Adele is opening up about the bumpy road to make 25, her new album that marks her first batch of new songs in the four -plus years since 2001’s 21.
For a Rolling Stone cover story, the 27-year-old singer explained that various factors led to her album taking so long to come out, including tough feedback from her team, her own anxiety about living up to expectations and the fact that her life has a new focus: her three-year-old son Angelo.
Here are five surprising facts from the interview.
Rick Rubin wasn’t hearing what he wanted
Adele revealed that 25 hit a snag when Rick Rubin, the legendary producer who provided feedback on her previous smash album 21, listened to the new album about a year and a half ago and felt there was still work to be done. “Many of the songs sounded like they might be on a different pop artist’s album,” Rubin says.
Adele admits that she ultimately took the feedback “really well” but that she wasn’t initially wasn’t sure how to react. “When he said it, I couldn’t work out if I was, like, devastated, going to cry my eyes out,” Adele says. “And then I just said, ‘I don’t really believe myself right now, so I’m not surprised you f—ing said that.’ “
Her manager and Rubin both convinced her that there was no need to rush the album, to which Adele agreed. “And that’s not a way to make any kind of record,” she says. “Especially when I’m trying to f—ing follow 21. So I went back to the drawing board, really.”
Blur’s frontman and Adele were not a good fit in the studio
One major hiccup came when she and Blur singer Damon Albarn tried to work together to record material for her album. The two butted heads, and they weren’t able to even complete one song, with Albarn later taking to the press to call Adele “insecure” and her music “middle of the road.”
“It ended up being one of those ‘don’t meet your idol’ moments,” Adele says. “And the saddest thing was that I was such a big Blur fan growing up. But it was sad, and I regret hanging out with him.”
On whether any of the music they worked on could be used, she replied, “No! None of it was right. None of it suited my record. He said I was insecure, when I’m the least-insecure person I know. I was asking his opinion about my fears, about coming back with a child involved — because he has a child — and then he calls me insecure?”
As it turns out, there is nearly a full album of material that didn’t make 25’s final cut. “Some songs are not f—ing good enough,” Adele says. “And I think that’s where a lot of people go wrong, thinking that people will buy any old shit from you.”
Her size may have helped her success by making her “relatable”
Adele says she doesn’t hold anything against pop stars who show off more skin than she does, but she also doesn’t expect to follow suit in anytime soon.
“Would I show my body off if I was thinner?” she wonders. “Probably not, because my body is mine. But sometimes I’m curious to know if I would have been as successful if I wasn’t plus-size. I think I remind everyone of themselves.” She adds that her size is “relatable because I’m not perfect, and I think a lot of people are portrayed as perfect, unreachable and untouchable.”
She’s still deciding on whether to tour
Adele says she’s giving herself until Christmas to figure out how she’s feeling about her touring options. She is aware that this may be her last change to head out on the road for a while, with Angelo soon starting school, not to mention that she is wary that any further throat issues could complicate her touring efforts. She underwent throat microsurgery in 2011 to remove a polyp.
“When I’ve sat down and thought, ‘What can I do to bring something new to the table?’ ” Adele says. “It was just like, ‘Tour.’ Because I haven’t done it properly.”
Adele says it’s not easy for a guy to support her career: “I’m very successful at what I do”
Adele says that her first single, “Hello,” is about moving beyond your teens and early 20s, and Adele — who used to drink frequently but now is down to a single alcoholic beverage a week — says her son Angelo “completely rules” her life. She points out that she and Angelo’s father, 41-year-old former investment banker Simon Konecki, are still together but have no plans to marry.
“He’s so supportive,” she says of Konecki. “And that takes a very big man, because I’m very successful at what I do. My last boyfriend was uncomfortable with how successful I was, and the fact that he had to share me with lots of people.”
This article originally appeared in THR.com.