Newton Faulkner had one of the most identifiable profiles in popular music thanks to his enormous shock of red dreadlocks.
But the singer-songwriter showed himself chopping off those trademark locks in the music video to announce his return – a cover of Major Lazer’s Get Free.
‘Everyone involved kind of said at the same time: “Maybe it’s time? If you would be willing to do this, it would be amazing”, then it was how far will you go? Where’s the line?
‘Then someone had a treatment for the video that seemed the most brutal and most honest. You can kind of only do one take – you can’t go back. We edged our way forwards, it was pretty scary for me.’
But he admits, taking the chop has made a difference: ‘Life is considerably easier now. When it was incredibly long I managed to shut it in a cab door.
‘I like having lots of hair, but I’m not willing to die for it. I’ve still got lots to do!’
It’s so much fun to recreate live, that tribal stuff, it’s powerful. We drew from some very bizarre sources, and dug into some different placesNewton Faulkner
And hopefully it will mean an end to people only wanting to talk about his hair.‘It was a recognisable thing, which was kind of good, as you need that, but I really invited it this time, which is better as I can direct it. Before I wanted to talk about the music, but it was: “So, your hair...” Shut up!’ he laughs.
The video was a prelude to his fifth album, Human Love, which was released late last year and is his first for BMG.
‘We’re kind of doing everything differently this time, so we’re taking it kind of slowly, trying to get everything in the right place as we go along, as opposed to lining up everything and going,’ he shouts: ‘Aargh! Here’s the new album!
‘It’s slightly Tetris-esque, we’re trying to slot everything in as we go.’
And he has been enjoying the creative freedom of his new set up, and the pressures he’d subconsciously been allowing to influence him have also lifted.
‘I hadn’t realised how heavily it had weighed on my mind until it was gone and I went a bit mad: “I can do anything I want in the studio!”.’
The album saw Newton work with an array of top studio talent, including Cenzo Townshend, Cam Blackwood and Australian duo Empire Of The Sun.
‘The people we worked with on this album they’re such a powerful team. Empire Of The Sun are an incredible act and incredible producers. Maybe they’re not an obvious fit with what I do, but that’s one of the things that made it so attractive, it was great fun.’
And he also explains that after having no drums on last album, Studio Zoo, ‘we figured we had earned a pretty hefty drum licence’, and they made the percussion central to the process. ‘It’s so much fun to recreate live, that tribal stuff, it’s powerful. We drew from some very bizarre sources, and dug into some different places.’
When not working on Human Love, Newton has been busy in songwriting workshops with a host of new talent, including Portsmouth’s own Jerry Williams, who the star is full of praise for: ‘I’ve done quite a few writing sessions with Jerry. She’s a really good writer. What she’s doing is very interesting.’
The Pyramids, Southsea
Thursday, April 21