After picking up platinum status with his album Playing in the Shadows and two gold albums, The Evolution of Man and Won’t Go Quietly, British singer Example (Elliot Gleave) has just released his fifth album called Live Life Living. In addition to his impressive chart positions, Example has also worked with some of the biggest artists in the industry including Calvin Harris, Nero, Feed Me, Flux Pavilion and Skream. I caught up with Elliot to ask about his new album, what it was like to collaborate with so many producers, and see what’s next from him.
Congratulations on your 5th album, Live Life Living! Your single off the album, “One More Day (Stay with Me),” entered the UK Singles Chart at number 4. How does it feel to have a track in the top 5 position since “Say Nothing” in 2012?
To be honest the chart positions are not as important to me as I thought they would be. Back when I had two no.1s in a row in 2011, it was a exciting for me. With more experience you realise that it’s not about the chart necessarily. It’s about live shows, radio airplay and longevity. I think it’s nice to be back in the chart for the fans sometimes because a lot of my supporters like to see me there in a good position.
You’ve stated that the 90s rave scene was an influence for your Live Life Living album, and several of your tracks — especially “Live Life Living” — definitely has an electro-house vibe. What inspired you to take your album in that direction, and what elements of the rave scene in particular did you carry over into the album?
I always try and do something different with every album. My first album was hip hop because at the time it was all I knew. My second album was more electronic and more singing. My third was dubstep and big room anthems. My fourth was guitars. I felt with this fifth album I wanted to go back and rediscover my favourite 90s acts and look for inspiration. This new album is a purist’s dance album in many ways. It’s quite direct — not as alternative or experimental as some of the past records.
Your previous albums featured your rapping, and some people still refer to you as a rapper. For your latest album, you’ve strayed away from the rapping and you’ve stated that you wanted to focus on melody and beats. How do you think your music has evolved over the years, across your five albums?
I’m the kind of artist who gets bored easily. I listen to so many different artists that I’m always inspired to do different things. At the moment I’m listening to Drake, Black Keys, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Todd Terje, Kasabian, Sam Smith. If you come and see my live show it is mainly big festival anthems performed with a live band, but across the albums I have tried all kinds of genres, instruments and singing styles.
You’ve collaborated with several EDM artists. One of the biggest collaborations was with Calvin Harris for “We’ll be Coming Back.” What was it like to work with Calvin, and to star with him in the music video?
I’ve known Calvin for years. When he asked me to do that song, it was a no brainer. We toured together back in 2009, and I was his support act. Before he was a DJ, we had made a song called “Time Machine” on my second album. I count him as one of my good mates in this industry. I’m in London. He’s in LA. We text a lot. I’m glad I can ask his advice and he’s always honest with me. The video was a lot of fun to shoot obviously !
You also provided vocals for another huge track — Flux Pavilion’s “Daydreamer.” What was the process of working with Flux to fit your vocals onto the track?
When I went to see Flux for this track he was still at university and living in his student dorm. The first time I met Josh we clicked so it was inevitable we’d make a song together. He already had some melodic ideas because he’s a great singer and songwriter as well. It’s quite normal to record in people’s bedrooms in electronic music, especially when people are starting out. I kind of prefer it to the big flash studios. From a UK standpoint it was great to see Josh conquer America with his music and play to huge crowds and then see videos of everyone singing along to our track.
Film making has always been an interest for you, and you actually directed the music video for your track with Skream, “Shot Yourself in the Foot Again.” How did you and Skream come up with the idea for the track? Did you also collaborate with him on the concept for the music video?
Back in 2011 I was sent a few instrumentals by Ollie. One was “Shot Yourself In The Foot Again” and the other was “Under The Influence,” which was on my third album Playing In The Shadows. “Shot Yourself” was great because in essence it was quite simplistic. It wasn’t over produced or overthought. We gave it away online as a free download. It became one of the first dubstep tracks in the UK to get on the A-list on Radio 1 which was a big deal at the time. I shot the video for next to nothing in Brighton using fans as the actors. Quite a seminal moment for both of us, I think.
Other EDM artists you’ve worked with include Feed Me who produced your track “Midnight Run,” Laidback Luke, AN21 & Max Vangeli, and Jack Beats with Diplo. How did you end up getting to work with so many different producers?
I only ever really work with friends. You meet people at festivals or airports or in clubs. Feed Me remixed a track for me under his DnB pseudonym Spor and we got chatting. He also produced “Perfect Replacement” for my fourth album which is still huge in our live shows. AN21 and Max, I recorded with in LA on a huge hangover; the song was great though. Laidback Luke, I’d met in a club — Ministry of Sound, I think. Jack Beats, I’ve been friends with for years; a song was always on the cards. Then there are people like Dirty South, Alesso, Benga, Sub Focus, Nero who have all contributed amazing tracks to my career. I’m very grateful.
Now that your fifth album is out, what’s next for you? Given your interest in horror films, can we expect to see a horror flick from you soon?
No more albums for a while. I will keep promoting this one and keep releasing new singles and videos. I’m going to start directing more of my own videos, too. I think for now I want to focus on big singles and some collabs with my favourite electronic artists and on touring the world. I may direct a movie one day but I don’t have the time at the moment!