OUR VOICE OF 2013…
From humble beginnings as a bohemian misfit up in the Yorkshire Dales, 21-year-old John Newman has moved on to perform sell out recitals alongside Rudimental, providing vocals on both ‘Feel The Love’ and ‘Not Giving In’. After a heartfelt last show on the Annie Mac tour, we caught up with the now London-based, powerhouse singer.
How’s Bournemouth been treating you?
It’s been crazy man. We stepped off the bus after sound check and there were some girls in these short skirts and guys that looked like they’re from Essex. It’s meant to be Christmas.
Merry Christmas, then. But in terms of the acts you’ve been working alongside, how’s the touring experience been?
It’s been really good and it’s like there’s no supporting act. If anything, myself and Rudimental are the supporting act. Playing alongside people like Skream, Benga, Artwork and Annie [Mac]has been brilliant. It’s really hard when you’re on the road because everyone is in each other’s faces all the time but it’s cool to hang out. We all get on really well though and Piers played in my band before so we know each other pretty well. It’s been a good experience to just see the progression from some guys rolling around in London to being number one in the charts. It tests your relationship with people but everyone is having a good time. We don’t travel as a tour with the other acts and we have our own bus but as you can expect, the Rudimental bus is a little bit crazy so it’s gonna be hard to leave.
So taking it all the way back, how did you first get into singing?
I honestly don’t know but my brother was a massive inspiration and I was always the creative kid who came from a small town and no-one really got me until I turned into a chav. Singing was a way of speaking to people and they actually listened to you when you’re on stage. You get to stand there and sing your heart out.
how does it feel to be writing lyrics and then taking it to a stage in front of so many people?
It’s mental. ‘Feel The Love’ was crazy and that was the first thing. I was playing gigs before with 500 people and there was a little bit of a buzz around my music. I got signed before that track, but to see things rise to that level is mad. We did a headline gig in Brighton the other night and i had that odd feeling where you think nobody’s going to turn up only for all these people to come. I’m so used to inviting people on Facebook and now it’s happening for real where people are just into the music.
I imagine you’re pretty much engulfed in music all the time but when you do get some free time, how do you wind down?
We really don’t get that much time and my manager is always tapping me on the shoulder to listen to more music to try and find hook ideas. I’m writing an album at the moment and I want to be prepared for it. I do love a bit of FIFA though; it has to be with Real Madrid and Christiano Ronaldo of course.
You mentioned that an album is in the works so what are you working with on that?
I got signed with Island about a year ago now and I put a lot of time into the Rudimental project which had to run its cause before concentrating on the album in the last few months. I was struggling to find this gap before and now there’s pianos from ages ago, crazy 90s hooks and soul hooks; so I’m just playing around with the genre and mixing bits from my influences into one. I don’t want to sit anywhere with anyone else and follow trends. I want to be classy with it and actually have some longevity.
I do a lot of songwriting and I’ve done some things with a few artists like Dionne Bromfield and others, but it’s a lot of concentration on my own stuff as well.
Finally, as we’re here with Upraw. What’s the rawest gig you’ve ever been to?
It’s got to be Hackney Weekender because we’d just got back from the Isle of Wight and this small, Strongbow tent and after two hours on the bus we woke up in Hackney. It was so mental and we were obviously really tired but a really big crowd of 8000 people singing ‘Feel The Love’ was surreal.