love, freedom and self-realization
Emeli Sandé loves science. The science of music led her to write her first song when she was only eight years old. Later becoming one of UK’s most sought after artists with hit singles like ‘Read All About It’ or ‘Heaven’.
The scottish artist also loves natural science, which led her to study medicin and finding her creativity within that field. Her history and creative approach find parallels with the famous artist Frida Kahlo, which is one of her biggest inspirations. Emeli is like Frida Kahlo, she is boldly herself. Which she also shows as the face of the newest Kurt Geiger Campaign.
Interview cought up with Emeli Sandé over the phone and asked her about her newest album, her stance on self-love and style.
Julia Deutsch I heard that you have a tattoo of Frida Kahlo?
Emeli Sandé Yes, I have a tattoo of her on my right arm.
JD Is there a deeper meaning to it?
ES She is a great inspiration for me and I wanted the tattoo just because it means a lot. I got the tattoo when I first decided to really dive into artistry and to commit to that. I was studying medicin and I was stuck in between those two worlds. So when I decided to be an artist I decided to get the tattoo of Frida Kahlo. I was first introduced to her when I was 16, it was in an art class. We were passing around post cards and learned a brief history of her life. I had never before seen a woman being so boldly herself. You could see a lot of pain in her art and that spoke to me at that young age. I just thought that she seemed like a completely free person – free in her expression, free in her identity and style. Since then I kind of grew up with her and learned more about her life too.
JD Do you see any parallels between her life and yours?
ES When I was in my early 20’s when I moved to London, I had to make wild decisions. Even it was very difficult I was really in tune with my instinct and following my heart. Music has been my biggest love, since I was seven years old. Following my passion was so easy but letting go of such a stable career like becoming a doctor (what my initial plan was), was the frightening part. But I can definitely see parallels between me and Frida Kahlo – she is so definite in her colour choices, especially in her portraits, it is uncompromising – I took that from her. The more I learn, the more I realize that we have a lot in common. She was going to study medicin until she had her accident and then went into painting. It is fascinating because not so often these worlds can go together. Also when you read about the pain in her life and what she was able to overcome through her art and through this self-examination. I just think she is absolutely incredible.
JD You mentioned following your instinct: when you first decided to study medicin, was it more of a gut decision or purely pragmatic? Are you thinking of pursuing this field later in life maybe?
ES I definitely thought about how I could go back to this career, perhaps not to a full degree but to study a scientific discipline. And you know, being seventeen and deciding which course to follow is challenging. As a teenager I really loved school and I loved science. So I had to decide if I wanted to study physics or medicin. Either way it would have been quite scientific. But then when I started the course, that’s when I started to really fall in love with it. I realized that I can still be myself and I can be creative within medicin and I loved the contact with people and the socializing aspect of it. I really want to do something that touches my mind and I really want to help people.
JD So now you connect with people through music. When did you start writing songs?
ES I remember I wrote my first song around the age of eight. I’ve listened to a lot of ballads, my Dad had introduced me to a lot of the divas of the time. So I studied what they were doing and I was trying to replicate it. I was proud of myself that I knew what a bridge and a chorus was. The song was called ‚Yesterday Is Tomorrow’. It was quite a deep one actually – if we don’t look back on our past, our future is going to be repeated because we make the same mistakes over and over again.
JD Oh, that is quite advanced for an 8-year-old haha.
ES Haha, yes. Very serious for an 8-year-old. But that was before I learned to play piano so it was only lyrics and a melody.
JD Which divas were you replicating back then?
ES Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and as I got older my father introduced me to more lyricists like Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin. That got me really inspired to learn the piano.
JD You just published your third studio album?
ES Yes, that is true.
JD Which topics did you touch on? How did the process go?
ES The process was really wonderful. It was produced in my house, so that was a very different approach to anything I had done before. For my first two albums I was at somebody else’s studio, it was still fun but this time I felt like I had a lot more creative freedom and control over what I was doing. I had a small writing team at my house and pretty much every day over the summer they would come through and we would jam. We wrote so so many songs – about one hundred. Nailing it down to eleven was very difficult. The theme of this album is love, freedom and self-realization. I wanted to make an album with a special energy, also where people could just come and escape the reality of the world for 45 minutes. I feel like it was a very pure time, it was all about the music and also meditation.
JD Where does meditation lead you to?
ES Self love. Essentially self love is getting back in touch with your inner truth. Which is something we all have in common – reconnecting with your inner god or goddess. Whatever name you want to give to this pure love within you. We are in a world with so much information and data, it never stops. It can become very overwhelming and distract us from that relationship with that very special part of ourselves. For me that meditation is important, switching off the information. So when you start to have this home you can return to, it gives your mind and your body and your heart this incredible refuge. This is where I have been able to build my self love and my self-confidence. It’s about putting the time aside and dedicating yourself and understanding that it is as important as going to the gym.
JD Do you have a favourite activity that your pursue in your free time?
ES At the moment I am just trying to catch up on a lot of films. There are so many classic films that I haven’t seen. I love movies and visuals because I have dedicated a lot of my last two years to music – now I am finding this whole new world. So I am pretty much doing nothing but watching great actors and directors.
JD Do you like expressing your personality through your style? Are you very attached to your fashion choices?
ES I love fashion and I definitely express myself through my choices. I don’t know very much about the fashion world to be honest. It’s nothing I have ever studied or been a deep part of. I see it like painting, really. All the colors to choose. I like to have a lot of different options and be flexible on my mood. I don’t splurge on super expensive pieces but rather have more options. I like to have some good accessories like Kurt Geiger shoes. For me it is quite impulsive buying to be honest and that makes up for my collection.
Interview JULIA DEUTSCH