“My sons are turn­ing out to be bet­ter men than I’ll ever be”

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - Q & A - In­ter­view by MEG MA­SON

High-achiev­ing women in the pub­lic eye are asked this all the time, but less so the men. By way of correction: how do you balance work and fam­ily? That’s a great ques­tion. Balance is the one thing I don’t have enough of. I try to main­tain it, with cer­tain rules. If it’s one of the kids’ birth­days, I’m there – noth­ing gets in the way of that. And if they needed me? I don’t care if I was on­stage, I’d stop the gig and call them to make sure they’re all right. You once de­scribed your­self as a crea­ture of habit. What’s the one thing you do ev­ery morn­ing to set up your day? Well, ex­er­cise most days. Let’s be hon­est, it’s not ev­ery day. [The] most im­por­tant one is my vo­cal lessons. Do you re­call a mo­ment grow­ing up when you re­alised “Oh, my god! I can sing!”? There was a teacher when I was 11 who be­lieved in me. Mr Wren. He sang and I just wanted to be like him. But was there a sin­gle mo­ment? No. I can’t re­mem­ber ever not singing. When I opened my mouth, it made me feel the whole gamut of emo­tions, so I never ques­tioned it or thought of it as a par­tic­u­lar abil­ity. It’s a source of life to me; to make a liv­ing out of it is in­ci­den­tal. You still take lessons? Of course! I work with a mae­stro… via Skype. You’ve been an in­dus­try fix­ture since the early ’90s. What’s the best de­vel­op­ment to oc­cur dur­ing that time? And the ab­so­lute worst? Dig­i­tal dis­tri­bu­tion and dig­i­tal dis­tri­bu­tion. On one hand, it’s bril­liant that you can reach so many peo­ple and get in­stan­ta­neous feed­back. But on the other hand, the fact peo­ple can es­sen­tially get mu­sic for free has changed it for the worse. A lot of stuff that’s be­ing cre­ated now is dis­pos­able. So, some of to­day’s hits won’t be around in 30 years? Ninety-nine per cent are not go­ing to be around next month! You’re just about to drop a new al­bum of stan­dards, cov­er­ing the likes of Ella Fitzger­ald, Frank Si­na­tra and Nina Si­mone. What made you turn to jazz? I don’t see them as just jazz, so much as re­ally great songs that have with­stood the test of time. They’re a sym­bol of ex­cel­lence. I’ve al­ways had a nat­u­ral propen­sity to­wards that kind of mu­sic. Even be­fore my first al­bum, I’d al­ways be leap­ing around singing Si­na­tra. You are sit­ting out the next sea­son, but you’ve spent a lot of time in Aus­tralia as a coach on The Voice. Do you re­mem­ber your first visit here? The first time I came was right at the be­gin­ning of my ca­reer, to do pro­mos, and I didn’t have a very good time – I ac­tu­ally went home early. But that was more to do with where I was in my life. When I came back to do The Voice, I just felt like I was com­ing back to do a TV show… and ended up hav­ing one of the most pro­found, life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ences. Are any of your chil­dren start­ing to dis­play traits you recog­nise as your own? Only the worst char­ac­ter­is­tics. Those are the glar­ing ones. But I’m so for­tu­nate with my daugh­ters, and thank­fully my sons are turn­ing out to be bet­ter men than I’ll ever be. Their teen years are on the hori­zon. Are you braced for a time when they start mock­ing you mer­ci­lessly? They didn’t need to wait to grow up to mock me – about my mu­sic, about ev­ery­thing. They’ve been do­ing that for years.

Seal’s new al­bum, Stan­dards, is out on Fri­day. He will play Blues­fest on Sun­day, April 1. Tick­ets are now avail­able at blues­fest.com.au.

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