Sam Smith has spoken about how their self-confidence and appearance have changed throughout their career.
In a new interview, the “Stay With Me” singer, 30, discussed how they rose to fame at the age of 22, at a time when they wanted to “fit in”.
Smith, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, admitted to Rolling Stone UK that they used to get stared at in the street for dressing in feminine clothing as a teenager.
The musician explained that they “wore all-female clothing and full makeup [in school].” But, when Smith moved to London aged 19, the singer became “exhausted” by people “staring” at them for “dressing up”.
“I was walking round the streets and I was even more dressed up than I would be now. People would stare at me. I became exhausted with that,” they told the publication.
Smith revealed that they started “exploring a more masculine wardrobe and setting” as a result.
The “Too Good At Goodbyes” star went on to admit they were “afraid” to express “private” themes in their earlier music, such as “sex” and “happiness”.
Over time, Smith became “fed up with fitting in” and wanted to return to how they dressed and freely expressed themselves as a teenager.
Smith, who came out as non-binary and gender queer in 2019, said the experience “changed everything”.
“There was a part of me that felt like I was explaining something that’s always been there, which is a wonderful feeling,” they said. “At times it’s been hard, and it’s been a struggle, but the closer you feel to yourself, there’s nothing but joy there.”
Smith continued: “Having people see me and understand me in the way that I’ve always wanted them to is a real gift and it’s never too late to do that.”
Smith and Kim Petras recently topped the Billboard global charts with the Grammy-nominated song “Unholy”, making history as the first non-binary and transgender stars, respectively, to have a number one hit.
The song is Smith’s most expressive yet, with the lyrics: “Mummy don’t know daddy’s getting hot / At the body shop, doing something unholy.”
“It just shows that queer music is for everyone,” the musician said of “Unholy”.
Smith continued: “The majority of the artists I listened to growing up were heterosexual and talking about heterosexual relationships and they still made me cry at night and long for love and make me feel happy. Music is this safe space, and it really can be a place of bringing people together.”
The “I’m Not the Only One” singer is currently preparing for the release of their forthcoming studio album Gloria and the recently announced European and North America tour, which kicks off in April.
“Over the last few years, as I’ve become confident in my skin, I’ve got loads of wonderful romantic attention,” they said.
“It’s been incredible. I’m so open to it. And I know what I want and I know who I am and I’m excited for that.”