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Introducing Adele

Adele the queen of underground folk sets her sights on the world of pop mega-stardom.

TextStuart HammondPhotographyMel Bles

A year ago, Adele’s whole shtick was to sit on a stool in a dusty spotlight, pick out sad auld folksy numbers on an acoustic guitar and sing like a sexy, pensive Southern songbird, giving numerous London audiences a big, relaxing aural massage. On the back of all her gigs she pretty quickly got roped in with the emerging “folk scene” and wound up having the most bonkers year of her life – supporting Jack Peñate on tour, appearing on both the radio and Jools Holland’s TV programme, finishing school and waltzing straight into the offices of an eager XL Recordings. All this at only 18 years old, before she’d actually released a single note.

“I haven’t made my mind up yet, about what kind of artist I want to be” – Adele

In 2008, Adele’s whole shtick is set to change. She’s jettisoning her enviable underground cool-cat status, leaving the folk scene in her wake and aiming herself at the mainstream. “I haven’t made my mind up yet, about what kind of artist I want to be,” she says over tea and fags in her kitchen. “My album’s eclectic, but I’m versatile, and it shows that.” It’s eclectic, sure, but it’s also a pure pop record – the sort of album that Tesco’s might recommend that you buy as a present for your mum next Christmas. It’s a record that the telly-watching, daytime radio-listening masses might even take to their hearts, with emotive strings on almost every track, a Mark Ronson-produced upbeat dance number, and some soaring ballads that might as well have been given working titles like, “Top Ten Here We Come With Fucking Bells On.”

Adele has no qualms whatsoever about wanting to be a pop star. “I’ve come from playing acoustic and being a folk act, but when I got this chance I thought, ‘Yeah, I want to make a pop record, a big soul record’,” she says. “I want to be on the radio, you know?” Adele’s first big single “Chasing Pavements” was even co-written with the man responsible for unleashing Will Young’s “Leave Right Now” and James Morrison’s “You Give Me Something” upon the world. But all that’s fi ne by Adele. “I love Will Young!” she whoops. “I stay in on Saturday nights to watch Ant and Dec and X-Factor . I’m not making music like this because my record label’s making me. I imagine that’s what some people might think, but hey, I’m signed to XL? That’s not really what they’re in to. I just want to make big pop love songs that people will sing along to.”