My Life in Ten Questions... Newton Faulkner

'I was suspended from school for a mixture of arson, knife-wielding and pornography'
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The Independent Online

English singer and musician Newton Faulkner, famed for his 2007 his single "Dream Catch Me", has been on the UK festival circuit this summer.

The Independent Online caught up with him to ask him about his life in ten questions:

What would you normally be doing if you weren’t talking me? Today, I might still be asleep. I know that seems incredibly lazy but after the last few days it makes a lot of sense. I’ve been doing some really late studio work recording a Hawaiian version of ‘[Somewhere] Over the Rainbow.’ Having moved house in London two mornings ago, I drove to Buckinghamshire, stayed there in the recording studio until 4 o’clock in the morning. I then drove home did a gig in London and then went all the way to Devon and did another gig there. I drove back to London last night and got back at 4 o’clock in the morning again.

Is there a phrase you use all the time? I’m really crap at saying no to things. I just say yes to everything. Then I do a bunch of stuff and I’m like [puts on mock exhausted voice] “Why did I say yes to all of that? I’m tired now.”

Do you have any hidden talents? I can ride a unicycle. It was one of the strangest Christmas presents my parents ever got me. I was about 10 or 11 and I remember looking at it wrapped up and trying to work out what on earth it was. Looking at a gift-wrapped unicycle is quite an interesting exercise.

What are you particularly bad at? There are loads of things I’m really bad at. But the worst is that I’m really disorganised. I get shouted at a lot by my sister -who is also my PA -, for being really, really badly untogether. It’s not the usual level of PA-client professionalism! [laughs] We do freak people out by appearing to have blazing rows. And then 10 minutes later it’s like “Do you want a coffee?” “Yeah, let’s get a coffee. Great.” And everything’s fine again.

Describe the house you grew up in. It’s out near Gatwick Airport, in the country. It overlooks loads of fields and stuff. It’s in two separate bits. There’s the house bit. And then there’s a kind of barn that was Dad’s office for years before it became my brother’s and my place. My brother lived in the barn for years and I moved into it later. It was my music space, amazing to have. But there was a fire there. Actually, it was my fault. Another thing I’m bad at – or good at, I suppose? – lighting fires. Yeah, a joss stick in a pot plant set fire to the soil, which set fire to the curtains, which fell off and set fire to the sofa and burnt my entire first lot of musical equipment. It was kind of a blessing in disguise though, as the insurance paid to replace everything.

Is there a book, song or a film which changed your life? Lots of things really. I loved Herman Hesse books – Siddhartha, The Glass Bead Game, that sort of thing. Musically? Eric Roche. He was one of my teachers, actually. He died quite a few years ago. I’m looking at one of his guitars right now. I bought it after his death. It seemed liked the right thing to do and all the money went to his foundation. When I first opened the guitar case it still had his nail clippings in it, I don’t think anyone had touched it. I’m just amazingly lucky that our paths crossed at all. I find it quite intimidating playing his guitar– that’s a lot of pressure, right?

What did you want to be as a child? Batman. To be honest I haven’t managed to shake that off entirely yet. I also wanted to go to Cuba and become Red Beard. He’s apparently the equivalent of the boogie man in America. So, I wanted to be Batman or Red Beard, make lots of money and sort out Cuba. Not sure Cuba really needs a superhero, but I'm sure I could do political talks too.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Well I meet loads of people who are fantastically successful in the music industry and I always ask them for a few nuggets of wisdom about their career. But none of them seem to have a clue how they got there! I bet if you talked to David Bowie he’d give you good advice. I’d love to talk to him. But, to return to the question: the best advice I’ve received as a recording artist is “stop trying to please people.”

What were you like at school? Do we really have to go here? Ok, I kind of got expelled. Well, I was suspended very near the end of the year for a number of reasons. The official list sounds worse than it was: a mixture of arson, knife-wielding and pornography. It doesn’t sum up my entire childhood; just that bit! [Laughs] At the time everybody was studying for their common entrance exams and I was already guaranteed a place at Italia Conti. So I thought I'd have a bit of fun.

What person would you most like to meet from history? I think I’d meet Herman Hesse. He’d be a brilliant dinner party guest. Either him or Tom Waits, because I think he’s complete genius.

Newton Faulkner will be performing at this year’s Relentless Boardmasters, Fistral Beach, Newquay between 4-8 August 2010. For more information visit