On the back of three Brit Award nominations, a series of show-stopping live concerts and a number one album, John Newman is clearly a man on the rise.
After helping to score number one records for pals Rudimental last year, the 23-year-old frontman went one better, releasing debut solo album Tribute to duly notch upwards of £1m record sales and reap critical acclaim thanks to his home-brewed take on Motown and Northern soul.
Though as we found when we got the bequiffed Yorkshireman to soundtrack his life, they're far from the only genres he cites as his influences. Deeply personal, beautifully cultivated, and intriguingly varied, his picks may well surprise you. Read on to enjoy.
We spoke to Newman before he played the HP Connected Music gig in London where he performed a medley of tracks including his latest single Out of my Head (out April 7th). To watch the concert re-broadcast click http://youtube.com/hpukofficial here.
FAVOURITE CURRENT SONG
"Duke Dumont – I Got U - it’s very now; Duke smashed it last year and he’s just released this banging dance tune which, for me, feels like something you’ve not heard but still really good. I’ll never understand this but at which point did he turn around and say ‘I want to sample Whitney Houston?’ It’s ballsy. He’ll continue to surprise people, mark my words."
FAVOURITE SAD SONG
"Bon Iver – Skinny Love - whatever way you listen to this song, the lyrics are affecting. It could be touching on a girl who’s picked up an illness, someone anorexic would be my guess, but either way, it’s deep, properly deep. When you really listen to that track and focus on the lyrics, there’s something more going on than simply him breaking up with that girl. There’s a certain supportive role going on in a somewhat doomed journey. But then that’s the star sign effect, isn’t it? Someone tells you something and you tailor your own ideas or feelings around it; that's what music does. Adele’s very good at making me look deeper for meaning, too."
FAVOURITE LYRIC FROM A SONG
"Back To Black - Amy Winehouse - Amy writes a record about how she’s gone through hard times, and people naturally relate ‘black’ to a place, as if she's talking about being in the shadows. But the real story behind the line ‘back to black’, is that she normally gets with black guys, a white guy did her over, so she said, ‘f*ck it, I’m off back to black’ – and I love that. It was a really simple idea and she said what she wanted to say. I wrote something similar for Out Of My Head, basically saying I’ll have sex with anyone but it’s not going to be the same as it was with you. Simplicity can work brilliantly."
FAVOURITE CLUB ANTHEM
"Blinded By The Lights – The Streets (Nero Remix) - the vocal is incredible, the emotion is incredible, there’s a pulse underneath it, and it’s got that 3am-absolutely-off-your-head-staring-up-at-the-DJ-thinking-he’s-some-kind-of-dragon vibe. A song's narrative can bring people in - like how Rudimental is all about fighting for your right to do whatever you want to do. How hard is it to turn off a film with a strong story? I even bear this in mind whenever I’m writing music video treatments. Although I went for the Nero remix, here, as it's just what I'd want on a night out."
FAVOURITE MOVIE SOUNDTRACK SONG
"John Williams - Theme From Schindler’s List - music-to-film writing is genius and I’d love to get into it. A good score can be very moving and profound. Films so often save the lead song for last, dropping hints of it throughout the film, changing scale then dropping off, teasing it. My favourite is The Schindler’s List theme song because it’s beautiful, sweeping, has a great violin solo and is a perfect example of how music should be written for film. My other favourite, believe it or not, is I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing, also known as Aerosmith’s song from Armageddon. As a song writer, let me tell you: that is f*cking cracking."
FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD SONG
"Strike – You Sure Do - I was going to mention the Motown my mum played for me, or the Northern Soul I was involved in growing up, but, no, there was another sort of music going on around my childhood: banging 90s house music. So I chose this track on account of its great piano hook and vocals, everything about it is 90s. Just like we relate aftershave to certain memories, music does the same and this reminds me of DJ’ing on Numark belt drive turntables in my bedroom, wearing red Adidas poppers, playing street hockey and watching The Mighty Ducks."
FAVOURITE WEDDING SONG
"Rage Against The Machine - Killing In The Name Of - I've not heard it at a wedding, I'll be honest, but when I get married, my wife will be a psycho bitch and we'll play this song. It's a sick tune. Guests would go mental for it. There’s a brass band version of this song I sometimes play before shows, people really get into it."
FAVOURITE SONG FROM YOUR OWN MUSIC
"Well, it’s like having 15 kids and having to call one the best, isn’t it? Love Me Again gets to go to Disneyland, Losing Sleep gets treats all-the-time, and Cheating gets a go-kart for Christmas. But I’ll choose Out Of My Head - as it's my newest child and I'm very proud of it." OUT APRIL 7
(Images: AllStar, HP, Rex Features)