Sam Smith’s silky, delicate voice—cracking with emotion—resembles Antony Hegarty with a pinch of Frank Ocean.
And the 22-year-old Brit is a bona fide sensation, selling out Madison Square Garden months in advance, having his debut album, In the Lonely Hour, become the third best-selling album of 2014 in the U.S. (behind Taylor Swift’s 1989 and the Frozen soundtrack), and, last but certainly not least, taking home 4 Grammys Sunday night, including Best New Artist, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year for his poignant ballad “Stay With Me.”
“This is the best night of my life,” Smith said following his Record of the Year win. “Just a quick one: I want to thank the man who this record is about who I fell in love with last year. Thank you so much for breaking my heart because you got me four Grammys.”
Back in July, on the eve of the release of In the Lonely Hour, Smith opened up to The FADER about the inspiration behind his heartrending album—and the tune “Stay With Me”—in an excusive, candid interview, portions of which were published in conjunction with The Daily Beast.
“I’ve never been in a relationship before,” Smith told The FADER. “I’ve only been in unrequited relationships where people haven’t loved me back. I guess I’m a little bit attracted to that in a bad way. In the Lonely Hour is about a guy that I fell in love with last year, and he didn’t love me back. I think I’m over it now, but I was in a very dark place. I kept feeling lonely in the fact that I hadn’t felt love before. I’ve felt the bad things. And what’s a more powerful emotion: pain or happiness?”
Smith also discussed being comfortable in his own skin as an out gay man, and how he never had any issues when it comes to his sexuality.
“I am comfortable with myself, and my life is amazing in that respect,” said Smith. “I’m very comfortable and happy with everything. I just wanted to talk about him and have it out there. It’s about a guy and that’s what I wanted people to know—I want to be clear that that’s what it’s about. I’ve been treated as normal as anyone in my life; I’ve had no issues. I do know that some people have issues in life, but I haven’t, and it’s as normal as my right arm. I want to make it a normality because this is a non-issue. People wouldn’t ask a straight person these questions. I’ve tried to be clever with this album, because it’s also important to me that my music reaches everybody. I’ve made my music so that it could be about anything and everybody—whether it’s a guy, a female or a goat—and everybody can relate to that. I’m not in this industry to talk about my personal life unless it’s in a musical form.”
On Sunday evening, after taking home the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album, a touched Smith told the crowd about trying to adapt to other people’s idea of him, and how it wasn’t until he tried to be himself that his musical dreams came true.
“Before I made this record I was doing everything to try and get my music heard,” Smith said. “I tried to lose weight and I was making awful music. It was only until I started to be myself that the music started to flow and people started to listen.”