Six months ago you’d be forgiven for assuming that for the past five years, Craig David had crawled into a hole to hibernate… either that or gone on an epic life journey to find himself in the Sahara Desert. Although the RnB crooner wasn’t backpacking, he was growing (just look at those pecs ladies).
Yep, Mr David is back. Turn up your radio and you’ll hear the sound of Craig’s new single ‘Hot Stuff’. Listen just a tad harder and you’ll recognise the sample of David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ thrown into the mix. His extremely danceable fourth album ‘Trust Me’ was released on November 12th and follows a series of intimate gigs at the Jazzy Ronnie Scott’s in London.
When I got the chance to share a sofa with Craig, it was with a certain degree of intimidation. I’ve never been a big RnB obsessive and I never had a Craig David picture on my wall so the stars in my eyes were dull. But, before me sat a world renowned star and those, folks are not to be taken lightly. As we talked, I got to know a little more about this 26 year old UK artist. You know what, he’s one hell of a charmer too. Conversation flowed and as I reminded myself not to mention Bo Selecta, we talked about the things that are really important in Davids-ville; intimate gigs, Janet Jackson and of course, the road to getting ‘ripped’.
K: What you have been doing for the past five years – you have obviously been working out?
CD: I have been working hard in the gym just with the pure focus of having a healthy body and healthy mind; it helps when you are making a record. My security guard, Faisal Mohammed, is an ex professional boxer. His physique is ridiculous. He is big, but ripped. There is ripped like Bruce Lee and then there is really big. In the middle of that, you find Faisal Mohammed and I was like, that is the look! Anytime we went away to any where hot, the reaction he would get from just walking across the beach or something… the girls were going craaaazzzzy.
Q: You had some special gigs at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club recently – what a great little venue to play…
CD: The intimacy is what I kind of look forward to in these one off shows; to be able to really react with the crowd and see that everything you say has a direct effect in what’s going on. Sometimes, in larger venues it feels like there is a little bit of space between you and the crowds where it’s just you on stage and them over there, rather than you connecting. The fact that it is a 1950’s Jazz environment, with everyone sitting at tables, while I am up on a small stage just feels really…well, you can feel the spontaneity between you and the crowd and the band; everyone is involved. We did the opening show recently and it was just an amazing opportunity to firstly feel how it was, and then to actually get people to stand up by the time we got to the end of the show. Everyone was reserved, but there was kind of a domino effect where if one person got up then others would follow. It was great seeing everyone up at the end.
K: I guess you can see their faces in a small venue like that then can’t you?
CD: Sometimes it is a good thing to see their faces and sometimes it’s… not so good. Sometimes, you think hmn…that face is kind of scaring me! It is more intense when you can read people’s reaction to things; sometimes there is a bit of a smoke screen when people are a bit further and there is just a sea of heads. Some people you are trying to prove yourself to but some people are just massive fans and love it anyway. I love it when you someone who is quite stern and then you hit a song and there is a little smile that comes on to their face. I think we got there in the end.
K: What track gets the biggest reaction live?
CD: When we do ‘Walking Away’ or ‘Fill Me In’ or ‘Rise and Fall’ people really get off on it, but I was pleasantly surprised when I did songs like ‘She’s On Fire’, ‘Trust Me’ and ‘Top Of The Hill’ which are tracks that people have never heard of, but got a great reaction which is always really good sign.
K: What’s the most memorable concert that you have ever been to?
CD: Janet Jackson at Wembley Arena; I had the worse seats ever, everything she said was warped and I was like how can I listen to this? But, she had an amazing stage presence and some incredible dancing on the big screens so I could actually see what was going. The year after, there is a picture of me in 2002 outside before I went in and it had ‘Born To Do It Sold Out… I was like, “This is amazing – I was here seeing Janet Jackson last year!”
It is a beautiful thing when you see that sea of heads – at first I was looking behind me thinking, I can’t fathom how all these people are here to see me.
Now all we’ve got to do is wait for the announcement of Craig David’s next tour. If the gigs at Ronnie Scott’s were anything to go by – any live experience with Mr ‘Hot Stuff’ is an experience worth having. Yes, for the record, I’ve gone from mere journalist to a fan. How in the living hell did that happen?