This Wednesday, February 21, Sydney will be in the presence of royalty as the Queen + Adam Lambert tour arrives back on our shores with a brand new show and state-of-the- art production after performing to sold out arena crowds in 2014.
Ahead of his much-anticipated tour, we spoke with Adam about how music influences fashion and vice versa, and about how his own distinctive style pays homage to original Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury.
There is no denying that music and it’s fearless front men and women have helped define fashion trends and street culture across the eras and in Adam, we once again see not just musical genius; but a true sense of unique style and individualism that truly pushes the boundaries between real life and fantasy.
You’ve received rave review the world over about your stage presence and incredible vocal range. Can you give us a teaser on what to expect from the show?
The Queen catalogue is quite demanding. I love being pushed to my limits both musically and emotionally when it comes to performing. I think people can expect to be taken on a journey of many different styles and moods. Queen explored so much! I hope I can inspire people to challenge their own sense of personal freedom and worth.
It must have been a daunting concept to fill the shoes of rock God Freddie Mercury, how did the opportunity come about?
Well I made the fated decision to audition for American Idol in 2009 with Bohemian Rhapsody. Brian and Roger saw the footage and then I ended up performing with them on the shows finale. The rest is history!
Freddie was so ahead of his time when it came to fashion. How does he inspire your own dress sense and love of fashion?
Freddie was fearless.
He clearly had a sense of humor in his fashion choices. The early years he was androgynous and dark, which evolved into a sorta whimsical glam fantasy and then he got into his macho leather daddy period in the 80’s (a now obvious nod to gay club culture). I love the dichotomy of his evolution. Femme to masc. I guess I have always been drawn to this same thematic, heightened way of styling. Freddie inspires me to go for the ridiculous and over the top. To PLAY.
You also have a very unique and distinct dress sense – making trends rather than following them – how do put together your outfits?
Hahah I don’t really know if I make trends but I appreciate the compliment. Over the past four years or so, I have challenged myself to really study fashion designer’s collections. I look through all the menswear runway shows and screen cap looks that I love. I start noticing what trends I’m drawn to and incorporate them. I do way too much online shopping so I always have choices. As far as stage wear goes, I’m mix-and-match a lot. Shuffling and remixing the different outfits I have. Pieces have to pop on stage whether it be with a vivid color, shine or sparkle, or with some interesting movement. For Queen, I change seven times each night, each look correlating to the mood of the songs in that section. Sometimes it may seem arbitrary but it makes sense in my head.
Are your stage costumes designed especially for the show and what designers/brands do you work with?
I have in the past but for this tour I literally just bought a bunch of pieces online (a major addiction), had a few embellishments added, and made some alterations. I also worked with my old friend Jonny Cota for Skingraft and had him do some one- offs in custom leather colors. Majesty Black did some custom gloves as well. You could call them costumes but almost everything is designer or high street fashion… I wear a hot pink, 3 piece Dolce & Gabbana, Floral Appliqué suit (that I sat for hours glueing Swarovski crystals to one night). Lots of glam from some of my favorite designers : Saint Laurent, Gucci, DSquared, Versace, KTZ, Faith Connexion, Amiri, Vetements, D.gnak… I draw very little distinction between dressing for stage verses dressing for life (give or take a few thousand crystals and some eyeshadow).
Queen is undisputedly one of the greatest bands of the 20th century, what are some perks to travelling with original rockers Brian May and Roger Taylor? We hope there’s still a little debauchery on tour?
We travel from city to city on a private jet, so with them is the only time I bask in that luxury. I have joined Roger and his wife Sarina on some chic vacations. We definitely like to have civilized drinks after the show… and sometimes during. They prefer really good wine, I prefer top top top shelf tequila. There’s the occasional bar/club outing, but we have different preferences as far as debauchery goes.
Will you be performing all the classics and how do you put your own spin on Freddie’s originals?
Yes we do all the big hits. There are a LOT! I tend to try and focus less on the songs as recordings and more on the songs as compositions. I consider the intention and message when performing and that allows me to make it my own. I don’t take too many liberties though as that would be a bit disrespectful to everyone in the audience who hold these songs so closely to their hearts.
One thing I have learned over the past few years is that it’s not as much about “look what I can do with my voice” as it is, “listen to these lyrics, feel this vibe”.
I’ve realized I have the strongest audience connection when I let the songs lead the way and we bask in the nostalgia together.
What do you have coming up next?
I have been working on new solo music over the past year. I am not a patient person by nature, but have found that this project has greatly benefited from me taking my time to explore the sounds and themes that feel most authentic to me. I tend to get really obsessive over a song right after it’s been written and recorded and when I allow some time to pass, I can revisit it more objectively and feel if it fits the bigger picture of the album. It’s still coming into focus, but the broad strokes feel really powerful and I’m looking forward to releasing music later this year.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Queen’s biggest-selling studio album to date, News of the World from 1977, which yielded the immortal anthems “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”.
Ahead of his much-anticipated tour, we spoke with Adam Lambert about how music influences fashion and vice versa, and about how his own distinctive style pays homage to original Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury. Read the full conversation on our blog post, up now.