For those who think bedroom recording studios are solely the province of moody indie rockers, meet Daniel Bedingfield. The 22 year-old singer-songwriter, whose first single, "Gotta Get Thru This," has become a chart-breaking, #1 sensation, recorded the majority of his debut album, Gotta Get Thru This, in his bedroom, with the help of one computer and one microphone. "I did most of the recording alone in my bedroom and then tweaked it in the studio," Bedingfield says. "Seriously, I recorded half of that album in my underpants."
From such humble beginnings have sprung a pop triumph, an easy blend of R&B, pop, garage and funk that has planted Bedingfield firmly at the top of the British charts, earned him comparisons to everyone from Craig David to Stevie Wonder, and made "Gotta Get Thru This" a club and car radio staple everywhere from Brixton to Ayia Napa.
Despite the hopeless catchiness of its lead single, Gotta Get Thru This the album is miles removed from most of today's pop music. It may be the perfect record for those who like their pop records to have both grooves and brains. That Gotta Get Thru This succeeds so effortlessly on both counts can be attributed to the tireless artistry of its creator, who doesn't rely on Swedish producers or American hip-hop remixers for inspiration.
Birthing the album was a painstaking process, but Daniel wouldn't have it any other way. "It's very exhausting to do it all," he admits. "I just gotta do everything, from songwriting, to the recording, to playing most of the instruments and designing the videos. It just makes the most sense for me to do it, as the vision is continually unfolding in my mind. A lot of artists just want to be performers, but I love it all. It's all just a buzz for me, and whatever happens, I'm ready for it. I've always known since I was nine years old that I would be doing this."
Bedingfield was born in New Zealand, raised by social worker parents in South East London, and began writing songs at the age of six. By age nine, he was rapping along with a boom box at school, and starting a group with younger sisters Nikola and Natasha (they would play at the counseling seminars their mother
gave, and eventually at festivals throughout the country). He got his first synthesizer at sixteen, and wrote "Gotta Get Thru This," about the first pangs of young love, two years later. "I was in love with a New Jersey girl. I told her one day, and it turns out she was in love with me," says Daniel, who wrote the song while walking across Tower Bridge, on his way to profess his feelings. "It's a pretty positive song with a good message. I think that's why people can relate to it so much."
Daniel recorded the song in his bedroom, and, when he couldn't find any takers at London record labels, he wound up pressing the single on his own and sending it to three major DJs, without any expectations. "Gotta Get Thru This" was eventually chosen by mighty garage impresario EZ for a spot on the collection "Pure Garage 4." It shot to Number One a short time later. After a galvanizing acoustic performance on the famed Top Of The Pops, Daniel signed to Polydor UK, and began recording what would eventually become Gotta Get Thru This. Island Records had heard a number of Daniel's songs and met with him prior to the release of "Gotta" and enthusiastically took on Daniel as an artist in the US. "Gotta" is proving to be as explosive a hit single as it is overseas.
Anyone who has only heard the single might be surprised by the depth and complexity of the rest of the album, which is filled with the sort of clever and infectious dance-floor anthems and beautiful, multi-layered ballads that are staggeringly rare these days. Gotta Get Thru This offers no end of stunning tracks, from irresistible and innovative funk/pop ("James Dean," written three years later, on the way to another girl's house) to frenetic drum'n'bass'-meets-garage ("Friday") to the gorgeous and heartfelt ("If You're Not The One") to the soul and honeyed harmonies of "Girlfriend." "The album is so diverse, it's scary," Daniel agrees. "I wasn't even trying to make it so diverse, but the music I love is so broad-everything from old musicals to house music-that I couldn't make it any other way. It's melody-based, it's beat-driven, there's lots of harmonies, lots of funk. I like to describe the record as what it would sound like if Sting and Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder were in a basement, jamming together."
It's as apt a description as any, and considering the way audiences throughout the world are embracing Daniel Bedingfield and Gotta Get Thru This, it seems to be working. Daniel's fame in the UK (where "Gotta Get Thru This" is not only a smash hit, but Posh Spice's self-professed favorite song) is growing seemingly by the hour. "It completely changes things," he admits. "It feels like you're on show, and everyone's looking at you, but that's okay. I love doing telly. I love doing gigs. I've always wanted to play stadiums packed with people."
He might get his wish, though Bedingfield swears fame won't change his bottoms-up approach to record-making. "I'm going to keep doing what I do, no matter what. I think I'll always make records in my bedroom. That's just the way I do things." And when American success intervenes, "That's okay, too," he says. "I'll just get a bigger bedroom."