Interview: Craig David
If you’ve heard Craig David’s new Kiss FM show, TS5, you’ll understand why I was suggesting to my editor the benefits of doing this interview ‘on location’. Set in his penthouse apartment in Miami, Tower Suite 5, the UK’s King of r&b brings the party atmosphere he generates there through the radio and back to us in the UK. TS5 "started out as 10 close friends getting together for a few drinks and some music before a night out. That then turned into 20 people, then 50 before it escalated even further” he says, laughing about its organic and natural development when The Wrap Up caught up with him…
When the show goes out live on a Sunday night at 11pm, it encapsulates the energy and anticipation for the night ahead immaculately - one of the reasons it’s working so well is that Craig is reaching for those recent classics you won’t have heard in a while, “digging deep in the vault” - not simply playing what’s hot right now.
With the radio show having come about off the back of parties, he insists he's "just kept doing what I was doing before, picking those songs that create a great atmosphere within the apartment and get everyone excited.
“The ones you want to draw for to bring it up a level? [With] hip-hop it has to be Fat Joe’s ‘Lean Back’, the dubstep track I'd go for would be the Nero remix of Calvin Harris' 'Feel So Close' and on the r&b side of things, Usher’s ‘Yeah’ really sets it off.”
A DJ long before he released ‘Born To Do It’, TS5 gives Craig the chance to show those who may not have been aware of his extra skills; a feeling he describes as “the best in the world” with the beauty being that “I haven’t turned into a DJ, I’ve always been one.”
The hour long live set is an incredible re-introduction to the talents of Craig David; as a DJ, MC and most notably, as a singer. It’s easy to forget that he was just 17 years of age when he released his seminal album. As one of the first UK artists in decades to make the transition to the US at the time, many of today’s cross-Atlantic successes would do well to remember the barriers his talent and subsequent success broke down for them to follow.
Having sold well over 13 million records, numerous Number 1’s, Brit Award and Grammy nominations alongside Ivor Novello and MOBO Award successes, I asked him about an achievement that takes into consideration what’s usually most important to an artist - the fans. Back in 2009, MTV ran a huge poll amongst music listeners, asking them to name their favourite ever album since the channel launched in 1981. ‘Thriller’ was Number 1. Number 2 was ‘Born To Do It’.
It’s a huge accolade that Craig describes as “incredibly flattering” and as we discussed at length what it meant to him he explained, “When you’re in the moment, you’re so attached to your own music you don’t see it in the same realm as those albums you hold in such high esteem. It made me see how big it was and the impact it made on people. For it to impact on people to the point where they can remember back to what they were doing and how they felt when they heard it is a great feeling.”
I ask where it ranks in his proudest moments and it’s testament to his humility, that despite all he’s achieved to date, without hesitation he cites “Going back to Southampton after all the Number 1’s” and “seeing it in my Mum and Dad’s eyes as to how proud they were of me. They sacrificed their lives for me to let me go to clubs and DJ. While I may still have ended up where I am today, I couldn’t have progressed in the same way so that was the biggest compliment of my career.”
Having first won a competition to write a track for Damage back when he was 14 (I’m still bitter about losing, but hey, I was 9) 'I'm Ready' was the very first inclination of what Craig David would go on to achieve. Now, there is a new album on the horizon to get excited about; with the title 'Following My Intuition' suggesting the music he's currently making will be in its purest form since his debut.
It will be his first album of all original material since 2007's ‘Trust Me’ and he is once again working with Marshall, the man who leant his considerable musical talents to a number of songs on ‘Slicker Than Your Average’.
Until then, with their success and his continued enjoyment of them, the TS5 parties are set to continue in full force - bringing the essence of Miami direct to your living room. 2013 is shaping up very nicely indeed for Craig David and as he signs off with the words "Right now I’m in my groove", I can't help but think that will come to be an understatement once the year is out.
Words: James Walsh (@JW_DittoMusic)
TS5 comes live from Miami on Kiss FM every Sunday at 11pm.