Hannah Kingston chats with (whatsapps) Newton Faulkner about his trademark sound, music-making, and the end of a certain hairstyle
“I’m crazy busy, so far I’ve written a handful of tracks I’ve really liked, I’ve been doing a lot of writing.”
Sam Newton Battenberg Faulkner is set to go on tour next week, showcasing a unique and authentic means of serenading his audience. In 2007, he knocked Amy Winehouse off her number one on the charts. Six albums later, Faulkner continues to astound his listeners with his way of making music, one that doesn’t contain polysonic loops, the objective to be played in a nightclub or strong undertones of sex, violence, drugs or alcohol within his lyrics. Instead he sits alone with his guitar and creates a wall of sound that could knock you off your seat.
Faulkner will go on his U.K tour next week with Amy MacDonald to showcase the old and write the new. “It’s going to be really fun, I know the whole crew and I really like them. I just love playing.” He plans on writing the final songs of his newest album while on tour. We catch up and he tells me how to stay humble in the midst of his great success.
He has a fun loving and easy breezy way about him while we talk: “I’ve been doing a lot of writing. I think I do have a particular vibe and technique; I’m feeling my way around at the moment. Space is my main tool. It’s all about sound and space.”
Faulkner spent his younger days as a child creating music; he tells me that it’s always been one of his main passions. Today, it is not unheard of for lyrics to be written for artists, no mind the backing track whether that be acoustic or electronic. We’re living in an era where the things we consume, including music, have come to be much like fast food. People yearn to be at the top of the charts, have the highest number of Instagram followers and win as many awards as possible, regardless of their actual talent. I ask Faulkner to talk me through his process of making his last record. “I have absolutely no idea how to describe the process of the last record, the record is just me. I’ve been given a lot of challenges, physical challenges and vocal challenges. It reminded me of how I sing, the method of how I sing.
“That original sound, it’s kind of like a luck story that you just apply. You have no idea what this song is about. It’s quite hard work, to work out what it could mean.”
Experimental, the musician once decided to record the making of an entire album in five weeks via Facebook. This included being recorded 24/7 in a Big Brother-esque fashion. When I ask him about whether or not social media acts as an assistance in promoting himself, he tells me that it has it’s good and its bad points. For the artist personally, he uses it as a means of interacting with his fans and experimenting with his musical talents. “It was properly mad; I was kind of working out production stuff too in front of people. You would get these bizarre massive pockets of people, like 2,500 people in Egypt started watching it. I enjoy letting people see how the music is made, it’s very possible to cheat with polyphonic notes. I use the same tools but in different ways.”
The art of making music authentically has seemed to dwindle but Faulkner’s philosophy is to go with the seed of an idea from start to finish. I ask him where he gets his inspiration and am told that it comes from everyday life. The musician attended a play recently and went on to get four quotes for a future song. “I’m always keeping an eye out and personal experience. Oh yeah, I’ll delve into anything that’s interesting.” His music looks at intense relationships to the mundane everyday but all with an artistic flare. Dream Catch Me has seven million plays on YouTube and has hit the top spot on the charts, it remained in the top 40 for one year. The simple melody contains aspects of love that many can relate to. “Every time I close my eyes, it’s you and I know now, Who I am”
The artist has the unique ability of making a song his own throughout his covers, such as can be seen in Major Laser’s song which he turns from an electronic party song to an acoustic yet strong melody. “The guitar parts are like a puzzle, it’s about how they interact, making that puzzle or a full body puzzle, pushing my capabilities and enjoying challenging myself.”
I ask where he likes to perform the most, with hope that it will be somewhere in Ireland. “I think Albert Hall is my favourite, the last time I did it, it went really well.” Unfortunately, he has yet to nail down gigs in Ireland yet but we can only hope for the future.
Finally, I question the iconic ginger dreadlocks in the hope that he will be able to give advice to other dread fanatics, “Ah the hair, it got slightly out of control, they attached to each other, I had to cut them. They demand no attention, but you need to concentrate on focused points when redoing the roots, once every six months.”
The U.K tour will start in Bristol on the 28th of March.