David John Craig: Hey Mister D.J.
If you have been following David John Craig’s story for a while now, you no doubt will be ready for his new music that is about to drop. You’ll definitely want to put that record on. Music has always been a passion for David and this new project is something that he is extremely proud of. “Hey Mister D.J.” – it’s the baby that came unexpectedly,” says David as he readies his assault on the music world with it’s release this week. So what is it all about? David lets us in on his influences, how the project started and what we can expect; plus a whole lot more. David has always been so honest and open and 2017 looks to be no different. There’s so many superlatives that could be used to describe David as a musician, actor, or person, but really nothing shows it better than David himself. Without further a do…
Hey, so it’s been a while since we’ve had you on CAJ, what have you been up to?
It has been. I’ve been traveling, playing, working and recording. You know… just your average Tuesday 😉
So what does a typical day look like for you at the moment?
I’m glad I don’t have a typical day. Literally every day is different. I guess the only thing the same is I eat. I cook most days.
So tell us about the new debut album and what we can expect from it?
“Hey Mister D.J.” – it’s the baby that came unexpectedly. I finished my Brick X Brick project in December 2015. I started letting people hear it in February. I was rehearsing songs from it, practicing performing and all that. Really excited about it and then my producer had this track he was working on and we ended up writing it. From there I was traveling a lot and getting new experiences and feeling a lot.
We started in July 2016 and by September we had a full project finished. There’s a bit of everything. We started to not care about “genre” of music and what lane I fit in. At the end of last year and top of this year I was studying a lot of Bowie, Prince, Freddie Mercury, George Michael, Phil Collins, R. Kelly and a lot more of the legends, so my mind and ears were wide open. When we got the news Bowie and Prince had passed it was crazy because there had been so many conversations about them leading up to us creating all the new songs. Their influences are all over it, especially Prince. Chán, my producer, has been a Prince fanatic forever, so it’s was already in his style, but to my surprise a lot of the stuff I started coming up with had a little bit of that feel to it.
It was great to work with no pressure or feeling like I have something to prove, or had to “be” something. We just showed up and it worked out. I’m so fuckin’ proud of this project I keep finding myself crying while listening to it. It’s passion, it’s a little pain, very very sexy, lots of focus on the issues in the world, and growing up. I think people will love it. I do, and that’s enough.
It’s something you’ve been working on since summer last year. So is it fair to say you’ve put a lot of yourself into it?
Summer of 2016 yes. So much of me is in it. I’ve gained this kind of “fearless” fuck it attitude about music and art. I don’t want to be like anyone, or sound like anyone, even though we all get compared. I just want to feel good about what I’m doing and saying. I’ve grown up a lot in 2016 and I’m glad to have the outlet of music to share my growth.
You previously hinted that there aren’t a lot of personal stories on your projects, rather, a “deep look into the heart of the human experience.” Is that something that still stands with this work?
There is still that focus on US as a human species. But I think people will get to know a lot more of me, even than I’m comfortable with sometimes when I’m listening. But I like that discomfort though. It’s naked. Like I like it.
There will be people who have followed your journey for a while now who maybe expected your debut album to be released a lot sooner than this. What makes now the right time to share this with the world and has the wait been worth it?
I was in a rush to get music out, and the more I rushed, the less authentic and honest my music felt. I needed to know who I was and really what I had to say before releasing anything. I was in what’s called “Artist Development” and honestly, I don’t think I would matter without it. I learned about music, especially from the past and the great legends that came before me. I learned about style and sound. I didn’t want to just do a bunch of catchy songs that any guy with a voice could record and be unrecognizable…. I learned that it’s important to have a sound and style of my own. I had to find that. So many people put out music, I knew no one was starving for another one, so we knew that when it was really time, we’d know it. Everything about now feels right. I’ve grown so much. I’ve learned so much and I’m excited to learn more. Take it to the stage and videos, get out perform and meet my CraigCity peeps and all the ones who have been supporting me this far. This is a new and exciting chapter and I hope people hear and feel me. It’s a little raw, a little rock, edgy, romantic, sexy, fun… but most of all it’s me, where I am… right now.
There’s always been complete transparency in your work. Is that something you’re conscious of when you are in the creative process?
NO! I have to fight myself to not hide and not fear. It’s not easy being vulnerable and letting go. I have the disease of dying for everyone in the world to like me. And I’ve played it safe for so long and I thought music had to be that way. So it was tough going into this because my creative partner sat me down and said, “this is turning out to be pretty sick, but if you’re not willing to go deeper and shed your skin then no one will care.” He told me I was boring him… and from that second on, I was like, fuck that, I can’t die being boring so I got to let go of my need to please and give this everything!
Does that make you nervous or is there a sense of relief being able to be so vulnerable and let people become part of your vision in a way?
I think I’m finally at a place where I WANT everyone to hear it, and I hope they all love something in it, but I don’t really care if someone doesn’t. I can’t and will never be able to please everyone. But some kind of personal satisfaction has to come from making music and art. And so I just want to feel fucking GOOD when I’m singing my music. I want the people who hear, it who can relate, to feel what I feel. And maybe open some minds and hearts along the way. There’s enough disconnect in the world… I want my music to bring people together.
You mention several times this idea of being vulnerable and “Naked” if you like. Does that explain all the skin you show? Is that somewhat an extension of you growing comfortable letting people see your flaws, not only creatively, but with your body too?
Being naked or showing skin was so new to me. I had this idea of what it meant. Part of my development was learning to be open and free spirited, because I wasn’t really that way. I had so many judgments and critiques of myself and others. But then I learned that nothing can be more revealing and vulnerable than standing in front of a camera, literally naked and trying to push some real emotion through. Getting through all your fears and insecurities, being free and able to express how you feel. It’s helped me grow so much as a human. It makes me work harder to feel great about myself, and it helps me think deeper so I can make someone feel. And honestly, it’s fun. I’m young, I work hard to stay in decent shape. I don’t take supplements or any kind of powders, shakes to aid in my fitness, I’m vegan and all natural. That’s actually harder. Just last year I got so skinny my producer started forcing me to eat 50 times more than I was. I think I’m at a great place now, and it’s strange because my schedule hasn’t allowed me to work out much. I know… I’m saying a lot. Did I answer the damn question…? Who knows.. 😉
If people could take one thing away from the new project what would you want that to be?
Just FEEL! Feel something during your life, during the day. Stop thinking, stop stressing, stop worrying, just feel. Stop looking for life and things in it to be perfect. Flaws are beautiful. A lot of the songs on this project are very untouched and raw in a sense. Because I don’t want to sound perfect, I can’t. We didn’t want to “fix” everything. There’s notes that bend and move in this unique way and that’s my voice, so why try to computerize it all so it’s perfect when no matter where I go, unless I’m attached to some machine, it will never be that way live. I have two songs that was recorded in one take. And then fixed maybe a word I said wrong, but otherwise it is what it is. I want people to listen and feel a part of my soul inside them. Open their minds to music that isn’t just like Justin or Nick or Zayn or… well all of them. I love them all, but they aren’t me. I’m in a different space, different voice. I’m not a singer, I’m an artist. Most real singers can blow me out of the water, so I don’t even try to do that. But what I do is try to feel every word I say so you can feel it to. I hope that you do.
You can download and stream “Hey Mister D.J. ” from the 1.13.17 at IamDJCraig.com
All photo credit goes to Chán André #Voyeurized