Example's new album is titled 'We May Grow Old But We Never Grow Up'.
While the rest of the world was in lockdown, EDM artist Example was performing at festivals in front of thousands across Australia. Now back in the Northern Hemisphere, he's making up for lost time.
Speaking from his old stomping ground in the UK, where he's based while doing the UK/ European summer festival run, Example – real name Elliot Gleave – says he is easily making up for lost time.
"Obviously we've had two years of COVID," Gleave says. "My busiest year until now was 2015; I had 128 gigs in total around the world. 2016 I think I did 35 festivals in Europe. This summer I've got 44."
Elliot will return home to Brisbane for two weeks this month, during which time he will celebrate his 40th birthday as well as the launch of his eighth studio album, 'We May Grow Old But We Never Grow Up'.
"It's quite serendipitous I guess, because 'We May Grow Old But We Never Grow Up' and I'm turning 40 yet I'm still making music when most of my peer group have disappeared," Gleave says.
"I'm probably in the best shape I've been in, physically and mentally, since I was probably 22 or 23.
"I have a couple of ailments, mainly with my calf muscles from jumping around or with my lower back occasionally, but that's just part and parcel being 40, I guess."
Elliot says he is "hungrier than ever" for success, and enjoys a happy home life with his kids and wife of almost ten years, Erin McNaught.
"You know, anyone who has been together for an amount of time knows that it's just full of ups and downs in relationships – some of which I sing about on this album," he says.
"There's a lot of sad songs on this album, which you'd think were coming from me being sad, but they're not actually about me personally. They're just about feelings or people I know.
"But also, no relationship's perfect. And there's a couple of moments on this album where, because I always sing about real life, you kind of get a glimpse into that as well. But it's never autobiographical; it's more just 'inspired by', if that makes sense."
Gleave's latest single 'Deep (featuring Bou and Nonô)' was written on his sold-out UK tour earlier this year. Bou came to see Gleave perform in Manchester on a Saturday night and was so hyped he went home and made the beat, which he promptly sent to Example.
"I wrote the song the Sunday night, and then the Monday I had a gig in Norwich, and on the tour bus on the way home I was singing what I'd written on the Sunday, and Nonô – who was my support act and features on the song – started freestyling to it," Elliot explains.
"We recorded it on the Wednesday, then on the Friday we performed it in Birmingham and then on the Saturday we performed it in London. I think we finished the song the next week, and decided it was the next single there and then."
Gleave says there are "two or three" songs on the new album that are "really hard rap songs", which last year's release 'Some Nights Last For Days' was good preparation for.
"That album kind of felt like the training ground for this new album," he explains. "When you write a purely hip hop album, it's like going back to the gym because of all the word play.
"Writing house music all the time, as a vocalist and producer, even though it's rewarding it can be quite repetitive.
"And as much fun as it is making dance music all the time, when you go to make hip hop – because it might be three minutes of pure rapping – it really sharpens your lyric writing and melody writing."
One of the tracks on the new record, 'Dot Dot Dot', features a Welsh MC called Local, and Brisbane local Nerve. Other Aussies collaborating on the album include Tommy Trash, What So Not, Lucy Lucy and Brisbane local Penny Ivy.
"[Penny] lives in Brisbane and she works quite closely with James Angus, who produced ten tracks on the album," Gleave says, "and she sings on seven of them, I think. She's an amazing songwriter and an amazing artist, and I feel like the music I make is better when she's involved."
Although the new album was made in Brisbane, Example says it's probably his most UK-sounding album ever, "considering the drum & bass and drill and garage".
"I feel like I've come from London, I've grown up in London and with the London music scene," he explains. "We have a lot of underground scenes here, like drum & bass and dubstep and grime and drill, and they've all kind of crossed over.
"I know Australia has its underground scenes as well, especially in rap and electronic music; I feel like everything from my past, in terms of music, has been shaped by London so strongly."
Gleave says he feels "a lot more relaxed" when he's in Brisbane and writing music. "Brisbane somehow seems really exciting for me musically at the moment, even though it's just me and Penny Ivy and James Angus working in the room," he laughs.
'We May Grow Old But We Never Grow Up' will be Example's first release through BMG, the label he signed with late last year.
"They work very differently to other major labels; they're more setup like an independent, and all of their deals are very favourable to the artist," Gleave says. "Or, they put the artist first, if you like."
Example has managed to put together a cohesive album, despite having collaborations with several massive Aussie names up his sleeve.
"When it comes to Australia, I've pretty much got up and coming singles or, you know, have been in the studio with all the big names," he says.
"The only stuff that made it to this album in terms of Aussie artists was the stuff that fitted the vibe of the album. I don't believe in just shoe-horning tracks into albums when they don't make sense."
Some of the artists Gleave has been working with include Peking Duk, Stace Cadet, Illy, Slumberjack, Set Mo and Nicole Millar.
"I'm chatting to Hayden James quite a lot; we're going to get in the studio when this summer is over," he says, "but I'm very excited about the Slumberjack song. We recorded that just before I left in April, and that is a really, really big song."
'We May Grow Old But We Never Grow Up' is an album in the truest sense. "We're kind of in this day and age now where a lot of people are only concerned with playlists, so they release an album which maybe sounds more like a playlist than an album," Gleave says.
"Whereas, I don't know, I'm kind of blessed with having so much verbal diarrhoea and so many ideas that I will write 50 or 60 songs a year, and then I'm spoilt for choice when it comes to putting together an album."
'We May Grow Old But We Never Grow Up' is released 17 June. Pre-order it.