He captured the hearts of millions of fans as the runner-up in the eighth season of American Idols. Adam Lambert’s style, edgy sound and passion have defined him as an inimitable artist, with two hit albums under his belt. Debashine Thangevelo caught up with him during his recent visit to South Africa, where he was Kickin’ It live on stage…
YOU can tell a lot about a “star” simply by observing their interaction with their fans (and the media).
Unlike Charlize Theron’s reported “diva” moment in Cape Town, where she is shooting Mad Max: Fury Road, rising star Adam Lambert’s affability places him in that league of extraordinarily humble celebrities.
Witty and genuinely charming, Lambert is also lanky and toned.
Wearing his glam look – dark mascara-covered eyes and (caked on) make-up – to complement that flawless hair, Lambert was a hoot at the Jozi press conference held before his concert. Heck, he even cracked a joke about Gaga and her penchant for wearing “meat” (dresses) to a journalist who was curious as to whether he performs any special “rituals” before a show.
During our one-on-one later, he shed light on South Africa cracking the nod for a spot on his tour.
“My management sensed a real demand here and I have a lot of fans I have never got to see. They felt it was time to make it happen,” the singer laughs.
On deciding to enter American Idols in 2009, Lambert recalls: “I grew up doing theatre, so I was always on stage. But in my twenties, I started doing professional work and just started feeling like I’m not getting what I’m after. Well, not the kind of creative satisfaction I liked. That is when I started kind of exploring what the reality is for someone who is a recording artist. And I met some people and started writing and singing demo vocals and really started paying attention to that industry.
“Then I realised, it is really difficult getting signed on to a label these days. To convince a label to take a risk on you, especially if you don’t have a fan base.”
And so his game plan was to use television as his marketing tool – hence American Idols.
His debut album, For Your Entertainment, climbed to third on the Billboard 200, and he sold 198 000 units in the first week, with hits such as the album’s title track, ‘Whataya Want from Me?’ and ‘Time for Miracles’.
And he got to collaborate with the crème de la crème on the music scene – from Lady Gaga and P!nk to Justin Hawkins.
Shedding light on his objective then, Lambert says: “I wanted to continue where I left off with [American] Idols. That is why I called it For Your Entertainment.
“There were some over-the-top tracks, with Whataya Want from Me? obviously the more emotional track.
“It was me still kind of experi-menting and putting together an album with a lot of different things. I just cast the net really wide and threw a bunch of stuff out there that resonated with people.”
Albums tend to also reflect the head space of a musician. With this in mind, I asked him where Trespassing slots in.
“The good thing about the album is I co-wrote a majority of the songs. I was also doing a lot of the producing. So it feels like it is very me. It was my exploration into stuff that is a little more dance-driven than my first album. Luckily, I have a fan base who are passionate, loyal and along for the ride and that gives me a lot of security in my creative experiments.”
As for the tracks that come from his emotional vault, Lambert smiles: “I met my current boyfriend when I was on tour. During the writing process I got to write about being in love and a relationship. It had been a long time since I’d had one, so I was definitely in a new head space. A lot of great things had come from that. Trespassing sums me up pretty well. I think people like Cuckoo for the fun and crazi-ness. Broken English, for me, is a personal favourite.”
What’s next then?
“I got to work with Bruno Mars, Pharrell Williams and Sam Sparro. And I had a bunch of sessions with others, too. I feel like I am still learning and growing, which is exciting,” he answers.
And so Lambert continues to be creative to keep his fans suitably surprised. Good on him!