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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Blended: Lessons from a Ferrari got English singer Craig David back on track

UK garage superstar on how he overcame his ego - by buying a Ferrari.
Craig David says he has four albums worth of material ready to go. Joel Ryan / AP Photo
Craig David says he has four albums worth of material ready to go. Joel Ryan / AP Photo

Craig David can remember the exact moment when he conquered his ego. It was the day he bought a Ferrari.

“I had an epiphany five years ago,” says the poster boy for the early 2000s British garage explosion. “I remember as a kid, I used to think it would be amazing to even see a Ferrari, because it’s not like I was seeing them every day growing up in Southampton. To then be in a position where I was able to go into a showroom and buy a Ferrari ...”

What could be more egoistic than a former superstar – a guy who sold 13 million records in his prime and scored 11 top-10 hits in the United Kingdom, but hasn’t charted since 2008 – raiding his savings account to splash out on a sports car? But wait – that’s not the end of the story.

“Here I was out in Miami, I bought the Ferrari, it felt amazing,” he says. “So I went to a really nice restaurant with a few friends, and when I came out the Ferrari was right out front. I tried turning it on and the battery wasn’t working.”

He made a frenzied call to the dealership and was left waiting for a tow truck while his companions carried on to a club.

“I’m in the car now, it must be 1.30am, I’ve seen everybody clear out of the restaurant – all the people in the back, people in the kitchen, everybody’s finished,” he says. “I’m sweating like crazy because there’s no air conditioning in the car – it’s hot beyond. And then it started raining as well. I start to stress out – ‘Oh man, life was good, I was about to go out ...’

“Then I had this moment when I was looking at the steering wheel and I saw the yellow emblem with the black horse of the Ferrari and I just had this overwhelming feeling – this epiphany: ‘Wow, I’m sitting in the car I dreamed of as a 13-year-old kid.’ Like, if I can’t be satisfied with what I have now, I’m never going to be thankful.

“That moment changed my entire life. Since then, it’s been a beautiful, spiritual awakening in some way.”

You might be wondering how the story ends?

“We sold the Ferrari and now we have a white Lamborghini,” says David. “I prefer the Lamborghini because it’s got a nice warranty on it, so when things start going wrong you can just take it back to the dealership. I can lose the car, have a Lambo, don’t have a Lambo – life’s good.”

In other words, he moved from the dream – the Ferrari – to reality – a well-served competitor. Or as he puts it, David has now found “his lane”. He has clocked the changing world order since he was “flava” of the month. He has realised his No 1 songs Fill Me In and 7 Days – from his multi-­platinum 2000 debut LP Born to Do It, recorded when David was only 18 – are in the past.

Now a 33-year-old, David’s expectations are “in alignment with life” and he’s back in touch with “that loving place” from which he wrote his hits such as Walking Away and the duet with Sting, Rise & Fall.

“I’m about the music again, it’s not about what the radio’s playing, what’s the hottest thing, who’s the featured artist – that’s all effect,” says David. “Ego is something that’s an autopilot that’s put in everybody and it gets you one way or another. But there’s points where, spiritually, you ride above it and recognise that’s actually not who you are – it just tricks you into thinking that you are.

“You can get lost in ego, recognition: ‘I’ve got to make another record, I’ve got to show people I’m back’. Back from what? That’s all immaterial stuff – in the seed of success is born failure.”

But that doesn’t mean David can’t envisage having that kind of success again. He has not recorded an album of original material since 2007 (2010’s Signed Sealed Delivered was an ill-conceived Motown covers LP). Instead he is concentrating on his “hybrid artist-DJ as performance” radio-show concept TS5, which broadcasts weekly on Capital FM in the UK. But he says he has four albums of material ready to go.

“A lot of people ask me about the new album – I just know that one three-minute song can change your life, always,” he says. “That’s the beautiful thing, which any real singer-songwriter knows – three minutes can change the material world’s perception of what people think. Pharrell’s Happy, John Legend’s All of Me – all it takes is one record.

“I’ll know when that three minutes feels so right then, trust me, I will unleash all the things on my computer like never before.”

• Craig David performs Thursday at 8pm

rgarratt@thenational.ae

Updated: April 28, 2015 04:00 AM

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