Sam Smith is a teen singer with good looks, great tunes and shimmering future prospects. Bent‘s Adam Lowe caught up with him to discuss where he’s heading, a life of luxury and, um, homework.
You’re only 16. How do you balance school and music?
The balance is necessary, I think. I love being busy and doing things. School grounds me, which is really important in this industry. There are frustrating factors to school life but I always have recording sessions to look forward to. I also have a strict routine of what to do, which keeps me from drifting into the clouds. I plan most of my evenings so I can get my work done and also have time to do singing practice and things on the musical side. It’s hard work, I won’t lie, but I cope.
You are a bit yummy aren’t you?
Am I? I’m constantly surrounded by beautiful people. I’m definitely not aware of my looks. It’s not something I really think about. But I love my body and who I am. I think it is very important to love yourself, otherwise you’re setting yourself up to have a bunch of issues. Then what would I do when they print a less-than-flattering picture in Heat? You have to be comfortable with yourself, otherwise why get into an industry like this?
Who are your musical influences and why?
I have so many musical influences, it’s untrue! Anyone who makes music is an influence to me—full stop. However, I was brought up in a house full of girls! So power divas are my true gods. I love Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston and all the big girls! Aretha, Dionne Warwick . . . and I adore Stevie Wonder and Prince and anyone with soul. I guess you could say my family listen to black music mostly and I would like to think that’s where I got my voice from. On the inside, I’m this warbling soul singer from the 60s. The one person, however, who has inspired me so much is Beyoncé, because her determination and hard work are inspiring for someone like me, who wants to achieve his dreams. She’s got a real energy and her voice is amazing.
Where do you see yourself in a year’s time?
I hope to be happy. I’m always happy now, and it’s nice to know, no matter what happens, I will still be surrounded by love. So I will be happy. I also see myself being fed freshly picked grapes from Africa, whilst being lightly sprayed by fresh-filtered water, with a long palm branch flapping in front of me and four people massaging me at the same time—with my hit singles playing in the background! But we can all dream, right?
What’s the best thing about what you’re doing right now?
The best thing is that I’m having fun. I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t enjoying myself. There’s no point. You only live once, and you need to be having fun every minute of every day. So that’s what I intend to do, and I’m loving it. I loved the recording period so much, but the photo shoots are also so much fun because you never know what the result will be. Sometimes bad and sometimes good, but I like that excitement, and I love fashion and that allows me to express myself.
What got you into music?
Music playing in the car. I always say that the tape player in the car was the reason I sing today. The car is where me and my family share music, and where I first sang out loud, belting Celine Dion. And my mum turned round and said, ‘Wow, you should get singing lessons Sam’.
What age were you when you started making music?
I was 10 years old. I wrote a Christmas carol and entered it into a carol competition. I lost. I didn’t even get a chocolate! That spurred me on, I think. I was determined to win that chocolate!
Is fame going to get in the way of your studies?
I don’t think it will because if things get really big then I need to make the decision if I’m going to carry on with my studies or chase after my dream. I made sure I got very good grades at GCSE so I will always be able to return to education. And I will hopefully get my As. All I want to do is sing, and school or no school I will do that. I want to follow my dreams, and having the grades to fall back on is just an extra added bonus.
Do your friends get jealous of your talent and fame?
Well if they did I wouldn’t class them as friends. Friends are supposed to be supportive, and I don’t have time for anyone who looks at the negative. Of course, there will always be people who will try to use anyone for whatever they can get, but I think I’m wise enough, even at 16, to keep away from those people.
Are you prepared to be a sex symbol?
If I was to be, I’d be flattered! Can anyone be prepared to be a sex symbol?