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Adam Lambert Sessions: Glambert's 'Dark Side,' Plans for Fatherhood & 'Trespassing'
On May 15, Adam Lambert returned with Trespassing, the long-awaited followup to his 2010 debut. The album presents the "American Idol" alum as a man at odds, its first half a parade of electro-inspired party anthems, followed by a glimpse at Glambert's "dark side," a series of emotionally charged ballads, marking a collective departure from the decadent glam-rock that won fans over on "Idol."
Lambert recently visited AOL Music's Los Angeles studio, where he performed a selection of songs from the new album, showcasing his tremendous range, whilst trading jokes with his band. After his impassioned performance, we talked with Adam about his incredible journey from "Idol" contestant to pop icon, touching on everything from his relationship with boyfriend Sauli Koskinen and their plans for fatherhood, to the inspiration he's received from his loyal fan base. Lambert also opened up about the "dark side" of Trespassing ... the side he's previously kept hidden from his fans.
Tell us a bit about the album title and how you came up with it. Do you feel like a trespasser?
Yeah, the album title is Trespassing, it's the title track because, to me, the song "Trespassing," is like a mission statement. I wrote the song with Pharrell Williams, who is an amazing, great pop producer, and I felt like the lyrics of the song summed up what I'm about as an artist and as a person. I do feel like a trespasser, but not in a literal sense, because I don't think I've broken into any property recently. On a more figurative level, I feel like I'm very different than the normal dude. I'm pretty eccentric, and as far as the music industry is concerned, I feel like a bit of an outsider. There are times when I feel like I'm breaking new ground by breaking in. Hopefully this album let's people kind of see that rebel.
What was it like working with Pharrell? It's an interesting combination.
I was working with my label on this album, and when we started it was kind of going down a similar path to what I had already done, and I just wasn't feeling totally inspired by it. And I said, when I listen to these certain funk songs in my music library, it puts me in a good mood. It makes me want to dance, it makes me smile. I realized that I really wanted to make feel-good music and we started talking about some producers and knocking around some names, and Pharrell came up, and I thought, "Wow, if he'll work with me, I'd be totally thrilled." They confirmed it, I got to the studio and I thought "I'm not cool enough to be here, this guy is the coolest mothaf--ka out there." He's shaped pop and hip hop over the last decade and I was a little intimidated. What was cool was, after arriving at the studio and sitting down and talking with him, we connected on an intellectual level. He's so smart, and he's so big picture. We talked about the music industry and life and identity, and one of the main things we talked about, which kind of kicked off the song "Trespassing," was different types of discrimination, and fitting into the world and finding your own path. I think that's what "Trespassing" is really about. It's about saying "I know I may not be welcome here, I know I'm different and I know you're saying 'keep out,' but I'm not going to let that stop me. I'm going to do what my heart is telling me to do and do it proudly."
Obviously a lot of great things have happened to you over the last year, you have a loving relationship and an album coming, but you've mentioned that you have a dark side, or dark half to the album. Where does that come from?
I think everybody has ups and downs. Everybody has their good days and bad days and we all have that little voice in our head -- or maybe I'm just talking about myself! Maybe I have voices in my head and everybody else doesn't, but you have qualities and tendencies that probably are a little bit masochistic. We all do things or say things to ourselves that aren't healthy. Maybe we're hard on our body image or maybe we're self-sabotagers or maybe we're doing something wrong, and then we have our good days, or up side. So I think the album shows both sides of that. I am in a happy place right now, I'm excited to be working and making music, I'm excited to be in a relationship, but I think in the past, I dug into moments that were lonely and I didn't have a great track record when it came to dating [ laughs]. I wasn't very successful. I kept going after the wrong kind of people and so I wrote about that on the album.
Interesting. So how has being in a serious relationship changed your music?
I think there's a certain amount of balance that comes with a stable relationship, and it feels good. When you haven't really had a lot of experience in serious, long-term relationships, you don't realize it's missing. I had a great time being single, and I found a lot of strength and courage in that, and individuality, doing my own thing and being my own person. That was really important for me to go through, but I'm in a place now where I can offer something to somebody, because of that time. So I feel like now there's this balance; I have me and all the things that I've worked out with myself and my identity, and now I can be a part of a couple, and it's a beautiful thing. I think deep down everybody kind of wants that. Maybe not all the time, maybe not for your whole life, but we all want companionship.
Do you think you'd ever like to adopt or have kids?
I don't know. I certainly feel like I should have the right to if I want to. I think kids are amazing. I wasn't around a lot of children when I was growing up -- besides my brother and I -- and I wasn't around a lot of infants until recently. I have a godson. Two good friends of mine have a baby, and he's amazing, and watching him from infancy to now -- he's still a toddler -- it's just like, it's amazing. It's amazing. Amazing to watch a child grow and to see things through their eyes, I mean it's so easy for them and it's so simple for them, and it's inspiring. It kind of makes you remember, you know what, it's really not that deep. Life can be this kind of beautiful, surreal, novel experience if you want it to be. And it's a beautiful thing to watch a child go through that.
That's awesome. So we're doing an essay contest where we're asking fans about your music and how it impacted their lives. Is there a particular artist who inspired you?
I grew up with Michael Jackson and Madonna. Those were like my king and queen when I was a kid. Those were the pop royalty, and then later I discovered Prince and I discovered Freddie Mercury, I mean those four kind of take it for me. Prince, Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson and Madonna. It's a good round, royal court of pop music.
So then to perform with Queen, what is that like, and to what do you attribute your chemistry?
I'm really excited. I met the members of Queen at the "Idol" finale a few years back and. I've always loved Queen and when I found out about Freddie Mercury and first heard their albums in my dad's record collection, I was like "What is this?" Because I had been into musical theater and there's such a cross over, its rock, but it's so theatrical. A light bulb went off for me and I went, "Oh, so that's what rock n' roll can be." So I meet the members of Queen a couple years ago on the "Idol" finale, and then last summer they asked me to sing at the European Music Awards, and it was a beautiful experience. It felt very natural and I was just so honored that they asked me, and they thought that I could handle the duties. It's been interesting because there's some purists out there that are like, "there's only one Freddie Mercury," and I know that [laughs]. I agree. I'm just excited to pay respect to his memory and his songwriting, and hopefully we can bring this music alive again for fans of the songs.
Your Twitter fans are by far the most loyal we've come across. Every time we mention your name they retweet way more than anyone else we mention. To what do you attribute that? Do you know?
No, I don't. I have amazing fans and they are really passionate and they're very involved and I'm lucky. That's what you want when you're making art and you're a musician, you want to have people that are very into it. Making this album was definitely inspired by a lot of the desires from the fan base, you know. I saw music that they were responding to when I was on tour, which songs got them dancing, which songs touched them, and when I was putting this album together I kind of wanted to go further down that road. Having gotten to know them over the past couple of years informed the new material.
A Twitter fan would like to know how you feel about the nickname "Glambert." If you could come up with another nickname yourself, what would it be?
I like the name Glambert, I mean it fits, I suppose. Sounds like my name [ laughs]. I'm into glam rock. I don't know, I don't think I would pick another nickname. I will always go by Adam, I never had a nickname growing up, so there you go.
Another fan would like to know about your ideal date night. Going out or staying in?
You know, I do love going to a nice restaurant. I love good food and the environment of a nice, romantic restaurant, but I also really have become quite a homebody. So, I think my ideal night would be going to a nice restaurant, a little wine, a little dessert, and then coming home.
Finally, a fan wants to know a bit about the song "Underneath," off the new album.
Oh, "Underneath" is probably one of the more vulnerable songs on the album. Trespassing kind of has two halves; one half is very upbeat, fun, funky with lots of attitude and swagger and fierceness, and then the other half of the album does dive into what lies under the surface. "Underneath" is the song that is the pinnacle of that. It talks about how sometimes, even if I'm putting on a game face, or seemingly happy and confident, what's going on underneath might not be so much the same. I mean we all have demons that we battle, we all have stuff and baggage, and the song kind of addresses it directly.AOL: Adam Lambert Sessions: Glambert's 'Dark Side,' Plans for Fatherhood & 'Trespassing'
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