The "Stay With Me" singer also talks about his tendency toward "dangerous" men: "I want that excitement"

By Amanda Michelle Steiner
Updated January 27, 2015 06:50 PM
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Credit: Pari Dukovic/GQ

Sam Smith makes music to avoid going to “therapy or rehab.”

That’s what he told GQ for their February issue, on newsstands now, as well as his tendency toward being a self-proclaimed “old soul,” his yearning for a lost age of “class and romance,” and his habit of going for “dangerous” men.

On Pop Culture, and How He Feels He’s Different from Other Pop Acts

“I envy the competition that people like [Frank] Sinatra would have had – you know, the people that he’d be standing on the stage with – because you could tell he was working off them. I need a Rat Pack, I really do,” he told the magazine.

“I sound awful saying this all the time,” he continued, “because it sounds like I’m slagging off current pop stars, which I’m not, because I love pop culture. But I feel like class and romance have gotten lost. We’ve become a bit lazy, not just in terms of music. That’s what I’m trying to bring back: that timeless element. I want to create music that people will be listening to in fifty years.”

This isn’t the first time that Smith has inadvertently (or not) “slagged off” his peers. In a conversation with Chaka Khan for V Magazine earlier this month, he said that “some of these pop stars are just awful. And they have not even had half the success that you’ve had and yet you’re so humble and kind.”

The “Stay With Me” singer says that he wants to maintain a certain level of “soulfulness”: “I want to be a pop star, but I also don’t want to be a pop star,” he said. “I won’t name names, but I will never act like some of the current pop stars have acted toward me.”

On Young Ambition and Avoiding Being an ‘Absolute Bitch’

Smith also revealed that his young ambition led him to panic attacks as young as 12 years of age. “I needed to know my life plan,” he told GQ. “There’s always been a hunger in me not necessarily to be successful, but to be an icon.”

A “bossy older brother,” Smith can accept when he’s wrong. “And I’m very paranoid and secure all the time, which really helps me not be an absolute bitch.”

He’s not a diva, however – though “I’d like to be a diva in the sense of having that kind of presence as a singer,” he admitted. “But no. I worry all the time, actually, if I’ve been a bit strict about something, am I being a dickhead? I tell my team all the time: Just tell me if I’m being a dickhead.”

On His Choice in Men

Perhaps most interestingly, Smith may have alluded in his interview to the reason behind his rumored split from Jonathan Zeizel. “I felt so much more comfortable wanting what I’m never going to get,” he said.

“Like recently, I met two guys. One of them on paper is perfect and ticks all the boxes. The other is dangerous and – well, he ticks boxes actually, too,” he said, before going on to confirm that he chose the “trouble” boyfriend. (Given that it ran in GQ‘s print edition, the interview likely took place well before the possible breakup.)

Smith and Zeizel went public in early January after meeting on the set of “Like I Can,” which premiered in December. The singer hinted to the split on Instagram, but has yet to outright confirm.

“I want that excitement. I want something that’s unobtainable.”