Ahead of his 2020 NZ tour, Lydia Burgham talked with James Blunt about his new music, Brexit, and how things have changed since You're Beautiful took off 15 years ago.

James Blunt released his break-out album Back To Bedlam in 2004, bursting onto the singer-songwriter scene with viral chart-toppers You're Beautiful and Goodbye My Lover.

In October he released his sixth album, Once Upon A Mind. It features personal songs about his family, including the track Monsters, an ode to his father who has stage four chronic kidney disease.

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When he was working on his previous albums, he was more concerned with writing what he thought fans would want instead of penning songs about his life.

"This album (Once Upon A Mind) isn't for an audience," he explained. "It's for my family and the people I need behind me when I go on tour. So it's really just been about exposing myself and that's why it's been kind of magical for me to do."

"I suppose my first album was very much about myself ... it's quite self-orientated. This album is different. It's not about me, it's about my family. And for me, that's why I'm excited to be doing it again."

On Brexit and Britain's political divide

"I think politicians really love to divide us. That's why they give us those titles: are you left or are you right? They've pushed people to these extremities by the referendum ... and I find that division really sad.

"The division is what causes us to fight, and that's why I love doing music because it brings people together. Uncomfortable strangers can be shoulder to shoulder."

On his use of Twitter and social media

"I just think the real world is much more fun, but occasionally I spark up Twitter and see how deeply offensive human beings can be to each other.

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"I get Prince Philip to write them [tweets ] for me," he joked.

On his inspirations in the music industry

"I look to the music of the seventies - Elton John, Cat Stevens, and Paul Simon are geniuses. Bands like Fleetwood Mac are incredible."

On returning to New Zealand

"Where Australia sometimes can feel, you know, compared to America, I feel New Zealand compares to Britain. We've got a similar sense of humour," he says.

"It's a small place and it's got great character, it's a beautiful island. Audiences have been great to me, so I can't wait to come."

• James Blunt plays two shows in New Zealand in 2020, one in Auckland on November 25 and one in Christchurch on November 27.
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