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Interview: Newton Faulkner


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With a number one album followed up by a world tour, all eyes were on Newton Faulkner in 2012. 

This year he has rewarded his fans by allowing them to watch the entire recording process for his upcoming album Studio zoo live. The National Student went down to Faulkner’s studio to see how it was all going.

For Faulkner, the idea for filming the recording of Studio zoo was a lot more modest: "The idea started off so small and unobtrusive. I envisioned one CCTV camera in the studio with no sound and bad quality. But a meeting with his label changed things: we had a meeting with Sony who we thought would be against the idea, which they weren’t at all. Since then it has snowballed into a massive project, it’s crazy!"

Previously there has been a conflict between his public and private personas: "I think in the past there’s always been a big difference between what I actually did, and what was being put out as my public identity through songs and videos."

Consequently Faulkner has set out to normalise his life as a musician: "This was a way of bringing things together and showing people what I actually do. Which you certainly can; you can watch me 24 hours a day. I think there a probably people who have watched this that know me better than my closest friends!’

 To many, the idea of being watched 24/7 is far too invasive, but Faulkner is very at ease with the process: "I’m resigned to the fact that there are always people watching. Even when I’m not in the room people still seem to be watching, so I think you can guarantee people will be there when I’m actually doing things."

This has meant accepting people will see the bad as well as the good: "I’ve decided not to cover anything up. I’m a human being so of course I get angry and upset, and I think people need to see that part of making an album as well."

When asked about what fans could expect musically from the album, Faulkner was fiercely confident: "It’s by far the best album I’ve written, by a long way.  I always felt at the beginning I was in the right room, but I came in through the wrong door, and I’ve been edging towards the right room since my debut. Finally I think I have the sound I wanted originally." 

Moreover, Studio Zoo is a lot simpler than his previous effort, with Faulkner stating: "The last album was big, it was summery and I loved it. This one is mainly just guitar and vocals, with not much else on it."

Faulkner has also invited some very talented friends to help out with the album: "We’ve had plenty of great people in such as India Bourne, and Ted from Mumford and Sons is in tomorrow."

Importantly, these contributors are not simply brought in as big names to feature on the album: "No-ones featured just cause they’re cool, we’ve got people who can do stuff for the album. We managed to get everyone together for the last track on the album as well, which is really cool."

Considering the album is still in its final stages the fan reaction has been incredibly positive. Faulkner reveals: "I think they’re just getting into the songs. You can here the guitar parts and vocals well enough when I’m recording to grasp the ideas of the songs, and people seem really excited."

Elaborating, he reveals: "One of my favourite reactions is from people saying that watching me has inspired them to make music."

Ultimately Faulkner has achieved exactly what he set out to when he began Studio Zoo: "It’s allowed me to show fans what I’ve tried to do from the beginning, which is make music but be open about the process and how it works. It’s not glamorous at all; it’s just sitting in a tiny room and drinking loads of coffee until you lose your mind!"

With the album almost finished, Faulkner is more than ready to return to touring: "I don’t really like being off the road. I like the road. The road is fun! But this has been a great experience. Some of the people who watch are very entertaining."

In Studio Zoo, Newton Faulkner has something unique. With an album created in two weeks under constant scrutiny of the public would be too much for some artists, but Faulkner has embraced the attention, showing more than just his public persona.

Even in his worst moments, it’s difficult not to like Newton Faulkner both as an artist and as a person.

Studio Zoo will be released on the 26th August and can be pre-ordered now.

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