Q& A

Seal tack­les the ’ 70s with a soul of the age, writes Cameron Adams

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Music -

Q: When you toured Aus­tralia in 2009 you’d just be­come a dad again. A: Yes, lit­tle Lou. She’s two now. Q: You’ll be back again in Fe­bru­ary. Are you bring­ing the fam­ily? A: No, not this time, they’re at school. Q: You’re about to re­lease a sec­ond Soul cov­ers al­bum, ti­tled Soul II, where you re­unite with pro­ducer Trevor Horn. A: That was the de­cid­ing fac­tor for me. Plus there were a bunch of new fans, peo­ple who hadn’t heard my mu­sic or my voice be­fore, teenagers. The songs on Soul they hadn’t heard be­fore, they as­so­ci­ated me with those songs. Of course, I didn’t write those songs. But be­cause of the new fan base, I wanted to make an­other al­bum for those peo­ple. What I didn’t want to do was just re­peat the theme of the first Soul al­bum, the clas­sic Amer­i­can song­book R& B tunes. That’s when I called Trevor Horn. I don’t think there’s any­one who knows my voice or is as re­spon­si­ble for what is per­ceived as the Seal sound as Trevor Horn. He’s lit­er­ally the DNA in my voice. Q: What’s your def­i­ni­tion of soul? A: It’s a broad term but I think if you sing mu­sic that is emo­tion­ally con­nected to your soul, you’re a soul singer. Bob Dy­lan, to me, is one of the great­est soul singers. Every­thing he wrote came from his soul. He’s the quin­tes­sen­tial soul singer, per­haps not an R& B singer but a soul singer none­the­less. Q: Soul was mainly ’ 60s songs, Soul II has a def­i­nite ’ 70s vibe, doesn’t it? A: They’re songs from my youth. That’s where you come across songs like Wish­ing On A Star, Love Don’t Live Here Any­more, Love TKO . . . I re­mem­ber when those songs came out, I was 13 or 14. I’m look­ing for­ward to singing Ooh Baby Baby by Smokey and the Mir­a­cles – it’s in a reg­is­ter of my voice I’ve never used on record. It’ll sur­prise some peo­ple. Q: You cover Marvin Gaye’s What’s Go­ing On – isn’t that con­sid­ered un­touch­able? A: [ Pro­ducer] David Foster asked me to do that on the first Soul al­bum and I de­clined. I only do songs I feel I can bring some­thing to. My first loy­alty is to the song, above all, the in­tegrity of the song must be main­tained. What’s Go­ing On is a per­fect song as far as I’m con­cerned. It’s sung by one of the, if not the, great­est male vo­cal­ists of all time. It has every­thing. It’s pop, it’s soul, it has a so­cial com­ment. There was no real jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for me to do the song, as much as I love the song, but it’s per­haps more rel­e­vant to­day than it was back then, which is de­press­ing. I didn’t want to do it un­less I could bring an an­gle to it. Trevor came up with the idea of do­ing the first third of it with an or­ches­tra with no drums, with­out chang­ing the song for the sake of chang­ing it. Q: You’re a fan of un­der­rated ’ 80s bands such as The Blue Nile. What about a Soul

III of ’ 80s songs? A: It’s an ab­so­lute pos­si­bil­ity. A friend of mine started se­lect­ing cover songs we’d do for an­other project: Depeche Mode’s Per­sonal Je­sus and an­other of their songs It’s No Good, which is a bit later. What a groove on that. Also, The Cure. It is pos­si­ble but right now I’m work­ing on an­other orig­i­nal al­bum. There’s a pat­tern, you do a cov­ers al­bum, then an orig­i­nal al­bum. I love writ­ing songs as well. Q: You’ve been linked to the judg­ing panel on the Aus­tralian ver­sion of The Voice next year. Any truth in that? A: It may hap­pen. I haven’t de­cided yet but it may very well hap­pen. I’m a fan of the show, I think it’s great. I love the fact you lis­ten to the mu­sic blind­folded, it’s all about the voice. It’s a great con­cept. Q: What’s the set- list like for the tour – soul cov­ers and your own hits? A: Es­sen­tially. The thing I love about do­ing these [ Soul ] records is when you re­alise I’ve pretty much been a soul singer my whole life. Peo­ple just want to hear good mu­sic, they don’t re­ally care what genre it is. They just want to know it’s real and it has in­tegrity and an emo­tional ac­cess point. SOUL II ( Warner) is out now. Seal will per­form at Mel­bourne’s Rod Laver Arena on Fe­bru­ary 15. Tick­ets on sale to­mor­row from Tick­etek.

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