Interview: The Songwriting Confessions of Emeli Sandé
Emeli Sandé has made her mark as an artist, becoming the top selling musician in the UK for all of 2012, but she started her career in the same way that luminaries like Carole King did: as a songwriter. She’s the pen behind “Half of Me,” the dramatic exploration of public versus personal personas on Rihanna’s Unapologetic. She’s also a co-songwriter on a group of tracks on Alicia Keys’ latest, Girl on Fire, including the kiss-off/self-affirming single “Brand New Me.”
And Simon Cowell has taken a shine to her, putting her on songwriting duty for several UK X Factor faces, including Leona Lewis and Cher Lloyd. Sandé spent years as a working songwriter before convincing the industry she could be an artist herself. Her debut, Our Version of Events, naturally features songs composed by Sandé, for Sandé. In spite her success, the challenge of writing songs continues to interest her — no matter where they turn up.
“When I look at songwriters who’ve inspired me, their songs work in any genre,” Sandé told Radio.com. “That’s why I always like testing myself like, ‘Can I write a big pop thing?’ And then go and write something that’s completely different in a completely different genre with an artist like Susan Boyle. And then go write for Rihanna as well. I think that if you’re good at writing then you have to be able to do it in any genre. And if the production changes, they song can still stand. I love that challenge.”