Adam Revisited


By Aaron Hicklin

Adam Lambert tells Editor in Chief Aaron Hicklin what he's learned in the two years since he appeared on the cover of the 2009 Out100.

And is that in contrast to earlier on in your career?
Well, I mean, we were trying to focus on the music, but there were so many other things being thrown at me and it was so fast. You don’t have time to think. We put the last album together in a month and a half—while I was on a nationwide tour with American Idol. I didn’t have time to think, to sleep. I was just doing what I could. And that’s hard when you don’t have perspective. Things get lost and you kind of forget the basics a little bit. And during this writing process for the past six or seven months, I’ve been living in a house in Los Angeles, I’m in a great relationship, I have some time to spend with my friends, I’ve had what has been the closest to a normal life since the whole American Idol thing. It felt really good.

The next album is that dreaded sophomore album, dreaded for a lot of people because an artist typically puts so much into their first album because it's been percolating in their head for years and the second, they’re under pressure to produce quickly.
I feel like it’s almost the opposite in my case. The process of making the first album was so fast. This is definitely the album that I want to make. I’m getting time with it, I’m able to say, ‘I want to re-record that vocal,’ or ‘Lets bring this song to another producer or a different beat put on it’. So I’m getting to immerse myself in the process. I feel like I’m getting to take the necessary time.

For you, when you’re writing a song, does it come from personal experience?
Well, the majority of the music on this second album I have written. There are a couple songs written by other writers, but for me to sing a song that I didn’t write, it has to be something that I can relate to personally, 100%. So when I get in the booth and I sing it, it’s coming from the most real place possible. It’s funny, when I started the writing process I felt totally exhausted. It’s like a decompression that happens after you’re on the road for so long. Real life feels so foreign and bizarre, and I was actually a little bit depressed when I first came back because I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt a little bit lonely and I was trying to get back into my friendships, but it felt like I had been gone for so long, it was strange. And I was trying to get over a couple of failed dating situations that didn’t go so well.

I’m sorry.
So my writing, in the beginning, gravitated towards something darker and moodier and angstier. And slowly over the course of this writing process, my relationship solidified, this was someone that I had met while I was on tour who had come to visit a couple of times at the beginning of this process and is now here permanently. I just got really, really happy and satisfied with life. I wanted my music to reflect where I’m at, and I can tell you that one of the first people I worked with on the album that was a physical turning point was Pharrell Williams.

In what way?
We had a really long conversation and it was interesting to get his perspective on where I was as a person and as an artist, because he’s someone that doesn’t know me—our lifestyles are very different—but he’s an incredible artist and a very intelligent guy and deep and spiritual as well. So we talked about life and everything that goes with it—about being an artist, about being a person overcoming adversity. And we wrote a song together that I think people are going to be really impressed by. After my session with Pharrell, I started working with some other writers and going in that direction. Going along with the trend of dance music was something I really wanted to go with on the album. I love my fans, and I want to give my fans the songs that they really eat up, but I also want to expand my audience if I can. And I want to make some music for my gay brothers and sisters. You know what I mean? I want to make the kind of music I would listen to if I were out in a club.

Which is what kind of music?
Dance music! My challenge was, how do I make dance music authentic to what I’m capable of vocally and what I do. That’s when I started getting into the funk arena. I mean, it’s still electronic, but it’s funky and it has a swing, and I was listening to a lot of Michael Jackson and Prince and we just started going in that direction.

What music inspired you as a kid?
My two biggies were Madonna and Michael Jackson. They were king and queen. And they both wore just as much makeup and were fabulous in their outfits and had music videos that were theatrical and cinematic, and that’s kind of the type of artist I see myself as—one that wants to create from the ground up, not only an amazing song, but on with a beat and a story and a look and a theme. I’m really hoping this album allows me those opportunities and that I can take my audience on that kind of a journey.

To read the original interview with Adam Lambert from 2009, click here.