Interview: Newton Faulkner
Songwriter, vocalist and guitar slap extraordinaire Newton Faulkner returns this week with a phenomenal new studio collection – the highly anticipated Human Love. As with previous releases, Newton’s latest output of material within the singer/songwriter community is second to none and his latest album displays a stylistic shift for Faulkner and one that could see the musician become a staple on the international stage alongside the biggest acts in the business.
Already gaining the record the attention and praise of fans is lead single and Major Lazer cover, Get Free. The uniquely structured hit is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Human Love however, which contains countless potential singles and is the musicians best work since Handbuilt By Robots; Faulkner’s debut album which produced some of the musicians most recognizable singles such as I Need Something and the exquisite, Dream Catch Me.
Following the kick off of his latest tour to support the new record and on the eve of the release of Human Love, we caught up with Newton to talk about the new collection, gigs, stylistic changes and shedding those signature ginger dreads that have become as famous as the man himself. Here is what Newton had to tell us…
Brendon Veevers: Hey Newton, how’s it going today and where in this big ole world does our interview find you?
Newton Faulkner: Hey Man, I’m good, just at Sensible Music surrounded by gear in a pre-production rehearsal before tour kicks off.
BV: So, big congratulations are in order – we have been listening to the new album Human Love and we are blown away. We have followed your career and are big fans but you have surprised even us with this new LP. Can you tell us a little bit about the record in terms of what you were/are hoping to achieve through Human Love?
NF: Glad you’re enjoying the it. For this record we wanted to take our time and do it properly. Me and my Brother, Toby, spent two years pretty much solid writing and experimenting in the studio. We found a sound, mainly involving massive drums and that was the beginning Human Love. We also wrote and recorded with some amazing people, learned a lot,
BV: Why Human Love for the title of the record? What’s the meaning of the title for you?
NF: I just really like it as combination of words. I guess Humans have a pretty bad rep these days, but they’re not all bad.
BV: We notice a stylistic shift on Human Love – there is less guitar-slap and finger-picked driven tracks and, dare we say it, a more mainstream vein running through this album. Was this a conscious decision or something that evolved naturally when recording Human Love?
NF: I think since building the studio in the house, I’ve been digging in more and more into production and that has inevitably changed the sound. The playing is still the same, it’s just got more going on around it.
BV: You have released previous studio albums prior to Human Love. What would you say is your favourite album AND song from your catalogue so far and why?
NF: Ooooh, that’s really hard. I’m proud of all of them. Human Love is definitely my favourite at the moment…favourite song is impossible.
BV: What would you say is the 1 track that resonates the most with you within Human Love and why?
NF: Human Love the track I have a particular soft spot for. It’s one of the few, if not the only, track I’ve released that I feel I can actually listen to without analysing it.
BV: You collaborate with Tessa Rose Jackson on the token duet, Stay and Take. How did the collaboration come about and what was the main appeal on your part to work with Tessa on the track?
NF: She’s a friend, we met a few years ago at a festival in Belgium and stayed in touch. The writing session was originally just for her to use but when we finished it…I didn’t want to let it go. So I think we’re both going to release it now.
BV: Say that you have a pick of any 3 artist in music to collaborate with – who would you go with and what type of collaboration would you like to see happen with them?
NF: Tom Waits, as a song writer, Major Lazer for production, Laura Mvula for vibes.
BV: The lead single for Human Love is Get Free which is a cover of a previous Major Lazer number. Why did you decide to release this song, and a cover as the lead to Human Love?
NF: Covers have always been a big part of what I do. Get Free is an amazing song, and was an absolute pleasure to work on. Also it was a great way to reintroduce myself to people from a new angle.
BV: The video is quite something – you shed those signature ginger dreads that are almost as symbolic to your career as the music itself. Why did you decide to go under the chop?
NF: It was time.
BV: Where are the dreads right now? Have you kept them or considered auctioning them off? I’m sure there are more than a few fans who would be eager to get hold of some Faulkner dreadlocks?
NF: In a bag, sitting on the top of the piano. Maybe, if the right person asks for the right reasons.
BV: When it comes to covers, what attracts you to a song in terms of being one that you want to add to your covers repertoire? Or does it simply come down to your personal liking of the track and that is it?
NF: There’s all kinds of factors. Whether I can recreate it on an acoustic guitar’s been a factor in the past, now it’s more about the vocal and production and obviously the song itself.
BV: Have you heard from any of the members of Major Lazer in terms of their take on your cover of the Get Free? Have they given their seal of approval?
NF: Not yet, but I hope they like it.
BV: You are a popular live performer and give a very unique show. We have seen you close to a dozen times over the years and no one show is the same. What’s been your favourite venue or performance and what about it has made it so special to you?
NF: The last few London shows have really stuck out…I’ve had a great time at a huge amount of festivals, Glastonbury, Isle of Wight, V, T in the Park…to mention but a few. I can’t pick a favourite.
BV: What can you tell us about a tour to promote Human Love? Are there plans to tour abroad?
NF: I’d like to tour everywhere if I could, I guess I’ll have to wait and see where I end up. Rehearsals for the tour have been sounding really good and we’ve still got a week to go. I’m taking out a band this time! It’s been awhile, I’m so excited, drums!…live drums are awesome…
Newton Faulkner’s brand new album Human Love is out on November 20th.