When you feel lost, it is best to go back to your roots. Such was the case with British singer Craig David, who after his blockbuster debut album, 2000's Born to Do It, failed to match giddy expectations with each successive follow-up.
When David relocated from cloudy London to sunny Miami five years ago, the industry thought he had taken the sensible decision to retire and enjoy the good life.
“I thought that was going to make me happy,” David recalls. “I had some money, I bought a nice penthouse apartment and a sports car, and lived near the ocean, and I thought: ‘That’s it, man’.” And I was set. But it turned out I wasn’t satisfied with that and I missed doing what I loved, which was the music.”
Instead of fully delving back into a market that had essentially forgotten him, the Seven Days and Fill Me In singer rebuilt himself through his TS5 parties. Named after his former Miami penthouse apartment, the concept began with him returning to his DJ past and hosting house parties where he would spin tunes, freestyle over existing tracks and perform his classic tracks. Sought-after mixtapes from the event eventually reached international promoters, and David found himself touring again, with the energetic shows receiving rave reviews.
The concept perhaps reached its zenith this year with David performing his first arena tour in Britain in more than a decade, in addition to sold-out residencies at Ibiza. Next up is a performance on Saturday as part of the The Rich List series of Abu Dhabi Formula One parties in the Yas Viceory.
While it all seems like a perfectly executed career resurgence, David says that it was a more organic process.
“I think when you get to a stage in your career where you say ‘right, what am I going to do now?’, it is actually a really good place to be in terms of creativity, because it allows you to experiment,” he says.
“It makes you drop the weight of your past from your shoulders and makes you stop saying ‘well, this is the way that I have always done it’ – and gives you the chance to do something new without any real judgement.”
That said, with a growing international re-appreciation of 1990s style R'n'B, he is presently back in the studio working on album that will pick up where Born to Do It left off.
David, who just returned from package 90s R'n'B arena tour of Australia alongside the likes of Kelis, En Vogue and Mario, puts the affection down to the melodicism that was a hallmark of that era.
“That was the key to it and that always came first. Now, most R’n’B tracks are mostly about the rhythm, as opposed to the melody,” he says. “But you also need to have that balance in that you totally don’t want to fall into the hole of being viewed as purely a heritage act. So what I am trying to do with my next album is to keep those melodies of 90s-era R’n’B, with production that is current.”
Craig's new album, The Time Is Now, including the single Heartline is out on January 26 and is available to pre-order now from www.craigdavid.com
Craig David will perform at The Rich List on Saturday at Yas Viceroy, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. For tickets, visit abu-dhabi.platinumlist.net