Fri, 13 Jun 2008 13:48:02
If they ever decide to update the musical Fame, the producers might want to think about changing locales from New York City to London and basing it in the halls of the BRIT School. This performance arts-focused high school is currently enjoying a good run of success for its graduates, with UK chart-toppers Amy Winehouse, Kate Nash and Leona Lewis amongst its talented crop of alumni. Now the school's wall of fame can etch another name in its growing list of notable attendees, Adele Adkins.
After coming into the public consciousness by way of the industry's most powerful A&R rep, MySpace, Adele secured a record deal with independent powerhouse XL Recordings. It didn't take long for fans to fall in love with her soul-based brand of pop, sending her second single, "Chasing Pavements," to number two on the UK charts before catapulting her debut album, 19, straight to number one. Having proven herself at home, the singer is turning her sights on America, with the U.S. release of her album on June 10 and a coast-to-coast buzz-building tour. More than impressed with her debut, we tracked Adele down for an exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect. She talked to us about her meteoric rise to fame, lazy media comparisons and dating under the heat of flashbulb lights.
The first thing that struck me about 19 was the emotional depth of the album considering you're only 20. Were you always such a deep soul?
Not really, it's just because of what the album is about. I'm quite a different person normally.
There are obvious soul music elements to the album. Did you listen to a lot of classic soul artists coming up?
Well, Etta James is my favorite singer ever, so I listened to her a lot. She just made my DNA, really. She definitely influenced my songs, my style as a singer and me as fan of music. There's also Jill Scott and Eric Clapton as well. I wasn't listening to classic soul tracks and classic soul singers on purpose. I've just always done that. It was obvious they would be in my music in some way, just because I like them so much.
It's definitely there. How old were you when you first started singing?
I've always been singing, like in the shower and in the car. Wherever I could sing, I've always been singing. I went to the BRIT School when I was 14, and I studied music for four years. Singing wasn't really my thing, but I was so unhappy at my first high school, it was a bit of an excuse to leave. I went and kind of became a singer at the Brit School. I first sang in front of an audience with a microphone when I was 12, and it was actually quite a disaster.
The BRIT School has turned into something of a star factory lately. Do you feel there's something about the school that's special?
When I was there, I thought it was special. Out of all the singers, and well-known people, who have come out of that school, I was the youngest. I wasn't actually at that school with any of those other people, because in terms of school years they're like five years older than me. When I was there, there was absolutely no attention on the school. No one from the industry came to the shows. I think most of the people have come out in the last two or three years. When I went there for four years, I always thought it was special. I was always so surprised that no one came out and was big in the UK or America.
When you were there, you just focused on the music and not on getting famous. There's a little bit of danger that kids might come in with the wrong idea now?
Definitely. People might think they're going to be famous, but the school's been open for about 16 years, and around 20,000 kids have come out of there. Only seven people are known. When I was there, it was interesting to see how few people got a break.
I read that your album was directly inspired by some relationships you had.
The bulk of the album, like 11 songs, is about one boy, and then the others are from another boyfriend, when I was a bit younger.
The songs are so honest. Do you bare your soul like that in real life, or are you more sheltered?
I'm very open. I always talk about my feelings. When I was writing the album, I was so consumed with this relationship I was in that it didn't even occur to me that people would hear these songs. I was so oblivious to everything. I had written songs to get him, and that year, out of my system. I wasn't even thinking about it. I have to connect to my songs and have passion in them, because if I don't, I don't think anyone else will either. I have to believe in them, and I think that's why I have to connect with them.
Did you ever feel any sort of embarrassment when you realized people were going to hear such a sensitive part of your life?
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