Brit award nominee John Newman talks of his ‘arse-licking’ experience in LA, close friendship with Calvin Harris, and ‘being a weirdo’ in Leeds after his gig at the Albert Hall on Sunday.
At the tender age of 25, John Newman seems to have taken the world and the popular music scene by storm.
With two number ones under his belt, a smash hit with Calvin Harris and three Brit award nominations to his name, it’s fair to say this self confessed Northern lad is well on his way to the glittering heights of the music realm.
John William Peter Newman, in full, has scored not one but two catchy tunes that swung to the top of the charts.
— JAMESNEWMAN (@JamesNewmanUk) November 23, 2015
The first as a featured artist on urban/pop music collective Rudimental’s Feel The Love, in 2012 and again with his first solo single in 2013, which took the top spot with Love Me Again.
The pop prodigy has zero plans to stop there though, with plans to strive forward to achieve more and more.
“It feels good but there’s so much more I can do.
“I can’t ever stop. If you do that then you start to fall, your success starts to decline,” he said.
Full of humility, John described how he felt when he realised the song had gone in at number one and what it was like working with the group.
“It was a huge, huge moment,” he said.
“I come from a background where there was no hope almost, no development. It was amazing then to release a song that went to number one.
“It feels weird because I’ve been at the beginning with them.
“It was like working with them as a development for us all involved, it was amazing.
“I was on top of the world and had no pressure on me.”
— Picturematt Photo (@Picturematt) November 23, 2015
In 2014, the lucky artist teamed up with Calvin Harris, well known for producing track after track, with never a dud hit in his repertoire.
It was then that Newman really started to develop as an artist, pushing himself out of his comfort zone with Calvin leading the way.
“It was mind-blowing at the beginning and he drew something out of me that I didn’t know I had.
“Blame was the first track that I felt that I wrote and I went ‘this is up there’, it was a really, really exciting period of time.
“However I’d worked with Calvin [Harris] a few times and we started becoming friends which I think is important for a collaboration.
“We’re really good friends and text everyday nearly, we stay in touch a lot and still make music together.
“Going to watch his shows where he played Blame and seeing how many people go is incredible
“He is one of the biggest contenders for dance music and pop music as it stands.”
As well as all of this, Newman has sold over 1.3 million records in the UK, not to mention worldwide and was nominated for three Brit awards in 2014.
Newman was in the middle of a promo tour in America in the middle of winter when he got told the triage of news.
— Sky 1 (@sky1) November 19, 2015
“I remember when I got the news, freezing my tits off standing in the middle of New York and on that day my album went in at number two on iTunes the day it was released.
“Then I got a phone all saying I was nominated for three Brit awards from my manager.
“It was very exciting and the beginning of something special.
“I’d never been to the award shows or made speeches.”
A Yorkshire lad through and through, Newman grew up in the north of England which he maintains is an integral part of him, preparing him for what the future held.
“It set me up for everything and keeps me grounded,” he said.
“My basic principle is if you don’t work hard, you don’t get what you want if you’ve rested on your laurels.”
— Kay (@kanchanhirji) August 5, 2015
But the singer believes he’s ‘earnt it’ after years of struggling bar jobs and juggling his musical dreams.
Family is close to the heart of this now successful, working lad, he described how much they mean to him and how he loves seeing his mum after his gigs.
Nothing more heartwarming than a family man is there?
“My brother is my inspiration,” he said.
“Seeing my mother so proud, it’s incredible, it feels so good.”
Newman admitted he was a ‘hider’ when he was younger, wanting to be a mechanic and construct things from scratch.
Easy to see where the self-built, multi-talented musician came from then.
“I wanted to be a mechanic, so I was out there in the shed or making music, hiding.
“I realised being a mechanic wasn’t going to get me out of the small town.”
A man of many skills, Newman has been making music, writing tracks and producing from a young age in the comfort of his own production suite – his bedroom.
“I’m literally sat in my bedroom making and producing tracks right now this second,” he said.
“My guitarist said to me, it doesn’t matter what equipment you have, it’s about the music and that’s true.”
— Nicole Scherzinger (@NicoleScherzy) November 9, 2015
It just goes to show that you don’t need all the lavish facilities and the latest technology to create a stream of banging, dance floor fillers.
Newman escaped his tiny town in the Yorkshire Dales, to the thriving city lights of Leeds where he could kick-start his career in music.
Leeds was an influential time for Newman, a chance to really knuckle down and concentrate on honing his technique, as well as getting as much exposure as he could.
He felt he was making progress amongst the city’s potent music scene, despite the trials and tribulations he had faced.
“I was a weirdo and everyone’s a weirdo in Leeds, then I realised no-one was a weirdo, they’re all open-minded people,” he said.
“I was jamming with bands, it was all music, music, music. I played everywhere I possibly could and continued to learn. I felt like I was getting somewhere.
“Then my progression started slowing down so I decided to move to London to stand a chance of being successful.”
— John Newman (@JohnNewmanMusic) November 5, 2015
Moving to the big smoke proved to be a taxing time for this up-and-coming artist, with the city a lot harsher and colder than anticipated.
“It was a weird feeling, I was getting somewhere then I dropped back to being small again, but it was beneficial.
“I went back to being that guy that hid again, making music in my bedroom,” he said.
Things started looking up with the help of his manager and making friends with one of Rudimental’s leading clan.
“My manager put trust in me and moved me further, then I met Piers from Rudimental and it really took off,” he added.
The artist does not want to plateau there, he hopes to be instantly recognisable; creating a brand for himself thus further cementing himself as an established artist, a force to be reckoned with.
“I wanted to continue to drive myself, it’s got to be the John Newman album, song, dress sense!”
His new album, Revolve, released in October, has a slightly different feel to the moody, sobering tones of his previous one.
“I was in a dark place in Tribute, I wanted something uplifting, more mature, bold, brighter; it’s the next step.
“I wanted to mix it up, something that felt good in the sun, like in a car in LA.”
The sun was certainly smiling on Newman once again, as he got to head out to the fabulous and frivolous La La Land, collaborating with musicians who worked with king-of-pop himself, Michael Jackson.
But he spoke of his distaste for LA.
— JohnNewmanClub (@IsaNewmieFrance) November 4, 2015
“After I watched all the arse-licking I was like I need a Sunday lunch, a pub and my mum,” he remarked.
“As a Northern lad, I was looking for the nearest chip shop and pint after two weeks.”
Snapping straight back to work on British turf, the singer is braving the winds and the rain of our lovely city, but despite the not-so-LA worthy weather, he has nothing but praise for Manchester.
“I could have gone to Manchester instead of London.
“I love how it’s raw and ready and dirty with incredible artists and its renowned music scene.
“It’s commercial and industrial and there’s more of a business element of music in Manchester.
“It’s always been incredible, from the Rudimental days through to now, incredible venues and every crowd has given an incredible reaction.”
The artist has come a long way being a bartender by night and an aspiring popstar by day, having battled against the odds and elements to get to where he is now.
“It’s a good feeling know that I can just make music and I don’t have to work my ass off taking shit from people behind the bar.”
The hard-working star, having achieved all of this already, is in my opinion, well and truly set for world domination and I doubt he will stop until he gets exactly what he wants.
Image courtesy of John Newman Vevo, via YouTube, with thanks.