First Time / Last Time: Example


What do winged monkeys and club violence have in common?

They’re two of many colourful extremes in Example’s First Time / Last Time journey.

From becoming a rapper simply to fit in at school, he’s gone on to whittle a unique electronic stick which resonates with the very foundations of our music while filling massive arenas the world over. His fifth artist album is due on June 30. Entitled Live Life Living, a few months back he revealed to UKF that’s it’s going to be “tough and twisted”. Teetering on the eve of its full release, he can now tell us a little more…

“The concept is for it to sound like a compilation from the 90s, but done by one artist instead of lots of artists,” he says. “I’ve ticked off as many sounds and dance genres of the 90s on this as possible.”

We’ve heard it. Trust us: He’s ticked more boxes than a driving examiner working on overtime. Let’s see how many other boxes his first and last experiences tick…

First Performance

I had ADHD and was pretty fucking mental. I was a terror in fact. I’d drive teachers insane!

The first performance I can ever remember was in school. I had ADHD and was pretty fucking mental. I was a terror in fact. I’d drive teachers insane! My mum would take me to a local drama group for something to look forward to after school and harness some of my energy. The first ever performance with them was as a winged monkey in the Wizard Of Oz. It wasn’t a huge part, I just made a few monkey noises and sang in the choruses but this was where it all started for me… I was about eight, it’s where my energy for the stage came from and I was never afraid to be on stage from that moment.

Last Performance

The last big show was at Ultra Festival in Miami. But the other week I played at the Brighton Dome for The Great Escape Festival where we also shot the video for my new single. It was really interesting… Instead of shooting a performance of me, the whole story is about a group of fans and what they get up to in the build up to a gig. It’s all about youth culture, boozing on the beach and pub crawls. I only play a cameo role in the video, appearing just at the end of it. Check it out!

First Record I Bought

It was Off The Wall by Michael Jackson. I remember buying it on cassette. Every one growing up in my generation was in love with Michael Jackson weren’t they? I loved him from before I can remember. And before I got into the whole Bad and Thriller thing I was all over Off The Wall which came out before I was even born. For me it’s his best album, I still listen to it now and I remember being so chuffed to actually own a copy of this for myself.

Last Record I Bought

I rapped to fit in; I was shit at all sports so I got into rapping.

I bought the Black Keys album last week. I think they’re wicked. I prefer this to their last album. It’s a pretty well-known well fact I’m more into rock music than I am rap or dance. I listen to dance music when I’m out and about. But when I’m home, or flying, or backstage or anything like that then I’m listening to guitar music. All guitar music from the 60s right up to today. I’ll always be a guitar music head at heart. Had I gone to a different school I may well have been a singer in a rock band. The school I went to shaped me musically; hip-hop and jungle and garage were what I grew up to. I rapped to fit in; I was shit at all sports so I got into rapping.

First Club Experience

I was about 17, it was 1999, and we went to a club in Croydon called the Blue Orchid. It was proper garage through and through. People wearing Patrick Cox Wannabee loafers, red Moschino jeans, Versace shirts. Proper garage days! We went down to Blue Orchid and had fake IDs to get in. I was listening to a lot of Prodigy and Nirvana and all that type of stuff growing up in my teens but I was too young to go to clubs or shows with that music. So this was the first real clubbing experience I had and I went, if I’m honest, because that’s where all the girls were!

I was hooked… In the space of six months I’d been to loads of clubs around south London but it suddenly stopped really quickly. The scene got violent, knives started coming out and things got ugly. So after that I stopped going to clubs for a few years. My clubbing adventures were stopped in their prime! For a few years after that I went to places in Notting Hill that played reggae. It was miles away from the violence and fighting. It’s so nice we’ve got amazing club cultures where people don’t go to fight. We’re miles away from the scene I grew up in. There’s a lot more love now.

Last Club Experience

A few weeks ago I went to Jack Beats’ Fabriclive mix launch. They’re good mates of mine. We check each other’s shows when we’re all in town to support each other. And I’ve always got time for Fabric! I tend to watch from the side of the stage because if I dance people will often stop and stare, even at places like Fabric where people are there for the music. I don’t want to take the attention away from the music and performers so I’ll have a lower profile and enjoy it in my own way. I’m not much of a dancer to be honest; when it’s my gig I love the attention but when it’s not my gig I don’t want to go down there, stand in the audience and steal my friends’ attention.

First Musical WTF?! Moment

The Prodigy’s Fat Of The Land. I really was like ‘what the fuck is this?’ Who are these people? Why are they dressed like that? What is this music? I’ve never heard anything like it in my life!

I was brought up to Michael Jackson, Prince, Rolling Stones… Everything my parents listened to. And I think when you’re that age you’re not aware of song writing or genres or anything. It’s just sounds that are either catchy or not catchy. You’re not aware of genres, cultures or scenes until you’re in your teens. And that’s when I heard The Prodigy’s Fat Of The Land. I really was like ‘what the fuck is this?’ Who are these people? Why are they dressed like that? What is this music? I’ve never heard anything like it in my life! It blew me away!

Last Musical WTF?! Moment

Todd Terje’s album without a doubt. It’s hard to do new sounds this day in age but this album is a complete reinvention of modern dance music. It’s got a bit of everything but sounds unique to him… which is so hard to do these days! Even when I try and do a slightly new sound my voice will always be on there, making it sound similar to everything else I’ve ever done. Unless I suddenly sing falsetto that will always be the way. It’s different for a producer but he’s still really broken boundaries and expectations with this. I loved it the second I pressed play.

First Release

A Pointless Song… It came out in 2004. It’s about having writer’s block, which was a very UK hip-hop thing to do at the time. Very self analytical, very self aware. Especially compared to what I do now, which is very literal. I was listening to a lot of Roots Manuva which is all very warped and very dreamy and I was trying to channel that inspiration. Maybe a bit of Braintax, Task Force or Jehst found its way in there, too. So that was my first release, it was on vinyl… I pressed up 1000 vinyls and we sold 300. The next release I was a bit more careful and only pressed 500 to begin with. But we sold 2500, I was so chuffed!

Last Release

Kids Again is the last actual release… Everything else is coming up. Kids Again is basically me on a mainstream music tip because the last single, All The Wrong Places, was such a different track for me to put out. I was under a bit of pressure to deliver something a bit more mainstream. I wasn’t so keen on that pressure, but Kids Again was probably my most mainstream track for ages and I love performing it live.

I could have released much harder music from the album but we went with that… And it ended up charting at exactly the same position All The Wrong Places did! One is 145BPM breakbeat hardcore, the other is a 130BPM progressive house club tune and they both charted in the same position. After that I think I won the freedom of the label… Don’t go with the most obvious choices or be too clever about it., listen to your gut istinct. One More Day is out on June 22, and it’s got that 90s nostalgia but also has a bit of edge about it and leads nicely to the album, Live Life Living. The whole thing is a love letter to the 90s. If you don’t remember the 90s hopefully this will mean something to you as it’s fresh music. And if you’re in your 30s or 40s then hopefully it will remind you of going out and partying. There’s no nonsense on it. No self indulgence. It’s for the clubs and festivals.