Singer, songwriter, producer, rapper and all round king of the club banger, Elliot Gleave is his real name - but fans know him simply by his superstar initials.
And he’s a real Example of how hard work pays off.
In just seven years the chart-topper has released five studio albums, 20 singles and 25 music videos.
He’s celebrated two number one singles, with Change The Way You Kiss Me and Stay Awake, 11 other top 40 singles and he last four albums have all topped the dance charts.
He sold out arenas all over the UK on his last two tours.
Now, after a busy summer playing to tens of thousands of people at the likes of V Festival in Chelmsford and Stafford, when he opened for US superstar Justin Timberlake, he is on a 27-date autumn tour.
And Sheffield music fans can see what all the fuss is about for themselves when he takes the spotlight at Sheffield O2 Academy, on Saturday, November 8, 2014.
But this time he wants to get up close and personal at much smaller venues.
What’s more, he personally chose each venue, town and city he will visit. Quite a few of the venues he has never played before, keen to make sure people did not have to travel too far to see him. He was also conscious that on previous tours there were corners of Britain that missed out.
He said: “We could go back and do arenas, but I thought rather than do that, let’s put the effort in and do a proper old school tour. I think there are about ten venues I have never played before; bearing in mind I have been touring since 2004 and have done probably 2,000 shows.
“It’s going to be pretty exciting. It’s all about hitting up every part of the country. There’s certain people who just can’t afford to travel to gigs, so it’s nice they can just get the bus or walk down to the place.”
So how does the 32-year-old prepare for a gruelling trek around the UK scheduled across two months?
“I am always flying from one place to another. In July I did 23 gigs in 30 days and took 27 flights. If I get two months off, which is very rare, I’ll get in and rehearse with the band, but in general I like to keep fit; because 90 minutes on stage four or five times a week, you have to be fit for that.
“I do vocal warm-ups and stretches, because I injured myself a few years ago and had to cancel a load of gigs.” Back in September 2012, he tore his Achilles tendon and on doctor’s orders was forced to rest; wearing a brace on his lower leg and foot and applying ice packs six times a day for two weeks. These days, he takes fitness seriously, as a performer who explodes into life under that spotlight, totally focused on being fighting fit for the Autumn tour.
He also reveals that all night drinking sessions and crazy partying for him and his band are not on the agenda during this tour. “We don’t really get too drunk; but we might open a bottle of whisky and have a sip each. We call it ‘band prayer!’ But we don’t do anything outlandish or outrageous these days.”
He relishes the chance to be able to see the faces of his fans at these shows, compared to the huge arena shows where he can be a good distance away from most of the crowd.
“When I go overseas, I am not as big in certain countries as I am in the UK, so you end up playing in front of sometimes 300 to 800 people, and you think, ‘I like being that close to people.’ It is easier to get your energy out to them and that spreads across the venue. You can see everyone’s face, rather than in an arena where someone at the back looks like an ant.”
He promises fans that he is not going to bombard them with obscure songs and loads of new stuff they do not know, and they can be sure that he will be singing all his hits. These will include his two top ten singles from the second studio album, Won’t Go Quietly, the title track and Kickstarts, his two number one singles, Changed the Way You Kiss Me and Stay Awake, plus chart hits from the current album Live Life Living, which was released in July, All The Wrong Places, Kids Again and One More Day (Stay with Me).
He said: “I think the key thing for people to remember is; I am not the sort of artist who’s just going to play the whole of a new album. I think you have got to play for the fans. You meet a lot of bands and they do weird shows where they are doing a B-side no one’s ever heard. I think; play all the hits, five or six songs off the new album, and give people what they want
“People paying to see a gig don’t want to hear some weird cover of something or a track released seven years ago that no one bought.”
Example will be backed by his full band and says the promise “a spectacular 90 minute show” and “all singing and all dancing,” featuring lasers, flames and lots of lighting effects.
But on second thoughts, he adds: “Actually, I don’t know about the dancing! I’m quite bouncy, but I don’t know if that is dancing.”
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Back in 1994, 12-year-old Elliot Gleave was challenged to a rap battle at a house party in London by an older boy, and the younger lad won hands down. He studied film directing and started working life in the props department on film sets in Australia where his family live.
At night he made a name for himself as a garage MC. A decade later he was signed by Mike Skinner from The Streets to his label, and with major support from Radio 1, tongues began to wag about him.
When his second album, “Won’t Go Quietly,” dropped in 2010, he broke through to the mainstream; singles “Watch The Sun Come Up,” and “Kickstarts,” were massive summer hits.
Speaking about his current top ten album - his fifth - he reveals it is dedicated to his wife, Australian model and former Neighbours actress Erin McNaught, now Erin Gleave. The title taken from lyrics from one of the tracks, where he is singing about the love of his life. “I don’t want to live life living without you….. It’s quite a romantic album, all about the missus. There’s about five or six tracks which are obviously about the missus, and about being all loved up.”
On July 23, Erin announced on Twitter that they are expecting their first child. Example explains how that news has changed his outlook. “The only thing that keeps me going now really is the thrill of being on stage. If I’m totally honest, I have achieved more than I ever thought I would. I am still ambitious, but I think I’ve adjusted my goals purely because I am married now and I’ve got a kid on the way.”
On the new album, he only raps on five verses, unlike previous albums where he has rapped across entire songs. “I don’t really see myself as a rapper. I haven’t done for three or four years now. It doesn’t do justice to all my peers, who are great rappers who make hip hop albums. I am an electronic artist, a singer and I’ve done a lot of production on this album.”
The next single, “10 Million People,” is due for release on 5th October. He said of the track: “10 Million People was written after watching a documentary on early 90’s rave culture. I found this video online where they were interviewing people at an illegal rave. The guy with the microphone said to one of the revellers, ‘surely this whole rave thing is just a fad?’. And the raver replied, ‘well 10 million people can’t be wrong’. It’s my favourite song on the album and feels timeless for me. “