From Aberdeenshire to Asia, with Emeli Sandé. By Holly Rubenstein
What destination most reminds you of childhood holidays?
My mum is from Cumbria – the Lake District – so for our holidays we’d always drive down from Scotland and camp there in a stunning town called Keswick. My memories are of being with my family in this little car full of camp gear, and bonding on a deep level, which I feel really nostalgic about.
What is your favourite city?
I love New York. It’s so exciting. I particularly like the east village. There’s a really condensed creative area and if you go there you know you’re going to find artistic inspiration. I spent the summer there a couple of years ago and it’s got the relaxed vibe of LA mixed with an electric creative energy. I’ve always dreamt of living there some day.
If you had to recommend one destination for someone to visit, which would it be?
I grew up in Scotland in rural Aberdeenshire in the north east, and there are so many parts of Scotland that are unimaginably beautiful. As a kid, you don’t really appreciate the scenery around you and how tranquil it is, so when I go there now I don’t take it for granted. The mountains, the lochs, the rivers, are all breathtaking.
Has a particular destination inspired any of your music?
My father is from Zambia, and I last went there a few years ago. I was so inspired by being in Africa. Everything is heightened and potent and strong and deep, from the characters of the people, to the nature. I’d never seen the sun or the moon looking so big or so bright. Spiritually and artistically I felt really inspired to just write. There’s a song on my new album called Survivor, which I wrote in my grandmother’s village, sitting on the dry dirt floor and feeling so connected to the earth and my ancestors – when I hear it, I can hear that channelling.
What’s at the top of your bucket list?
Definitely Asia, as I’ve never been – Bali especially, which I’m ticking off soon. I’ve heard it’s absolute paradise, and I’ve been doing a lot of research about the spiritual depth and history of the place. I plan to go there before my tour to get aligned so I can give the best energy when I go on stage.
Where do you always eat well?
Palma in Mallorca. They take so much pride in their food, and everything is just so fresh. When I used to eat fish, the seafood was so incredible and straight from the sea. Now I find their salads delicious.
When you need to unwind where do you escape to?
That would usually be LA. I feel like I’m a different person when I’m there. It took me a few visits to really understand the layout of the city and the vibe of it but when I relaxed and submitted to the LA wave, I just found it wonderful and very chilled out. LA is perfect for me because you have the weather, as well as the most incredible studios in the world, and you can create at a more relaxed and peaceful pace.
As a musician, you’ve toured the world. Which performance location was the most memorable and why?
Performing on the island of Tobago at an open-air jazz festival really stands out. The people were so welcoming, the climate was gorgeous, and I’d never seen scenery like that before – it really was like paradise with beautiful floating islands. It was thrilling.
How about the best hotel you’ve stayed in?
Soho House Berlin. I felt like I’d gone back in time with its incredible design. There was even a Damien Hirst in the lobby. Everything was perfect – the smell, the lighting, it was so spot on. And I love Berlin’s night culture and artistic atmosphere.
Country or town house?
I go from polar extremes to be honest, but at the moment I’m living in Hertfordshire and really enjoying country life.
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