Adele's new album 25 arrives this Friday, and while the singer has already been the subject of numerous cover stories, Zane Lowe managed to get the first video interview with the singer, which aired today on Beats 1 Radio. Over the course of an hour, Adele discussed what went in to 25, her struggles with stage fright, and the best moments from the recording process. Read highlights from the conversation below, and find out everything we know about her forthcoming album.
On the difficulty of making a new album: “No one else puts pressure on me. I will not stand for it. [But] how do I follow up 21? I can’t, it was so big… 21 isn’t even my record—it belongs to the people.”
On picking the lead single: “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” which is “much more poppy” was almost the first taste of 25. But Adele told Lowe, “I didn’t want it to be misleading what my first single was.” More of the album apparently follows the template set by “Hello,” so she went with that.
On the start of 25: “I started a couple of years before I actually started. I had nothing to write about, I had no inspiration, no chords were moving me. My mind was with my kids. If I don’t care, I’m not going to sing. ‘Remedy’ was the beginning of 25; I wrote it with Ryan Tedder in New York. It came really fast.”
On recovering from a bad day in the studio: “I can shrug it off because of the guilt every parent has about going to work and leaving their kid. If it was a bad day I’d feel really horrible and clear the rest of the week out to have time with my kid.”
On the best day of the recording process: “We went to LA for one last push. My first session was with Tobias [Jesso Jr.]. I was massive fan of ‘Hollywood.’ He hadn’t really done a co-write before. He wrote me the most beautiful song ever. He just nailed it, it was so beautiful. Then we just spoke for five hours outside. He told me all about his life, I told me all about mine. Then we just sat down and nailed it, just nailed what the conversation was. I just had my laptop and my phone running. I will write with him for the rest of my career I think.”
On working with Danger Mouse: “He’s like a sponge, he just soaks everything up all around him. I went to his studio in L.A. when I was there; I just love him. Next time I’ll probably spend a month to six weeks just working with him.”
On getting advice from her manager and Rick Rubin : “More often than not they’re telling the truth. And I know it. Rick was instrumental to 21 in terms of songs that made it onto the album. He was a massive part of that record. The things I learned off of him was what gave me the confidence to scarp the initial album and be like, ‘I want to have it like this.’”
On the definitive experience during the 25 recording process: “My boyfriend being like, ‘just write about whatever you want.’ With my other albums, because I was so candid, and so honest in my interviews… I didn’t really think about anyone else. I was only thinking about myself and I hurt people’s feelings do that. For a long time I was trying to write songs about my kid, which is the biggest thing in my life. But it was boring. I was trying to write songs about other people’s experiences or made up things because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings again. But when he said that, he was like, ‘do your thing, own it, do you what you want.’ Having my partner be like this is totally you, do you what you need to do, was quite a groundbreaking moment. Because I’ve never been told that by anyone I’ve been intimate with on any level.”
On her new love songs: “The love songs on this record are about overcoming obstacles in relationships. And that’s actually the best feeling in the world. I’ve never really had that. I’m also super fascinated by going from loving someone so much to hating them. That’s what ‘All I Ask’ is.”
On encountering the ex who inspired “Someone Like You:” “When I saw him, he was doing exactly the same thing he was doing when we were together, and it gave me a sense of closure. I was like, ‘we wouldn’t have worked out.’ It was great—I felt like in my head it was being soundtracked by fucking ‘Someone Like You.’”
On stage fright: “I get really bad nerves. I thought they disappeared… But I did a BBC special the other day, I was fine in rehearsal, then the minute my fans were in there, I froze again. I couldn’t control my voice. I also find something very lonely about touring. You play for so many people, and you go home alone.”
On her voice after the vocal surgery: “It was a lot cleaner. I used to smoke 20 a day, bottle of wine a day, shouting. It took a while for it to get its character back. You don’t realize how delicate your voice is because you used it every day.”
On sticking to the same form of music: “Sometimes I wish I had it in me to attempt to evolve record by record like legends do. But I don’t think I could pull it off. There’s only one Madonna.”
On her idols: “Bette Midler. Which is odd because some people probably perceive her more as an actress than a singer. Also Barbra Streisand.”