Sam Smith Says He Feels "Just as Much Woman as I Am Man"
"There was one moment in my life where I didn't own a piece of male clothing, really. I would wear full makeup every day in school, eyelashes, leggings with Dr. Martens and huge fur coats — for two and a half years."
Sam Smith took a few years out of the spotlight to regroup after the rush of fame from his first album. But in an interview with The Sunday Times writer Louis Wise, Smith is holding nothing back, speaking as freely as he's always sung in his music. Among many revelations, we learn that Smith has a favorite drag shop in Sydney called House of Priscilla, which he raids every time he goes there: "Oh my God, I just buy everything — heels, dresses. We have a great time."
"I love a heel," Smith told Wise. "I've got loads of heels at home.... People don't know this, but when I was 17, I remember becoming obsessed with Boy George and Marilyn and all that. There was one moment in my life where I didn't own a piece of male clothing, really. I would wear full makeup every day in school, eyelashes, leggings with Dr. Martens and huge fur coats — for two and a half years."
"I don't know what the title would be," he continued, "but I feel just as much woman as I am man."
Smith revealed that he somewhat regrets his "dramatic" tattoos — on each bicep, "Alone" and "Honesty" — and said, "I don't know why I got them. I look back on them now and I cringe. But I have to respect what I was feeling in the moment, you know?"
Back in 2014, Smith arrived on an international stage with In the Lonely Hour, which won four Grammy Awards, but according to Wise, in 2017 Smith is either an entirely different person or a "strongly remodeled one." When Wise first interviewed Smith at the time of his debut's release, he encouraged him to come out publicly in the article, something Smith didn't yet feel comfortable doing. "In the Lonely Hour was opaque," Wise writes now. "The Thrill of It All is crystal clear."
"Looking back on it, it was the fear of saying the wrong thing and offending," Smith said. "And I was 19 when I started writing the first album. I'd just moved to London from a village — I was literally the only gay in the village. I didn't know what I wanted to say.... I remember, at the beginning of my career, being called a 'gay singer,' and I didn't want that. I wanted to be seen as a singer first, before people spoke about my private life.
"And now it's changed — I've changed. I realize that maybe I don't mind that title."
Smith also expounded on his "addictive personality," relationships and his "deluxe set of fairy godmothers" in Ian McKellen, Elton John and the late George Michael. Smith's sophomore album, The Thrill of It All, is due out Nov. 3.
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.