The iconic singer reflects on her childhood, mental health and what she wants from her future in a revealing new interview.
For so many of us, Adele’s music has been a soundtrack to our lives. As the Grammy, Brit and Oscar-award-winning singer has released musical snapshots of her most pivotal years – 19, 21, 25 and, most recently, 30 – we’ve grown up alongside her and those songs have become part and parcel of our own journeys into adulthood.
Now, as a guest on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs, we were finally given the chance to find out which songs have shaped the singer’s own life and in the process hear her open up about anxiety, the effects of sudden fame on her mental health and what it’s like to live under such intense media scrutiny.
“I’m quite a sad person and I don’t always know why,” the singer told host Lauren Laverne when discussing how she writes her stirring anthems about emotional turmoil and heartbreak. “Looking back on 19, 21 and 25, I get so many answers out of my songs for myself.”
Born Adele Laurie Blue Adkins in Tottenham in 1988, the singer revealed how she would go to gigs from the age of three when her mum, who was 18 when Adele was born, would sneak her into gigs under her trench coat.
She later attended the Brit School where she often suffered from a lack of confidence. “I don’t really think I put myself forward all the time like I could have – just like I don’t now. There were three massive vocalists in my year and I didn’t want that pressure that comes with ‘I’m going to put myself forward and what if I don’t get it’,” she divulges. “I was so anxious that I can’t enjoy it.”
As well as indulging us with her favourite tracks, including Dreams by Gabrielle, who supported Adele at her recent BST Hyde Park gigs, and Bills, Bills, Bills by her not-so-secret heroes Destiny’s Child, Adele explored her struggles with anxiety and what it was like to find such sudden fame at a young age.
“It was really intense and at times it was really hard to enjoy because I couldn’t keep up with the pace,” she says of her sudden success after a friend uploaded a video of her singing to MySpace. “It definitely got to the point where sometimes I didn’t even know who I was. I didn’t know where I was and what day it was. It was intense, but it was incredible at the same time.”
The singer also opened up about the media storm over her weight loss. “I understand why the press are fascinated by [my weight loss] because I didn’t share my journey like everyone else does,” she told Laverne. “Some people felt very betrayed by me, saying ‘she’s given in to the pressure’, which didn’t really bother me because you ain’t holding my hand at night when I’m crying my heart out with anxiety.”
It was finding a love of exercise that gave her focus. “It gave me somewhere for me to get rid go all my energy good or bad and it made me feel like I was getting stronger mentally by getting stronger physically.”
Now in a new relationship, but also in a friendly place with her ex-husband and the father of her son, Angelo, Adele revealed what she wants from life as she gets older. What will be on the cards when 40 or 50 are released?
“I’ve fuelled [media interest] in the past by being such a recluse. Sometimes it used to be two years and I wouldn’t be seen anywhere,” she says. “I was just hanging out at home, but I have a whole set-up about how I move and no one ever knows, just so I can go out and be completely carefree. But now the relationship that I’m in, he’s like, ‘If you want to go to that restaurant you should go and try the food at that restaurant and if you want to go to this birthday party then you should be going, you can’t miss out on these things.’”
“I definitely would like a couple more kids. It would be wonderful. If not, I’ve got Angelo,” she adds. “I just want to be happy.”
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