John Newman finds it difficult to write ''happy'' songs.

The 'Love Me Again' hitmaker, who lost two of his close friends in a car crash and had a brain tumour removed in 2012, says his life experiences have led him to write gritty songs.

John, 23, admitted, ''I struggle to write happy songs'', adding that he can't stand the new Pharrell Williams' hit 'Happy'.

He explained to Q magazine: ''Everyone always says, 'It makes me feel happy,' but then I always think, 'Oh f**k off, what's he even talking about?' ''

Most of the songs on John's debut album 'Tribute' were inspired by his ex-girlfriend and their break-up but she's now used to hearing his tracks about her on the radio.

He said: ''She was glad I was putting it out there and not just hiding it all away. She pats me on the back and says, 'Well done for growing some balls!'''

And although John is more experienced in love these days he admits he's been a ladies' man in the past and deejaying as a teenager gave him the opportunity to meet older women.

He recalled: ''I used to get with a girl who was about 19! That seemed really old to me. I was about 13 or 14 at the time. It wasn't a relationship, but it put me among the men.''

He joked: ''She's gonna get arrested now!''