New Zealand born British raised Daniel Bedingfield's pop wizardry earned him a BRIT Award, six U.K. Top 10 singles and four million in album sales from 2001 to 2004. But with that success came unforeseen consequences: a protracted contractual tug-of-war with a record label resistant to his artistic growth.
Nine years later, the songwriter who rocketed to the top of the pop world with “Gotta Get Thru This” has returned with new batches of genre-splicing, pulse-pounding music that not only appeals to a broad spectrum of fans but also reveals Bedingfield's resolve to control his own fate.
“The record company simply wanted me to keep repeating the same formula," he says. “If I’d done that, it would have sounded massively dated the moment it came out. Music has to be dangerous. You have to be mortally terrified of everyone hating it, or you’re not doing the right thing. So I don’t mind failure. What I do mind is being stuck in a cage for eight years.”
Bedingfield's new material first showcased in 2012, moves adroitly between dance-floor bangers and R&B-spiked rock, between freak-funk and chilling piano ballads, between effects-heavy electro and sunny island reggae. All brim with his distinctive melodic sense and arching romanticism.
“There are a million ways of self-expression, and I can’t hold to one style," he says. "There isn’t one sound in my head, there are thousands."
The anthemic new single from the EP, Stop The Traffik – Secret Fear, "Every Little Thing" is intended to inspire hope amidst the manifold tragedies we have been recently facing as a planet.
The rest of the EP features the heartbreaking ballad “Don’t Write Me Off,” and the seductive and soulful “Way With Words” nestled in amongst deliriously catchy and upbeat tracks “O.V.E.R.U.,” and brutally honest “Naysayer”. As a bonus track, Daniel has included a live, extended recording of “Way With Words.”
Daniel set the Internet ablaze with the release of the video for “Secret Fear,” his directorial debut. In the video, Daniel highlights the inbuilt conflict, the intrinsic clash of natural archetypes; the marked contrast of dark/light skin tones, a rotating glass coffin filled with black water and fire, claustrophobia vs. the need for intimacy and parallel themes.
"The greater you love, the more momentum you seem to build up in your collective spin. The closer the two of you get, the more torque you experience as the gravity pulls in around you. The higher you rise together, the deeper you must together descend. If there IS a way off this island, I have not found one. If we chose to enter the arena at all, we may be locked into this never-ending repetition of contrast and balance."
Since its release in October of 2012, the video has been honored with a best music video nomination at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival, and took top honors as the best music video at the Miami Short Film Festival, the Vegas Cine Fest, the Indie Fest and most recently won the Special Jury Prize in the World Cinema Music Video category at the Amsterdam Film Festival.
The title of the EP references Stop The Traffik, an advocacy organization which fights human trafficking worldwide. Daniel co-founded Stop The Traffik in 2006, and is donating proceeds from the EP to the cause.
More EPs are set to follow the 2013 release, each showcasing a different facet of an artist who is eager to make up for lost time. Daniel says; “I am absolutely unafraid to suffer the consequences of my own mistakes” he points out wryly, does his best studio work stark naked. “Except when people are around,” he says with a smile. “Then I wear boxers.”
The best expectation, he warns, is to have no expectations at all. Which is what Bedingfield started with so many years ago before “Gotta Get Thru This” elevated him to U.K. garage hero.
The son of New Zealand philanthropists who relocated to London to work in the areas affected by the Brixton riots, Bedingfield and his two talented sisters, Natasha and Nikola Rachelle (The Golden Phoenix), were reared in a musical household surrounded by the diverse sounds of the time — the Police, Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan — as well as the reggae embraced by his family’s many Jamaican friends.
Those sounds still inform artist who fully embraces the DIY ethic: His new material, recorded on his M Box in bathtubs, state parks, parking lots, hotels and studios all over the world, draws from a sonic palette as vast as the planet itself.
“When I sit down to write a song, it's as if my whole self demands its birth — I don't really have any choice. And it has a core sound that I have to be faithful to," he says. “Which is why I’m not good at co-writing and why, apart from collaborations with some truly genius musical friends, I'm beginning to play most of the instruments myself.”
Ambitious, bold, brazen even; with this EP Daniel is taking a distinctly different approach from his former pop-loving, uber-calculated chart topping debut and venturing into brave new territory to carve out his claim as the wild and diverse wide-eyed crooner he's always been.