Today’s music premiere comes in the form of the praiseworthy producer and multi instrumentalist Newsome. The Brighton, England native straps his latest release “Stole Your Midnight” with explosive funk swagger and taps into it with an unconscious appeal that almost takes you back to Prince’s prime teasing us so openly about stealing our night and yet remains attached to contemporary accessibility giving off some definite Disclosure qualities.
We got the chance to catch up with Newsome to get a glimpse into his mind and what makes him tick. The talented up-and-comer not only sights D’Angelo as one of his major influences but puts into perspective his ripe taste & ear for the music he is making, and whet ambition that goes beyond just pumping club jams—although he does not falter one bit at it— and strives for timelessness . Check out the interview below.
As there is not too much bio info on you on the web.. can you give us a short intro on who you are, where you are from?
My name’s James Berkeley and I live in Brighton. I’ve been doing this project for about 3 years, but originally it was called ‘King Dinosaur’. I decided to move on from that at the end of last year as I was going through a stylistic change, and I didn’t want to end up getting stuck with that name forever.
How did you get your start in music and how that transpired?
I’ve been doing music most of my life. I’ve had some pretty radical changes in styles because I’ve tried to be as open as I can to new music and genres, which I’ve previously not understood. I think negativity, or even just indifference to a style a lot of the time is down to lack of understanding. I do my best to be objective about a genre that I don’t really get, there’ll be elements you can appreciate… on the whole.
What’s the idea behind the moniker Newsome?
It’s my current musical endeavor which is an attempt to create something both current and timeless.
How has the UK scene contributed to your music and taste in general?
There are such a vast variety of gigs around Brighton; regardless of genre it’s been a massive influence on my music and taste. It’s great to be able to sample so many different bands, even if it’s music you’d normally never listen to there’ll be something that you can learn from it.
How would you best describe your sound?
Something that wouldn’t be out of place at a club, but at the same time has another dimension which serves a deeper purpose than just being a dance track… at least that’s the plan.
Name 3 of the most influential musicians to you(could be old or new) and tell us what about their music is so influential to what you do?
I’ve found that my influences have changed very drastically over the last few years, but I think 3 musicians who’ll always be a massive inspiration to me are D’Angelo, Robert Glasper and Bill Evans. They influence me in similar ways but elements that stand out are D’Angelo’s use of BVs and how behind the beat his vocals are, and of course the constant groove throughout. With Glasper I love how free he’s able to be, especially on the two Black Radio albums; that’s definitely something that I aspire to. My chords and progressions are influenced a lot by the likes of Bill Evans, his voicings are just amazing.
In the world of music, there are artists that really define a new sound & genre (ie the James Blakes, Nicolaas Jaars, etc) and because technology for making music has become so accessible and available there is a huge amount of new music being made. You start to notice a lot of artists who kind of just blend into these genres and it becomes harder to distinguish yourself as an artist with so much music being released constantly. What do you think are a few of your distinguishing traits on a sonic level and as an artist? And when you are making music do you ever stop and think damn that’s sounds a little too similar to this artist or this song etc?
I do sometimes find that early on in the writing process an idea can sound too similar, especially if I’ve been inspired by a specific song. But generally as I build the track and add more of my own ideas the similarities become lost. One of the main things that I try to do is allow my influences to manifest themselves within my music. I don’t like limiting my creativity by sticking within one genre bracket, and I’d like to think that regardless of whether someone gets what I’m trying to do, that it at least makes them sit up and take notice; even if their opinion isn’t a positive one.
Let’s talk music-making process. What DAW do you use? What are some key plug-ins and instruments that are crucial to your process?
I use Logic Pro 9 for all my writing. I remember when I was starting out and I’d listen to some incredibly produced music and think, what plugins and equipment must they have to make it sound like that? But I’ve found that you don’t necessarily need the best plugins to make something sound really big. I mainly just use Logic plugins and then some Waves and iZotope ones. Instrument-wise I usually start writing with a Rhodes VST, it’s just such a great sound. I like using a lot of live instrumentation and percussion as well, it’s intrinsic to my writing process as it gives me so much freedom.
How important is tweaking and building your own sounds(ie bass, drums, etc) for coming up with an authentic sound?
It’s definitely important to me but I don’t like to get bogged down in all of that until the end of the writing process. I don’t like it when you’re working on music with someone and right at the start, when loads of ideas are coming out, you end up spending 3 hours EQing a kick or something. I just want to get all my ideas out and then deal with the fine tuning at the end.
What’s the longest and shortest amount of time you’ve taken to complete a song or idea (before mastering mixing)?
I’ve done a few of those ‘make a beat in 10 minutes’ things, really good exercise for trusting your intuition. You have to go with the first ideas that come into your head and just make them work. Some songs I’ve been working on for way too long; past a certain point my style will have changed enough for me to just give up on it.
Do you do your own mixing and mastering and why or why not?
I always do my own mixing. I can understand why some people don’t but to me it’s so important. The whole way through the writing process I’m building an idea of how it will sound at the end – to give that job to someone else wouldn’t seem right to me.
Where do you draw your creative momentum from? or rather what inspires you to make music and certain songs in particular?
Each song can have a very different influence. A lot of the time I’ll get inspiration from a very brief moment, whether it be music or the combination of sounds while walking through town. I usually record ideas on my phone that I come back to later on; it’s a good source of inspiration if I’m struggling to get something down. I get a lot of momentum from jamming with other people too. I find when I do music alone I have a very definite direction, but when I’m just playing with people it’s not always for a deeper purpose other than it being enjoyable. I sometime can get way more ideas from doing that than when I’m consciously trying to write.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
I think it would have to be Robert Glasper. Would also love to have a chance to write with Royce Wood Junior, he’s just something else.
What is the most gratifying part of making music for you?
Those peak states where you’re so present and focused that you’re not aware of anything else.
What is your ultimate goal in being an artist and making music?
Ultimate goal would be to have the opportunity to keep making music for the rest of my life. I mainly do music for myself, I’d like to say that I just make music for myself, but obviously getting recognition for what you do is part of it. It would be more than enough for me to just be able to get by doing what I love.