THE VICE INTERVIEW:
The singer-songwriter discusses his epic comeback, leather dungarees and the best type of naan.
This article was originally published in VICE.
Craig David's busy on Fridays (and Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays) but he made time for The VICE Interview one Friday afternoon.
Craig wasn't always kicking back on white leather sofas, which accounts for his resilience and down-to-earth attitude – he was brought up by his mum in a council flat in Southampton. And if his mantra-laden Instagram posts weren't evidence enough, he has a zen-like outlook on work and life. When comedian Leigh Francis's infamous impersonation threatened to end his career, Craig weathered the storm by moving to Miami and focusing on the launch of his popular club night, TS5, racking up a strong social media following in the process.
By next spring, the 35-year-old's schedule will be even busier; that's when the arena tour for his new album, Follow My Intuition, begins. It's his first in 15 years. We caught up with him before all that to talk about Kanye, leather dungarees and his favourite naan bread.
VICE: What was your first email address?
Craig David: Wow. I think it was craigdavid1.
What would your parents prefer you to have chosen as a career?
The way they've supported was buying me a 1210 record deck for my birthday and they'd buy vinyl records for me. As long as I was happy then life was good.
Why did you break up with your first girlfriend?
I think she broke up with me. You know when you're in those kind of school relationships where you had to kind of confirm that you're actually going out with each other? And then all of a sudden that could be broken so quickly by, "I've packed you up". So there was no reason, it was quite flippant the way people would break up.
What was your worst phase?
It was a clothing phase. I don't know what I was doing but it was leather dungarees with the one strap down and Timberland boots. It was a moment where it was kind of cool for that time, but looking back in hindsight it was never cool at any time. Everything that goes around comes around. I'm seeing people in double denim now.
How many books have you actually read and finished in the past year? Don't lie.
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now. Wicked book. That one will get you in the right place. And Shakti Gawain, Living in the Light. She knows what's up.
If you won the lottery tomorrow, would you carry on doing what you're doing, or change jobs, or stop working?
I would do exactly what I'm doing and I would make sure that money's distributed correctly because when that happens you've got to shift the wealth in a way that's gonna positively impact people.
When in your life have you been truly overcome with fear?
Years and years ago, I think it was in Ibiza, I walked into the water and there was a dip in the ocean floor which went from standing shoulder height in the water to almost right in the deep end. I misjudged it and a wave was coming at the same time. When it hit there was a moment where you see everything in your life in a second because that fight or flight thing kicks in and you're just like, "What the hell?" I made my way out of it but things got real very quick and I definitely felt fear at that point.
What is the nicest thing you own?
Can I flip it? The nicest thing I know rather than own, is knowing that my friends and my family are healthy around me. That for me, when I wake up in the morning, starts my day off on the right foot so well. There's nothing that I own that really makes me as happy as knowing that the people around me are all good.
What would be your last meal?
I would go for extra chicken korma with peshwari naan, and then if that hasn't already slammed me because I've gone for two naan and extra chicken on the thing, I might just bang home a cheesecake. Maybe two cheesecakes with ice cream, and I think we'd be good to go.
If you were a wrestler, what song would you come into the ring to?
I would come into Kanye West's "Touch the Sky". It just makes you feel hyped when you hear that tune.
What film or TV show makes you cry?
Ghost is a good one. Classic. Nothing wrong with that. That one will always get you some way.
What have you done in your career that you are most proud of?
It would have to be just after kind of having a number one album with Born To Do It. Being able to buy my mum a home and to allow her the opportunity to live the lifestyle that she's always wanted to live was amazing, having lived with her for 15 years in my council flat. To buy her a home with a garden made me so happy.
What have you done in your life that you most regret?
I believe that everything that seems like it didn't work out the way it should've or was a failure, actually led me to be here speaking to you. It's crazy when you look back at what seemed like it wasn't going well and it actually ended up being really good for you.
What's the latest you've stayed up?
It's been a while since I've stayed up all the way around to 8 o'clock, 9 o'clock in the morning. I liked staying up when I was like going clubbing but mostly it was when I was in the studio and I used to think that it was okay to keep going all the way around until the sun has risen to finish a song. But in hindsight, you're so smashed and you don't know what's going on and you listen back to it in the cold light of day and you're like, "Why did I spend the whole night in here?" You learn.
What memory from school stands out to you stronger than any other?
I think it was my days of playing football. I was school goalkeeper. I loved those times. At the time I probably wouldn't have said this but now looking back, when are you ever going to be around that many people at the same time and have the kind of relationships that you used to have at school? It's just not the same in work or in your adult life. It's fun; those times when you got into the minivan with your boots ready to go play your football match against whoever.
Where did you go on your first friends holiday and what did you do?
I never got the opportunity to do a proper friends holiday for the simple fact that by the time I was like 17, I'd already started to move up to London and the next thing you know I was releasing "Fill Me In" and "Seven Days" and the album was released and I was doing like three nights at Wembley Arena, and it just went so fast. But that's one holiday in itself. You know what I mean?