Sam Smith: How A Brit Ruled Soul Music (Again) (Pg. 3)

Image is so important in the music industry. Do you ever feel pressured to fit a certain physical standard?

I think if we’re going to talk about the percentage of people who are ripped, and skinny and beautiful-looking, we’re not all like that. I will take a page out of Adele’s book. She said ‘I make music for the ears not the eyes.’ I will say that too. I make my music for people to listen to—for people to hear my voice and hear what I’m saying. I’m not bothered about what I’m wearing or my weight.

It’s funny you mention Adele because you’re being called the male Adele. And there are also comparisons made between you and Ed Sheeran. Is it frustrating to be compared to your fellow British singers?

Ed is at a completely different stage in his career and so is Adele. The similarities between me and Adele, I think they’re quite lazy, actually. What I do take from it is that it must be about songwriting, the fact that we don’t twerk on stage and we stand and actually sing.

“The similarities between me and Adele, I think they’re quite lazy, actually. What I do take from it is that it must be about songwriting, the fact that we don’t twerk on stage and we stand and actually sing.”

How do you feel about the fact that singing does often mean singing and shaking your assets.

I find that quite sad. The music industry has gotten to a place where there aren’t many artists who stand and sing and play, which is what they’re supposed to be doing.

You’ve worked with Mary J. Blige. What was that like?

Unbelievable. I find it hard to be myself sometimes on a record. Working with Mary was one of the first times I was just myself. Mary J. Blige shows who she is, flaws and all, and that is so inspiring. I call Mary a friend and I call her up and I’ll text her and she’ll text me just to see how I’m doing and to have support from someone like that is truly unbelievable. I am so privileged to be part of her record.

On the album, you sing about multilayered aspects of love but the lyrics are very simply written. Was that intentional?

Yes! What I wanted to do with the record is prove to people that I have been in love before even though I haven’t been in a proper relationship. In order to do that I had to write about it in its simplest form so people understand. Lines like “Leave your lover/leave him for me.” That lyric by itself is so powerful to me. I’m on my knees begging someone to leave their partner for me and if that’s not true love, then I don’t know what is.

Your music is not disposable or trendy. How do you think you resonate with the Snapchat generation?

I think it’s going well. We have a long way to go though. This interview we’re doing right now? It will be great and it will last for probably a year or two years. But when we write, we pour our hearts into our music and tell our personal lives in music, that’s that’s timeless and will last forever. I hope one day we’ll stop picking up OK! Magazine to find out more about the famous people we admire. Instead of picking up those magazines, we’ll listen to the record.

Is there any topic that won’t make its way into a song?

Umm, no. I talk about anything. [Laughs] I really am limitless when I write music. Whether or not you hear it is a whole different story. I’m not restricted. I go into the studio and I say what I want to say and if maybe it was a little bit too honest then my team will probably say ‘We want to protect you Sam, let’s not put that out.’ That definitely wasn’t the case with In The Lonely Hour—for that record, the more honest, the better.

You’ll earn several Grammy nomination. Do you care what musical category the academy will place you in?

Not at all. [Laughs] I don’t even want to think about it too much because I don’t want to jinx anything but if that did happen that would be unbelievable. Being nominated for anything is truly incredible.

In VIBE’s 21-year history, there have been very few white artists on the cover. When white artists who belong on the cover are showcased, there’s always a small population of VIBE readers who feel like, ‘why is there a white person on the cover when there are so many African-American acts that are out there?’ So the tough question becomes: Do you think you’d be as successful if you were a black man?

I’d like to think I would be. I would just really hope that would not be an issue. I think I would. I don’t think it’s about the color of my skin but what I’m saying in my songs.

If it all came to an end tomorrow, how would you feel?

I would sit back and say well done. You truly touched people and that’s all you needed to do. Even if you touched them once, with one album, that’s enough. Better than not doing it at all.