By Echo Reporter

"BRING some comfortable shoes!" That's Craig David's advice when I ask him what fans going to his BIC concert next Sunday ( March 19) can expect.

It's clear he is planning a party and it is, in a way, a kind of celebration for the Southampton-born singer/songwriter, who admits he is thrilled to be heading back to his old stomping ground.

"I grew up DJ-ing across the whole of the south coast, so if it wasn't in Southampton, it was in Bournemouth. I was playing the Cage & Zoo and I remember going to see the Dreem Teem at the BIC when the garage thing was really blowing up.

"I've got great memories of going to Bournemouth and enjoying the beaches with my friends."

David, now 35, says travelling back to the area also reminds him just how far he's come from his early days securing DJ gigs.

"I feel like I can reminisce right back to being a 15 or 16-year-old kid, dreaming about doing all this stuff," he smiles.

"I can shut my eyes and I can remember how exciting it was to get a ten-minute slot at the Cage & Zoo. It was such a big club.

"So when I think about it, it's unreal to think about what's happened over the course of 16 years."

As if playing at the BIC wasn't enough, David recently announced his biggest ever home-town gig at the 15,000 capacity Ageas Bowl in Southampton on September 1.

"Over the years I've played the Guildhall and I did Common People last year, but this is on my own - and having grown up there and knowing the venue for so long, it was incredible to be able to announce that one," he says,

"It's quite surreal - it's something I never take for granted."

David was a big star on the R&B and garage scene in the early 2000s, after featuring on the single Re-Rewind, by Artful Dodger.

The avid Southampton FC supporter has released six studio albums and worked with a variety of artists such as Tinchy Stryder, Kano, Jay Sean, Rita Ora and Sting. He has 20 UK top 40 singles, and seven UK top 40 albums, selling more than 14 million records worldwide as a solo artist.

But he discovered success came with a price when he found himself a regular caricature on comedian Leigh Francis's TV comedy show Bo' Selecta!

It was rumoured that the ridicule caused him to flee the UK, although he later denied this and said his PR team had suggested he 'play hurt' by the mocking.

He did however, move out to Miami, where he continued to make music, and began hosting and DJ-ing his own party at his penthouse every Sunday - an event known as TS5 - and uploading the sets to SoundCloud.

"It was a great place for a holiday, but it wasn't a great place to produce music," David explains.

"Being from the UK, it was hard to be out there. So I moved back a year-and-a-half ago, and it's been game changing.

"To most people it seemed like I was off the radar, but I was travelling backwards and forwards, I was making music. But because I had been doing it from the age of 17/18, and it had just been constant album after album, I just realised when I was listening to music I was creating - by the time I got to the Trust Me album, when I listened to Re-Rewind, it just felt like I was in a direction which was so far removed from what I was creating.

"I was listening to the radio. But before, it didn't have to be related to what was playing on the radio - my thing was 'what's this trend in this club right now?'

"It was having that ability to realise and make a choice that I was off the path that I wanted to be on."

That 'game changing' moment David talks about began with a set at Glastonbury. He was given one of the event's smaller stages - but was stunned when 20,000 people came to see him.

He feels like he has now gone back to his roots.

"It was so nice to be able to just make the music in the same vein as I did," he explains.

"It felt like I was in touch. I've just got back to making music and not worrying about the outcome - just going to the studio and having fun with it, like I did back in the day.

"It seems to have gone in the same direction that I did back then. The people who grew up with the garage music and the R&B that I released in 2000, their younger brother and sister who were just being born around that time, they're now discovering it. It's having two generations. It's great to see those two generations connecting."

David's latest album, Following My Intuition, was released last September and he admits it brought with it a new-found wisdom.

"When I first started making music, I was just passionate," he remembers, "I didn't know what intuition was. I was saying 'I'm not going to go out with my friends because I want to finish this music'. There was something that was saying 'stay in and finish these songs'. Little did I know, that's what intuition is.

"I know the impact these songs have had on people's lives - I didn't know that was possible. With every song I make, it has the potential not only to make me happy, but has the possibility for someone to say 'my song of 2017 was this'.

"That's why I want to get up an hour early and go to the studio - music is what I love."

Craig David is at the BIC on Sunday, March 19. Tickets from