After her triumphant, record-breaking year, Adele faced surgery—and silence. With her voice back, she opens up to Jonathan Van Meter about fame, family, and what the future holds.
Every singer knows the List: citrus, vinegar, mint, dairy, spicy or fried foods, fizzy drinks, caffeine, cigarettes, and alcohol. These are the vocal cords’ enemies. And when one has a five-octave contralto as dynamic, award-winning, moneymaking, and record-breaking as Adele Laurie Blue Adkins does, one figures out how to avoid these things. Some require less effort than others. Mint? Vinegar? Feh. Cigarettes? Not so easy. Over the few days that I spend around Adele, I see her sneak a fag here and there. No one is perfect. But alcohol? For a once hard-drinking South London pub girl who has admitted that she has written some of her best songs after a few belts, I would have thought this might present something of a challenge. Not so much, it turns out. Adele hasn’t had a drink since last June. She gave it up cold turkey right around her birthday (May 5) last year. “Don’t like drinking anymore,” she says in an accent that falls somewhere between Eliza Doolittle and David Beckham. “I think I got it out of my system. D’yaknowhaImean?”
It is a chilly afternoon in mid-December, and we are sitting in a hotel bar in London’s Mayfair neighborhood. Despite the fact that it is perfectly warm inside, Adele is all bundled up. She is wearing a dramatic fake-fur hat that lends her head a cone shape, black jodhpurs, Chanel riding boots, and a great big fuzzy sweater-poncho contraption. Her plaid Sonia Rykiel bag sits on the banquette between us. When I order a glass of white wine, Adele doesn’t flinch. In fact, when the waitress asks what kind of white wine and I hesitate for a moment, Adele jumps in with a funny/charming/controlling burst of impatience and orders for me (she herself has a glass of cranberry juice). Within a span of five minutes, I am introduced to several of the explosive laughs in the Adele repertoire. There is the high-pitched hee! hee! hee! hee! hee!; the machine gun–fired ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!; the single, startling honk!; and the full-throated, rip-roaring cackle (it defies the alphabet) that she lets loose dozens of times a day. Adele likes volume, which might very well be her undoing in the vocal-cord department. Projecting one’s voice when one is not onstage is also on the List.
“I am quite loud and bolshie,” she says (British slang for unruly and clamorous). “I’m a big personality. I walk into a room, big and tall and loud.” Indeed. There is no doubt when Adele is in the building. The rule of thumb for protecting one’s vocal cords, she tells me, is: If people are more than an arm’s length away, you shouldn’t talk to them. “But I am like, Wah! Wah! Wah!,” she says, laughing. “It’s really bad.”
Has any pop star ever had a bigger year shackled to a bigger letdown? As the whole world now seems to know, Adele had throat surgery last fall and had to cancel the rest of her tour and disappear from view during one of the sweetest musical juggernauts in years. Her second album, 21, was the entertainment world’s favorite story of 2011. Released in January of last year, it sold more than seventeen million copies worldwide (nearly six million in the United States) and remained at or near the top of the charts all year. Despite the fact that she had to cancel so many shows, she still managed to be the highest-selling artist of 2011, largely because the album, which dabbles in R&B, soul, hip-hop, jazz, and country, crossed over to nearly every musical radio format save classical.
Her voice troubles actually began in January, right at the outset of the world promotional tour for 21. “I’ve been singing properly every day since I was about fifteen or sixteen,” she says, “and I have never had any problems with my voice, ever. I’ve had a sore throat here and there, had a cold and sung through it, but that day it just went while I was onstage in Paris during a radio show. It was literally like someone had pulled a curtain over it.” She flew to London the next morning to see her doctor and was diagnosed with acute laryngitis. After a couple weeks’ rest, she continued her European tour, came to America, and then her voice went again in May. “That was a hemorrhage,” she says, “a burst blood vessel on my vocal cord. That healed, I did a tour, and then it happened again at my best friend’s wedding on October 1.”
Adele and her team began to suspect that the problem was more serious. “I knew my voice was in trouble,” she says, “and obviously I cried a lot. But crying is really bad for your vocal cords, too!” When word spread in the insular music industry that Adele had throat problems, other artists’ managers began calling with the same piece of advice: Go see Steven Zeitels, M.D., in Boston, widely considered to be the preeminent throat surgeon in the world. (Indeed, he is currently working with Julie Andrews, trying to restore her pipes after a surgery by another doctor that diminished one of the great singing voices of all time.) Zeitels discovered a polyp on one of Adele’s vocal cords that would require surgery. “When I met him I loved him,” she says. “He made me feel safe.”
Her nerves were further calmed when other singers who have had throat surgery (some of them patients of Zeitels’s) reached out. “John Mayer had it done at the same time as I did,” says Adele, “and he really helped me be chilled out about it. Roger Daltrey’s had loads of stuff done; Steven Tyler reached out; Elton John. Lots of artists have had problems with their voices, but you don’t know about it. And they are still singing incredibly well in their 50s and 60s.”
In many ways, the worst part for Adele was how quickly the news mutated via the Internet into something of almost operatic proportions: She will never sing again! She’s suicidal! “Some [stream of unprintable invective here] spread a rumor that I had throat cancer,” she says in disgust. (In addition to one of the great voices, Adele also has one of the great dirty mouths of her generation. She relishes the word fuck—pronouncing it “fack”—and says it in nearly every other sentence. Get her going on a subject that raises her ire, and the obscenities fly like sparks off a welder.) “Everyone thinks it’s worse than it is. I stopped for a bunch of builders today at the office who wanted a photograph, and they were like, ‘How’s your throat?’ Everyone is so worried.” (This onrush of sympathy is an aspect of Adele’s life that can be a challenge. Rose Moon, who travels with Adele and works for her management company, tells me, “She just comes across as very approachable, just a normal English girl, and so people say hello and want to talk to her everywhere she goes.”)
Adele’s surgery was on November 3, and now it is nearly six weeks later. Is she singing yet? “I’ve started humming again,” she says. “I’ve been given the all-clear to start building my throat. I hadn’t sung for about five weeks before my surgery, and then I was in three weeks of total silence, so I have to build my voice back up to be able to belt again like I could before. So yeah. Been humming.”
A week later, just a couple of days before Christmas, I get Adele on the phone to check on her progress. “I have been singing for the last two or three days,” she says cheerfully. “Singing along to things, singing in the shower and the bath. And it feels really smooth. It’s not as husky as it used to be, but that’s because I was singing with a polyp. And it’s higher than it used to be. Which is a bit weird. I really thought if my voice changed an octave it would go lower. But it still sounds like me. It’s really easy to sing. It’s a pleasure. And I haven’t felt like that for quite a while.”
Adele got more than just her voice back—she got her life back. From the minute her career took off in 2008, she had been moving at warp speed. “It was so fast-paced, I could hardly ever even remember the bulk of my day,” she says. But then everything came to a halt, and she got her bearings. “I think I just needed to be silenced. And when you are silent, everyone else around you is silent. So the noise in my life just stopped. It was like I was floating in the sea for three weeks. It was brilliant. It was my body telling me to fix me. I had so much time to kind of go over things and get over things, which is amazing. I think if I hadn’t had my voice trouble, I would never have broached those subjects with myself. Now I just feel really at peace. And really proud of myself. I’ve never fully appreciated the things that I’ve achieved until now. In fact, my entire life has changed in the last ten weeks. I’ve never been so happy, and I love it.”
Adele has had a lot of time to think, too, about performing for the first time in five months at the Grammys. She was nominated in November for six awards, including the brass ring, Album of the Year. “I burst into tears when I found out,” she says. “And I would love, absolutely love, to win. This record is coming to an end, and that would be the final brick on it.” (Given her album’s magic, genre-crossing powers, it’s hard to imagine anyone else going home with the prize.)
One day in London, her publicist at Sony in the U.S., Benny Tarantini, brings her a bunch of year-end issues of American magazines, three of which had her on the cover, and one of which, Entertainment Weekly, contained a love letter of a piece written by no less than Julia Roberts. I watch from across the room as she absentmindedly flips through them while talking to Tarantini. When her miniature dachshund, Louis Armstrong, comes scampering up, she tosses the magazines aside and scoops up Louis, her priorities made visible.
It’s clear that Adele has very mixed feelings about the machinery of fame. When I jokingly ask her later if the novelty has worn off, she says very firmly, “The novelty’s not worn off.” She takes a second to think about it. “That Julia Roberts thing? I was flabbergasted. I no longer buy papers or tabloids or magazines or read blogs. I used to. But it was just filling up my day with hatred. So, loads of friends e-mailed me the Julia Roberts link. And that was truly like. . . . I can’t remember not knowing of her!”
And yet she doesn’t always enjoy the celebrity circus. “I hate the red carpet. I don’t feel insecure, I just feel like, Oh, I don’t want to do this. I literally get a stomach cramp. At the VMA’s last year I felt really out of my comfort zone because there were so many superstars there. But that’s been the case from day one. I never feel like, Oh, yeah, I should be here. And I was missing my best friend’s hen night. So I was a bit bitter that I wasn’t there, to be perfectly honest.”
Even if she doesn’t win the coveted Album of the Year, the Grammys promises to be the biggest night of her young life. “I’m definitely going to be singing ‘Rolling in the Deep,’ ” she says. “Because that’s been the biggest hit off the record in America. But I’m going to mix up a little bit—do a bit of a Beyoncé—to make it exciting. It’s kind of my comeback, really. There are a lot of people who probably think that I’m never going to sing again. So I will come for them and kick their arses.” (Heh! Heh! Heh!) Is she nervous? “I’m nervous whenever I perform,” she says, her already big eyes growing huge. “But seeing that it will be the first time opening my mouth again onstage in front of my peers? I’m shittin’ myself.”
This is of course one of the reasons Adele’s performances are so mesmerizing. She has a poignantly vulnerable stage presence, with her heart on her sleeve, and she sometimes cries over the still keenly felt heartbreaks that are the subject of most of her songs. As Adele puts it, “You can see the fear behind my eyes. The first TV show I ever did was Later . . . With Jools Holland, when I was eighteen, and I was sandwiched between Björk and Paul McCartney. And the fear in my eyes is exactly the same fear that’s in my eyes when I come on singing now. The more records I sell and the bigger this all gets, the bigger the shows get. It’s like a vicious cycle.”
Last September, Adele performed at Royal Albert Hall in London for the first time, and she and her management decided to film it for a DVD to be released in November. Once her voice went in October and she had to cancel the rest of her tour, it turned out to be an extremely fortuitous move. It is one of the best films of a concert I have ever seen—Adele standing onstage in front of a small army of female violinists, looking like a cross between Eva Perón and Dusty Springfield; she barely moves, communicating everything with her voice, the anguished look on her face, and her exactly dramatic-enough hand gestures. Adele claims she has given little thought to her performance style. “I definitely think that less is more,” she says. “I don’t think I could pull it off, doing an elaborate show. There are a couple of songs that are worthy of a few explosions and dancing teams and stuff like that. But I would feel really uncomfortable displaying my music like that. I just want to sing it. I don’t want to perform with my body.”
Her stage presence has more in common with Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, or Edith Piaf than with, say, the late Amy Winehouse, a singer-songwriter who went to the same performing-arts school as Adele and to whom she has often been compared. Adele is not rock-’n’-roll. She is not self-consciously retro. She does not shimmy or shake. Hers is a plant-the-feet-and-belt delivery that has all but disappeared from the pop landscape. It should be deeply uncool. And yet, there is something startlingly refreshing about her youthful elegance and commanding presence—especially because she is a 23-year-old Cockney girl from Tottenham. Adele transcends all notions of hipness. (Not surprisingly, when I ask her if there is an older singer whose career she admires, she mentions Sade. “I think she’s phenomenal. It’s all about the music with her. I have no idea who she really is, and I love it.”)
When I compare her to Garland et al and ask about her emotional connection to the audience, she says, “I think it’s because I write my songs; it’s my life. And it’s quite hard not to dwell on the tragedy of it. With those women, they usually didn’t write their songs, and yet they still link to them. When I sing ‘Someone Like You,’ I know that every single person in the room will be able to relate to it. That’s where that emotional connection comes from. I have sympathy for myself, I have sympathy for them, they have sympathy for me, and I know that we are all there knowing exactly how each other feels. It’s like a big pact. You can just feel it. You can slice it.”
But there is another element to Adele’s live shows: She talks a lot onstage, explaining what each song is about, the moment in her life that inspired it, and more often than not it is blistering and hilarious. She could easily have been a stand-up comic—a modern-day Cockney Roseanne. “I was always the joker at school,” she says. “But I didn’t really realize I had a natural sense of humor until I started telling stories onstage. You get the timing down. Also, people laugh when I open my mouth anyway, even if I don’t tell a joke, because they are laughing at my accent.”
Both of Adele’s albums are breakup records, which means that the stories she tells onstage tend to be about the exes who broke her heart and whom she sometimes eviscerates. “Even though my emotions aren’t with my ex at all anymore,” she says, “it’s still like stepping back into that really painful time. So every show is pretty emotional. It takes a toll.”
The man whom 21 is largely about is ten years older than Adele and has somehow managed to remain anonymous—an admirable feat in this era of phone-hacking tabloid journalism. More recently, Adele has been singing a slightly different tune about Mr. Wrong. “You know, he was amazing. He was great. But it was never going to work. And for ages I was like, As if he deserves any fucking kudos for inspiring my record. But now, after some time, it only seems right that the person who so far has had the biggest impact on me—has now changed my life for fucking ever with this album—deserves a little credit. I can do things that I never dreamed I’d be able to do. If I hadn’t met him, I think I’d still be that little girl I was when I was eighteen. And the best thing is, I now know what I want for myself and from someone else. I didn’t know what I wanted before.”
Onstage at Royal Albert Hall she says, “I know I play the victim on the album,” but “I do give as good as I get.” When I ask what her exes might say are her worst and best qualities, she yelps, “Oh, my God!” And then thinks for a moment. “I love a bit of drama. That’s a bad thing. I can flip really quickly. I am not bipolar, but I go from ‘Oh, my God, I love you’ to ‘Get the fuck out of my house!’ really quickly. And I never sit there and talk about it. I give them the silent treatment. They’re like, ‘Tell me what I’ve done so I can say sorry!’ What else? It used to be that I loved a drink a bit too much. But I don’t drink no more. The good things: I am attentive. I will do anything for my man. I am a good cook. I’m funny. Always want to have sex.” She cracks up. “Well, most girls don’t!”
There is, of course, a downside to being a girl who sings her own blues. For one thing, there is a widely held misconception that Adele is in a constant funk. “People think that I’m fucking miserable,” she says. “They are really surprised when they meet me that I’m chatty and bubbly and kind of quite carefree really. I’m the total opposite of my records.”
The other pitfall is that she has been so open that it’s hard to turn back the tide of interest in her personal life. “There’s so much attention on how I’m feeling,” she says. “But I think I have to be respectful of the fact that people are buying into me, which I think a lot of artists strive for and it doesn’t always happen. It gives me a boost that people like my music and seem to like me. On the other hand, I feel like I give so much that that boundary has been broken a little bit. I am not moaning about it, because it comes with the job, but I can’t go back to my London house, because the press are always there.” But then, she calls her own bluff. “After my first record, interviewers were like, ‘Are you going to be as sharing and as honest on your next record?’ And I was like, ‘No, I think I’ve learned my lesson.’ And then I did it again! But even more magnified!” She starts laughing. “So as much as I’m like, ‘I want to be private! Don’t take my fucking picture!,’ I did ask for it.”
When I repeat the notion that I have heard that it’s going to take a brave man to date her again, she says, “Come on! I’m wifey material! I’m great. No one’s got to be brave. It’s not like, ‘You fuck me over and I’m going to write a record and make you the most hated man in the world.’ I am never writing a breakup record again, by the way. I’m done with being a bitter witch.”
One evening, at Adele’s photo shoot in a cold dark warehouse in North London, she suddenly appears from behind a long black curtain flushed and all aflutter. Like a true diva, she goes running out into the street, barefoot, clutching her cell phone, in full hair and makeup, wearing a yellow Oscar de la Renta ball dress. When she reappears, she is breathless. She hands her phone to Rose and says, “He’s out in the car having a smoke. If he calls, go out and bring him in.” When the mystery gentleman appears a short while later, it quickly becomes clear that he is Adele’s new boyfriend, Simon Konecki, a big bear of a guy with a husky voice and a hipster vibe—he has the telltale full beard and a slouchy, gentle aspect. He hangs around, chatting up Rose and attending to his new girl when she gets a break from shooting.
Konecki, a 37-year-old former investment banker, is the CEO of Drop4Drop, a charity based in the seaside town of Brighton, about an hour outside London, whose mission is to alleviate the global water crisis by bringing clean water to developing nations. There is an Occupy spirit to his endeavor. “I was particularly intent on putting the responsibility of this problem on the extremely rich . . . and large corporate business that not only make grotesque profits, but often trade and profit in these underdeveloped countries,” reads one of Konecki’s quotes on his charity’s Facebook page.
“He’s wonderful,” Adele tells me later. “And he’s proud of me, but he don’t care about what I do or what other people think. He looks after me. I don’t think I would have gotten through the recovery for my surgery if it hadn’t been for him.”
One hopes this works out for Adele, a girl who seems to have a thing for older, bearish, manly men. (One day, when I ask her what her London apartment is like, she says, “It’s a bit of a cream dream. My favorite kind of interior is the entire look of the movie It’s Complicated.” She levels me with a look. “I loveAlec Baldwin. Oh, my God, I’ve got the biggest crush on him in that film. He’s so sexy.”) For someone so young, Adele seems to have a powerful urge to settle down and start a family of her own. Indeed, in three interviews, it is the topic that comes up the most. One day, I ask about her future. “I am fucking off for four or five years,” she says. “If I am constantly working, my relationships fail. So at least now I can have enough time to write a happy record. And be in love and be happy. And then I don’t know what I’ll do. Get married. Have some kids. Plant a nice vegetable patch.”
The fact that Adele was raised an only child by a single mum doesn’t quite paint the full picture. She has a huge extended family. “I’ve got loads of nieces and nephews,” she says. “My mom is one of five and everyone’s got kids and all the kids have started having kids, so when I say nieces and nephews I mean my second cousins really. Mom’s side is massive. All brilliant. Dominated by women and all really helping each other out, so even though she brought me up on her own, it was kind of a team effort.” (This, she says, is one of the reasons she is so loud: “You had to fight to get your voice heard because everyone was screaming and chatting at the same time.”)
Adele has talked a lot about how her mother, Penny, who is 43, started taking her to concerts very young. Legend has it that Adele went to see the Cure when she was just three years old. When I ask about Penny, Adele says, “She’s the calmest person, really strong and clever and beautiful. She is so slender, like this Turkish Greek goddess—she’s tan with big black eyes. And she is so easily moved. A real emotional person. She had me really young. And there was loads of stuff she wanted to do that she didn’t get to, so she’s making sure she’s doing it now. She is always up for an adventure. She does paragliding at the moment. Total opposite of me! I am a safety freak, a neat freak, can never be late!”
Adele’s father, Mark Evans, a 48-year-old Welsh plumber, split from Penny when Adele was three and now lives in Cardiff. Adele says she hasn’t really had a relationship with him in a decade. Last March, he sold a story about her to theSun newspaper. When I bring him up, I get hit with the full force of Adele’s anger: The Cockney accent thickens as the obscenities pile up. “I was actually ready to start trying to have a relationship with him,” she says. Here her voice deepens, and you can begin to see the hurt behind all the bravado. “He’s fucking blown it. He will never hear from me again. Because there is nothing that would upset me more than my dad being bribed by the press. It’s like, Just let them run it, then. Don’t you give them ammunition.” She sighs and then heads back in, even more furious. “It makes me angry! To come back after ten years and be like, ‘Maybe her problem with men comes down to me.’ It’s like, Fuck off! How dare you comment on my life? It makes my blood boil. It makes my family feel awkward, it makes my friends feel awkward around me, it makes me act awkward, it makes me sad. There’s consequences other than just getting a bit a fuckin’ money that lasts you half a year. It blows my mind. ‘I love her so much’? Really? Why are you telling me that through a newspaper?” And then she says, “If I ever see him I will spit in his face”—exactly the phrase she uses when talking about her ex-boyfriends.
Perhaps it’s too easy to assume that Adele’s compulsion to find and keep a man, not to mention her attraction to older men, is all part of a daddy complex, but it is tempting nonetheless. The fact that she so exquisitely expresses her heartbreak over the loss and betrayal of men in her life through her music may very well be because she’s been feeling that loss and betrayal since she was a child. When I mention that the lyrics to songs she wrote when she was still a teenager have such an emotional intelligence and maturity, she says, “I have no idea where it comes from. I don’t read literature. I don’t have a very big capacity for language and words. I’m quite limited when it comes to just chatting. But my head comes alive when I’m writing music, and I start using words and describing emotions I had no idea existed in me.” She stares at me with those big green eyes. “In person, I can never talk about my feelings either. If you were my fellow and we were having a serious conversation, I’d be laughing. Or just crying. I can never be articulate with how something is making me feel. I can never find the words.”
For someone who thinks of herself as not having “a very big capacity for language and words,” she sure has a knack for coining memorable phrases. The titles of her two signature hits—“Chasing Pavements,” off 19, and “Rolling in the Deep,” from 21—sound like lines that have been around forever. When I ask her about them, her answer reminds me that she is a tough girl from a rough hood. “ ‘Chasing Pavements’ came from me running down Oxford Street. I had punched my ex in a pub and then ran away from security. And then I just kept running even though they weren’t chasing me anymore. I was running from something. And I didn’t know what. I was just chasing a pavement. And I was like, Ka-ching! I will get my record-deal money now! And then with ‘Rolling in the Deep,’ there’s a gang phrase in the U.K., roll deep, that basically means having someone have your back so you are never on your own if you come into trouble. It’s a real gangster thing, but I think it’s really beautiful. So I just turned it into ‘Rolling in the Deep.’ ”
Adele knows of what she sings. Her birthplace, Tottenham in North London, is a largely African-Caribbean neighborhood with some of the highest rates of poverty, unemployment, and gun and gang violence in the U.K. When she was ten, she and Penny moved to Brixton, in South London, an even rougher neighborhood, before finally settling in a residential suburb in South London called West Norwood. “I always call myself ‘Delly from the Block.’ You know J.Lo’s ‘Jenny from the Block’?” She sings a few bars and then cracks up. “I think I was just a thick-skinned girl from a very young age.”
There’s a reason the hip-hop world has embraced her, and the feeling is mutual. She has a genuine fixation on Beyoncé—hands down her favorite artist—and refers to Mrs. Jay-Z a lot in conversation. “She’s been a huge and constant part of my life as an artist since I was about ten or eleven,” says Adele. “I love how all of her songs are about empowerment. Even when she’s married and Jay-Z put a ring on it, she releases ‘Single Ladies.’ Go get yours. Go get what you deserve. I think she’s really inspiring. She’s beautiful. She’s ridiculously talented, and she is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. I’m the total opposite. I can moan my ass off; I can be lazy. She makes me want to do things with my life.” (Is it a coincidence that Beyoncé named her brand-new baby girl Blue? And aren’t we glad that Penny changed her mind at the last minute and made Blue Adele’s middle and not first name?)
One day, hanging out at the photo shoot, I ask Rose, “What does no one ever ask Adele about?” and she says, “Movies. She’s obsessed.” So at the end of the shoot, as we are sitting in Adele’s chauffeured black Mercedes, her lady driver in the front seat, I bring it up. “I watch at least six or seven films a week,” Adele says. “Al Pacino is my favorite actor. I call him Al Pac. The Godfather is my favorite film. Scarface, Dog Day Afternoon, Scent of a Woman. And I love Martin Scorsese and Leo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis.” Noted: all very manly.
Does she have any acting aspirations? Out comes the biggest cackle of all. “No!” It is pouring outside, which is why we are parked at the curb. There is only one tiny dim light on in the backseat, and her beautiful face—with its full lips, flawless pale skin, and lush false eyelashes—surrounded by her leonine mane of thick, wavy, blonde-streaked hair, is lit as if for a close-up in a classic film. A face for the movies if ever there was one. “I did my acting debut on Ugly Betty,” she says, “and I cannot watch it. I play myself, but I was so sort of uncomfortable that I sound like an American putting on an English accent. I sound like Dick Van Dyke. I am the worst actress of all time. I’m like a fucking cardboard box! I’m awful. No, I have absolutely no intention of going into acting or making perfumes. I am a singer. I will stick to what I am good at and not spread myself thin and become mediocre at everything I do.”
In other words, Adele does not want to become a brand. Who wants to work that hard? “I find it quite exhausting,” she says of being a singer. “It wears me out. And I have a tendency to think I am missing out on things. When I am busy and on tour, I feel like I’m stuck in this bubble, and all my friends are going forward with things. But if I get emotional about it and Skype them, they say, ‘There’s nothing going on here. Absolutely nothing.’ So that’s what wears me out. Constantly feeling paranoid about my life, that it’s going to disappear and they are all going to forget me.”
Which is why, after the Grammys and after she makes up the last of the concerts that were canceled last year, she plans to go away for a long while. Indeed, she’s already made a move to the countryside near Brighton, where Konecki is based. “I want to set up my home. I need to lay some concrete. And I think that will really cure my paranoia of feeling like I am missing home, missing out.”
Most successful pop stars these days, all but forced by their labels to produce albums at a frenzied pace, don’t have that luxury. But because Adele signed with the British indie label XL, which licenses her music to Sony, she is under no such obligation. In other words, she has the clout to do however she pleases, even if that means, as she says, “taking four or five years” to put out another record. “I’m in it for the long run,” she says. “I don’t want to be disposable. You’re only as good as your next record. I’m not scared of losing this. I won’t come out with new music until it’s better than 21. I’m not expecting to sell as many records, but I don’t want to release shit. Also, I have nothing to write about! I’d be lying. And that would go against everything I’ve ended up building for myself. So, yeah, I will need at least three years to write a record.”
It’s as if by “laying concrete” instead of “chasing pavement” she hopes to give refuge, at least for a little while, not only to her voice—but to the personal life that has always fueled her songwriting. “I want to evolve as an artist. There’s so much music I don’t know about yet. I want to go on the road with my friends who are artists. I want to go and see things as a fan again. I am a fan, but I can’t remember what it feels like to be a fan anymore. Because I’ve become an artist. I’ve become the artist.”
– This woman is just amazing, such a class act, so talented and so real. I am HUGE fan of her and everything she stands for. There is no gimmick with her, just raw talent and honest music that everyone can relate to.