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Emeli Sande Talks Tinie Tempah, Wretch 32, Cheryl Cole And Her Debut Album

TaleTela meets Emeli...

By CJ Rutter on Thursday 14th April 2011 Photo by PR

Emeli Sande is just 23-years-old and she already has a strong arsenal of supporters behind her who love her work.

The singer-songwriter hails for Scotland and has not only collaborated with Tinie Tempah, Chipmunk, Tinchy Stryder and Professor Green but Sande has also written tracks for Cheryl Cole and The Saturdays and more recently Susan Boyle.

Due to launch her debut album later this year, Sande will also be releasing her debut single in July.

Sande sat down with us to talk about the LP and her plans for the future as well as what she thinks about Cheryl Cole's singing.

You’ve been on the scene for a while, what makes the timing right now?

For me I didn’t ever want to rush anything, if I was bringing it out for myself. So I really just wanted to have as much time as possible to make the right record and even when I was writing for other people, I was still writing my own album on the backburner. I didn’t really want the pressure of a label, I wanted to pick the songs that I would love put on the record. I think the time is right now because I’ve found the right label that kind of believes in what I’m doing and we share the same vision.

You’re approach is different to others. You have said that you know exactly the direction that you want to take when presenting your tracks.

Sometimes it’s easier said than done but because I’ve had quite a lot of experience writing I can definitely define when I’m writing for someone else. I know exactly what defines me and exactly the way I write best for myself.

So what’s your debut album called?

I don’t know yet, I’m going to wait until we’ve finished all the live sessions and got it all finished. I don’t know what it’s called yet.

Who’s going to be featuring on your debut album? Will you have a few cheeky visits on there?

It’s going to be just me and have some amazing musicians on it.

Have you got an idea of your favourite track yet?

I don’t know. I don’t know if we’ve even decided what the singles are at the moment. We’ve got to polish everything up and until I hear the whole thing through, I couldn’t tell you which one is my favourite. They’re kind of like my children, you know, I kind of want them all to be picked for different moments.

Have you had any ideas? Do you think it would named after yourself or a single on the track, what do you think?

I think it will be about the period in which it was written. It’s a very story-telling album and it defines the period I was in when I was writing the album. A lot of the songs are quite confessional almost. Some of them have quite religious slant to them as well, so it’s quite difficult to sum everything up as well as love stories but I’m sure it will come one night, or one time in the studio!

The album has a religious element? Are you religious at all?

I’m not religious, no. But I am curious, and it’s something that was always discussed. I worked with Naughty Boy quite a lot on the album, and we did a lot of writing with him. It was something that we’d always end up discussing at 3 o’clock in the morning and it would inspire questions. I think that’s what we explored. Nothing was really defined, I don’t really like defining what I’m talking about. But I think it’s a question that everybody has.

You’ve been working with Tinie Tempah on your album, are you two friends?

Yeah, we’re friends. I met him before ‘Pass Out’ came out. He used to come to the studio a lot where I worked with Naughty Boy and then we had the track ‘Let Go’ and he put his verses on it. I’ve known him for quite a while now and he’s such a nice guy, and really knows what he’s doing. And he’s so humble as well.

Having worked with the likes of Chipmunk, Professor Green, Wiley – was it hard to be on the sidelines?

Erm, no. To come down from Scotland and be embraced by the scene here so quickly, looking back it was such a great experience for me, without having to be in the spotlight and be the main event. I learned so much about record companies and how you release a single and what the artists actually had to do. I’m just very thankful for the experience and enjoyed meeting these guys that are really cool.

You’ve written songs for Cheryl Cole, how did that come about?

Cheryl Cole song came about because we had written a song, Naughty Boy and I, called ‘Boys’, we didn’t know who it was going to go to. Basically it was just kind of pitching it out and seeing who wanted it, and her record label really liked it. It came about by accident really.

How do you think that she did with the song?

Really well! It’s completely different from the demo because the whole production was changed as well but it suits her and suits her voice.

On a scale on 1- 10, how do you rate Cheryl Cole’s voice?

(Laughs) Erm… it’s good. It’s good. But I’m not going to put a number on it.

So Wretch 32 reckons that he’s got a lot of love for you, he reckons that he loves you the most. Is that right?

It would have to be him. He calls me his musical wife!

Is there a collaboration on the horizon, you two must hit the studio!

Yeah, I think there is actually. When I was on tour in Scotland, my guitarist and I made this hook and I just recorded it in the hotel room. As soon as we finished it, I thought, ‘This would be amazing if I could do this with Wretch’. I sent him a little phone recording, so I’m hoping he’s going to send me back something.

Who else would you like to work with?

There’s so many people that I’d like to work with. I love really left-field kind of stuff. I’d love to work with someone that people wouldn’t expect. I love Bjork, Regina Spektor. At the moment, especially in Britain it’s such an exciting time.

What’s been the hardest point of your career? You postponed your degree when you were three quarters of the way through – would you consider that was the hardest challenges of your career?

Yeah probably. You have to make sacrifices and you get a window into the music industry that doesn’t come around very often. It was a really massive decision to make and it made me realise that if I want this, I can’t sit on the fence. I need to make a proper sacrifice and I have to put myself out there. I would say that was a big crossroads for me. Once I made that decision, I felt that I got a lot better at my job in music. I wasn’t in doctor-mode anymore.

You say that you only have a few opportunities to get into the industry, but you had a chance before you left school is that right?

That’s true actually. When I was 16, that was my first taste of the industry. In retrospect it wasn’t good timing and I’m glad that I took the time to go and study and discover what I really wanted to do. I grew so much as a musician without the pressure of London. I was up in Glasgow, no one cared about what I was doing up there. When you come down here, it’s so fast and competitive that sometimes you can kind of get caught up with trying to win all the time and your music suffers for that.

Who are your inspirations on the music scene at the moment?

My main thing is writing, so I look up to people who are brilliant writers and who have longevity and who are honest with their music. I love Radiohead, I love Amy Winehouse. I don’t know if Lauryn Hill is back on the scene, but she’s a big inspiration. I’m also a massive fan of Nina Simone, just great musicians really.

If you could go on tour with anyone – who would it be?

The Fugees – I think that would be brilliant!

You’ve written for Susan Boyle!? Tell us about that!

Well, I’ve been doing a lot of writing for Sico, the label that she’s on and I have been writing for her. Whether she’ll take it, I don’t know. I would love to write songs for musicals and stuff like that and she tells a story so well and my manner is quite story-telling. I think it would be a perfect fit! But it was a lot of fun writing for her!

So let’s talk about your family.

I grew up in a small village outside Aberdeen, so we were the only mixed race family in the village. My dad’s a teacher and it was really interesting to have such a far away influence like my dad’s music and culture. I think it’s definitely influenced my music a lot and to just have diversity from a being quite young, from my Mum and my Dad, it’s shaped how I write and how I approach things.

Did you experience any prejudice as you grew up?

Not really, I can’t said I did. I think I was very different from everybody else, and that was very clear.

Were you parents very concerned with education first?

My dad is very education focussed. From when we were very young, education had to come first. But then at the same time they supported my music but it’s just they wanted my education to be the priority before that. I’ve had support for everything.

So where are we going to see you next year then? Do you see yourself doing a big tour?

I love performing live, and it’s going to be a major part of my music. So I’m hoping that the debut will be received well and after hopefully it’ll be lots of live shows and we’ll see how it goes really.

Are there any venues that you would love to perform in one day?

I don’t know. There are lots of venues that massive legends have played at (I’m really into classical music). And I would love one day to say that I played at Carnegie Hall or I played at somewhere as grand as that.

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