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Infrasound - Interview

  by Amy Rawlinson

published: 29 / 10 / 2012

Infrasound - Interview


Amy Rawlinson chats to critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner about his unusual form of guitar-playing and recently released third album, ‘Write It On Your Skin’

With his distinctive red dreadlocks, and unusual style of percussive guitar playing where he hits and taps his acoustic guitar’s body, singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner is one of the most unique personalities on the current British music scene. 27-year old Newton, who is from Reigate in Surrey, has now released three albums, ‘Hand Built by Robots’(2007), ‘Rebuilt by Humans’(2009) and this year’s ‘Write It On Your Skin’, all on Sony BMG. ‘Write It On Your Skin’, which came out in July, like ‘Hand Built by Robots’, reached number one in the album charts, and is the first album of Newton’s that he has self-produced himself. Pennyblackmusic met up with Newton Faulkner at a show at the O2 Academy in Liverpool on a recent tour, and spoke to him about both his unconventional form of guitar-playing and ‘Write It On Your Skin’. PB: There has been a bigger gap between 'Write It On Your Skin', and your first two albums. Was there any reason for that? NF: Well, I tried to put an album out last year, but the label just wasn’t in a position to put it together. This album had three managing directors, so there was three full regime changes at the label and that made things pretty tricky. PB: Have you been working solidly for the past three years? NF: Yeah, if I had known it was going to be three years, I would have gone to Fiji for a week. PB: Have you had no holidays at all? NF: Nope, it was pretty much three years of straight work, but it was definitely worth it! PB: Are you ever surprised by the fans' reactions to your songs? NF: Perpetually. Yeah, the whole time. It's amazing! PB: I feel that you write songs because you want to write them, rather than thinking about what will sell. Are your emotions toward a song what gets it on the album? NF: I just kind of do stuff that I like doing. With this album definitely, there isn't a song on this album that I don't actually love. Occasionally things get slightly forced upon you, and somebody at the record label says, "Look, this could be a big single. This has to go on," and I don't really like that, but I have never been like, "I'm NOT changing anything!" If I had been like that, the stuff that has gone really well wouldn't have ever happened. PB: If you could do anything imaginable right now, what would it be? NF: I would still do the gig. PB: You wouldn't go flying or anything? NF: No, I would just do the gig (Laughs). It's fun anyway, I don't need to change anything. PB: Do you have any favourite artists right now? NF: Loads. Karima Francis is amazing. She is on the support act on this tour, and has some wicked songs and her voice is amazing! I still feel like I am catching up on the past and from the last 400 years of music. I'm still finding stuff and I'm like, "Wow, I didn't know that. That's awesome!" I'm constantly talking to other people about what they're listening to and trying to find new things. My last new big discovery was Alt-J. I went to see them in Belfast. They were only being played on 6Music at the time, and they were playing on a night that I had off during my last tour, and we decided to go to a gig. There were literally 15 people there and Alt-J. This was a couple of months before it massively kicked off for them, so that was pretty special actually. I think they're going to be around for a while! PB: What else have you been listening to lately? NF: There is loads! One of my favourite albums at the moment is 'The Return Of Dr Octagon' by Kool Keith. All the stuff that Cornelius does I think is incredible. He's an amazing artist. I have been listening recently to an album called ‘Shake a Bone’ by Son Of Dave, who is Benjamin Darvill, this guy who used to be in Crash Test Dummies. He has this song called 'She Just Danced All Night', which is amazing. It is on this bluesy album, 'Shake a Bone',a little like Seasick Steve album, but he’s somehow dirtier, and he loops himself a lot. It is really interesting! PB: What is your favourite song of your own to play? NF: I don’t really have a favourite one. I think the most difficult and the most challenging one to sing live, which is what I like, is ‘Soon’. I’ve made that so unbelievably hard to play. PB: Your cover of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' is legendary. Are there any other covers you enjoy doing that maybe we haven't heard? NF: 'Bohemian' is a hard song! What have I been doing recently? 'No Diggity' by the Backstreet Boys. That was fun, I did a cover too of 'Pure Imagination' from 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'. PB: If you weren't a musician, what do you think you would have been? NF: A failure of some description (Laughs). I have no idea, I can’t even imagine doing anything else, I mean it's not like I chose to do music. It was never a decision I had to make because there was never anything to choose between. I did a bit of acting when I was younger. I'd like to do that again at some point, but I can’t imagine anything else than music really. Let's do it by a process of elimination. I can't work in food or drink because they don’t make hair nets big enough. I can't swim well enough to be a lifeguard in Mumbai. I couldn’t sit behind a computer in a call centre. That would be ridiculous! I really don't know what I'm capable of. PB: You have self-produced 'Write It On Your Skin', haven't you? NF: Yeah! Well, that is still in music though, PB: Not exactly as a musician as such though, so we'll let you off with that! NF: Oh, cool thanks! Yeah, I'm really getting into engineering and producing. PB: Was producing enjoyable or nerve wracking? NF: No, it's really fun. I'm getting more and more into that when I'm not doing hobbies. Photography is my new hobby, which is really fun, I just need to get my head around digitals first, I try to dip my toes into all sorts of things. I took loads of pictures at the V Festival, from the side and back of the stage. It is pretty fun, and most of the time I can go places that even photographers can't, which is cool. PB: Obviously you're a multi-tasker. How long did it take you to perfect the art of percussion-y gutair-ism? NF: I think I'm still doing it. I constantly make it harder all of the time. There are people who have seen me for years, who will hopefully notice that it is different every time. Even the guitar parts I move around a lot. PB: Are you aware that many people don't believe that you play fully live? A lot of people think you use loop pedals or backing tracks. NF: Yeah I know! It happens a lot, especially in interviews. People have said, "So obviously looping is a big part of what you do," and I'm like, "No. It is not even a small part of what I do. It is just something I don't do!! PB: The album reminds me of going on a road trip. Was that intentional? NF: Yeah, it is a good diving album. Even the slow songs have this pulse behind it, so it kind of drives itself. I felt it leaning that way, and then I did a lot to make it properly fit that vibe. PB: Is this because you had three years without a holiday and the album is your mental holiday? NF: Yeah, I just had a little mental holiday, I needed an audio hug. PB: Final question. Your album is called 'Write It On Your Skin'. Have you got any tattoos? NF: Nope, nothing, not even a small tick, I sure would get something some day, if I was sure enough about what I want. It is a big thing to decide unless you're drunk enough, and then they're instantly an amazing idea! Then I could get my face on the back of my head. PB: Thank you. The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Amy Rawlinson for Pennyblackmsuic.

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Infrasound - Interview

Infrasound - Interview

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