If you’ve ever gotten a chance to read a tabloid from the United Kingdom, you may have read a few things about Craig David that may cause one to paint an unflattering picture of the singer. While he’s taken a hiatus from the limelight in the United States, he hasn’t received the same respite in his country.
As I wait for him to call for his interview, my nerves are racing and I’m hoping to God that I don’t mess this up. As soon as he gets on the phone I am reassured, as his voice is vibrant and at the same time calming because of its friendly tone. Suddenly I feel calm and reassured that, as usual, the tabloids don’t paint a very accurate picture of the celebrities they feature.
Craig David has been on the UK music scene since 2000, but his debut album, 2001’s “Born To Do It,” spawned several hit singles, which include the hit “Fill Me In.” In the United States, his album reached #11 on the Billboard 200 and went platinum. With his debut album, he introduced R&B fans in the U.S. to “garage” music and quickly gained a solid reputation as a smooth crooner with a “baby face.”
He went on to release 2002’s “Slicker Than Your Average,” which went gold here in the United States, but his next release, 2005’s “The Story Goes,” was only released abroad. By this time, you would’ve thought that David had taken a break, but while he’s kept a low profile in the United States, the story was and is still being told. He’s older, wiser and stronger-literally and figuratively.
For his latest album, “Trust Me” which was released in the US on May 6th, he took some interesting advice and recorded part of the album in a locale that holds a lot of controversy for Americans: Cuba. “It was a conversation I had with one of the producers on the album, Martin Terefe. He said to me, ‘You know what? I’d like to take you out your comfort zone.'” Terefe suggested they record a live segment of the album in Havana and Craig was definitely taken out of his comfort zone. They worked with actual musicians and very little of the technology most artists are accustomed to working with these days. “It kind of made me have to step up my game. To stay out of my comfort zone, I acted as if I was in front of a live audience.” He had to work with “old school” recording technology that was far from digital.
With the music industry changing constantly, it’s almost necessary to think outside the box and recreate yourself. With the creation of iTunes and the shift in the way consumers buy music, the 26 year old has definitely taken note. “You know what? One thing that has changed dramatically in the industry is that people access music now almost like it’s fast food. They don’t really care how the record’s made. You kind of have to step up your game as a song writer and start to create albums that are almost-each individual song is actually a single in its own right.” He deviated from the standard formula of continuity on this album, and instead opted to give the listener a plethora of different songs to choose from that are almost independent of each other.
With each song having its own identity, he was able to pick out his favorite song on the album easily. “My favorite song is the song called “She’s On Fire.” Lyrically, I mean it’s probably one of the most poignant songs on the record.” He explains that he was inspired to write that song after he noticed that the most unnoticed and understated girls in high school grew up to be the most attractive and successful. “That’s the kind of girl that’s on fire. Good things come to those who waitâ¦”
When I asked him what he hopes to accomplish with “Trust Me” in the United States, he was very candid about his intentions. “You know, I just want to send a ripple pretty much in a lake. Not just throw a pebble into the lake, but just throw like a massive rock into the lake just to cause a ripple effect. I’m not necessarily saying that this album will blow up the charts and it’s gonna be like [the] number one album and this and that. I’m not setting my sights so crazy high.” For him it’s not a competition to sell the highest numbers, it’s about staying true to his sound and his music.
With all of the attention being focused on commercially popular male R&B singers like Chris Brown, T-Pain, Omarion, and Usher, he seems to be unfazed by the pressure to follow suit. “I’m not trying to jump on stage and do handstandsâ¦and show you what I can do. I think you can dabble in things when it comes to a remix, but when it comes to originals and stuffâ¦As soon as you jump on the bandwagon, you’re now trying to compete with people who’ve got it locked down.” Despite the obvious pressures in the music industry, particularly in urban music, Craig still loves his R&B. “I love R&B-I love good R&B–because I think that it’s taken all the essence and vibe of soul music and I think that soul music is the one type of music that you can really believe the lyrics and melody from the artist that’s singing it, and it’s a connection that you get with the artist.”
In talking to him, it is evident that he is an artist that is comfortable and confident in his material and the message he conveys through his music. He is currently getting ready to go on tour in the UK starting on June 13th to promote his album and give his fans the energetic performances he has been praised for. He is also hoping to tour in the U.S.
As we wrap up the interview, he is still gracious as ever and took the time to thank his fans for the continued support here and in Europe. If there were any questions as to what his intentions are, they have been put to rest. We can trust that he is trying to deliver good music without gimmicks or pretenses. —— By: Interview By Seattle Slim