E meli Sandé may seem like a relative newcomer but the 25-year-old has been carving out a career for herself behind the scenes for a number of years. Before she thrust herself into the public eye she was a writer-for-hire, penning hit singles for Professor Green (“Read All About It”), Chipmunk (“Diamond Rings”) and Wiley (“Never Be Your Woman”), and album tracks for Cheryl Cole, Susan Boyle and Tinie Tempah, leading Simon Cowell to name Sandé his favourite new songwriter.
Since signing a record deal with EMI in 2011, she has had a No. 1 and two No. 2 hits, and has been awarded a Brit and a Silver Clef. After completing her sold- out UK tour, she was invited to join Coldplay on their European tour. Her No.1 debut album, Our Version of Events, recently hit triple platinum sales (that’s over 600,000 copies and counting). Magazine critics, TV bookers, pop stars, punters and award ceremonies are utterly in love with Sandé’s outstanding songwriting, breath-taking vocal and credible compositions with plenty of crossover appeal.
A former clinical neuroscience graduate from Aberdeen, her writing ability, creative eye and mastery of the piano, guitar and cello make it clear to see why she’s one of 2012’s biggest stories in the world of pop.
With America setting its beady eye on her blonde mohawk, her goals, in keeping with her personality and her musical ethos, are both humble yet quietly ambitious. “I just want it to be great music,” she insists. “My intention when I was writing my album was that anyone could relate to it. I wanted it to be universal. I don’t want to be limited to a time or a place in my music. But you never know how people will receive it, so all I can do is sing my heart out.”
THE HUNGER: IT’S BEEN A PRETTY CRAZY FEW MONTHS FOR YOU. CAN YOU SUM UP THE SUCCESS YOU’VE EXPERIENCED OVER THE LAST SIX MONTHS?
Emeli Sandé: It’s been very fast, and a big learning curve in a lot of ways, but exciting. It’s quite surreal, because everything I really wanted to happen has happened and even more. So it feels like a very fast dream.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT?
That you will go crazy if you don’t ask for a day off. And no one will give you a day off unless you ask for it! Also that taking time to see family and friends is really important. This is the first time I’ve been doing festivals, so I’ve learnt about the energy, and how it’s so different from doing your own venues.
YOU WANTED TO BE A SOLO ARTIST FOR A LONG TIME. IS FAME AND FORTUNE ALL IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE?
I guess for me, I never dreamt of fame and fortune, I just dreamt that a lot of people would know my music, and a lot of people would respect what I do. So far, yeah, it has definitely lived up to every expectation. When you see people of so many different ages and from so many different places singing, or telling stories about your music, then that’s a really incredible feeling.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE WEIRDEST THING YOU’VE HAD TO GET USED TO?
People ask you questions that you’d never ask a stranger, that you’d never ask anybody that you’d just met. But it’s this weird other world where you’re putting yourself out there and you’re putting your music out there, so there’s an expectation that you share everything. People say, “So when are you getting married?” and I think, “Okay, we’ve just met each other.” I’ve had to get used to those things and how to handle them.
Read the full interview in Issue 3, out now. Subscribe here.