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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 October 2018

5 Minutes with Sade Adu

Ahead of her Abu Dhabi performance on Friday, the British soul icon Sade Adu addresses misconceptions surrounding her self-titled group and how they manage to stay relevant, despite their famously slow work rate. 

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Sade is one of a dying breed of artists doing whatever they like whenever they feel like it. Have you ever felt your time away from the spotlight would result in fans and the music industry losing interest in the group?

We are not that pragmatic or business-like. I never have been. The band are often more ready, I am way more slower than they are. When you put as much as we do in our music then surely you will strike a chord with the audience. You have to put the work in so that you can communicate emotionally with the people or what's the point? Even a death metal band, there is an energy there and an emotion that you are conveying. We do that with great integrity. That's why when we do something musically it really means it's from the heart. That is what connected us historically.

A lot of music critics, radio DJs and casual listeners label Sade as a jazz band. Are you comfortable with that description?

I don't really see us as a jazz band. We just express ourselves with the appropriate medium for the song. We always had surprisingly heavy dubby bass-lines and if you listen to our music loud you will generally hear that. In the studio we work really loud. We have been misconstrued in a way, probably our younger audiences don't have those misconceptions and they just listen to the music.

One misconception about Sade is that you're a solo project instead of being an actual band. Does the constant limelight on you cause tension within the band?

People who came down the road with us and are familiar with our history are conscious of the influence and importance of all the band members. People who are only interested in us superficially wouldn't know. When you come to see the show you will have no doubt that it is a band and we are at our most open and vulnerable and most real. It's easier for the record company and the press to focus on the individual in regards to identity. It's hard to identify bands sometimes and by the way, have you seen how ugly my band are? They are right mingers, so it's much better that way!

A lot of modern R&B artists cite the band as a major influence, but what music or which artists inspire you these days?

I love what I consider to be soul music, that is, anyone who can express their inner feelings and engage musically at the same time. I am in to everything: country, hip-hop, classical music, folk. For me it has to have integrity. I like music that makes me dance, but it has to be tough, rugged and real. I also like the gangster rappers as well, I love Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent and all of those. That's because they come where they come from, they are real and they express things in their own language. They are brave.

Your latest album Soldier of Love was released after a 10-year absence. While you rarely speak about your private life, have the past 10 years been one long holiday?

My friends would say, "If only the press knew the kind of stuff that goes on in your world and in your life between the albums - their eyes would boggle!" I have had adventures, disasters. I am always building something, creating something. I am waiting for that holiday to come.

* Sade plays at Yas Arena, Yas Island, on Friday at 7pm. Tickets start at Dh295 from www.thinkflash.ae

The set list from Sade's December 2 performance in Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia:

Soldier of Love (from Soldier of Love, 2010)

Your Love Is King (from Diamond Life, 1984)

Skin (from Soldier of Love, 2010)

Kiss of Life (from Love Deluxe, 1992)

Love is Found (from The Ultimate Collection, 2011)

In Another Time (from Soldier of Love, 2010)

Smooth Operator (from Diamond Life, 1984)

Jezebel (from Promise, 1985)

Bring Me Home (from Soldier of Love, 2010)

Is it a Crime (from Promise, 1985)

All About Our Love (from Lovers Rock, 2002)

Paradise (from Stronger Than Pride, 1988)

Morning Bird (from Soldier of Love, 2010)

King of Sorrow (from Lovers Rock, 2002)

The Sweetest Taboo (from Promise, 1985)

The Moon and The Sky (from Soldier of Love, 2010)

Pearls (from Love Deluxe, 1992)

No Ordinary Love (from Love Deluxe, 1992)

By Your Side (from Lovers Rock, 2002)

Encore: Cherish The Day (from Love Deluxe, 1992