Emeli Sande Talks Performance Shoes, Good Luck Charms, And More In Backstage Interview

Emeli Sande at the Steve Madden Summer Music Concert.
Photo: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

If you haven’t heard about Emeli Sande yet, well, come here, sweetie. *envelopes you in a fluffy wing of bedazzled maribou feathers* We have a lot to show you. This Scottish soul and R&B songstress is our PUSH Artist of the Week, and not only is she a vocal powerhouse with a nasty knack for writing hooks, she has style pouring out her ears to boot! We caught up with her before her Steve Madden Summer Music Concert to chat about her performance outfit selection process and just how she gets that amazing smokey eye!

MTV STYLE: We really dig your personal style. It’s a little bit tailored and a little bit streetwear, equal parts edgy and chic.

EMELI SANDE: Thanks! My style is quite British. I just like to make small statements with things. I don’t like to be over-the-top, so I try to be as bold as I can but also quite simple. I love to mix it up, but usually, it’s quite simple with one or two statement pieces.

We definietly get a similar sense from your music. Would you say there’s a relationship between your music and your style?

Yes, I try and approach my music the same way, trying to be as effective as possible. I don’t like to write too many words. I just try and use statement things in my music that will catch people’s attention. I also try and be bold and strong with my music, and I definitely represent that through my fashion, as well.

Tell us a little about putting together a performance outfit. Are there any special criteria?

Well, I used to wear wedges all the time, but then it became kind of an issue. I couldn’t run around, and I couldn’t get into the vibe of the song too much because I was worried about falling over. I started to get into more like flatter shoes with a bit of a platform, so that’s a big criterion. And something I can just feel free in. I don’t want to be thinking about, “Oh, this skirt,” or “Am I hanging out of this?” and also, something that I’m not going to get too hot in.

Oh, I’m sure. Especially in the summer and under a bunch of stage lights!

Exactly. If I’m performing in a colder country or outside, I like wearing buttoned-up shirts and keeping it quite smart, but recently, over here, I’ve just been like screw that, I’m wearing a t-shirt!

Emeli Sande’s jewelry.
Photo: MTV

We see you wearing this great gold pendant a lot. Is there a story behind it?

I always wear this necklace. I feel like it just protects me. Sometimes on stage the light comes off it, so in pictures you see it reflecting. I wear it all the time, and it’s kind of protection for me. [It’s] from Montenegro. My fiance is from Montenegro, and his mother gave this to me. It’s a monastery in these amazing hills and there’s this little white church in the hills. This is the church.

That’s beautiful. Any other fashion good luck charms?

I also have this ring that I always wear. I got it in Washington Heights one of the first times I came and wrote in New York, so it kind of has special meaning to me. It just reminds me of how I felt at that point. Just so excited to be in New York. Nobody knew who I was, but it was just such a kind of buzz that I got. I have these two things on stage all the time. Also, 11 is one of my favorite numbers, so when I feel like I need a bit more good luck, I’ll get numbers on my nails.

Oh yea? Where are some of your favorite places to get your nails done?

There’s a massive Topshop on Oxford street where they do your nails downstairs. I live in Hackney, and there are also some really cool great value places there. There’s a lady that I know there that always knows exactly what I want.

Speaking of beauty… You’re pretty much the Queen of the Smokey Eye. Almost every time we see you, it’s varied slightly but always killer. Teach us your ways!

I have a really cool hair and make-up girl, Yasmina Bentaieb, she’s from France. She’s really good with the hairspray and making me look good for the stage. And yea, she’s really good at getting the eyes right and kind of giving me a look that’s quite strong without being over-the-top. I just kind of let her do her thing!

So she’s responsible for your FANTASTIC statement hairstyle, too! Do you think you’re going to stick with this look for a while?

For the time being, yes. I think I’m going to keep this up because it is just such a signature. People often think of my hair when they think of me, so for now I’m going to keep it. But I’d love to experiment with a few different colors, you know? Maybe put a bit of green somewhere or something like that!

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