Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Feature

Craig David: Re-ee-wind

Craig David @bluesandsoul.com
Craig David @bluesandsoul.com

Having sold over 13 million albums, enjoyed 13 Top 10 singles and achieved multi-Platinum status in over 20 countries, Southampton, UK-born-and-raised singer/songwriter Craig David this month celebrates his fourteenth year in the music industry by embarking on a world tour. Which - running throughout 2013 and taking in Indonesia, Australia and Europe - also finds each ticket-buyer receiving a link to download a free exclusive new track as an appetiser for the multi-award-winnerâs upcoming sixth studio album, whose release is due later this year.

Born Craig Ashley David in May 1981 to a half-Jewish white mother and Grenadian father, Craigâs career in music began as a teenage club and pirate radio DJ on Englandâs South Coast, while his songwriting first came to public attention when, at just 15, he penned âIâm Readyâ - the B-side to Nineties UK R&B quintet Damageâs Top Three cover of Eric Claptonâs âWonderful Tonightâ.

However, it was as featured vocalist on Southampton-based UK Garage duo The Artful Dodgerâs 1999 Number Two smash âRe-Rewindâ that Craigâs name and face first came to national attention. In turn paving the way for his first solo deal with Wildstar Records. Which, in 2000, straightaway saw him spectacularly scoring two UK Number One singles with the enduring, self-penned urban-teen anthems âFill Me Inâ and âSeven Daysâ; while his debut album âBorn To Do Itâ (produced by the Artful Dodgerâs Mark Hill) eventually went on to sell a super-impressive seven million-plus worldwide, prestigiously earning him Top 10 US success (and two Grammy nominations) along the way.

Indeed, while the blockbusting global success of his debut was never quite repeated, Craigâs next three studio albums (2002âs âSlicker Than Your Averageâ; 2005âs âThe Story Goesâ¦â; 2007âs âTrust Meâ) nevertheless found him retaining his prominent chart presence throughout the UK, Europe and South East Asia - via memorable Top 10 hits like the club-banger âWhatâs Your Flava?â; the Sting duet âRise & Fallâ; the haunting âDonât Love You No Moreâ; and the David Bowie-sampling, uptempo âHot Stuff (Letâs Dance)â. All in all making him one of British musicâs biggest male solo exports of the Noughties, while additionally resulting in three Ivor Novello Awards, two MTV Europe Awards and four sold-out shows at Londonâs Wembley Arena. Meanwhile, in confirmation of the timeless appeal of his early music, âBorn To Do Itâ was prestigiously in 2009 voted by MTV viewers the Second Greatest LP Ever, just behind Michael Jacksonâs âThrillerâ!

Following which 2010 saw 12-time BRIT-nominated Craig returning to the marketplace with his fifth studio set, the UK Top 15 âSigned Sealed Deliveredâ. Which, as the follow-up to his 2008-released âGreatest Hitsâ compilation, unexpectedly found him temporarily putting his songwriting on hold to cover such Motown classics as Marvin Gayeâs âI Heard It Through The Grapevineâ, The Temptationsâ âPapa Was A Rollinâ Stoneâ and Stevie Wonderâs âFor Once In My Lifeâ - alongside other timeless Sixties/early-Seventies soul compositions like Otis Reddingâs âThe Dock Of The Bayâ and Al Greenâs âLetâs Stay Togetherâ, in addition to Curtis Steigerâs underrated Nineties gem âI Wonder Whyâ.

Since which time further life-affirming events have included Craig receiving in 2010 an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Southampton Solent University; becoming appointed a UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Stop TB Partnership; plus in February 2011 becoming part of the celebrity Desert Trek team who walked 100 km across the Northern Kenya desert to raise awareness and money for Comic Relief. While more recent months have also found the multi-talented Mr. David interestingly returning to his childhood love of DJing to present his own TS5 show which currently airs on the UKâs Kiss FM every Sunday night.

⦠Cue a welcome phonecall from the UKâs R&B king himself. As an ever-warm-mannered, now-31-year-old Craig happily reacquaints himself with the man who gave him his first-ever press interview just over 13 years ago, âBlues & Soulâ Assistant Editor Pete Lewis.

The background to him embarking on a world tour at this point in time

âIt basically all started with a conversation between me and Colin Lester, my manager whoâs been with me since â98. Because Iâd been spending the last couple of years recording a new album and new tracks, he was like âLook, it would be fantastic to actually take the time out to go back out on the ROAD, even if the albumâs not FINISHED!â⦠So because I was like âYeah, letâs DO it!â, we put our words into action; one show led to another⦠To where, instead of it just being a UK tour, it ended up becoming a WORLD tour! Because what we discovered was that, as we went along, more and more countries wanted to get INVOLVED!â

What we can expect musically and visually from Craigâs upcoming shows

âWell, while I love being onstage and performing the songs, visually Iâve never really been that guy whoâs all about stuff like the pyrotechnics and light shows. Instead to me itâs more about âAs long as the stage set-up is good, the band is tight, and Iâm performing, thatâs all I really want to get ACROSSâ... So yeah, itâll be very much a MUSIC-based show. And in terms of the actual material, to keep things fresh there are gonna be moments where Iâm going to add some of the new stuff that Iâve been working on over the past couple of years - which may or not may not make the new album - in addition to me of course playing the songs that I think a lot of people will be EXPECTING me to perform.â

Craigâs plans for his next LP, release-wise

âRight now weâre really open to how we release the next album. I mean, one definite positive is that my manger has now got into a business relationship with Universal where heâs become the CEO of their management company out of the UK. But while that now means his relationship with them is very strong across-the-board, at the same time he has no OBLIGATION to put my record out through Universal. So in addition to possibly putting it out through one of the Universal labels, weâre also able to consider releasing it independently, or maybe through ANOTHER major... So yeah, I guess when the record is finished he can then do what he does best and be like âWell, this is the best way to distribute this recordâ. Which to me is the beauty of where weâre kind of at musically in the industry today. In that you now donât have to be dependent up on being signed to the biggest label. Because these days if you get the DISTRIBUTION correct you can actually still get the record MOVING!â

Craigâs recent return to his childhood love of DJ'ing via his show TS5, with which he now occupies a weekly residency on Kiss FM UK every Sunday night

âTS5 first came about from me doing house parties in my home in Miami - where a few friends would come over, Iâd be playing music, jumping on the mic, and just generally having some fun before we went out pre-clubbing. You know, it was basically from that that my manger and I came up with the idea âWow, it would be super-cool to take an hour of this and actually have it broadcast on RADIO!â⦠So he spoke to the guys at KISS - and then next thing I know I was broadcasting from my Miami APARTMENT! Which in turn kind of escalated the party itself as WELL, in that more people then started coming THROUGH!... And overall I guess the show basically just gives people a feel of what I loved and enjoyed growing up as a DJ! In that to me itâs not about showing Iâve got skills but more âYou know what? This is second NATURE to me. This is what got me into the music industry in the FIRST place, using the ones and twos and mixing it UP!â... And I guess the UNIQUENESS of what I do in my set is the fact that I jump on the mic and actually CAN SING - as opposed to a lot of DJs out there who may have fantastic skills when it comes to actual mixing, but whose microphone generally seems to be turned off throughout their whole SET. You know, with me I can actually pick up the mic and go toe-to-toe with any R&B song or hip hop song or house track Iâve just played - and rather than it being just sketchy vocals I can actually PROPERLY SING! Which to me - trying to look from the outside as a third person - makes for a completely different kinda DJ DYNAMIC!â

Craigâs UK live dates run from May 19 to 21 inclusive - taking in Birmingham Institute (19); Manchester Ritz (20); Southampton Guildhall (21); and London IndigO2 (22).

Follow on Twitter @CraigDavid

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Words PETE LEWIS

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