Pursuit, being inspired by Nancy Mitford’s novel, The Pursuit Of Love, a romantic tragicomedy set against the backdrop of World War Two. “It’s actually Sophie’s favourite book,” Cullum says of his wife, the author and cook (and ex-model), Sophie Dahl. “She’s read it hundreds of times. Some parts of my album got their inspiration from the book. Now I’m reading this big heavy book, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, which I’m really enjoying.”

His happy home life permeates his work, and while his work also permeates his home life, it’s a balance he enjoys. “I’ve got a piano practically everywhere in my house,” he says enthusiastically. “I have a piano in my kitchen because it combines my three favourite things, cooking, eating and playing music. My cat often sits on it and helps me get some inspiration for my work. I realised that there were also some things we couldn’t recreate in a studio, so the kitchen it is.” This homely, intimate vibe infects a couple of songs on The Pursuit, particularly I Think, I Love, one of Jamie’s more typically skewed love songs. But if anyone was in doubt about the debt Jamie owes to The Pursuit Of Love, the album cut “Love Ain’t Gonna Let You Down is probably the first love song I’ve ever written without a joke in it,” he admits. “The only pure love songs I’d sung before were by George Gershwin, not my own. It is totally written for one particular person,” Jamie adds, with a look in his eyes that radiates contentedness.

The Pursuit by Jamie Cullum is available to download at Nokia Music Store. If you’ve got Comes With Music you can get it and a world of other music for free.

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Review: Arctic Monkeys @ Shepherds Bush Empire 28 March 2010

When reviewing a gig I usually endeavour to post it before the following day while the memories are fresh before they become too distant and I begin to blur the lines between imagination and reality and I weave tales based on my retrospective emotional state rather than the facts.

arctic monkeys setlist

The trouble with an Arctic Monkeys gig is that at the age of 30 you begin to feel like a chaperone to the scores of 14-16-year-olds who’ve turned out for the event… so even faced with the prospect of losing out on great seats in an unreserved seating area, the thought of queueing among them like the awkward beanpole-kid that’s been held back a few school years is enough to drive anyone to drink… and so we cue the pub, and a reference to my opening paragraph.

Having seen Arctic Monkeys perform live before, the idea of a special show dedicated solely to the performance of Humbug played from top to bottom was a rather special diamond encrusted belt notch I thought, but for a first timer… a little unfortunate.

Conveniently, the opening track on Humbug is current single My Propeller so kicks the set off with a real sense of here-and-now. Playing through the familiar chronology, though some may have found too predictable, I found gave the set highlight moments to look forward to based on song preferences, without the risk of disappointment when a band doesn’t play a song you’d hoped for in normal gig circumstances… and the convenience of a timed bathroom break for the lesser ‘choice’ songs – Nice!

Overall, though short-lived, it was a marvellous affair with Pretty Visitors being the highlight for me, as well as Crying Lightning b-side and Nick Cave cover Red Right Hand closing the set as only 1 of 5 b-sides following on from Humbug’s 10 track run.

So what can I take away from last nights performance that will stay with me forever?… This may sound a little lame to most, but I’ve always wanted to see it in the flesh and unlike the first time I saw them, Matt Helders was using the Agile Beast, which if like me you’re a drummer and a Matt Helders fan, is the Holy Grail of an Arctic Monkeys gig.

Arctic Monkeys albums are available to download at Nokia Music Store or if you’ve got Comes With Music get them all for free!

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Gabriella Cilmi-Interview

 

Should you happen to see Gabriella Cilmi leaping buildings in a single bound, clad in tight blue leggings and sporting a fetching red cape, don’t be alarmed. “This is my superhero record,” the Australian singer-songwriter says of her upcoming album, Ten, with a hint of laughter. “One track is called Invisible Girl and another one’s called Superman, which is quite smooth and sexy… Another track, Defender, is all about going into battle to protect people that you love. I am a bit of a guard dog like that, so if anyone messes with my friends or family then I get a bit mad.” It’s a departure for Cilmi who, following the success of Lessons To Be Learned, could have conveniently been pigeon-holed as yet another white, female Jazz and R’n’B singer. Ten, Cilmi tells us, is “not quite what you’d expect. It’s definitely more electronic than my previous album, which sounded quite retro and fifties.”

Gabriella Cilmi

 

The themes of empowerment and musical diversity percolate through the entire album. “I didn’t just want to make Lessons To Be Learned Part 2, that would be a little too easy and probably a bit boring,” reasons Cilmi, who talks with the sort of self-assurance you need when you’ve signed a recording contract aged just 13. Now 18, she’s keen to show that she’s not going to conform to anyone’s expectations but her own. “I had so many different possibilities for this album and have toyed with lots of different ideas. One was to do a New Orleans piano album, but I sat in front of my piano and realised my playing isn’t quite up to the standard of Dr. John or Professor Longhair.” The artists Cilmi references – two of the most celebrated Louisiana Jazz pianists – aren’t part of the average teenager’s CD collection, but they highlight her eclectic tastes and influences. Ultimately it was Donna Summer, the seventies disco diva, who set Cilmi on her way to Ten. “One of my mates gave me I Remember Yesterday and it kind of rocked my world and inspired me, so I started listening to Giorgio Moroder, who did Flashdance and worked with Blondie when they went disco, and other things like Amy Stewart and Gloria Gaynor with I Will Survive. Powerful women on a mission.”

Now Ten is in the bag – it’s released in the UK on 22nd March – has Cilmi settled on this new sound? “Oh no, probably not,” she responds with enthusiasm. “I have a zillion ideas and don’t know which road to go down. I love all different types of music, so I’m always looking at new things to try out. I would like to make a country record one day but don’t tell my label that,” she adds jokingly. The only constant that Cilmi will admit to, is making music that people can relate to. “I remember this video of Cat Stevens playing Father And Son. The video is him sitting in a corridor playing and I remember watching it and thinking that this is why I want to make music, music that people can feel.” Returning to her musical tastes, Cilmi admits to enjoying everything from the Macarena (“because they say ‘Gabriella’ in it”) and Shaggy (at the mention of whom she bursts into song, giving a quick medley of his hits) to Curtis Mayfield and Led Zeppelin. The latter’s House Of The Holy is a particular favourite. “I am a massive Led Zeppelin fan and there’s something for everyone [on that album], with a bit of everything on it, even some Reggae. I love the variety of it.” Asked if she’s heard Them Crooked Vultures (a collaboration between Led Zep’s bassist and keyboard player John Paul Jones, Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl and Queens Of The Stone Age Josh Homme), Cilmi says she’s only heard one track. “My brother’s into it, so I will have to go home and listen to it. I did like Robert Plant’s collaboration with Alison Krauss, it sounded really good.” There’s a pause. “I got to meet Robert Plant backstage at the O2 and made the biggest fool out of myself,” Cilmi says, unable to stop herself. “I was in the queue for food and he was in front of me, so I tapped him on the back and the only thing I could think of asking him was, ‘Are you having the pie or the salmon?’, it was the most embarrassing moment of my life.”

It’s refreshing to hear that Cilmi’s managed to keep her feet on the ground, despite the global success she’s enjoyed so early on in her career, and the number of superstar artists she’s come across in her rise to stardom. “I played in front of Ronnie Wood when I played Jools Holland. When I played Sweet About Me he was tapping his foot along with it.” Cilmi gives the impression that she doesn’t take what’s happened for granted and still gets massive enjoyment from the journey she’s found herself on. “I felt super-special playing the main stage of Glastonbury, it was the best thing in the world,” she explains. “When I got up on stage in front of all of those people, it was amazing.” She readily owns up to still getting nerves prior to performing, despite doing live shows for the last five years. “I used to get really nervous and had to do meditation classes to calm myself down, but now I find that the best way to deal with it is to use my nerves as a fuel tank, to just throw myself into it.”

Cilmi is equally open about the fact that she doesn’t know quite where she’ll be, musically, tomorrow, next month or next year. It’s a trait she finds appealing in others, too. “I would love to collaborate with Danger Mouse,” the innovative producer behind The Beatles/Jay-Z mashup, The Grey Album, Gnarls Barkley and, most recently, Broken Bells, among others. “He is so versatile from all of the different artists that he has worked with. I would love him to produce one of my albums,” wishes Cilmi. “Also I would love to work with Justin Timberlake. It’s really interesting to see how he has evolved out of NSYNC to what he is doing now. He would be a good guy to take home to meet your mum. But probably not the type of guy I would take home,” she adds slyly. “I love his music. For a pop artist he is just the king, has some great melodies and when he’s on stage you just can’t take your eyes off him. Yeah, I would definitely love to work with him.” It’s this mix of youthful honesty, unadulterated talent and willingness to acknowledge and expand her musical roots that make Cilmi so compelling. So much so, that you can’t help hoping that she gets her wish.

You can download Gabriella’s single ’On A Mission’ from Nokia Music Store – if you’ve got  ‘Comes With Music’ , it’s completely free! Her new album, ‘Ten’ is out on 22nd March.

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A Brief Interview With Alex Gardner

If you haven’t yet heard the name Alex Gardner, don’t worry… .you soon will. With coveted support slots for the likes of Paolo Nutini, Mika and Paloma Faith already firmly under his belt, this 18-year-old from Edinburgh is on a fast track to success.

If you were to ask most 18-year-olds about their musical heroes, they probably wouldn’t be able to name any artists that were around before 1980, but Alex reels off a veritable who’s who of old-school legends such as Frank Sinatra, Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley. Marvin Gaye stands out for him at the moment, but he laughs, “If you ask me again tomorrow, I’ll say something completely different. My mp3 player has a bit of everything on it – from Mos Def and Kanye to Sinatra”

Born into a musical family, he says he never felt any pressure to be a musician. “I just always had music around me as a kid. I’m a 90s child, but I had all these different influences from different ages floating around and that kind of rubs off on you”.

alex gardner

As far as inspiring contemporary acts go, his response is immediate, “Miike Snow”, he says with no hesitation, “they are just amazing. I’d love to go on tour with them.”

His rapid rise is in no small part thanks to Brian Higgins, director of Xenomania, the songwriting and production team behind a multitude of hit songs from Cher, Pet Shop Boys and the vast majority of Girls Aloud’s output.

It was only a year and a half ago that Alex went on a failed audition to join a band in London. “It was weird”, he remembers, “I looked around and I was ten years younger than anyone else. They all had haircuts and these real fashionable clothes. I turned up in jeans and a t-shirt. I didn’t get it”. Despite not being asked to join the unnamed band, the audition was a turning point in Alex’s career. “A couple of days later, I got a call saying that I didn’t get in the band, but that a guy named Brian Higgins had been there and wanted to see me again”.

Eighteen short months later and Alex is signed to Higgin’s Xenomania label and is nearing completion of his debut album. Despite the fact that Xenomania have a proven track record for writing hits, he says he’s not interested in just being handed a fully-formed song to perform. “Obviously, I know how amazing Xenomania are at what they do, and what a privilege it is for me to work with them, but one thing I insisted upon at the beginning was being a co-writer on this album. I know I’m only 18, but I still have a story to tell. Some of the songs on the album use recycled lyrics from songs I wrote when I was 13.”

A Brief Interview With Alex Gardner

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Craig David – Interview

As a child, Craig David was already a big Michael Jackson fan and then he broadened his musical horizons and discovered artists that would influence his musical direction and taste for the rest of his life. Artists including Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Al Green captivated the young Mr. David and now, almost 20 years later, he’s paying homage to them on his new album, ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’. “I think that I have taken a different approach to making this record,” Craig explains. “For me it is an album of songs that I have wanted to put together, that had an impact on me growing up as a kid. Influencing me both consciously and unconsciously. I felt like this album was not as much about new material but about me having the challenge to vocally step up to perform these iconic songs.” Despite his passion and enthusiasm for the Motown sound, David was concerned – even anxious – about the project. “I could easily crash and burn on this album, songs like ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’, like ‘Mercy Mercy Me’, like ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’. These songs have a place in musical history and are performed by iconic artists so the pressure is on me to step up and do it properly… I thrived on this challenge.”

It’s obvious that Craig’s relishing this new focus and direction, along with the freedom of the new contract that he signed with Universal Records. “Universal showed a lot of interest in me and my talent as an artist. I had the opportunity of staying with Warner or going for a new deal with Universal. It sounded a bit too good to be true because Universal is by far the biggest label in the world right now. While not having a record of new material, and for them to sign me on the basis of my talent, I felt that I could make the record that I wanted to make.”

craig david interview

To cover a few songs on an album is already a big ask as people will instantly compare it to the original. But to create an album full of covers, that’s quite dangerous. “As a songwriter I can respect what it is like when someone covers your songs. I think that it makes sense to bring something new to the table by adding your own style while also respecting the original. With Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’, it is a song that technically you try and sing but it’s not a technical song, so it is more about the performance. You can only capture that if you approach it in the same way that he recorded it back in the day.” With modern recording techniques it is possible to create an almost perfect vocal track while not being an accomplished singer, and Craig was keen to avoid over-producing the tracks. “We did use Pro Tools but without the plug-ins and effects, keeping the process as basic as possible. When you are singing a track from start to finish, you get those points when you capture your breath which has knock-on effects with the next notes.”

With a new sound and technique in the studio comes the challenge of delivering a live show that’s equally as engaging. Something that Craig’s looking forward to. “I have the eight-piece band that I always had and we are thinking of stripping that back for some of the shows. It has been 10 years since Fill Me In, so with my repertoire of past hits plus these new classic songs, it is going to really make it a show for someone to see who hasn’t seen or heard it before. Or someone who has and give them something a bit different that they wouldn’t expect from my usual shows.” It’s not all about the heady decade of the Seventies, though, and Craig enjoys getting fired up for live shows with something a little more contemporary. “Notorious B.I.G and Faith Evans’ remix of ‘One More Chance’ is the best song to get me going and my favourite song to play when I DJ.” Is there a chance the Craig will be showing off his talents on the wheels of steel anytime soon? “I still DJ and have my 1210s here, but I don’t play as much. I think that I do it when people are least expecting it. If there is a house party then I would rock up and play with some vinyl. It is one of those things that if I wasn’t singing then I would be a DJ. There’s something fascinating about watching a DJ who loves what he’s doing.”

As Craig’s musical influences are highlighted throughout the new album, it’s easy to see this most recent project as the soundtrack to his life. He agrees and when asked to pick out a particularly significant track, thinks quietly. “To be honest, a song by Curt Stigers, ‘I Wonder Why’, which is on the record. It was a song that when I heard it, it struck a chord with me. I wanted to write classic songs with a structure where every part had a meaning and a reason for being there. Some songs have a section that you want to skip to get to the better parts, this one just has it all and that is why this song is on the record.”

Craig’s top tips for 2010? “The door was open back in the old garage days, even with acts like the Artful Dodger, and this has set a foundation for acts like Tinchy Stryder, Chipmunk, Tinie Tempah and Dizzy Rascal. They can be deemed as credible artists and also have commercial success and I am excited about the movement, they just need to keep it at a consistent level.” The thorny issue of commercially successful versus so-called credible’ artists prompts a question from OggieMusic, a Nokia Music follower on Twitter: Does Craig feel that the UK music industry hasn’t supported him fully, for example, by not awarding him a Brit award despite creating an album that sold over 11 million copies?
“I have never really been about the industry for me. It has always been about the music and making an impact, which is why I used to DJ. People who want to come and see you will do, and that’s why I do it.”
Craig Davids new single “One More Lie (Standing In The Shadows)” is in stores on with the album signed Sealed Delivered released on the 29th March.

All of Craig’s albums are available to download at Nokia Music Store or if you’ve got Comes With Music get them all for free!

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A Dirrty Viral Doing the Rounds

Catching my attention this week has been one of those annoyingly clever viral campaigns. Three videos posted on YouTube over the last month, by a curious creature going by the name of ‘Iamamiwhoami’ have had a staggering 366, 797 views, so at least  I’m not the only one who has noticed.

For me, not normally one to be intrigued by stuff like this, there are a few reasons why this has caught my eye. First up, I genuinely do like what’s going on in these clips – the images: a mud-caked skinny blonde licking trees, a haunting singing whale mouth, sexual sap, and a live birth; the sounds: minimalistic electronic bleeps, dirty bass lines, and futuristic obscured vocals; and the production:  professional, slick and  captivating. Secondly, the guessing game as to which artist it is has seemingly sparked global interest and lively debate.

There’s also a sneaky combination of coded titles (which are sending people into a decoding frenzy) and the strategic, staggered posting of the clips.  Very clever Mr Marketing Man, bravo!

The most guessed artist is Christina Aguilera, and I hope to God that this is correct. I really want Christina, the little pop princess of yesteryear to return with her new album and become a bona fide ‘credible’ artist. These clips seem to ooze style, substance and a darker, more mature sound than I ever would’ve thought Christina was capable of. It’s like when you see a monkey smoking a cigarette, it just shouldn’thappen and so when it does, you are then utterly compelled to watch. Aguilera simply shouldn’t be doing this. But there are many hints out there to suggest she is. She’s collaborated with Sia, Le Tigre, Goldfrapp and Ladytron for her new album and has said in a recent interview “My new [album] is just about the future – my son in my life, motivating me to want to play and have fun …Things that maybe I’ve been afraid to do in the past, to allow myself to go to a place of ‘less singing’. I’m more vulnerable and stronger at the same time.”

Other ‘could it be’ artists doing the rounds include Nine Inch Nails, also planning a 2010 new release, Lady Gaga ‘cos she’s just like weird and that ( ditto The Knife and Bjork), Goldfrapp due to all the owl imagery and the fact Alison Goldfrapp’s album is also due for release soon. Even those pesky little hippy dudes MGMT have been included in the guessing game.

You know what though, this could turn out to be one of the best ever ad campaigns for say, a treatment for fungal infections of the feet, or a weekend away at Centre Parcs, and if it does, then wont the whole of the blogosphere feel rather silly indeed?

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