Daniel Bedingfield reveals the 'heavy toll' fame took on his mental health ahead of comeback

Daniel Bedingfield has opened up about why now feels like the right time to return (Handout)
Daniel Bedingfield has opened up about why now feels like the right time to return (Handout)

Daniel Bedingfield has opened up about why now feels like the right time to return after almost two decades.

The 44-year-old New Zealand-born and South London raised singer, songwriter and record producer caused pandemonium online when he announced in January that he would be playing his first UK live shows since 2005, including a date at the London Palladium.

It’s a belated 20th anniversary celebration of his 2002 debut album Gotta Get Thru This, and will see him revisit some of his biggest hits which have sound tracked the lives of millions, including If You're Not The One, Never Gonna Leave Your Side, Nothing Hurts like Love, and James Dean.

“People were starting to beg me to come back and it reached a point where enough people had asked me,” he told The Standard over Zoom from Los Angeles, which he now calls home.

“I wouldn’t have come back 20 years ago. It’s very exhausting being the subject of millions of peoples attention and even if it’s nice attention, it’s a lot. I have lived my life for 20 years and been a human being and had my feet in the dirt. I’ve been digging and gardening and farming and chickens and bees and fruit trees and fresh vegetables and that’s a key part of my Kiwi roots. So just grounding after getting that kind of success at 18/21, I wanted to find my humanity again.”

He disagrees however when asked if fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

“It is actually, it really is,” Bedingfield muses. “It’s really necessary and worthy of pursuit, it just takes a heavy toll. It’s not the fame that I was pursuing, it’s singing to that many people, having that many people in the concerts, it’s connecting to the crowd and that is worth everything.”

He goes on to explain that he has had stage fright exactly 13 times in his life.

“I’ve counted them each time because I’ve been like ‘what is this?’ Normally what happens is the excitement carries me into the gig and I’m just going. Now and again if you think too much, you get in your head and you get stage fright – it means you’re doing something wrong.

“I don’t think about anything before the gig. I completely distract myself with a Netflix show or whatever and stay disconnected utterly and the minute that it’s go time and you step on stage and the crowd is there, and the music’s playing and you have to sing… I sing a long note and find in my own voice a connection to myself where I can feel [exhales] there it is and it’s a spiritual thing as well. It’s like a heavy blanket that drops when you’re connected and that’s when you start performing. And if you miss any of those steps, that’s where you get sidetracked [and] it’s hard to be in flow.”

Daniel Bedingfield has teased new music is on the way (Getty)
Daniel Bedingfield has teased new music is on the way (Getty)

While Bedingfield, who followed up his first record with 2004’s Second First Impression, has an impressive arsenal of hits in his back catalogue, he also teases new music is on the way when asked what songs he’s looking forward to dusting off.

“My favourites are the new ones, but I’m going to play all the old hits and I’m going to reimagine them a little bit, I’ve got a new band. I’m putting together the set today and I’m really happy with it.

“Drum and bass is back now so I’m looking forward to playing some of these tracks the way I heard them in my head before drum and bass died.”

The former X Factor New Zealand judge is humble and seems uncomfortable when his role in helping revolutionise the garage genre is mentioned.

“When drum and bass died, we all wondered around in the desert for a year, like what are we going to do?” he explained. “And then garage came along and we also started going to each other’s gigs and making music for each other and then garage blew up and I would credit the whole 2000 producers and maybe 6,000 people that were going to all of the garage gigs. That scene is what blew Gotta Get Thru This up.”

He notes that a lot has changed in 20 years, including the rise of social media.

“Everything has to be social, you’ve got to have a TikTok and something has got to blow up on TikTok first,” he remarks. “It’s very hard for artists to get into the music industry now to make money and about 95 percent of the money made from streaming is legacy artists so stuff that was created before.

“When I was making music 20 years ago, everything had to be new, new, new, now I’ve had two decades of people really schooling themselves in the old classics. So I think you can pretty much make anything as long as you have an audience that would like to listen to it, it can be in any style now and I could not have imagined that 20 years ago.

“So that also means that I get to make what is in my heart now without having to shift it too much depending on what’s being listened to if that makes sense.”

Daniel Bedingfield will play Manchester Bridgewater on April 21, Birmingham Symphony Hall on April 22 and London Palladium on April 23. For more information and to buy tickets, visit Ticketmaster.co.uk