Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park

Ihope you’re well. It’s been a while since we’ve spoken. My first cover with you was on 13 September 2017, just before the release of my second album The Thrill of It All.

I think, like any 25 year old at that time, I genuinely believed that I had this thing called life DOWN. After a year away from social media and out of the public eye after my first album, I felt recharged and ready to slay.

In my head, I felt very focused and thought I was prepared for anything this album was going to bring me.

God, I was wrong.

There are a number of lessons I’ve learned through my career and I think the most important over the past few years is that no matter how hard I try, I will never truly be able to control the twists and turns that happen in life. If you are familiar with me and my music, then by now you know that I’m a sensitive soul. My emotions can be a bit of a rollercoas­ter at times and I didn’t realise how bad they can be until these past few years — it’s been a whirlwind, to say the least.

I recently read a quote by Jim Carey that summed up my feelings perfectly: “Your body needs to be depressed. It needs deep rest from the character that you’ve been trying to play.”

I feel awful moaning about certain things when I live an amazing life. I’m so aware how lucky and privileged I am. I am white and was born “male” ( whatever that means), so I don’t have to deal with the racism that people of colour face or the sexism that women experience. I have an incredibly supportive network of family and friends.

But still, I sometimes feel this great and heavy sadness inside, which often comes as part- and- parcel of my job and being a person in the public eye.

Releasing my second album was so fucking scary. My first album had sold 15 million copies by the time I was releasing my second project so I had a lot to live up to.

When I made my first album, I was a nobody and I felt free to be whoever, and express however, I wanted, but that follow- up album was diff erent. I felt a deep and heavy pressure that I didn’t want to disappoint my fans, my record label, or my family. But most importantl­y myself.

So, I did everything humanly possible to control the situation. I almost put on this weird metaphoric­al hat each morning and would ask myself, “What would Sam Smith do?” It was a very odd and self- involved head- space to be in. As each day went on, slowly and surely, my suits started to feel like straightja­ckets and my head started to feel more and more like a prison.

However, once my second album came out and the full force of my tour kicked off , the relief was incredible. While all this was going on, I was going through a relationsh­ip, and I think many LGBTQ people reading this will agree with me that anyone’s first queer relationsh­ip is a big one. Here I am at 25 and I have the same responsibi­lities as a 50 year old when it comes to career and money, however when it comes to love I feel like a confused 14 year old. It was really diff icult.

I was very much in love with my boyfriend at the time but I wasn’t happy. About four months into the tour, we broke up and I think this is when my “avatar” ( as Jim Carey would say) started to fail me.

I remember, as a kid, asking my mum,



“What are you most scared of for your children?” ( I know, I sound like one super- fun child!) but my mum replied and said, “I am dreading the day you are all heart- broken.”

I remember thinking, “What the fuck. Heartbreak can’t be that bad.”

Like mums always are, she was right. Heartbreak fucking kills.

I felt as if my chest had been blown up into little bits. Thank God I have the family and friends and team I do, because everyone got around me and cradled me and slowly helped me put the pieces back together. But looking back, I am so incredibly thankful because this heart- break and genuine pain was almost like pushing the first domino. Self- refl ection began.

I started to get back into the studio, and I wanted to write to get out some of my heartache. In the past, I would sit and write incredibly sad songs and it would be so therapeuti­c. However, this time all I wanted to do was dance my emotions away.

The minute we broke up, I made a play list of strong female leads, something I like to call “pussy- popping anthems”. If I couldn’t get myself out of this heart- break slump I would rely on the people in my life who have always been there for me. Britney. Beyoncé. Rihanna. Robyn. Whitney. Mariah. Joni. George Michael. Destiny’s Child. Lady Gaga. Ariana. Fifth Harmony. And so many more.

These women ( and George, bless his soul), these humans have always been my lifeline. It was time for me to set myself free once again. Thanks to the support of my family and friends alongside these inspiratio­nal women I learned to love myself and realise I was in control of me.

Like all of those strong women I know in my life, I stood up and I thought: “Fuck this. It is time. I don’t care if I never sell another record. I can’t do this any more. I miss feeling completely free to be myself.”

So, the hard work began. I looked in the mirror and all I saw was a huge disconnect­ion. I didn’t like what I was seeing. I didn’t like myself. And that’s absolutely

NOT acceptable. My mother and father put a lot of time making me, and I will damned if I don’t honour them by trying to love this person I see.

I started to ask myself some big questions, and it was heavy. Therapy was a huge factor in getting me to this space but even with that support, it was heavy.

I went on holiday to New Zealand and found myself by the poolside again, not wanting to take my top off . Normally, I would just not go in, or comically take off my top and run as quickly as I could into the pool so I could hide under the water. But this time I took my top off and set myself a task, saying: “Keep your top off for an hour around the pool, just an hour. And see how it feels.”

And it felt AWFUL. I felt so self- conscious and vulnerable, but it was so freeing and felt so right at the same time.

I started to eat what I wanted without hating myself afterwards. Food has been a friend and a true comfort my entire life but that relationsh­ip had become unhealthy and it was my aim to heal that friendship and eat without guilt, and I did.

As I became more confident and happy in my skin, the war with this “character” I had created was still very much a war.

And it still is to this day. But nothing good happens easily. In the words of Cheryl Cole, “We have to fight, fight, fight, fight... fight for this love.” And I have, and I am.

I am sitting here writing this as I am in LA writing my next album. The music I have coming is so fucking exciting. Finally, there are no rules. I am going into the studio and I am singing my heart out in whatever way I want every day and it feels amazing.


I love my fans very much and I’ve realised that, and I think every artist who has had success realises this, the people who love your work just want you to love your work. Because if you love your work, you can see, feel and hear that. Fifth Harmony genuinely MOVE me. Britney genuinely saved me. Just as many songs save people, Christina Aguilera’s Fighter was my life source. And I am done apologisin­g for that. I’m done feeling shame — something I think the entire queer community struggles with every day because we are born in a world that still believes we are aliens.

I love our community. For a long time, I didn’t. After my fuck- up at the Oscars and after some cold and abusive experience­s in certain gay bars in London at 18, I almost felt hated by the community. But now I have realised that it was me who was hating me.

We are beautiful. We are survivors. And we need to hold each other close and express as much love and kindness to each other as we can. We’ve all been through a lot.

So here we are, Attitude. I am writing this on Saturday 28 September and I’m 27 now. Today, I feel moderately happy. Tomorrow I could feel even happier or I could feel super- sad. But whatever happens, I have myself. And the last time we spoke, me and me weren’t friends.

So, thank you for letting me celebrate this lush new relationsh­ip I’m in, on your cover and in your hands. I love you, Attitude, and I am for ever thankful to you. I’ll always remember meeting you for the first time in my local Londis. Hiding in the tincan section reading you while my dad was shopping for food.

Look at us now.


 ??  ?? Sam wears coat and
trousers, both by Alexander McQueen,
shoes, by Syro
Sam wears coat and trousers, both by Alexander McQueen, shoes, by Syro NOVEMBER 2019
 ??  ?? Sam wears shirt, by Ashish
Sam wears shirt, by Ashish NOVEMBER 2019
 ??  ?? Sam wears suit, by Dior, shoes, by Syro
Sam wears suit, by Dior, shoes, by Syro NOVEMBER 2019
 ??  ?? Sam wears top, by
Bottega Veneta
Sam wears top, by Bottega Veneta NOVEMBER 2019
 ??  ?? Sam wears shirt, by Hope at Matches Fashion HAIR AND MAKE- UP Jo Hamilton, using Glossier FASHION ASSISTANT
Isaac Dann
Sam wears shirt, by Hope at Matches Fashion HAIR AND MAKE- UP Jo Hamilton, using Glossier FASHION ASSISTANT Tamsin Beeby PHOTOGRAPH­Y ASSISTANT Garth McKee DIGITAL OPERATOR Isaac Dann

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