The GRAMMY-nominated star goes in-depth about his artistic practice, what it’s like for his music to be featured on TV, and what the future holds.

Photography by Bartek Szmigulski

Photography by Bartek Szmigulski

Hailing from across the pond, pop superstar Adam Lambert has risen through the ranks, emerging as one of the US’ shining music talents. Catapulted into the spotlight by the eighth season of American Idol, listeners immediately lapped up his searing vulnerability and powerhouse vocals. Unfurling cover after cover, Lambert has cemented himself as a mainstay in the game.

Now, Lambert embarks on the release of his latest album High Drama. Brimming with captivating covers, Lambert takes the listener by the hand on a journey through music history. From foundational classics such as Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand The Rain”, to Billie Eilish’s “Getting Older”, Lambert appeals to an expansive range of listeners.

This project enlisted the help of some real high flyers. With Tommy English lending his production chops to the project, we can hear why his past collaborators Carly Rae Jepsen and Kasey Musgraves put him up for the job. Andrew Wells also lent his hand; having worked with the likes of Halsey and OneRepublic – Lambert’s latest album is set up for success. Before High Drama is unleashed into the world – we’ve had the pleasure of catching up with the artist. From his in-depth artistic practice, and TV cameos, to what else is in store – we’ve covered it all.

Listen to Adam Lambert’s latest cover “Getting Older” below…

Head below to read the interview…

Hey Adam, how are you? Where are we speaking to you from?
Hey. I’m in Los Angeles and I’m great!

Can you tell us about your new album, High Drama, and how it differs from your previous work?
Well, I decided that it was time to do an album of covers. I think the response to my cover of “Believe” by Cher at the Kennedy Center was so good, people really seemed to love it. What I did with that was I flipped it from the upbeat dance original to an emotional ballad with strings. So, I wanted to take a similar approach with this album, in taking the songs and changing them up drastically.

How did the deal with Warner Music come about for the release of High Drama?
Tony Harlow, who’s the head of Warner UK, was the head of Warner down in Australia when “Ghost Town” came out and it was very successful down there. Tony is very supportive and invested in this project and was very collaborative in the conceptualisation of it and had some great song ideas as well, so I was very excited to sign with them.

Your cover of Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World” is an instant classic on the album, what drew you to that song specifically?
To me the lyrics of the song are just so beautifully written, as is the melody, of course. It’s a message about loss and grieving and I think after the couple of years that we’ve had, with the pandemic, and not only people’s health in the forefront of our minds but also the loss of regular life, I felt like it was a very appropriate song for that reason.

You also have a beautiful rendition of the Noël Coward classic “Mad About The Boy” on the album, can you tell us about the experience of performing that on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and being featured in the film about the life of Noël Coward?
It was so much fun to perform “Mad About The Boy” on Strictly Come Dancing. We had this amazing couple dancing, it was two men dancing, and Noël Coward was gay and wrote this song about a man, but could never really perform it because back in the early ‘30’s, when it was written, that was extremely taboo. The film being made about Noël Coward, is like a feature biography documentary. They wanted the song to be recreated by a man to make that point, about that kind of time. They asked me to do it and I was very excited.

You’re known for putting your own spin on other artists’ songs, what was your approach to transforming songs like Billie Eilish’s “Getting Older” and Lana Del Rey’s “West Coast” on High Drama?
I knew I was interested in covering a Billie song, because she’s an amazing artist and super original, which is so impressive, especially nowadays when there’s so much music out there. I was listening to her recent album and the first track on there is ‘Getting Older’. It’s a very understated performance and recording and the lyrics really struck me. They are very universal.
With ‘West Coast’, it is my favourite Lana song, for sure. I find it very sexy. Being that I am from the West Coast myself, I thought it was appropriate. The idea behind the way we created the track was, I heard the blues guitar in the original and I thought well, if we make that a bit heavier and real electric all of a sudden it almost turns into a sort of Led Zepplin type song and I thought that’d be a really cool flavour to add to the album, something sort of heavy and intense.

The album is executive produced by yourself, how was the experience of taking on that role?
I’ve been making albums now for over a decade and I’ve learnt a lot along the way and especially with my last album, Velvet, I was very, very involved in the production and the studio process, probably more than I’ve ever been. I co- wrote everything and was really, really involved being the executive producer of that. That project taught me a lot and really set me up to get into the studio and kind of have more clarity on what I was looking for and also just learning the language of what a producer’s process might be. Tommy English actually worked with me on Velvet, so I was very excited to have a crack at some of the songs on this album with him, I knew he’d be great. I was also really excited that Warner suggested a couple of people for the album that were all really really talented.

You’ve had a successful career as the frontman of Queen, how do you balance your solo career with your work with the band?
It’s been really easy. Yes, I’ve been touring on and off with them for a decade but tours only last about 6 weeks at a time. So, there’s been plenty of time to balance a solo career, which has been a real blessing. I’m so lucky with the Queen opportunity, so to be able to do my own stuff and that at the same time has been a dream come true.

Has High Drama been a project that’s been in the works for some time?
With High Drama, it’s been a very quick turnaround, we came to the idea because I’m actually working on another project on the side, that I started the process on well before the pandemic and then started actually writing it during the pandemic via Zoom with other writers. It’s a musical and it’s a much longer process, given the amount of people involved in the creative side of it, so I really wanted to put something out in the meantime while I was working at that, and my fans are so supportive and I really wanted to give them some music for them to enjoy.

Can you tell us more about your musical?
I haven’t actually decided to reveal the entire premise of it yet because I like to keep things sort of incubating. But it’s a musical about a real person, so it’s based on a true story and it takes place in the 70’s and the early 80’s in New York City. It’s all things glam and queer and it very much has my DNA all over it.

Can you tell us about your experience of being a cameo in the Oscar-winning film Bohemian Rhapsody?
That was really fun! It was a very short little cameo, it’s literally a few frames, which was really fun. I was in London at the time and they were filming outside of the city, up north and they said ‘hey, why don’t you come by and do a quick little appearance at the rest stop kind of cruising Freddie’ and I thought ‘Well that’s funny, yes I would love to do that.’ So I did. It was great, getting to step onto the set with Rami, who played Freddie, and the rest of the band were there. I had heard a lot about the planning and process of this film, just being on tour with Roger and Brian and Jim, their manager, so it was exciting to step onto set and be a small part of something where I had witnessed some of the details of.

You’ve also voiced characters in animated films and TV shows, is that something you’re interested in pursuing more in the future?
A hundred per cent. I’m working on something currently, an animated series. I also actually just appeared in an indie film called ‘Fairyland’ that premiered at Sundance Film Festival. It’s a really exciting film. I’ve done some TV before but it’s my first time taking on a role in a feature, so I’m excited to see how that part of my career unfolds further.

You were a judge on the successful new ITV Saturday night entertainment show Starstruck in 2022, what was that experience like?
It’s been amazing. I mean we’ve filmed the second season already, months back, and it’s been a laugh. It’s really fun. The stakes aren’t as high as they are on X Factor or Idol. It’s not about people coming on and getting a record deal, kickstarting their career, it’s about the love that the contestants have for these icons and much like Stars In Their Eyes back in the day on UK TV. You get these transformations which are just so much fun and it really becomes a celebration of Iconic music artists and the people that love them so much. It’s a great panel too. The first season, we had a blast and this second season we welcomed Shania Twain to the panel, which is so exciting, she’s such an icon herself. I remember being a teenager when “Man, I Feel Like A Women” came out and “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and those songs were a big deal. I think she was such an amazing crossover between Country and Pop and she really opened a lot of doors for Country music.

You launched the Feel Something Foundation, a non-profit organisation in support of LGBTQ+ human rights, in 2020. Can you tell us more about the mission of the foundation and what it means to you?
Absolutely. Now more than ever, we have made a lot of progress with the queer community in terms of equality and acceptance and visibility, but I think there’s a lot more work to be done. It’s exciting to have a public platform, especially when you can affect change and help bring certain things to light or support certain causes. I think the community is expanding, we have been accepted by many but yet still there are a lot of people that oppose equal rights and just our existence. For me, it’s really exciting to step into a situation where I can galvanise my fanbase to support initiatives and different charities. Not only do the equal rights matter but also the care. Queer people in certain areas of the world that are young, they run into issues. Either their parents don’t accept them, some of them are thrown out, so homelessness is an issue, mental health is a big part of it, it’s important to make sure they are seen and looked after.

You also joined Queen for a sold-out European tour in 2022, including ten shows at London’s ‘The 02 Arena’. Can you tell us about that experience?
It was amazing. After the pandemic, we were supposed to continue touring after our Australian and Asian tour. Then that hit and everything got cancelled. So, it was really exciting to get back out there. I think audiences were really thirsty for great entertainment, especially with the familiarity and the nostalgia of a Queen concert. It’s something that people have grown up with, so it became very obvious to us that people we’re bringing their whole families, multi-generations. It was just full of joy, we had amazing audiences, that knew the words to every song, which is just a dream.

What’s next for you in terms of music and other projects?
I’m just going to keep on making things. That’s the thing that brings me so much joy and happiness and I know it also brings listeners joy and happiness and it’s definitely who I am. I’m just going to keep on being creative and finding new projects. I really love to collaborate; I think that’s where the magic happens and that’s something I want to continue to do.

Lastly, what’s one thing you want the world to know about you?
I don’t know, I’m pretty much an open book. I’m sure everybody that wants to, can learn anything they want to know about me. I guess, just that I feel very grateful for the opportunity that I have been given with my career and with my position in life and I hope I can continue to pay it forward.

Photography by Bartek Szmigulski

Photography by Bartek Szmigulski

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