John Newman laughs: “Sorry, it sounds really weird but my last interview started with me with my trousers round my ankles and my mates trying to throw water bottles at me.”
The 23-year-old from North Yorkshire is home and hanging with his friends for the first time in three months.
“That was the weirdest introduction to me ever. It’s pretty perfect though,” he says.
Newman is best known in Australia for his breakout single Love Me Again. Though, he is a complete creative force of nature; he produces, remixes, writes and even designs his own clothes.
The outlet almost doesn’t matter; it is the will to simply create and stand out from the pack that drives what he does.
“Everyone in the town [where I grew up] was DJing and I wanted to be different and learn production and intros and interludes, which led me on to make my own music. There’s a thrill about it,” says Newman.
The singer has worked hard to be successful and be the best at what he does, even if he only made it look that way when he was younger.
“I was always a hard worker as a kid. The thing was I always found ways out of it,” he says.
“For example, I got a paper round and the man was like ‘You are the best at the job. You can do it in 20 mins when it took everyone else 45’, and it’s because I would throw all the newspapers in the river and sit and have a cigarette, then go home,” laughs Newman.
He has a fierce independence, drawn from personal experience and that is reflected in this music.
“I like to write lyrics about something that means something,” he says. “I went through a few experiences that made me learn that music could be an outlet, an expressionist thing that could really tell a story about what I needed to talk about.”
In the early days before becoming a household name Newman was forging his way through London’s music scene. It was then that Newman befriended Piers Agget of Rudimental fame – his distinctive voice can also be heard on Rudimental’s Not Giving In. Newman says it wasn’t a calculated collaboration though.
“People think we’ve become like the Pharrell and Daft Punk thing [or] all the other collaborations in the world, but it’s definitely not,” he says.
“Piers used to play keys in my band. I met him in a pub. I moved in with him and became like brothers and we are still very good friends.”
Newman says that friendship with Agget, despite the pitfalls of fame, is something that will never change.
“In terms of me and the boys it will be like that forever. I got an email off someone who works for Rudimental I’ve never met before saying, ‘Would you like to come and do a session with the boys?’ and I basically said ‘No chance’ and then texted Piers and said ‘Can I come in and do a session?’ Because neither of us wanted to become like, ‘I don’t want my assistant ringing your assistant to organise a session,’” he says.
That down-to-earth attitude will serve him well as this globetrotting star continues to rise.
After a stint at the famous Coachella Festival Newman will be on his way to Australia for a handful of east coast dates that includes performing at the 2014 Logies.
May 1, The Hi-Fi, 122 Lang Rd, Moore Park, $60.50-80.50, thehifi.com.au