Known for his crowd bouncing anthems and dark, pleasantly twisted lyrics, Example's life has taken a different direction of late. Facing his demons has meant an evolution in not only his party reputation but also in his music. With his next album on the way, backing of a label state side and his latest single 'Kids Again' released this week, Example speaks honestly and frankly about life as it is right now.
Tell me all about 'Kids Again'...
Lyrically on this record, I wanted to do something really upbeat and fun because all my records in the past have always been about break ups or feeling down. I'm not sad anymore for once, just happy, so I'm just going to keep making happy music.
How is the single being taken by the music press so far?
I don't really read many reviews because I'm too busy but it's doing all right on the radio and great feedback from club DJ's and my core audience seem to really like it. I haven't had any big songs out in the last eighteen months. My last proper hit was in 2012. I needed to come back with something to launch this record that was going to tick every box for the fans. When you sign with a label like Sony you have to give them what they want but at the same time give your fans what they want. You have to give radio what they're going to play and then I suppose on the rest of the album you can be more creative and experimental.
You came from the UK underground scene, how has your relationship changed with that as you've developed as an artist?
I've stopped rapping on this record just because I feel like I can express myself better through singing and production. I suppose the only sort of correlation I have with that world now is the amount of bass in my songs. I still keep in contact with most of the MC's and the rappers that I've worked with over the years and I'd still be open to doing songs with them but I'd probably more likely to do a chorus rather than rap a verse.
How easy has it been for you to walk the between keeping integrity as an artist and trying to make music that's going to sell?
When you get into the music industry you've got to decide what kind of artist you want to be. I've always wanted to play arenas and headline festivals so I've made music to suit that. I've said in interviews in the past, in the last few years eighty to ninety percent of my income has been from gigs and the rest from PRS, radio plays or record sales. I'm probably a lot bigger live than I am as a record-seller. I obviously want to change that with this album. You can get into this industry, get successful, get a few number 1's and have every radio station in the country playing your records. Then you can have moments where you go and make another record that they might not like. I had that last summer when I put out 'All The Wrong Places', it didn't really get supported but it was important for me because it was a big festival song.
Since you've been in the music industry have you found it tough to stay on the straight and narrow?
I got a lot of my crazy shit out of the way before I was famous. I did about four hundred gigs between 2005 and 2009 and I was signed to Mike Skinner's label. I was touring with Calvin Harris and Plan B. We did so many gigs, took so much MDMA and drank so much Red Stripe that you just get it all out of your system. You know those really crazy moments where you nearly kill yourself. So luckily for me was I had four years of stupid behavior and that was back when I had no money and I wasn't famous and no one really gave a shit but I was still doing these odd little gigs here and there to like three hundred people. 2010 was my real first year of success and you know what you can and can't do. I got famous really gradually and that was good and bad in a way. Some people have overnight success, lose their mind and become addicts and they disappear or they go bankrupt or they kill themselves. For me it was a gradual curve so I learnt things slowly. There were times I was trying to have a relationship but also having a lot of attention from the opposite sex. Three to four years ago, I had a real slip-up and had to have a bit of therapy but being on the road sometimes can be lonely.
For an up and coming artist that wants to break the industry, what advice could you offer them?
One thing that I found is that if you want something done properly, you do it yourself. Everything from making your own videos to designing your own merch, to running your own Twitter and keeping YouTube and Soundcloud up to date. Do as many gigs and open mics, just put yourself about. You've got to be like your own pushy mum. I think the real difference between the people who make it and the people who don't is star quality. I don't think if you want to make it you've got to be the best looking or have the best voice or even be a great songwriter because a lot of people have their songs written for them. Star quality isn't about how you look. It's how you hold yourself, having that little spark or twinkle in your eye that when you walk into a room, people are aware there's someone in there. That's the difference between the people who make it and those who don't and it's not something you can learn, you're either born with it or you're not.