Exclusive interview and song premiere: Newton Faulkner, ‘Losing Ground’

Noel Phillips

Newton Faulkner 300x225 Exclusive interview and song premiere: Newton Faulkner, Losing GroundNewton Faulkner, is prepping for the release of Studio Zoo, his forth album in over a year. The lead single Losing Ground, shows off the singer-songwriters swooning harmonies – alongside his trademark mix of folk-tinged guitar riffs.

You can take an exclusive first listen to the melodious —yet catchy upbeat folk-rock track that induces a blueprint —that helped defined his three previous albums, Hand Built by Robots, Rebuilt by Humans and Write It On Your Skin.

“It’s about battling on even when you know you’re on the back foot. You go through ups and downs and it’s about being down but being okay with it because you know there must be an up on the way,” he explains.

But while the record is undoubtedly catchy, it is also refreshingly experimental, incorporating synth pop and some skipping homemade percussion. Well-known for his referential folk-style storytelling, Faulkner reflects on his own experiences and rolls back his deeply embedded feelings. Although, the mid-tempo track evokes an uplifting mood, there’s something intriguing in the way he went about creating it.

With the whole album I gave myself relatively strict rules. The main criticism I’ve had in the past has been that my recordings have been overly layered and polished. So as this is the first album I’ve ever produced myself, I aimed to make sure this wasn’t the case. I limited myself to one guitar part per track, which meant I pushed my playing considerably further than ever before. I also tried to harmonise with myself as little as possible vocally,” he says.

“So that the main guitar part and lead vocal had to carry every track the way it does when I play live. I did allow myself to get in great players and singers to add more light and shade. Andreya Trianna and Janet Devlin both did awesome harmonies and guitar-wise I was joined by some of best acoustic guitarists in the world, Thomas Leeb and Nick Harper. Ted Dwane from Mumford and Sons played some double bass and India Borne, who plays cello and bunch of stuff for Ben Howard, popped in too. I was very lucky.”

Despite having toiled in obscurity in between his first and second studio albums, Faulkner is doing his best to outshine one-hit-wonder label. His direction now seems more mature. His new album, which is co-produced by his brother, Toby Faulkner —who also worked alongside him on his previous albums, is a more organic, folk-feeling album. “We’ve worked together on every album I’ve done but never quite to this extent. There were considerably less co-writes beyond the two of us and he also did most of the backing vocals on this one.”

Having now established himself as arguably one of the most recognised folk singer-songwriters —Falkner carries his stardom lightly. With two number one albums and a world tour, he’s neurotically gracious, discreet about his achievements. I ask him about the rapid rush of success he has encountered. “My sudden rush to success took a pretty long time. I was writing and gigging for years before things kicked off. Which I think is healthier than being catapulted into the public before you’ve worked out what it is you’re supposed to be doing.”

While his latest single has a few slight pop elements, Faulkner says he is comfortable in his own field. “Acoustic dubstep hasn’t happened for very good reasons. I’m quite lucky in that that I’m not overly pigeonholed, I have to play guitar but beyond that my fan base allow me to be pretty experimental. I might start a heavier side project at some point… I’m also working on the music for opening credits of a computer game while typing this, and they say men can’t multitask.” Will die-hard Faulkner fans love the new album? We can’t say. But we wouldn’t be surprised to hear his husky come-hither vocals blasting from speakers this summer.

For now, you can enjoy an exclusive first listen to Losing Ground – the first single from Faulkner’s forthcoming album, Studio Zoo, exclusively here. The album will be released August 26, followed by the single on September 8.

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  • Dayvan Cowboy

    I’ll assume you mean “an exclusive” in its no-one else wanted to speak to him sense.

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