John Newman talks mental health his dance rebirth on ‘Waiting For A Lifetime’

John Newman has opened up about suffering from depression during lockdown and how falling back in love with music helped him to recover ahead of dropping new single ‘Waiting For A Lifetime’. Watch our video interview with Newman above.

In an exclusive interview with NME, the singer, songwriter, producer and DJ – who has collaborated with the likes of Rudimental, Sigala, Calvin Harris and David Guetta, and returns with a new single today – reflected on the impact of a decade spent on the road.

“When you’re touring, no matter if a single’s not doing that well or there’s crap going on at home or you don’t like yourself as a person, it’s not something you actually know,” he said.

Advertisement

[embedded content]

But when lockdown hit, he said he soon realised that he wasn’t happy. “When that opportunity to run and hide was taken away from me, I realised that I was actually miserable and so not happy with how my career was going,” he admitted. “I realised that I was just running at a thousand miles an hour to try and cover that up.

“Taking the free champagne and getting pictures on the red carpet and thinking that was success, when really I’d lost all vision of what success was, which is the pure love and emotion of something that you’ve created doing well.”

He added that it was “a lot to deal with at the beginning, to deal with these emotions of me and who I am, and how to make myself better. That was really hard.”

Realising he didn’t have space for music led him to “pull the alarm bell” and get rid of his label and management. “For years I was leaning on a side of me that was influenced by Northern Soul and Motown. Although it will always inspire me, I felt I began to lose grip, lose focus and become disorientated,” he said.

“I just decided ‘I’m not happy and I don’t have any fight left in me’. But as soon as I did that, I felt this pressure release – to feel better.”

Advertisement

Newman continued: “I was fucked because I couldn’t release music so what was the point, and I also had no responsibility so I had to just focus on getting myself better mentally and getting out of a really depressed, and some days suicidal state, and get myself feeling good again.”

John Newman, 2022. Credit: Press
John Newman, 2022. Credit: Press

Getting back into music and producing the kind of dance tracks he used to love as a child helped him to recover. “Creating something that was just for me really helped,” Newman told NME. “I wouldn’t even sing on them, I was making long instrumental dance tracks that just made me feel great and emotional and that’s what music should be.”

Now, two years on from leaving his label and management and starting to go in a new direction, John is back with ‘Waiting For A Lifetime’, a song that he says is the embodiment of “releasing the chains and making myself happy, which I realised I’d been waiting so long to be able to do.”

“There’s a lyric in it – ‘flashing lights, leave my tears on the dancefloor, empty nights, I’ve been holding on for something more’ – and that is literally about the idea of running around the world, trying to escape every emotion and hide from everything I’ve ever done wrong or been embarrassed of,” he said. “It got to the point where I needed to write that song and when I did, I instantly felt so much better.”

He revealed that the song was also inspired by wanting to relate that feeling into his relationship.  “When someone is suffering for a long time, it must be a hard gig for the person on the other side,” he said. “My wife was there for me and she’d be saying these things and I’d be losing my nut at her.”

He went on: “I remember apologising one day and saying ‘I’m done with everything, I’ve got no temperament for any confrontation or anything’. I feel for anyone that’s had to go through it in the first person, but also as a partner of somebody as well.

“But it’s amazing for someone to have that person there, because that’s when things go wrong if they don’t – they say ‘check in on your friends’ and it really is important. If I didn’t have Nana, my mrs, I don’t know what would have happened.”

[embedded content]

Speaking of how the new single signifies an artistic revival, Newman said: “I’m literally doing what I set out to do as a kid now, before all the glitz and the glamour and everything that comes with success.

“When I started out I was actually quite afraid of the idea of fame, so it was quite nice to get rid of all that and go back to making tunes in my room,” he added, describing the studio as his safe place. And, also, how can you be famous in a pandemic unless you’re doing shit dances on TikTok?”

“I have no hesitation about it being a great pop track and, anyway, if people don’t like it they can just listen to all my old soul stuff on Spotify.”

He said the lockdown was a good thing in that way as it allowed him to “just be me and do what that kid always did in the bedroom,” and to “connect to something from my childhood,” remembering producing and DJ’ing on his laptop as a teenager.

“For me, music was always a massive release – especially dance music when I was a kid,” he said, adding that he remembers getting Fruity Loops out of a Kellogs box as a child. “Like with my single ‘Love Me Again’ [2013], you can definitely hear that influence –  it’s a massive dance track.”

[embedded content]

Going back to his dance roots has also led him to switch up his live show to make it “much more high energy”. Having re-opened the stems of his early hits and remixed them into festival-sized anthems, he said: “It’s more of a DJ/live hybrid, with a mix of live vocals, live mixing and beat triggering, really giving the energy and making it a proper party rather than just performing my ballads.

“It comes across amazing – I’ve found a way to push myself and my talents further,” he added. “To challenge myself. I wanted to do something different. It’s still me, but putting it into a new vibe that I feel comfortable with”.

This summer, John will be playing a string of DJ sets as well as creating mixes for fans online as part of his Below The Decks series.

“I think standing behind the decks is certainly more reassuring for someone who’s been through a mental health crisis,” he said. “I don’t know if I could stand on the front of the stage pretending I’m Alex Turner or James Dean anymore!”

The most exciting thing, he said, is that he doesn’t know how his return is going to: “I’m crazy nervous but really excited. I could become the biggest artist in the world or it might all go wrong, who knows?”

‘Waiting For A Lifetime’ is out now.

For help and advice on mental health:

Images & transcripts are copyright to their respected owners.

Listen to David Guetta and Morten team up on twisted club smash ‘Permanence’

David Guetta and Danish DJ Morten have joined forces once again for a new track called ‘Permanence’ – you can listen to it below.

Their latest collaboration follows on from their December 2021 track ‘Alive Again’, and their Future Rave remix of Guetta and Sia‘s classic club anthem ‘Titanium’.

‘Permanence’, which has previously been teased in DJ sets by both artists, takes listeners down a black hole jam-packed with sharp synths and ethereal, gospel-like vocals; woven together by a sea of haunting bass thumps.

Advertisement

Morten said ‘Permanence’ is one of the records he’s “most proud of being a part of”, in a post on social media.

You can listen to the pair’s latest collaboration below:

[embedded content]

Last summer, David Guetta teamed up with Mistajam and John Newman for a new rework of Whitney Houston classic ‘How Will I Know’.

Titled ‘If You Really Love Me (How Will I Know)’, the modern reworking sees the three artists giving the 1985 track a 21st century twist.

“Who can resist the chorus from such a classic record as ‘How Will I Know!’””Guetta said in a statement. “Full of old school Piano House grooves, this has sunshine all the way through it. Working with MistaJam and John Newman together has made it my 2021 song of the summer.”

Advertisement

Meanwhile, Creamfields South recently announced the first wave of acts for its 2022 event, which will see David Guetta and Calvin Harris headline the Chelmsford festival.

Also part of the “phase one” line-up are Fatboy Slim, Deadmau5, CamelPhat, Becky Hill, Amelie Lens, Carl Cox, Jamie Jones and Charlotte De Witte. More names are expected in the coming months.

The inaugural dance festival will take place at Hylands Park in Chelmsford, Essex between June 2 and June 4, 2022. Tickets are available here.

Images & transcripts are copyright to their respected owners.

Daft Punk celebrate 11 years of ‘Tron: Legacy’ soundtrack with vinyl reissue

Daft Punk have celebrated the 11th anniversary of their soundtrack for Tron: Legacy by releasing a limited-edition vinyl reissue.

The 2-LP Target-exclusive release was made available in December and has since shifted enough copies to push the album to the top of Billboard’s Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart. Sales data shows that 94 per cent of the 10,000 units sold of the album between December 10 and December 16 were physical copies.

According to Billboard, the album’s recent return to the top of the Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart was the soundtrack’s 11th total week in that spot, and its first since April 2011.

Advertisement

[embedded content]

Daft Punk announced their split in early 2021, after 28 years together.

Following the news, Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker likened the breakup to the emotional impact of a death. “I mean, I guess I wasn’t expecting to be as emotional as I was. It was almost like when you hear about someone that’s died.“I know it’s obviously not nearly as tragic as when someone dies, but that kind of shock,” he said.

Since the split, it’s been announced that Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter is set to provide the score for a new ballet called Mythologies.

Mythologies will be co-produced by Opéra National de Bordeaux and Ballet Preljocal. It will take place over 90 minutes and will, according to a translation, tackle the “founding myths that shape the collective imagination”.

It will run over July 1-10, 2022, at Bordeaux’s Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux and will be directed by Angelin Preljocal, the choreographer and founder of Ballet Preljocal. Bangalter’s score will be performed by the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, while musical direction will come from Romain Dumas.

Advertisement

It’s also been announced that a new book chronicling the impact and legacy of Daft Punk is in the works. After Daft is due out in 2023, has been written by author Gabriel Szatan, and will be released via John Murray Press / Hachette UK.

Explaining the French dance duo’s impact and the inspiration behind the forthcoming book, Szatan said: “Daft Punk sit in the pantheon of pop alongside Prince, Talking Heads, Kate Bush, Stevie Wonder, Kraftwerk, Missy Elliott, David Bowie or any visionary you’d care to name.”

Images & transcripts are copyright to their respected owners.