Sade, kicking off its U.S. tour in Baltimore last week. (Dennis Drenner/FTWP).

--

On how she experiences music:

I go through periods when I don’t listen to music a lot. I like listening to music on my own. I’m not really good at sharing music. It’s weird. Unless it’s dance music or hip-hop. I can enjoy that with other people... That’s why I like to listen to music in my car when I’m going somewhere... Everything is changing... I'm looking at the sky.

On songwriting and what constitutes failure:

It’s hard to say what it is. I used to always call it a “conk.” [When a song isn’t working out] it sounds like “conk!” People aren’t going to understand [the song]. It’s not going to work. It’s not right. Every album has a conk, we call it. And “Soldier [of Love]” was nearly a conk... The band, in their favor, were like, “Oh nooooo! Don't let it be a conk!”

On reconciling her disparate influences:

I like really heavy music. I like heavy bass. Quite tough music. And I also love beautiful, light, spacious [music] like Arvo Part, Bach, Dolly Parton. Delicate music.

On the artists her band has influenced:

I like that we may have encouraged people to do their own thing, not that they’re making music that’s anything like our music. If we give people the courage to say, ‘Okay, I don’t have to do an album every year... there’s no point in making music if its not the music I'm trying to make.’ If we encourage that slightly more punk mentality that’s less fixated on what will work and won’t work, then I’m really proud of us.

On punk rock:

Paul [S. Denman, bass] and Stuart [Matthewman, saxophone, guitar] were into punk. I was always a soul girl. My punk was the Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron, who I think are true punks because they were busy being themselves. They had something to say and weren’t raging against something that was meaningless.

I'm not writing punk off like that, but... I thought of punk not just as putting a poster of the Sex Pistols on your wall or putting a safety pin in your ear . I suppose it's just a way of trying to express yourself or your rage in a different way — by associating with something.

But I also thought it was a bit daft. By being like everybody, how is that punk? If you're dressing like some other punk, then it’s no longer punk. To be punk, you gotta be you. Truly punk. Some nerdy kid at school would be more punk to me.

On artists she’s paid attention to in recent years:

There are great artists who have come and gone. Lauryn Hill. She’s amazing. Really gifted. I think  Amy Winehouse is a good artist, even though I see a lot of what she’s done as derived. But I like her work. It’s more sort of individual songs. One of my favorite songs in the past five years is that song “Revelry” by... what’s their name? Kings of Leon. Love that song. And you, know, I’m thinking of hip-hop artists I love – there are loads of hip-hop artists.

On the social media generation:

I tell as many young kids as I can to realize that they don’t have to put it all our there. I think it’s a real dark force – the internet, in some ways. I do. It’s a shame to have to stop and think because, as a kid, you can make your mistakes and you may remember them in ten years, but in twenty years you might forget. But you’ve learned. If you make your mistakes online, it’s a permanent reference point.

When I see something like someone putting their kid on the internet when they’re drugged up just coming back from the dentist… I’m just disgusted, actually. I try not to laugh. This is this child, and this is his life and this is his mum or dad who he’s got to look up to and love and be protected by. And you can’t take it back 

 Imagining losing her fans after her absence:

Would it break my heart? Probably! Its hard to say because we’ve been so fortunate. Music is a beautiful thing to perform and sing but in a way, it’s pointless [not to share it.] It would be like a painting that you put in the cupboard that nobody  ever sees. It’s essential that there’s an audience for art.

--

- Stuart Matt hweman, Sade saxophonist-guitarist

On what the hiatus felt like for the rest of the band:

We don’t sit around twiddling our thumbs too much. We try to keep busy. But we know there’s no point of going into the studio until there’s something to do. Sade, she lives her life. She has to have stories and sometimes it takes a while.

On the band’s chemistry:

We know each other so well and we’re all really comfortable. We all sort of know exactly what we like and don’t like. But we’re not afraid of trying things sometimes, because you never know what’s going to stick. After ten years, you have new influences and things that’ve inspired you... But we laugh a lot and shout a lot and all sorts goes on. But we’re really very close.

On the punk influence Sade had mentioned:

I used to be in kind of punk bands, and Paul, the bass player was... Punk music, you don’t really hear that in Sade, but... we always liked really stripped-down, simple music, whether it was Al Green or Curtis Mayfield or Gregory Isaacs or the Clash. Stuff that was sort of simple... It was the idea of making music that sounded good to us without showing off. None of us were spectacular musicians, but we all wanted to sound good together.