But the song is literally untouchable to me. Whether it's this genre or that genre, whether it's current or not current: The songs last forever. As he enthusiastically talks up his sixth album of self-written material, the nature of songwriting is very much on his mind.
But even he is sometimes taken by surprise. It won three Grammys — four if you include the one for producer Trevor Horn — and helped propel sales of his second album past the 6m mark in But nothing about its creation was straightforward. First there was the writing. Once finished, he "threw the tape in a corner and never listened to it", not even bothering to consider it for inclusion on his debut album. When, two years later, Horn insisted he record it, Seal remained sceptical.
But the director liked it and chose to play the song over the end credits: While today, at 47, he lives the quintessential A-list life — married to a supermodel, with homes in Beverly Hills and Mexico, still selling records by the million — his life was unsettled from the start. Born in London to a Nigerian mother and Brazilian father, Seal was immediately placed with foster parents in Essex.
He returned to his biological family, including a strict, physically abusive father, when he was four. The first inklings of a musical career came when he found himself singing I Can See Clearly Now at a school concert, aged There was this really cool teacher who I idolised — I certainly didn't idolise my father — and he always used to say, 'You've got a really good voice'. I would never really take his word for it, but he got me to sing on stage.
I remember closing my eyes and singing, and at the end of it, everyone's clapping, and I opened my eyes and there was a look of disbelief on my parents' faces. And at that point I knew. Music remained nothing more than a vague dream, his singing becoming "sort of like the party trick that I would do when I was among friends. And I'd hear it every time, 'Wow, I never knew you could sing! You ever thought of doing that? You're wasting your time.
Get on with it. I had no identity. I could sing, but I had no voice. Suddenly he understood what he lacked. But then the keyboard player said, 'Let's stop in Thailand on the way back'. As soon as I set foot in Bangkok I just knew I wasn't going home.
Between gigs he wrote the songs that would form the backbone of his 4m-selling debut album — songs that often dealt with the euphoria of finding your own path through life, and the loneliness that came with being compelled to follow it. Seal finally returned to London in , in time for the summer of acid house.
Excited by the techno and dance scenes, he met DJ and producer Adam "Adamski" Tinley, and teamed up with him to put lyrics and melody to one of Tinley's more ruminative backing tracks.
Killer spent a month at No 1; suddenly, every label in London wanted to sign him. He opted to go with ZTT and record with its founder, Trevor Horn, whose work with Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Grace Jones had helped show that the studio was as important an instrument in pop as guitar, bass, drums or keyboards.
Seal made five LPs with Horn — one remains unreleased — which turned the rave-era one-hit wonder into a global star. The sometimes fractious relationship can be seen as the first in a series he has had with men who became surrogates for the father he'd never really had. But I've had that with managers, too, and it's led to complications, because of not taking responsibility, not taking ownership and control of my career.
One manager ended up stealing from me and ripping me off, but that's because I didn't have my eyes open, because I put my trust in a father figure rather than a manager. Trevor produced a great record, but I tell you what, mate: I lived and breathed that first record. They used to have to send me home - I would fall asleep on the back couch in the studio. I wouldn't let it go. His main home is in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife of five years, Heidi Klum, and their four children three from their relationship; he has formally adopted the eldest, whose father is former formula one team-owner Flavio Briatore.
He credits Klum, to whom he proposed in an igloo he built at 12, feet up a mountain in Canada, with helping him keep his songwriting simple. Commitment is as much about looking back to who he was as celebrating the contentment he feels today. Seal came to the sessions with 41 songs at least partly written — unprecedented for an artist who would struggle to come up with a dozen strong ideas every three or four years.
Rather than booking a studio, he rented a house in the town of Montecito, with the plan being to live there while recording. Commitment is reviewed on page 13 Topics.