When earlier this year Craig David scored a top 20 hit for the first time in a decade, it proved to critics he may have been gone, but certainly not forgotten.
Now, 15 years after his critically-acclaimed album, Born To Do It, spiralled up the charts and marked the then teenage David as a promising young champion of home-grown R ‘n’ B, the soulful singer is back.
This side of 2016, David – who is Jewish through his mother’s side – has already scored success with When The Bassline Drops, featuring Big Narstie, as well as Nothing Like This and his recently-released single, One More Time.
His sixth album, Following My Intuition, is due for release in coming months and he has plenty of high-profile gig dates lined up following his recent appearance at Glastonbury, including at next month’s V Festival and the O2 Academy later in the year.
To those in the music industry, David has suddenly – and quite unexpectedly – become a hot commodity again, but his career resurgence comes after years of relative obscurity.
Following the release of Born To Do It, which sold an incredible seven million copies worldwide, the singer struggled to repeat the same success. His 2010 album of Motown covers shifted just under 34,000 copies. To compound his waning career, comedian Leigh Francis more or less singled out David in his spoof, Bo’ Selecta!, and he was taken less seriously as a musician.
Shortly after, David sold his Hampstead home and left the UK shores to live a more subdued life in Miami. For the now 35-year-old singer, it was just the break he needed.
“It just gave me time to find my groove again”, explains the grime star. “It’s funny, because it never felt like I was away. I was creating music and I was constantly recording, but it gave me time to discover what it was that I was loving first time around.”
Prior to moving to Miami, the Southampton-born musician hinted that he felt pressured to turn around new tracks and albums, even when he was not completely happy with the final version.
He tells me: “With the first album, you had all the time in the world to create. But when you have a time frame for your creativity, it’s about hitting the right time slot. Music is an art form, it’s something that takes time and needs to grow.”
While out in Miami, David had that chance to take his time “just living life” and began dabbling as a DJ. He hosted parties, known as TS5, named after his Miami penthouse home, Tower Suite 5. Five years on, he has toured clubs in France, Italy, Morocco, Moscow, South Korea, Dubai and Beijing, and has a summer residency in Ibiza.
“TS5 ended up being the silver lining to everything. It turned into something I loved so much and gave me the opportunity to do a performance that was very different.”
Taking time out also gave David a chance to “simplify” his life. “It made me realise what really matters – being close to your friends and family.”
He adds: “When I just create and make music, I’m in my element. It’s as much of a buzz for me as it is to create a song and just realising that life is all about relationships, connecting people and bringing them together. I’m very blessed that I’m doing that.”
Having moved back to the UK just under a year ago, David tells me he is still close to his Grenadian father, George, who formerly played bass in a reggae band called Ebony Rockers, and mother, Tina. His parents separated when he was eight.
While he grew up with Christian values from his father, he says he equally feels a link to his mother’s heritage and has “a very strong connection with Jewish people”.
He explains: “My manager, Colin Lester, is Jewish, as is Alex Fisher, who looks after me, and so too is my accountant and my lawyer. So without even necessarily thinking about it, there was this connection that started to happen. I’ve definitely seen it’s a beautiful community. I feel like they want to put people up on their shoulders and champion them and I love that.”
These days his schedule is getting pretty busy, but when he is free, the singer reveals that he also loves accepting invites for Friday night dinner and that “chicken soup always goes down well”.
He says: “If I’m not out performing, it’s lovely to just spend time with everyone together.
“It’s something that many people miss out on, regardless of whether you are Jewish or not.
“It’s just being in that environment where everyone puts their phones away, you’re having food, you’re enjoying the moment of just connecting with people who are close to you and that’s the beautiful thing that is reinforced with it.”
His earlier success, which includes sales of more than 13 million albums, achieving multi-platinum status in more than 20 countries, has made David a multimillionaire and he is listed among today’s richest young music stars.
But he also acknowledges that unlike his teenage self, he now has a maturity that he lacked when he first broke onto the music scene aged 19.
“I’m definitely now in my lane, my zone of knowing what really matters,” he reveals. “Once you simplify life, you just flow and start to enjoy stuff.
“As a 16-year-old kid I was telling my mates, no I’m not coming out tonight, because I want to finish my song and they couldn’t understand that. But those songs ended up being Seven Days, Fill Me In and Walking Away. When you add to that the wisdom of maturing, I know what I’m doing now.
“It’s amazing that I found my talent with music and I never want to be in a situation where I’m doing it for any reason other to enjoy, be creative and make people happy.”