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the biG InteRview - adeLe

Did you ever cry while writing songs? “All the time. On ‘Someone Like You’ I am really crying. You can hear it towards the end. But I always cry when I’m writing songs. It’s sad when you’re writing a sad song, It makes me feel sorry for myself. But fortunately I’ve got things to do: I write and don’t lock myself away forever.”

Do you still see your ex-boyfriend? “No.”

Is that intentionally? “Yes. I don’t see any of my ex- boyfriends. There are three. I never let go if I see them. Maybe when I’m properly married and settled, aged thirty-five or forty, I’d be friends with them. But now it’s too much.”

You must be curious about his response to the song. “No. Well, maybe with ‘Someone Like You’. But I think he’s going to be upset and I don’t want to see that.”

Why will he be upset? “Because we were perfect and we were totally meant to be together. We just met at the wrong time. There was too much other stuff going on. I was busy with my career, busy with my family. Maybe we’ll be together again in the future, I don’t know. I think I’m constantly looking for him in other people. He was a few years older than me and really wise beyond his years. He made me feel alive and introduced me to a lot of new music and made me really passionate about food, wine, film, sociology, history and travelling. He opened my eyes to a lot of things. It was great, I loved it.”

When you’re finished writing a song, who’s the first one to hear it? “Probably my mother. Because we live together and I admire her so much. I’m not good at telling people how I feel about the time, so for her it’s a kind of keep up to date with her daughter. So I play her a song. But sometimes my manager hears it first.”


Not telling how you feel at the moment, that’s a really guy thing to do. “Yes, it is. I just realized that. I don’t like showing my emotions. I’ve been surrounded by women my entire life. It’s probably that I’ve heard them moaning about guys all my life and think: back off.” [Laughs] “But I’m not heartless, like some guys are. Guys get their anger out in sports, I get it out in songs.”

Compared with ‘19’, how many more people interfered with the making of ‘21’? “You know what? A lot less. I did most of the recording with Rick Rubin and it’s completely isolated in the studio. No one who’s not working on the record - me, him, the engineers, the musicians - is allowed in the studio. But I did work with more people than I did on my first record. I used more co-writers. The first album as 95% me writing, now it’s 65%. I feel I work better with other people, because you can bounce ideas off with each other. Each person brings a different side out of me musically. But in terms of interference of the label: they had no input apart from paying.” After which she laughs again.

When you write together you also have to give something personal away. “I agree with that. But I bond with the writer before we actually work together. We get to know each other. We go out for a drink, spend a few afternoons or a few nights out and talk things through. When I trust someone I’m very open. I tell them about the specific event I want to write about. A lot of them are older then me and I ask: ‘have you ever felt like this? Have you ever felt like that?’ So you get the kind of feeling you can both relate to. But no one touches my lyrics. No one else writes them for me. The lyrics and the melody are all me.”

Did 2.2 million sold records feel like a burden? “No, because I surround myself with people who’ve always worked with me. I don’t have new friends. I don’t have new people in my life because I don’t have time. I do not surround myself with people who tell me ‘yes’

all the time. All the people I work with, keep me grounded.”

So when you’re writing now you’re not aware millions of people will hear it? “Before I started working on the album, I was worried about that. But I was so devastated about my relationship, I didn’t care about my career. It left me completely clueless and isolated. Luckily that was a blessing in disguise.”

Concluding: you felt no pressure at all? “If someone says: ‘you’ve got two months to write a record and hand it in,’ I’m not going to write any songs. I need to wait for it and come. I’m lucky I’m on an indie label. They let their artist breed. My motto is: you’re as good as your next record. So why would I want to make a record in a short time and be scared of losing 2.2 million fans? I don’t like bands and artist who are rushed and make a sh*t record, because they think their fans will buy everything.”

When you play on a big stage, you seem very much at ease. Is that the case? “You think that? Oh my God, I’m crippled by fear. I have awful stage fright. The better I do, the bigger things get, the more I’m absolutely sh*tting myself. I don’t know what possesses me to do it. I’m going to die young from having so much stress all the time. I used to be nervous before the show and after half an hour be happy and at ease, but now I’m nervous the whole concert. Because people pay their hard earned wages. I never believe I’m going to please them.”

Don’t you get routine? “No. The more enthusiastic people get, the more nervous I am.”

So you can’t enjoy playing live? “I enjoy seeing the fans and the reaction, but I hate the feeling of pure dread.”

Do you have doubts about your voice? “I doubt my voice a lot. The singers I like are incredible, Aretha Franklin for instance, so I set the bar too high.”

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