After dishing out the day-by-day details of an amorous, adventurous week with a new love in his breakthrough hit 7 Days, Craig David famously declared Sunday was for chilling.

Bad news for everyone going to Friday Jams this Sunday then?

"Nah nah. We changed flex on that," David says, laughing, over the phone from Sydney. "We bring it all day, man. We got not time for chilling."

It's early morning, but David is riding high, buzzing from the previous night's show, the first in the Friday Jams tour.

"It was wicked," he says. "It's amazing doing a TS5 show, the energy of it."

You're probably wondering what TS5 is. He's billed as Craig David Presents TS5which makes it sound a bit like it's a new group he's mentoring. Nope. For David, it's something much more organic and closer to home.

"When I bought my place in Miami six years ago I was throwing house parties and it just grew from being 10 friends having a couple of shots before we went out ," he explains.

Advertisement

"I got a little DJ set-up because people were playing around with my iTunes playlist and the styles were getting too crazy. It would go from a Biggie hip-hop tune and then Macarena ... I was like, 'guys ... I need to bring this back'."



So, quite unexpectedly, David found himself back behind the decks rocking the party. Something he hadn't done since he was 18, before the release of his first album, the chart topping Born To Do It.

"My friends were like, 'well, if you want to do the DJ thing you gotta get a mic'. So I got a mic and then someone said, 'You got to do one of your tunes'. I was like, 'are you sure? At my own house party?'," he laughs at how egotistical that sounds.

"But then over the course of six months it turned into this very exclusive pre-party and people wanted to get on the guest list."

That's right. Thanks to his inspired DJ sets, a free-form crowd-pleasing (and crowd-influenced) run through garage and house classics, current club bangers, a few sneaky surprises and his own hits, the bo selecta was back. David's living room was the hottest ticket in Miami.

"TS5 is something that allows me to play songs that wouldn't predominately work in a DJ set. I can take a song like Walking Away and throw it over an instrumental, like Dr Dre's Still Dre," he says, referencing his own No.1 hit. "I can remix songs and also sing 7 Days like on the record and then jump to songs from my last album, Follow My Intuition, even up to my latest record with Heartline. I can flex between songs. With a band you have a set you've rehearsed and that's the set you're doing. I can change my set last minute and feel the crowd out, which is great."

And it's working. From 10 mates in his lounge to performing a TS5 set at Glastonbury in front of 100,000 people this year.

"Seeing the crowd resonate to it the same way as at a house party was wicked," he says of the show, which UK music bible NME labelled "triumphant".



But David is no heritage act, cashing in on his former pop-garage super stardom and smooth R&B croons. Talking to him, he sounds fresh and hungry and very much like an emerging star with his eyes firmly on the prize and not someone who has already sold an astonishing 15 million records.

"You ask the question, do you want to be known as the nostalgia act or do you want this and are you prepared to do the ground work? I answered, 'Yes. I'm going all out, putting myself out there'."

This led to his 2016 album, Follow My Intuition, his first No.1 in the UK since his 2000 debut, and saw him working with a roster of the hottest-rising producers, including Kaytranada, Blonde and Sigala. He's also just finished a new album, The Time is Now, due for release late January and has been dropping new songs into his TS5 set.

"I was the kid with a load of hopes and dreams and I just wanted people to connect with the music in the same way I did. I wasn't thinking, 'what chart position can it get?'. It wasn't even on my radar. I was just, 'how does it feel when I play this as a DJ?'.

"The roots of TS5 are the same as when I used to test records in front of crowds. I'd play Rewind and see how the crowd reacted. They didn't know the song but you could catch little things, maybe that bit's too long, maybe I need to go back to the studio. Next week, play it again. I'm doing the same thing, testing songs as we go. People don't know they're from the new album but I'm seeing; are people picking up on that hook, even though they've never heard it before? If it's a yes, it's working."

He pauses for a second then laughs.

"It's funny," the chart-topping, award-winning artist says. "My mum says it reminds her of exactly what I was doing when I was selling mix tapes and mix CDs back in the day."