Seal Discusses His Album 'Soul', His Love For Music And America
Some may refer to him as 'Mr. Heidi Klum,' but be assured that Seal can hold his own in the spotlight. His self-titled album released in 1991 was the beginning testament to that fact and his first single 'Crazy' hit the top ten on the Billboard Music Charts. Released on November 11th in the U.S. and November 3rd 2008 around the world, his newest album is certain to soothe your aching or loving heart. Either way, you will be left feeling loved.
How are you doing?
Fantastic! Looking forward to going to see my wife. Yeahhh!!! [Very elated]. (He's been on the road a lot lately promoting his album).
I wanted to ask you, are you happy because we are living in a new day that represents change? I read that you stated in a Vanity Fair interview that you would leave America if John McCain won the election.
Yeah, you know it's so annoying. Such is the current state of journalism and how people just sensationalize everything. I never said such thing.
Well, apart from anything, it's just un-intelligent. Like why would I say something like that? And no, I didn't. What I stated is that with the current climate, this country was in need of a desperate change. And, for the first time in a long time, this country had an opportunity to be heard. For a long time I think the biggest problem is that it had been controlled by corporate America. And, the popular vote hadn't really been heard. And, for the first time there were two people, namely Senator Clinton and, in fact now President Elect, Barack Obama who inspired the young and therefore the future of this country to actually get out and take control of their destiny, their future and take their country back. What I did say is that my wife and I would always be okay because we have made a life for ourselves and we are pretty much international. We move all around the globe. So even though we live in America, we travel constantly. But, it's not as easy as that, we have three American kids who cannot leave because it is their country.
And people just blew it out of proportion. Boring.
It was all over the place like 'Seal joins the list of celebrities - Susan Sarandon, Akon, Michael Stipe' who would leave the United States if McCain wins. If you read different websites that was a bit of what was being said.
Well he didn't did he? So we are still here.
So it's good. You won't be leaving.
I was never going to leave in any case. But, I feel that if the people were not heard…I'm not even going to say if who won or he won, she won or who didn't win. What I am going to say is that there was such an excitement and an enthusiasm and a spiritual revolution going on in this country, unlike any I've quite witnessed before. It's not the fact that it was going on; it was the demographic that were excited. The future of this country. The moral backbone of this country…and I felt that if they were not heard this country would spiral into a state that it would be questionable whether it would recover from it. So, it wasn't a question of leaving. My kids can't leave. It's their country. This is also a country that I love. It's a country that has been good to me. It's a country that when I came here was the greatest country in the world and thank God it still is.
You do call it home now.
It's where we live.
I am glad we got that clarified so that people now understand what you were trying to say exactly in that Vanity Fair interview.
You are a British citizen, therefore at this point, you could not vote in this election.
No, but my wife could and did.
The name of your newest album is called "Soul" which was released in the U.S. on November 11th with 12 classic soul songs. What did this particular type of album at this point in your life mean to you?
It was a long time coming. These are songs that I grew up with. Songs that are part of my DNA. Songs that I've always had a natural affinity towards. I like this genre of music and I come from that. I just haven't really done that before. I guess it was about time. I was inspired. It's all about a moment. It's all about timing.
So you were ready for this type of album.
Well, yeah because I was being inspired by the social climate in America.
And you did the remake of Sam Cook's 'A Change Gonna Come.'
That was the one that started it. And, because I couldn't vote that was my offering to the cause.
That's good. It's also your first single that was released in the U.S. as well. How did you feel doing that record?
It was the greatest experience of my life, or one of the greatest experiences of my life working with David Foster. He's just a genius. Anytime you get to work with true greatness like that it's going to be fantastic.
You answered the question before I even asked. I was going ask what was it like working with David Foster because he's worked with the who's who of the music industry (i.e. Madonna, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Michael Jackson, Michael Buble, Julio Iglesias, Mariah Carey and so on). He's one of the best and legendary music producers out there.
I think that the album is a great album with all the classics. I was really touched by your rendition of James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World." Do you think that this new album will impact men and women in the same way?
The thing is that they are great songs aren't they? The reason why songs like that hang around forever is because they are great songs. I guess somebody's going to want to listen to it.
I think a lot of people are going to want to listen to it. It's not like you do bad music. I wanted your opinion on whether you think men would have a different point of view on the album than women would.
I have no idea. I have no idea.
I remember when I first saw your video 'Crazy' and I remember thinking 'Who is this guy and who does he think he is?' But, then I ended up falling in love with your music. Your debut album 'Seal' came out in 1991. How do you compare the man you were back then to the man you are today?
I don't. I never compare myself. That is always a question I get asked. I always think it is the most strangest question. Like how do you see yourself? I should ask you that question.
Well, because people change and people grow.
But, like that is an anecdote that I'm not prepared to give you [laughs]. I don't know how I've changed. I hope I've become a better person. I didn't look at myself a certain way…I mean how boring. Seeing myself, like in thinking, 'how I was then and how I am now.' I just simply don't do that. I live in the moment. I try and stay in the moment. I know I'm a lot happier now. I have three kids and have a wife who I love the hell out of and who loves me. Life is just fantastic. And, I am still making music. I'm making music that people want to listen to. Music that I enjoy. What could be better?
That's good. That's good that you are where you are now and that you are much happier with your life.
In terms of being an artist and coming from the UK, do you think that there is an issue concerning the opportunities available in the UK for black soul artist trying to make it in music? For instance, we have Estelle, she's paid her dues, but she sort of stood out more when she came to America as opposed to when she was in the UK. You also have British artists like Lemar, who as good as he is, has yet to cross over to the American market. Do you think there is an issue with soul artist trying to make it to the top or cross over?
That's an interesting question. I don't know you see. That's not something that can be answered with a simple yes or no. I think that historically, English people have had a kind of tendency to take something that already exists in America and turn it around in such a way due to our kind of weirdness and us being an island and not really a part of Europe, and kind of package it back to America. America's always been receptive of that. You take the Stones, Led Zeppelin, you take The Beatles, its all rhythm and blues based and we kind of packaged it in our own quirky way and brought it back to America. It was something the Americans hadn't heard before. But, immediately when you start trying to do classic soul and classic R&B to a point where you are trying to emulate sort of quasi R&B singers over here, Americans don't really have that much tolerance for that because they've got enough of it. So they're like why should we import stuff that we already have, in other words. It's difficult. Also, Americans are emotional. They buy on emotion. They buy on guts. There has to be a lot of emotion and feeling there otherwise, generally, you are not interested in it.
You have different British artist that try to make it in America. Some people make it and some don't. I think it also depends on who you know. You have artists like Lily Allen who cross over in no time at all. Then you have others who've been around for awhile and it takes years for them to make it here.
Yeah, because it's different. It is something that Americans haven't heard before. That is why 'Crazy' and all my earlier stuff were so popular. You hadn't heard that before. You kind of recognized it, but like not quite in that package.
Also, it's not only the packaging, but the video and how it looks. The whole marketing scheme.
Do you view yourself as a soul artist or a combination of pop and soul?
I see myself as a soul artist in a sense that I sing from my soul. Not in the genre.
What will be your second single coming out in the U.S.?
No, idea. They're all great songs so it could be any of them.
I think it should be James Brown's, 'It's A Man's Man's Man's World.'
I think it should be.
You do? Okay.
If there is one song on this latest album which someone should definitely have on replay, which one would you pick?
'I've Been Loving You Too Long.'
Interview by Doshka Harvey
Starpulse.com contributing writer
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