We had a chat to John Newman about his new tour, his music and his hopes for his career…
You’ve just announced a new tour, how are you feeling about that?
Really, really excited. I can’t wait to go and get back in touch with people. I feel like when you’re touring for a long time and your gigs are getting bigger and bigger and bigger, you tend to find yourself hidden in rooms, and on posh tour buses and posh places more and more and then you lose touch with the places that you travel to and you don’t actually get to travel. I’m really excited because we’ll be filming a documentary and travelling in a campervan and giving out free merch and meeting people on the way and really getting stuck into each place. I think the best way to describe it is John Newman discovering John Newman’s country.
You grew up in a small town in North Yorkshire, how was that?
Growing up in North Yorkshire, it was amazing and especially now, there’s this thing where people who grew up in nature always want to go back to nature, and I feel that a bit now, and I feel that when I go there now I appreciate it for all it’s beautiful scenery and the amazing outdoor lifestyle, that’s what I’m kind of into. For me I think I didn’t fit into that small town thing where everybody knew your business and they’re all talking and things like that, and it never really suited me, I also just wanted to venture on and see the lights, you know the first time I went to London I was just mind blown, it was amazing.
How did you get into music?
My Dad was a musician which I think gave me it in my blood and my brother was doing music as well growing up. I actually started off DJing which I really enjoyed and making hip-hop beats coz I was listening to loads of hip-hop music and yeah then I started picking up a guitar and singing crap covers, but it wasn’t until I moved to Leeds, I lost two of my best friends, that I started expressing music properly. I mean this is the time that I just moved to leads to study music, but that was the pinnacle point here I was like, I can use this as like a kind of psychotherapy.
Tell us some of your musical influences.
My influences range hugely. I’m actually just about to release a playlist which is what we’ll be listening to on the road on the tour but basically my musical influences range from motown to hip-hop to 90’s house music to jungle to garage to singer-songwriters and just brilliant songs but I generally lean towards anything that’s just good, just a good hook in it or emotion or is anthemic.
Who has been your favourite person you’ve worked with so far?
I mean this is normally the point where most people would turn around and say Calvin Harris or Sigala or Niall Rogers but I’m actually gonna say the favourite person I’ve worked with in my career is probably Gregg Kirsten who’s a producer who’s done Adele and everyone, who helped me do my second record. And I just think he was so quick and so talented and so genius and I can’t say any more words about him that I know because he was that good.
Who would be your dream collab, past or present?
This is the point where I’d normally say Otis Reading but I think he would out-sing me and I’d sound shit compared to him, so like an Adele collaboration would be pretty amazing for me, that would make my entire life, or Florence and the machine!
Does your childhood and upbringing inspire your music?
My childhood doesn’t necessarily inspire the actual music, I think it did on the first record a bit. But I think it inspires me to keep writing and keep fighting on and I think I had a bit of a tough upbringing in terms of people around me and where I lived but that just makes me a fighter even more so yeah I guess it does come out in my music, it makes me a fighter in my music.
You’ve spoken openly about feeling like the ‘weird’ kid in school, what would you say to anyone feeling like that now?
Take it as a compliment, the weird kid is not the weird kid anymore. Weird isn’t that anymore, it means that you’re different, you’re thinking ahead, you don’t want for the same things as everyone else and I think in this world of everyone comparing themselves to each other and feeling really shit about it, I think it’s good when people stand out and want to do something differently, that’s what we need in the world. So if someone calls you weird, say thank you.
You’ve recently just got married, how did you propose?
I went back to where I grew up and we stayed at my uncles house and then we went for a long walk, and the whole time I was feeling so weird and looked so nervous, and then we got to this beautiful waterfall that I used to go and sit in front of to escape by myself, and it was the first time I’d ever wanted to take anyone else there, and yeah I proposed to my now wife there.
Favourite TV show or film?
I would say Black Mirror at this point but I feel a bit let down from recent episodes. Me and my wife are really really into a Handmaids Tale, it’s really good. She pushes me into watching it though so that makes me feel not as good about watching it but I love it.
Which festival would you dram of headlining?
Glastonbury. That’s it.
Your all about positive thinking and the law of attraction, any tips for anyone that is struggling?
It all started from my mum giving me this book called The Secret, and look I mean we don’t know what’s outside of this solar system and we don’t know what we’re made of or what we are or who’s in control or us or anything, so we can’t look at it as the way it is maybe in that book, that it is science and that everything runs off energy and everything but I do believe in that a bit. But what I read from reading that book, which is about the idea that the universe gives you what you want, I think it’s just positive thinking. If you’re walking down the road and looking for that £50, you’ll find it on the floor because you’re positively looking for that. And I think in dark times and bad times you’ve just got to focus on the good things that you want and I think that’s an amazing concept because when you’re feeling at your lowest point, if you just stay focused on the positive things you want to achieve in your life and you’ll help your mind find them.
If I wasn’t a singer I’d be…
Well this is quite appropriate for me. I already run a chauffeur business so I’d be a business man. I also already do rally driving and I have a professional rally drivers license so I’d do rally driving and then maybe I’d just go around the world backpacking and travel my life away, and love every second of it, or live off the map somewhere and go green.
Something you can’t live without?
My dogs… Oh and my wife. And my family and my music.