Seal chats with Kevin Cooper about his friendship with Simon Le Bon, working with Trevor Horn, his new album 7 and supporting Duran Duran on their forthcoming Arena tour.

Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel, better known by his stage name Seal, is a British singer and songwriter. He has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide and is known for his numerous international hits, including Kiss From A Rose, which appeared on the soundtrack to the 1995 film Batman Forever. He was also a coach on The Voice Australia in 2012 and 2013.

Seal has won numerous music awards throughout his career, including three Brit Awards; winning Best British Male in 1992. He has won four Grammy Awards, and an MTV Video Music Award. As a songwriter, he has received the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Award, for Best Song musically and lyrically, in consecutive years for Killer (1990) and Crazy (1991).

Taking time out from his rehearsals for the Arena tour with Duran Duran, he had a chat with Kevin Cooper, and this is what he had to say.

Seal good afternoon, how are you today?

Hello Kevin how are you mate. It’s nice to speak to you.

Before we go on can I just say that in July this year I was fortunate enough to photograph you at the Cornbury Festival and I have to say that you blew me away. I thought that it was the set of the weekend. Anyone who can sing Grace Jones’s Slave To The Rhythm as good as you can has to be a little special in my eyes.

Thank you Kevin that is a huge compliment, thank you. I remember it really well. That was the one that was set in the lovely grounds of a stately home. It was great to be there.

Let me just thank you for taking the time to speak to me.

It’s my pleasure Kevin.

And I have to ask how is life treating you?

Life is treating me really well. I am here in the UK about to start the tour supporting Duran Duran. I am truly excited to be playing on the same bill as them. It will be really cool for me to get out and see the fans once again. Then I am scheduled to go on the Jo Wiley Show later on BBC Radio 2 which I am very excited about. So I have to say that life is currently very, very good Kevin.

I understand that you and Simon (Le Bon) have been friends since back in the day?

That’s right Kevin, I have known Simon for a long time now since we first bumped into one other whilst we were out and about on the road.

How did you feel when you got the call asking you to support them on their forthcoming tour?

It was really nice when they asked me if I would like to come over to the UK and join them on the tour as their special guest. I am really looking forward to it. It should be a lot of fun.

I have been playing your new album 7 for a few days now and I have to say that I find it both powerful and emotive. I think that it is simply a wonderful piece of work.

Thank you very, very much Kevin. It’s always nice when people enjoy your work. It is especially rewarding hearing that when you take into account the amount of work that both Trevor (Horn) and myself put into the album. It was simply the best that we could do. We both felt that it was the best that we had and it was quite challenging but at the same time it was awesome. I would not have wanted the album to turn out in any other way. We don’t have a formula for making these records so the process is different every time. We just loved it.

So am I to take it that you are you pleased with just how it turned out?

That’s the thing Kevin, I am pleased with all of it and I don’t have a favourite track on the album. I love it all. I started out with about fifty-five tracks to choose from for the album and only eleven have actually made it onto the record. So as you can see from that we literally put everything into the making of this album. The eleven tracks on there were the eleven best tracks which we had so there isn’t really a single individual favourite on there. I just love them all (laughter).

Were you happy with just how well the album was received?

I was Kevin yes but I have to tell you that in this day and age, your work being liked is a bonus. Having your work liked is almost like the icing on the cake. First of all you have to be happy with the record that you make; you have to be 100% happy with it. Once you are in that situation where you feel that you have made the absolute best album that you can make then if people like it then that is a bonus. It’s nice and it’s great that they acknowledge what you feel is good. However that is no longer the driving force behind it.

You have entitled the album 7 however have you not recorded 9 studio albums?

(Laughter) I have called the album 7 because in my opinion it is my seventh real studio album. However you are quite right in some people’s eyes Kevin. Some people would argue that there have been 9 studio albums but I would argue that there have been a couple of Greatest Hits albums in there so I feel that this is number 7(laughter).

On the strength of the album will we be seeing a full-blown Seal tour of the UK?

Yes Kevin absolutely. Once again that is a result of the album being well received by the people out there. That is certainly one of the bonuses.

I recently interviewed Burt Bacharach and I said to him that I thought that something magical happened whenever he worked with Dionne Warwick. Would you agree that it is the same whenever you work with Trevor Horn?

(Hysterical laughter) wow hang on Kevin. You are now comparing us to Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick. That is a pretty high standard for us to live up to (laughter).

Ok let me put it another way. Do you think that something magical happens whenever you work with Trevor?

(Laughter) absolutely Kevin, absolutely I think it does. I just think that he has got my number and he knows just how to bring the best out of me. The main thing is that Trevor enjoys working with me. I simply think that he is the best producer that I have ever worked with.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

God Kevin there have been so many. Something that springs to mind is me singing My Girl for The President and the First Lady at the White House; that has to be up there. Working with Trevor is always amazing and for me to be able to spend almost two years with him making an album is wonderful.

I have to ask you about nerves. In April 1992 you performed at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for Aids Awareness at Wembley Stadium. There were 72,000 people in the stadium and the concert was broadcast live on both television and radio to 76 countries around the world. It had an estimated audience of up to one billion. Were you nervous?

Yes Kevin I was, especially singing someone else’s song. I have always loved the song Who Wants To Live Forever and Freddie Mercury, in my opinion, was arguably the best live performer that has ever lived, certainly in the rock music genre. He was one of the most incredible singers that I have ever come across. It was nerve-racking but I absolutely loved it. Funnily enough Kevin I watched that again the other day on DVD (laughter). Thinking about it that has to be one of the highlights of my career, singing on stage with Queen, at Wembley Stadium honouring the great Freddie Mercury.

Would you say that Kiss From A Rose was the turning point in your career?

Yes Kevin I would definitely say that it was. It is the song that turned me into a household name globally.

On that note let me just say thank you for taking the time to speak to me and good luck with the tour.

Thank you very much Kevin. You keep taking those pictures and I will see you in Nottingham.