Yusuf/Cat Stevens has spoken to NME about his newly-announced album ‘King Of A Land’, in addition to his ideas on the Glastonbury 2023 legend’s slot, Rishi Sunak’s authorities, and his dream of working with Inexperienced Day. Try new single ‘Take The World Aside’ under, together with our interview with the icon.
The primary wave of artists for this summer time’s pageant was revealed earlier this month, with Arctic Monkeys and Weapons N’ Roses set to hitch Elton John in headlining the long-lasting Pyramid Stage – and Yusuf/Cat Stevens filling the coveted legends slot on Sunday afternoon.
Contemporary on the heels of the announcement, the long-lasting singer-songwriter – who first discovered fame ‘Matthew And Son’ when he was simply 18 in 1967, earlier than releasing the likes of ‘First Lower Is The Deepest’, ‘Father And Son’, ‘Morning Has Damaged’, ‘Peace Prepare’ and ‘Wild World’ – has at this time (March 15) revealed particulars of his new album, ‘King Of A Land’.
“I didn’t have a plan for what this album was going to be and, in a approach, I’ve been recording it for 12 years,” he advised NME. “I began recording it in Berlin in 2011, however I wasn’t pleased with the tracks I laid down there. Through the years, I’ve step by step been perfecting them. I dwell in Dubai, the place I’ve been including particulars in my studio. So it’s taken a very long time, nevertheless it’s benefitted from that.
“I wasn’t going to let go till it’s prepared and I’m very, very happy with the outcomes. It’s most likely certainly one of my greatest albums.”
Made with Yusuf’s longtime producer Paul Samwell-Smith, ‘King Of A Land’ is a fascinatingly numerous album, veering from the childlike marvel of ‘How Good It Feels’ and gospel-tinged ‘Highness’ to the politicised rock of ‘All Nights All Days’ and the heavy ‘Pagan Run’. The album is launched with infectious acoustic single ‘Take The World Aside’.
“I stored on feeling it was anyone else’s music,” he stated of the observe. “I’d play it to individuals, saying, ‘Who wrote this? It appears like certainly one of your songs’. It bought put to the again of the shelf, however each music has its time.
“As soon as I discovered the correct phrases, the daylight got here in and that music had its likelihood to dwell. It utilises a melody by Tchaikovsky, and I’m so happy I pays tribute to the primary composer who impressed me.”
NME caught up with Yusuf to debate his new file, in addition to why it’s taken so lengthy to get to Worthy Farm, his despair at politicians and admiration for Greta Thunberg, and why he’d like to work with Inexperienced Day.
NME: Hello, Yusuf. Congratulations on ‘King Of A Land’. It’s such a various album. The music ‘Pagan Run’ is a surprisingly arduous rock music. What impressed it?
Yusuf: “I generally write songs that target intervals of my life. ‘Pagan Run’ focuses on the actually tousled time in my life after I had no concept the place I used to be going. Happiness was so elusive for me, and I’d turn into superstitious. Some individuals solely have superstition, not religion, and that’s all I had. When Stevie Marvel got here out with ‘Superstition’, I believed: ‘Wow, he’s hit it on the pinnacle!’ Individuals say they don’t have religion, however they do. There’s all the time one thing the place you assume: ‘If I do that, it’ll save me from moving into hassle’.”
“‘Pagan Run’ took me again to that very confused second in my life. It’s an amazing rock music, so that you’ve bought two issues to hearken to: the phrases, and I feel it’s musically among the best rock songs I’ve made.”
In 1977 you transformed to Islam, altering your title to Yusuf Islam and quitting the music trade in 1979 earlier than step by step returning within the 2000s. Do you would like you’d had it simpler at that time, or are you glad you went via that darkish time to get to the place you at the moment are?
“I’ve by no means wished to vary something, because it’s the way you be taught and progress. Each drawback is a chance bought get somewhat increased on the ladder. I’ve all the time motivated to go ahead and do issues higher.”
How do you are feeling about enjoying the legends slot at Glastonbury?
“I’m petrified, clearly! I haven’t executed an enormous gig like that in a very long time. What number of a whole lot of hundreds of individuals is it?”
With out eager to petrify you additional, the official attendance is 195,000.
“There we’re. It’s teatime on a Sunday, when everybody has spare time to see whoever is on. That’s why I’m somewhat bit scared. However one thing normally helps you when these challenges are there to be met. I feel I’ll get that assist, and Glastonbury might be an important second in my profession. It took me time to say sure to the supply, nevertheless it’s a bucket checklist second. Lots of people want to see me dwell, and that is one huge go after they can do this. For me, I might have executed it years in the past, however I took that lengthy sabbatical in my life.”
It’s stunning you didn’t play Glastonbury within the ’70s earlier than that sabbatical. Why not?
“Possibly as a result of my music was liable to solitary contemplation, to working issues out inside your self. My music was microscopically essential however, for large issues? Individuals by no means danced to my data, they used them to take a seat down and pay attention. I believed that was my lot in life, that my songs made individuals sit down and pay attention.”
Will you be staying for the entire weekend and benefit from the full Glastonbury expertise?
“I don’t know, I’ll see how a lot I can handle. It’s such an enormous gig, I’ll be fascinated about my set and ensuring that goes alright as my precedence.”
You launched your first album as Yusuf/Cat Stevens with ‘The Laughing Apple’ in 2017. Do you see any distinction between Yusuf and Cat Stevens?
“Should you name me by my first title, it’s Yusuf. However I can’t deny the truth that most individuals consider Cat Stevens after they consider me. That’s their embedded impression of who I’m, what I’ve contributed to their life. And that’s OK. You may be many issues on the identical time in life: father, son, brother, and all these identities are OK.”
You re-recorded your traditional album ‘Tea For The Tillerman’ for its fiftieth anniversary in 2020, as ‘Tea For The Tillerman 2’. How do you are feeling while you revisit your previous songs now?
“Remaking ‘Tea For The Tillerman’ was a brand new approach of connecting to these songs. ‘Tea For The Tillerman’ was such an enormous album that it was somewhat intimidating for me, having a strong album that modified individuals’s lives. I’d been fearful of it, and revisiting it was my solution to reclaim it. It makes it related to me once more.
“The imagery on the entrance of ‘Tea For The Tillerman 2’ tells all of it: these have been the times of summer time and love, however now that individual is carrying a spacesuit as a result of it’s darkish and the air is so polluted.”
Talking of air pollution, what do you consider Greta Thunberg?
“She’s somebody who we dream of arising. There are nonetheless courageous souls, which is the best way of human nature. You’ll be able to assume life may be very darkish, however somebody like Greta comes together with somewhat lamp to make you assume: ‘Wow, I can see the best way ahead now’. She nonetheless has to cope with the institution, after all.”
You handle the institution in ‘All Days All Nights’ on the brand new album. How do you are feeling in regards to the present authorities?
“I say it clearly within the music: ‘Lock them up in London Zoo’. Politicians are supposed to take care of individuals, nevertheless it finally ends up as a squabble. Even when they imagine in what the opposition get together says, they should oppose it. That’s the default place in politics, which takes away the nice ethical incentive politicians can begin with, of wanting to assist serve individuals and save the world. That will get misplaced alongside the best way.”
‘King Of A Land’ is launched on George Harrison’s file label, Darkish Horse. May you are feeling George’s spirit while you have been mixing the album at his previous Surrey house, Friar Park?
“Oh, George’s spirit was there, after all. George left his spirit in so many locations, together with clearly his music. His son Dhani is the service of George’s legacy, and he protects it superbly. Friar Park is prefer it’s model new, as all the pieces within the studio works so fantastically. It was a pleasure and a privilege to work there. Strolling across the grounds, there’s fields and lakes, superb rock preparations. It’s simply stunning.”
How a lot do you retain up with trendy music?
“Not very a lot. I got here from certainly one of pop’s pinnacle eras, when there’d be a brand new milestone each week, so I are inclined to hearken to that interval most. However I really like Inexperienced Day due to their message. ‘Know Your Enemy’ is an unimaginable music with a message in regards to the Iraq battle that was proper on time.”
Would you be thinking about working with Inexperienced Day?
“Yeah! Wow, that’s a good suggestion. I feel they listened to my music ‘Bitterblue’ earlier than making ‘Know Your Enemy’, as I can hear little titbits of it within the chords and a few of the phrases. I reckon we might undoubtedly get it on.”
‘King Of A Land’ is launched on June 16 on BMG/Darkish Horse. Try the total tracklisting under.
‘Prepare On A Hill’
‘King Of A Land’
‘He Is True’
‘All Nights All Days’
‘One other Evening In The Rain’
‘Son Of Mary’
‘The Boy Who Knew How To Climb Partitions’
‘How Good It Feels’
‘Take The World Aside’