Like every other musician releasing new music at the moment, Adam Lambert is having to get creative with how to promote his new album, Velvet. The set, which was released on March 20, arrived just as coronavirus-spurred social distancing was taking hold across the United States.
“I think there’s lots of artists that are looking at their cancelled tours, myself included, and kind of going, ‘OK, what can we do to sort of make it to people? And to fill that space that’s missing now?’”
Lambert acknowledges that the live concert experience can’t be recreated on a phone, but “it’s the best we have right now.”
Ultimately, “safety and health comes way first, that is the priority,” Lambert tells the Billboard Pop Shop Podcast (listen to his interview, below). “But in the meantime, let’s entertain each other. Let’s connect the best way we know how. We have to close the doors to our house? Fine, but pick up your phone. We have all this technology, it’s amazing.”
Velvet is Lambert’s first full-length studio album since 2015’s The Original High. The “funky” new project features a collaboration with Nile Rodgers (“Roses”) along with tunes co-written by Lambert with the likes of MNEK, Sam Sparro and the late Busbee, among others.
Below are some highlights from Lambert’s chat with the Pop Shop Podcast, including if he thought about delaying the album’s release due to coronavirus concerns, how he wanted to stick to his guns on the album and not make something “trendy,” and how he hopes the album wraps up fans like a “warm velvety hug.”
I think I asked the question. I’m like, ‘should we just postpone this?’ But all the wheels were already in motion. It didn’t seem like … it was too late, you know what I mean? And also, I think… the conclusion I came to with my team is: people are home, they’re gonna be bored, they’re gonna be restless, they’re looking for something to do. And I think Velvet as an album … provides a great escape. It’s its own world, it’s its own sound, and hopefully people take a second to check out the whole album. You can actually sit down and listen to it from beginning to end.
On the concept and direction of Velvet, and not getting “sucked into the hustle” of making a trendy album:
I knew that I wanted to do something that wasn’t necessarily overly reflective of what everyone else was doing at the time. I didn’t want to just be trendy. I didn’t want to follow. I wanted to do my own thing. I wanted to do music that I loved, that I wanted to get on stage and perform. And, that sounds very simple and kind of obvious for an artist, but it’s really easy in this business to get sort of like, sucked into the hustle of it all. You know? And being commercial, and being marketable, and, you know, what’s cool right now. It’s really easy to get sidetracked. And so with this project, I really forced myself to insulate my creativity and sort of tune out all the outside forces, and just think about what I love about music. And also, on my personal journey, what do I want to say to my fans. And that’s really what came out in these songs.
On writing the album’s title track and working with the late producer/songwriter Busbee, who Lambert calls “brilliant.”
I was sitting in the room writing with these co-writers, and I was telling them about the project, and I played a lot of the songs that I had for it already. And then I said, ‘you know, I don’t have a title track.’ I had already come up with Velvet as the name of the album, but we didn’t have a title track. And so, actually, the gentleman that produced this song, “Velvet,” his name’s Busbee, and he unfortunately, and tragically, passed away last year from brain tumors. And it was a very sudden passing. I think he had finished the song just a few months before his diagnosis. I just wanted to mention that because it was a real treat to be able to work with him, and he was very good at what he did, a lovely guy. It’s just an example of somebody who’s taken too soon, and this song is a measure of his artistry. I mean, he was brilliant. He actually was the one that said, ‘you need to do a title track.’ And I said, ‘oh, ok! I will do that! Good idea!’ … The minute he suggested it, I said, ‘Ah, brilliant, yeah, you’re right, I should do that.’
On how he hopes Velvet wraps up fans in a “warm velvety hug”: I think people need to be lifted up, especially right now. The album, it’s playful. Even with the lyrics are a bit more melancholy, it still has a beat to it, you know? Hopefully it’s cathartic for people. Hopefully in this time of strange isolation, and estrangement, and social distancing, hopefully putting this on wraps you up like a warm velvety hug. You can put on some funky clothing and dance around the house. Put some glitter on, get on your livestream and have a party!
Also on the Pop Shop Podcast, the Pop Shop team of Keith and Katie discuss big chart news from The Weeknd, how home livestreams and have taken the place of traditional live in-person performances on TV, and a chart stat of the week focused around one of The Supremes’ most familiar No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits.
The Billboard Pop Shop Podcast is your one-stop shop for all things pop on Billboard‘s weekly charts. You can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop. Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard‘s senior director of charts Keith Caulfield and deputy editor, digital Katie Atkinson every week on the podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or downloaded in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast provider. (Click here to listen to the previous edition of the show on Billboard.com.)