EXCLUSIVE: Sam Smith on his career and upcoming SA tour
In the short time that the 26-year-old hitmaker has been in the music industry he’s scored a number one album on the Billboard 200 chart with his sophomore album, "The Thrill of it All". Let’s not forget about his Oscar win for "Writing’s on the Wall,|" his theme song for the James Bond movie, Spectre.
Smith is set to perform in South Africa as part of his Thrill of it All tour, which starts in Joburg on April 14 and 15 at the TicketPro dome, and in Cape Town on April 16, 17 and 18 at the GrandWest Arena.
We spoke to the "Promises" singer ahead of the South African leg of his tour.
Smith said: “The journey has been incredible. It’s been life-changing in so many ways. It’s not been like any other 21-year-old’s life journey.”
Smith also said that five years in the spotlight had taught him a lot.
Both his projects have been critical and commercial successes, however, the two albums are different, thematically. On In the Lonely Hour, he focused on a failed relationship while The Thrill Of It All gave a more introspective look into his life.
Speaking about the difference, he said while he was writing his second album he was on the road and felt unsafe and weird. Following the end of his tour, he took a year off and stayed in London and went off social media.
“I basically turned my back on fame. And I found myself writing with people I’ve written with before and all the music was very internal, deep and dark. I’d say it’s just more honest than anything before.”
When he released his second album, he felt the weight of it. It was a reflection of where his head was at the time.
It was only during the last six months that he felt he was in a happier space.
And due to this he started to enjoy music again as he felt jaded post the events of his first album.
When it comes to Smith’s music, he is known for his heartrending ballads.
In one of his previous interviews, he said he tried writing a happy song but didn’t like it.
However, Smith had a change of heart and has since done more fun songs. But he still enjoys looking into the melancholy parts of himself.
“I actually think that it brings a lot of happiness with that.
“My fans and the people who listen to my music can identify with some of the things I’m saying and, hopefully, it makes them feel less alone.
“I don’t think any of the music is unhappy sometimes it can be darker and sometimes lighter. ”
Smith’s most recent single Dancing with a Stranger with former Fifth Harmony member Normani was an unexpected collaboration. He explained how it came about while he was in Los Angeles.
Smith was going through a break-up and went to the studio to clear his head.
Normani was at the studio too, attending a meeting. He thought she would be great on the second verse of the song and asked her to jump in, which she did.
Smith has always been open about his sexuality and in an interview with Jameela Jamil recently, he also came out as a non-binary and gender non-conforming person.
Expanding on his statement, he said: “Within that interview, it was a safe space; it felt natural to talk about something that I have been thinking about and exploring over the last few months...
“It’s been quite scary and it’s been a crazy journey.”
He said that since exploring his gender he felt incredible and more like himself.
For now, he would use he/him pronouns but it might change in the future.
He said his South African fans should expect a show that has become “gayer and gayer and gayer” as the tour has gone along.
“It’s a f****ing fabulous show and we’re having so much fun on stage.
“The show is a halfway house between album two and album three and it’s very uplifting.”