Not walking away … Craig David. Hello Michael, how are you? How's your day been so far? The sun is shining here in Miami so I have nothing to complain about. What did you have for breakfast, Craig? I had, weirdly enough, some mashed sweet potato and protein in a shake. Bloody hell, that sounds disgusting. Sounds disgusting, but actually if you try it it tastes good. Is this part of your eatcleantraindirty thing 1?
Yeah, you know what, I've just been trying to keep it pretty much as it says. Keep it clean and train hard. I feel like I know a lot about your apartment from your Instagram , specifically the view from your roof terrace in Miami. Why are you so obsessed with that view in particular? When I grew up I was living on a council estate overlooking a car park for a good 16 years of my life. To have the opportunity to look out at this incredible view, which is probably one of the best views I've seen, and I've seen some beautiful places around the world, just makes me very grateful.
I'm very happy with what I've been able to achieve. We tend to always want to obtain something new and something more and we never really enjoy what we have. Is it an apartment or part of a hotel? It's an apartment in the hotel but you can also put them into the hotel programme if you want them to be rented out. I brought mine and was going to put it in the rental programme but then made the choice of moving out here so now it's full-time.
You don't want other people living in your house when you're not there, do you? You know what, the idea of it at first was cool because I had my home in London so as a rental it was perfect, but the thought of people being in and out of your home, I was like "nah, forget that". Going back to your Instagram, which I love by the way, a lot of the comments you write under your pictures — many of which are of you topless — are quite preachy, with lots of self-help mantras and hashtags 2.
Do you think a lot of people that follow you need guidance? In some way it's almost a reflection of yourself in the sense that whenever I do any of the messages it's very much a thing to myself as much as to anyone else. I'm hoping that it doesn't come across as too preachy and if it is then people always have the opportunity to unfollow me. For me, in the last year and a half I've got to a place in my life where I feel like I'm very much on a spiritual journey in terms of there's a point you get to where you ask the questions: What is it that makes you happy?
What are you really doing some of the things you're doing for and what are you hoping to achieve? If you become No 2 or you're not selling millions of records then you're a failure and I just think this is one of the big problems across the board and even into business. These are the questions for me where if you don't start to answer these you can continuously get in this conundrum where you're going round in circles.
That's why I was saying "come off autopilot". You start wanting even more material things to fulfil a quick fix or you're trying to obtain something that doesn't really exist. No 1 singles come and go, don't they? If I live my life through nostalgia and what I did in the past and expect to be the new kid people have just discovered again then unfortunately I'm creating my own demise. To cut a very long story short, I always had a dream of wanting to own a sports car, like any young kid growing up.
It was always a red Ferrari. When I had the opportunity to move to Miami I was like: I had a moment where I was in one of the restaurants here, finished eating, came outside, got into my car, car wasn't starting, it was about to rain, it was late. So I made the call, trying to get the pickup truck to get the car and he was saying he was going to be an hour and a half and at this point everyone's piling out of the restaurant and I'm thinking there's a part of me that's about to get stressed even though I was 10 minutes from where I lived and then I stopped for a moment and there was a real sort of epiphany where I looked around the car and thought: The worst case scenario is that it's going to take an hour and a half for your car to get picked up, you'll get dropped home, the car will get fixed, but you're driving your dream car, just chill yourself out and appreciate what you have.
But I guess someone could read that epiphany almost in a negative way, in that you had this dream life that you'd wanted for ages the car and then it all went wrong once you got it it broke down.
You know what, more so it's that I feel like it's the journey of getting to something that's the real experience of life. We tend to feel like once we hit the goal that's when you're going to be happy, and I feel like every new artist that's coming through has that drive and hunger to get to somewhere and that journey is probably more exciting than when you actually hit it.
Our problem in society is that we're always looking for a material quick fix and I think people that can detach themselves from those situations can become happier with themselves. Watch here Do you feel you get the credit you deserve for promoting UK garage, having 11 UK Top 10 singles 3 and a debut album that sold 8m copies worldwide? Do you think people forget? Again, ego would stand there and be like: To be sitting here thinking I need more recognition or for them to say that I was that guy who came through, the youngest Brit to come with a No 1 — yeah, there's a load of things you can fill your head with, but it's just, move on.
You've talked in the past about how Bo' Selecta! How do you feel about it now? Do you think it did have as big an impact as people made out? Looking back at it in hindsight and the place I was at, to be honest I had so many people from different angles approaching how I should deal with that situation and it was having an impact.
If you look at just branding, it was having a negative impact. People were focusing more on this caricature of me than the music, even though the music itself hadn't changed. In an industry based on how cool or not you are, it has an impact on your self. I think I was speaking from many different voices rather than just my own. Now when I look at it, I'm genuinely not concerned. Maybe it was necessary. All Avid Merrion was ever doing was highlighting points that were obvious traits of my character.
But he was doing it to mock you, wasn't he? He wasn't celebrating you. No, but at the same time if you look at the people he was imitating it was Michael Jackson and David Beckham. So he was picking out people who were having a lot of success otherwise there'd be no point in doing it.
It just happened to be the show was called Bo' Selecta! It did have a detrimental effect branding-wise and it was a learning experience for me because one minute you're the cool kid from the garage scene doing his thing and now you're being mocked and you don't really know why. People assume that if I was in front of Avid Merrion I'd want to have it out with him 7 , but I really haven't got the time or the negative energy to waste.
I feel like the only thing you can really do to answer that is with the music. David Beckham, when he got sent off in the England game and he was the most hated guy for a period of time, all he needed to do was put the ball in the back of the net a few times for his team and all of a sudden it seems to have been forgotten.
This has always been the same in all walks of life — how do you react to these things? At that point I was almost playing the victim.