- Thu, 2011-09-22 15:59
Known to many as one of the hardest working men in pop, Example approaches everything he does with a boundless sense of attitude and energy. We caught up with the chart-topper for a chat about his third studio album, released just one year after his last and featuring beats created by Skream, Faithless, Chase & Status, Nero, Brookes Brothers and more...
"I Like Music because...it's what I live for." EXAMPLE
ILM: In the build up to the release of your third album you've been releasing track by track videos explaining each song. They all seem to come from a very personal place?
Example: It's really personal. I decided early on that my album was going to be about commitment and excess. For me, it was important to open up on this record. It starts with Skies Don't Lie and the opening lyrics are 'Think about what I want to say, think about how I want to say it. Really should head out and play, let go.' It's me saying to myself 'take a deep breath. We're going to let all this out now.' Some songs are apologies. Other songs are me making excuses. It's a bit of a fucked up album I think.
ILM: What were you listening to while putting it together?
Example: I've been studying A Grand Don't Come For Free by The Streets, I've been studying Back To Black by Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen's second album It's Not Me It's You because of how personal they are. They talk about relationships and drugs the whole way through. For the tone of it, I listened to grunge, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Sublime. I wanted it to have that bitter-sweet feel. Fucking depressing but really uplifting. Then I went on to Foo Fighters for the epicness, which I carried into songs like Natural Disaster, even Changed The Way You Kissed Me. I kind of wrote them as rock songs to dance beats.
ILM: Each track on the album is a collaboration with a different producer. What do you look for in a beat?
Example: Every one was different. When I listen to a beat I think which one am I a fan of personally? Then I think what's going to work in a club? What's going to work at a festival? What's going to work on radio? Those three things. And then I work out if my voice is going to suit it. I've only been singing for three years but I know what melodies or keys are going to suit my voice. When I got into the studio with Nero they played me ten beats. I went with one then wrote the track with Dan from Nero, then Joe from Nero finished it. We decided on version 22 of that song! We're both perfectionists.
ILM: You worked with Guy Chambers on the track Microphone. What was that experience like? He's a rather saught after collaborator!
Example: You go to his studio and there are just platinum discs everywhere. He's sold millions and millions and millions. I just went in and he said 'Look, I want you to do all the words but I've got this idea for a song. Let's start with the title Microphone and this line "I don't need no microphone," what does that mean to you?' So I worked out what that line meant to me and wrote a song. All the melodies and lyrics were mine and he helped me tweak bits of it.
ILM: You said recently that sometimes it's good to make people think as well as dance. To what extent do you think that's possible?
Example: People haven't been doing it much recently. Plan B's album is pretty emotional. Adele's album too, one of the most personal albums written in a long time. Marcus Mumford songs too, he always sings about fucking up relationships.Then there's other acts that don't write from personal experience, it's all ambiguous or bravado or generic happiness and uplifting, you know, like a David Guetta track. It's great pop music and it works in the club, but after you've heard it a few times it doesn't really mean much to you. I just wanted to write music that will make people think and connect with it a bit more rather than just on the dancefloor, hands in the air, let's party tonight.
ILM: What do you want them to think about?
Example: I just want to leave my mark on the music industry when I'm gone. Just make music that stays with people for their life and that means something. That when people get to sixty and they hear Kickstarts or Changed The Way You Kissed Me, it takes them back. It means something. Not just a party rock album that might remind you of your holiday in Majorca but lyrically, didn't mean fuck all. You know what I mean? I'm going to start the next album in January. I don't know what angle to take with it yet. I think I'm going to go back and listen to more rock and grunge because that's where I get most of my inspiration from. I don't really like positive music. I like depressing music that makes you feel good.
ILM: You say it's quite a fucked up album, having met you today, you seem quite, well...happy?
Example: I'm actually a really happy person. Generally speaking, I'm really healthy. I get lots of sleep. I eat well. I excercise well. Two or three nights a week I might have a DJ slot or be at a night and have a few drinks, get pissed, stay up late, but really, I'm really sensible now. I spend most of my life eating at nice restaurants, going to the cinema or going to the gym. But no-one wants to hear about sensible. That doesn't make good dance music. So I draw from those small elements of darkness and write from that. I'm loving life right now, I'm really up beat but I don't think there's any point about writing about all that. I wrote about going to the cinema on my first album, that didn't really get me anywhere...
ILM: You've worked incredibly hard since you started out...
Example: Other artists come up to me who are pretty successfull and say bloody hell, you're fucking, even more hardworking than me. I've released ten songs in eighteen months...I'm just relentless. I love working. I love working. I love writing songs. I love performing. I love being on tour. I love collaborating. I love, well, just the music industry. And I'm constantly learning. I'm like a sponge, I absorb everything.
ILM: What's your advice to anyone just starting out?
Example: When people ask me that I say 'I don't need to give you advice, look at what Ed Sheeran's done.' Touring non-stop for years, sleeping on sofas, funding it himself, doing his own artwork, selling records out of a backpack, organising his own gigs, getting his EP's on iTunes. When you've done that much labels come to you.