Emeli Sandé: The Interview!
She has already written songs for the likes of Tinie Tempah, Professor Green, Tinchy Stryder, Wiley, Cheryl Cole, Susan Boyle and The Saturdays, but is still relatively unknown. With work currently underway on her debut album, 23-year-old Emeli Sandé is not going to be unknown for much longer...
In an exclusive chat with The Wrap Up’s Stephen Almond, Emeli Sandé talks about her debut album, fulfilling her ambition of learning to play the cello, why she spends her spare time listening to Classical FM, how she could have been a doctor had her music not been recognised and much, much more…
The Wrap Up: Hi Emeli! A couple of acoustic tracks ‘Maybe’ and ‘Kill The Boy’ have recently been uploaded on to Youtube. Will one of those be your debut single?
Emeli Sandé: I don’t think ‘Maybe’ will be the first single. ‘Kill The Boy’ is under consideration and also a track called, ‘Heaven’. The first single will hopefully be released in a few months.
TWU: You have strong musicianship skills and play a number of musical instruments. How long have you been playing the piano and cello for?
Emeli Sandé: I’ve been playing the piano for a long time, erm, about 13 years. I’ve been playing the cello for 5 months and I love it! I have always wanted to play it. I’m having lessons with a great tutor and it is going well.
TWU: I understand you have recently started working on your debut album. What can people expect from it?
Emeli Sandé: It will be a very honest album. I love telling stories in my songs, so there will be lots of storytelling.
TWU: What genre of music will it fit into?
Emeli Sandé: To be honest, I’m not sure if it will fit into any specific genre. I will marry all my musical influences and put my interpretation across. I love listening to all different types of music. I’ve been listening to a lot of hip-hop. Being from Scotland, I like folk music as well. I like the way folk music always tries to find something interesting to say.
TWU: It sounds like your album will be totally different to anything we’ve seen released recently. When will it be released?
Emeli Sandé: We’re aiming for an autumn release. The album has a very sombre feel, so an autumn release would be ideal.
TWU: Will you be collaborating with any other artists on the album?
Emeli Sandé: I don’t think so. It will just be me showing what I am about and what I can do.
TWU: Which artist would you most like to collaborate on a track with?
Emeli Sandé: That’s a tough one. There are so many artists who I’d like to work with. I don’t know! I can’t pick just one.
TWU: Okay, pick a few artists who you would like to work with...
Emeli Sandé: Lauryn Hill would be amazing. Amy Winehouse too! I’d like to sit and watch how she writes a song because she is a great songwriter. There are also some classical composers who I’d love to work with.
TWU: Will you be doing any live performances in the near future?
Emeli Sandé: I will be in Amsterdam next week with Professor Green. I’ll also be performing at Abbey Road.
TWU: You have already featured on well-known tracks with established artists such as Chipmunk ('Diamond Rings'), Tinie Tempah ('Let Go') and Wiley ('Never Be Your Woman'). Are you frustrated that you are still relatively unknown to the majority of people?
Emeli Sandé: Not really. I enjoyed being in the background writing songs. I also learned experiences about the industry and how the industry worked. I learned how the record labels worked and I now know how to promote a single. I feel ready now!
TWU: What has been your favourite track that you have featured on or written for another artist?
Emeli Sandé: I really love the one I did with Tinie Tempah, ‘Let Go’. The track was written so quickly. Naughty Boy sent me it when I was in a hotel room and I loved it straight away. Tinie Tempah added great verses to it.
TWU: Ras Kwame once compared you to Ella Fitzgerald. How did you feel about that comparison?
Emeli Sandé: Flattered, extremely flattered. She is amazing.
TWU: Who have been your biggest musical influences?
Emeli Sandé: A cellist called, Jacqueline du Pré. She inspired me because she was so free with her pieces. When I was 15 or 16, I used to work at Virgin Megastores and I worked on the classical music section, so that’s how I found her music. People like Nina Simone and Tracy Chapman – who is an incredible songwriter – also influenced me.
TWU: People might not be aware that you have written songs for Cheryl Cole and Susan Boyle, both of whom emerged via reality TV shows. Had your music not been noticed, would you have applied for a show like ‘The X Factor’ or ‘Britain’s Got
Emeli Sandé: I don’t think so. Shows like that are a great platform for singers, but I love writing songs. I find songwriting interesting and I would find it frustrating not being able to perform my own songs. Those shows don’t give songwriters a chance.
TWU: Is it true that you were studying for a medicine degree before you secured your record deal?
Emeli Sandé: Yeah, I was in my fourth year of uni. I was studying to be a doctor.
TWU: Had you completed your degree? Do you think you would have forgotten about trying to break into the music industry?
Emeli Sandé: I don’t know if I would have put music on hold, as it is my passion and always has been. My friends from the course are now junior doctors, so I’m guessing I would have been in a similar position to them.
TWU: Tell me about your tattoo and the meaning behind it...
Emeli Sandé: I have a tattoo on my right forearm of a Mexican artist named, Frida Kahlo. Her story is so inspiring. I love her work. I like the way every one of her pictures tells a story and that is what I do with my music. She was such a strong woman who believed in her art and took her own route. She actually started at med. school, like me, but she was involved in a traffic accident that seriously injured her and she couldn’t complete the course.
TWU: What is your favourite song of all-time?
Emeli Sandé: There are so many. I couldn’t choose just one or name them all.
TWU: What music are you currently listening to a lot?
Emeli Sandé: Lots of classical music. I have Classical FM on all the time! With me being so busy working on the album, I need a break from lyrics and classical music gives me that.
TWU: What do you think defines a great artist?
Emeli Sandé: A great artist is someone who is an individual and fearless. There is too much pressure on artists from record labels to sell a certain amount of units that the quality of their music is often compromised. A great artist is someone who despite all of that pressure can deliver a song that is personal to them and tells an honest story.
TWU: Finally, what do you expect to have achieved by the end of the year?
Emeli Sandé: I just want to create a great album. All I want to do this year is get the album spot on and then it will be received well by everyone that listens to it. Hopefully!
Stay up to date with Emeli Sandé on Twitter – www.twitter.com/EmeliSande
Words: Stephen Almond (@LFCSteAL)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)