The lead-up to Adele’s long-awaited album, 30, was by the singer’s own account “a big deal.” In the six years since she released her last record, she almost completely disappeared from the public eye, so being thrust back into the spotlight took some adjustment at first.
“I don’t like being famous,” she told Q‘s Tom Power in a Canadian exclusive interview about 30, which is out now. “It’s just hard to get used to, you know, everyone talking about me again, really.”
Fuelling the current conversation around Adele are highly personal topics, such as her weight loss, her battle with anxiety and her divorce from entrepreneur Simon Konecki, with whom she shares a son named Angelo, 9.
I think a lot of people thought I was going to be an angry divorced woman.– Adele
To mark her return and clear up any speculation about the circumstances surrounding her divorce, Adele said she chose Easy On Me as the album’s lead single because it struck “just the right tone to come back with.” The minimally produced ballad reflects on the emotional end of her marriage, but its tone isn’t bitter or argumentative.
“It’s not like f–k you and all that,” she explained. “There’s been all sorts of rumours online about why we broke up, that he got all my money.… I think a lot of people thought I was going to be an angry divorced woman. And so I thought that Easy On Me was a good tone of being like, ‘Well, I’m not. So listen to my side.'”
WATCH | Official video for Easy On Me:
The album’s third track, My Little Love, explores Adele’s feelings of having failed her son after splitting with Konecki. It’s punctuated with heartbreaking voice notes from Angelo as he asks his mother tough questions. Adele said she wrote the song so that he may one day understand that she doesn’t have all the answers.
“I thought it’d be nice at this stage of my career also to, like, let people in a little bit more,” she added. “I don’t share very much of my life. I normally only really share my music, you know. And people have been, sort of, so curious about … where I’m at just in my life.”
But 30 isn’t only about Adele’s relationship with her family. “It’s mainly about the relationship I have with myself, which hasn’t been a great one for most of my life so far,” she said.
On Hold On — a deeply honest track about being her “own worst enemy” — the singer confronts her personal feelings of emptiness and loneliness. “I’m definitely not uncomfortable in sadness — I feel like I’m just a naturally sad person,” she told Power. “But I don’t want to live like that.”
‘Fame scares me’
In turning to her music, Adele said she was able to access her emotions and work through one of the most turbulent periods of her life — but that wasn’t always the case. Shortly after releasing her sophomore album, 21, Adele’s creative outlet became a source of stress. Her relationship with music remained that way for about eight years until she started working on 30 in 2019.
“My hobby became my job,” she said. “I was unable to differentiate the two. So why do I want to go and do my hobby when my hobby is my job?… Fame scares me. And, you know, fame comes with my job.”
In 2011, Adele was already famous thanks to her debut album, 19, but it was the massive success of 21 that cemented her position as a global music icon. “That’s when I started to, like, coil up and be like, ‘I don’t know if this life is for me.'”
Luckily, Adele isn’t without support. There’s one notable person who understands exactly what she’s going through: Drake.
Last month, the Canadian artist posted an Instagram story that celebrated Adele’s new single and referred to her as one of his “best friends in the world.” The two superstars came up in the music industry around the same time, which apparently helped them forge a strong connection.
“We are a dying breed,” Adele said about herself and Drake. “There was like 10 of us. You know, I don’t think there’ll ever be that many of us again at the top doing it the way we were doing it.… We came out before streaming. We came out before all the social media frenzies of, like, you know, ‘You’ve got five seconds to entertain; otherwise, get the f–k out.’ We existed in the old school.…
“I can say something to him, and he won’t judge me for it, you know?… So to have access to someone that’s in the same position as [me] is, like, one of the biggest gifts of my entire career.”
Now, when Adele looks back on the last two years leading up to the release of 30, she can see the progress she’s made and how she’s changed for the better.
“I’m way calmer,” she said. “I’ve learned to have a bit of patience in all areas.… And I also won’t do anything I don’t want to do, like, at all — ever again.”
Listen to Tom Power’s full conversation with Adele on The Q Interview, a new podcast series from the award-winning CBC show Q.
Written by Vivian Rashotte. Interview produced by Mitch Pollock.