Adam Lambert talks working with Queen and the making of his all new album, ‘Velvet’
We meet the game changing star as he releases brand new music and sets off on a new path...
It’s been one hell of a year for Adam Lambert, whether performing at the 2019 Oscars with Queen, heading on tour with the iconic band or producing his own vibrant sounds, the superstar isn’t slowing down any time soon. Now, with it almost time to release his fourth studio album, entitled Velvet, the all round talent is ready to share some more of himself with the world. Four years after the release of his last creation, The Original High, plenty has changed in the world of Adam Lambert and he’s got plenty to give. We meet the
Hey Adam, how’s it going?
Really good, busy – super excited to get this project out! It’s like a baby and its been incubating for way too long.
Are you nervous to share it with the world?
Not at all no! I’m just super excited – not nervous at all – I’ve never been this not nervous. I look back on the last 10 years and in the past I’ve been confident but a lot more apprehensive when bringing out an album, but this time I’m just relieved and really calm about it. I believe in the music so much, I feel like I’ve followed my instincts and my intuition more than I ever have.
What has this new album meant to you?
It’s called Velvet and I’ve been working on it for the last three years. Part of the reason why it’s been a long process is because I chose deliberately not to rush. I wanted to experiment in the studio and work with writers – I reached out to people I’ve worked with before and lots of new people I met socially and I just started getting in the studio and coming up with songs. The sound of the project took shape on its own – I didn’t know what I wanted to do at the beginning. It’s an album that’s very timeless in my opinion. Sonically it references a lot of the music I herd in the house growing up: it’s retro. There are a lot of 70s and 80s choices in there and it lives in a world that is a fusion of new and old – it definitely has a vintage edge to it. Also as a whole I would it say it is more soulful than anything I’ve ever put out before – at least that’s what my friends have been telling me! Yeah, it’s Velvet – the word means so many different things. It feels smoother; it’s a very smooooooth delivery.
How do you think your music has evolved over these four albums?
I’m such a project-orientated person. I always like to have a world that each album lives in. A lot of that is in my own head, but it forms everything I do. This one is very specific in its sound and visually – a very specific companion to it. The first song is called ‘New Eyes’; I have a lot of different moods and energies in the album all living in this Velvet world. I chose this song because of the message and the mood – it’s a romantic song about needing someone who you are so inspired by you see the whole world differently through their eyes. The eyes are new for me, pair of eyes I’m discovering but also the person’s eyes are innocent – they see things in the light and with positivity, possibility and hope. Being around that person lifts me and makes me feel that way.
Does it feel like a positive time to be creating?
I think the beautiful thing about being a musician and having listeners is the power you can have over their mood or perception – to try and influence it for good is such a rewarding thing. The worlds crazy right now – there’s a lot of stressful things going on that creates anxiety. People are searching for meaning and hope. To me, the most powerful thing to combat these anxieties is love and happiness and connection. That’s one of the main themes of the album: connecting and finding what you need to find to be happy and content.
How does it feel to be a role model for the gay community?
It’s an honour. I was lucky enough to grow up in a really open family; they were really supportive of me when I came out at 18. Then I moved to LA and I became an adult and had my share of relationships and adventures and over the next ten years I had my own personal journey of identity and relationships. By the time I became a public figure I had already had 10 years to decide the man I wanted to be. So stepping into the spotlight at that point, 27, was a big time for me because I had had my own time. That really lends itself to be able to have leadership and open peoples eyes. I had a lot of fans through American idol who might not have even known a gay person before and so to be that catalyst for conversation was daunting at first but very quickly became obvious it was my responsibility.
Was your upbringing particularly creative?
Yeah, my dad was a college radio DJ so there was a tonne of vinyl in the house; my mum had a huge record collection as well. They always had music on, always, always. I ended up listening to a lot of the stuff form the 70s that they grew up with. My dad had a lot of classic rock and my mum listened to a lot of Al Green and Aretha [Franklin] so it was very diverse music. I associate certain songs with memories and a lot of that is my parent’s music. Being in the backyard with mum and dad barbecuing and listening to Bob Marley – I always remember that. So whenever I hear Marley I think of simpler times and sunshine.
Can you think of some albums that have shaped you personally in that way?
I mean obviously the Queen Realistic album that was a compilation – but a whole world opened up with that one. Obviously I’m the number one Freddie fan. Led Zeppelin was a huge one. The Rolling Stones – my mums a huge Stones fan. I mean you name it I heard it. My dad listened to The Grateful Dead a lot.
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"Playing to huge audiences all around the world and seeing them sing along and understanding the power of music is transformative to a person. It’s uniting, everyone sings along - it’s bringing an entire arena together which in today’s world is pure magic."
How has your experience with Queen changed you as a musician?
I think the power of the songs is that their timelines – they didn’t really follow any trends, they experimented with different sounds and musical styles – they were fearless. I’ve always enjoyed that side of things – they are proof it works. Playing to huge audiences all around the world and seeing them sing along and understanding the power of music is transformative to a person. It’s uniting, everyone sings along – it’s bringing an entire arena together which in today’s world is pure magic.
Growing up was Freddie Mercury a huge icon?
I didn’t quite wrap my head around to who he was until I was a teenager. Once you figure out who is Queen – you realise they’ve been in your pop culture subconscious the whole time. Their one of those bands that their songs are so iconic that you might not know anything about them but you know the damn song!
What should people expect from you’re tour with Queen?
We’re trying new visual component and trying to re-contextualise these songs, with new lights and scenery. We had a great time creating it together. People always ask if we want to record together and I’m not sure it makes total sense because it wouldn’t really be Queen because to me Queen is Freddie. My favourite thing is collaborating and putting these concerts together and creating on stage – it’s super fulfilling and exiting. To present these ideas to these two gentlemen – especially when they like the idea!
What else is coming up in the pipeline for you?
This album has been the focus of course; my intention is to create more visual content than I ever have which is kind of all I can say! But it’s a whole new ball game, I have a new manager and team and have wiped the slate clean for this project. I’m very excited to have a new set up in a new situation because it will make the project feel different – I’m just so excited! Touring with queen reminded me of what a great song is and why. It also made me realise that people see me singing these songs and this album is falling more in line with what queen fans will enjoy, more so than ever. I didn’t think that was on purpose, it was just natural, every studio session I’d use songs from the past which I’ve never really done. It feels very strongly guided by music of the past.
What would you see as the key influences were?
It’s the 70s for the most part. The fusion of rock, soul, R&B and funk and how they all fit together. Overall the album has more of an organic feel and you can hear all the instruments in it – I wanted to get on stage with a four-piece band and play. It’s not dependent on computerized sounds, there’s a lot more instruments going on.
If you could summarise velvet in three words what would it be?
Glam. Smooth. Sensual!
‘New Eyes’ is out now, stream here, and ‘Velvet’ is out later in 2019.