VIBE: You pursued your career when everyone else was just going through puberty. What was that like?
SAM SMITH: I had six managers from age 12 to 18 and there were a lot of false promises letdowns as a kid, which wasn’t great. It made me very strong but I’m also wary—things can disappear quickly.
Was there ever any point where you thought about giving up?
Of course! I moved to London when I was 18. I had let go of my sixth manager and I said: One more year. You’ve got one more year to do this and do well. And with Facebook, I was witnessing all my friends from school having the best time and I felt like I wasn’t living my life.
In The Lonely Hour is filled with love and grief but there’s an air of romance to it. Are you a romantic?
I’m a huge romantic. I’m old school. I don’t like putting everything on the plate immediately and I don’t like when things are easy. I like being wooed and I like wooing people.
Were you ever nervous that coming out would impact your record sales?
Of course! I thought about doing it after the album was released. But that’s not true to me and I wanted people to know where I’m coming from on the record. But my fear was that some stupid people in the world weren’t going to pick up a piece of work that I was very proud of just because of their views. I listen to Beyonce albums, Stevie Wonder albums, John Legend albums. They’re straight people talking about love yet I can still relate to their music and they can still relate to mine.
“I listen to Beyonce albums, Stevie Wonder albums, John Legend albums. They’re straight people talking about love yet I can still relate to their music and they can still relate to mine.”
From what you’ve seen while touring here in America, is it easier to be a gay man in the UK?
Truthfully, it’s completely the same, which is surprising to me actually. It doesn’t seem to be an issue. I make music for everyone. Music is limitless, that’s what I like to think. Whether I’m in America or Japan, it’s all love and I hope it continues.
Aside from love being the major focus on the album, there’s also a lot of vulnerability. How comfortable are you with being vulnerable professionally and personally?
There is a power to weakness. At my shows I always say I made a pretty depressing record. But my album isn’t sad. It’s me talking about my issues and getting them out in my music so I don’t have to deal with them in my real life. It’s therapy.
How do you plan on growing and maturing and making mistakes as a man, in the public eye, without becoming Justin Bieber?
All I can do is have a good team around me. But at the same time, I want to make mistakes. I’m 22 years old. If I make mistakes, it just means I’m human.
What’s the best advice you’ve received so far in regards to your career?
It was from Lady Gaga. I was having a bad day and I was thinking, what is my place? Who am I as an artist? What do I stand for? Lady Gaga was on the Ryan Seacrest show and she said ‘I just hope that Sam stays himself and carries on being himself.’ And she’s someone I’ve looked up to my whole life and for her to say that about me was such an incredible moment. That’s all I need to do. Stop worrying and stop trying to look like a supermodel or try and sound like a certain type of artist and just be myself and enjoy it.