Sam Smith: I Want To Be “Biggest Star In The World” And An “Everlasting Icon”
Sam Smith reveals he has big ambitions in a new interview with GQ. Speaking to the magazine for its “Legacy Project,” which highlights top artists, the singer shares his dream of becoming a pop culture icon.
“As early as 12 years old, I used to have panic attacks, because I needed to know my life plan. I can’t explain it,” reveals Smith. “There’s always been a hunger in me not necessarily to be successful, but to be an icon. I just want to leave a mark — to be kind of everlasting.” He agrees with the magazine’s suggestion that music can give a person “immortality.” “If we’re going to go really deep, we’re all trying to live forever. My music is my way of doing that,” he says.
Smith continues, “You know, I want to be the biggest star in the world, but I also want to maintain the soulfulness. I don’t want to lose my mind or my humor. I want to be a pop star, but I also don’t want to be a pop star.” The rising star, who recently admitted he has issues with some of his peers, tells GQ, “I won’t name names, but I will never act like some of the current pop stars have acted toward me. We can be friends, you know? We can. It’s not a competition. There’s space for all of us. There’s always space for good music.”
Smith does have, however, some allies in the business. “Taylor Swift is amazing. I sang with her in London once but didn’t get to properly chill with her. Then, at the American Music Awards [last November], I got to sit down with her and chat,” he says. “She’s a role model. I really respect her. And she manages to sell a lot of records and make a lot of people happy financially, but also to keep that soulfulness, that honesty.” Smith also has high praise for Mary J. Blige, whom he says often texts him “making sure everything is okay.” “It’s taught me a lesson. If I’m here in twenty years’ time, knock on wood, I’ll make sure anyone I meet who’s just starting out, I will sit down and offer advice and help,” he says.
“Because what people don’t get — and I hate being like, ‘Poor me, poor me’ — is when you get what you’ve wanted for a long time, it’s like going through a trauma. People don’t realize,” Smith goes on. “They think, ‘What are you moaning about? You’re getting loads of money now!’ But it has been traumatic for me, because where do you go from here? It goes back to being an icon, because that’s something you’re going to strive for until the day you die. It’s good to have that. It’s like an untouchable dream.”
Smith is asked, point-blank, “Why make music?” and responds candidly, saying, “Make music so you don’t have to go to therapy or rehab.” He just wishes the industry was a bit different. “I sound awful saying this all the time, because it sounds like I’m slagging off current pop stars, which I’m not, because I love pop culture. But I feel like class and romance have gotten lost,” he argues to the magazine. “We’ve become a bit lazy, not just in terms of music. I miss the days when girls would wear full long dresses and just stand onstage and sing. That’s what I’m trying to bring back: that timeless element. I want to create music that people will be listening to in fifty years, you know?”
The British crooner confesses he feared his album would be deemed just for “gay people,” and it made him “scared in the beginning about speaking about my sexuality,” and “so scared that a few stupid people weren’t going to pick up my record just because I was gay.” “Because I am not Sam Smith, the gay singer. I am Sam Smith, the singer who happens to be gay,” says Smith, further noting, “I preach all the time about being myself and being comfortable with myself, but if I’m honest, I struggle every day. I’m still figuring out who I am. I don’t want to pretend I’ve got everything sorted out in my mind, because I really don’t.”
In fact, Smith admits, “I’m very paranoid and insecure all the time, which really helps me not be an absolute b*tch.” And as far as any “diva” attitude goes, the star insists, “I’d like to be a diva in the sense of having that kind of presence as a singer. But no. I worry all the time, actually, if I’ve been a bit strict about something, am I being a d*ckhead? I tell my team all the time: ‘Just tell me if I’m being a d*ckhead.'”
Smith also draws a comparison between his approaches to music and love. Similar to his desire to always be striving with his career, the Grammy nominee says he feels “so much more comfortable wanting what I’m never going to get,” and looks for “something that’s unobtainable” for his personal life. “I made a statement recently about how Grindr and Tinder and those dating apps are just killing romance. People are losing the ability to just walk up to people in a bar and say hello. Sex is on tap, isn’t it, with apps like that? It may work for some people, but I miss the mystery,” he says.
Smith adds, “I find it much more sexy when someone’s fully dressed in a suit and you’ve got to work to undress them. Do you know what I mean? Instead of them just immediately being naked for you. I sound like a complete old soul right now, but I am. I just feel like people need role models, you know, that are dressed.” What do you think of the comments?