ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”


But nobody knows who he is … Seal

Hes a bit of a mystery, Seal, isnt he? Hes the chap with the spooky markings on his cheeks who sings on Adamskis hit “Killer” but no one knows a thing about him.

Indeed, when Smash Hits wanted to interview Seal no one seemed to know if he was even on the phone. After much “investigative journalism” (hem hem) a tip-off led us to a small recording studio in West London where Seal is masterminding his solo career.

One might be forgiven for thinking that Seal is a bit of a recluse but it only takes about three seconds to realise that hes nothing of the sort. He breezes into the kitchen brandishing a new jacket in one hand and a pack of cigarettes in the other. Hes amazingly tall (6'4", to be precise) but quite the friendliest bloke ever, though a bit shy. (Aw.)

“Look — Ive bought a new jacket to have my picture taken in. Its quite colourful — you need something colourful for photos, dont you? Im afraid Im not a very colourful person so I went out and got this today. Is it all right?”

He hovers about nervously for a moment. Hes not used to this interview malarkey. After making a quick cup of coffee “All Ive had today is some vitamin tablets and some royal jelly” — Seal lights a ciggie on the toaster (!) and finally sits down. He chats away amiably in a voice which goes from being quite loud and cockney one minute to husky and almost posh the next.

Seal is actually Sealhenry Samuel, one of six brothers and sisters. “Theres one set of people that call me Seal and one set who call me Henry, ‘cause I always used to get the piss taken out of me at school — you know — ‘Seal art arf arf! ha ha!”

He was born in London in 1963 but his family actually originate from more exotic climes. “My mums a nursing sister in a hospital. She lives down the road (in Kilburn) and my dad died about ten years ago. They came from West Africa but my grandparents on one side came from Brazil.”

Is that where the marks on your face come from then?

“Hah hah hah!” (?)

Hm. The very mention of Seals much wondered about spook marks immediately sends him into fits of laughter. Looking rather embarrassed and not a little mischievous, he twiddles the many rings on his fingers.

“Lets just say theyre tribal. (?) Yeah, I know what they are but I dont wanna reveal it!”

Have you had them since you were young? “Er … no. They appeared quite recently ha ha haaa!” (??)

Perhaps we should quiz him instead about his hairdo.

“I was in Asia last year, in Thailand, and people just put them in my hair — theyre bits of silver and stones. Most of its fallen out now. People were just freaked out by my hair over there. Theyd never seen a black person I dont think much less a black person with a funny hairdo. Its all my own hair — no extensions. I didnt intend growing dreadlocks but I got tired of combing it in the morning. I just used to wash it under the shower and then it went like this.”

Seal lives in a flat in South West London with his girlfriend — and a seal collection!

“Yes, I collect seals. Toy seals. Little porcelain things and stuffed toys. Im not quite sure how many Ive got but everyone seems to think its an appropriate present to buy me. I really like it though. In fact, one of my most treasured possessions is this little seal which Adam bought me.”

Ah, yes, Adamski. How did you actually meet him?

“Ive read various different things as to how we met but the truth is I met Chester, Adams rapper, in Clapham Common last year …”

And, so the story goes, Seal played one of his tapes to Chester who played it to Adam. He liked it and thought they could work together. It wasnt until almost a year later, after bumping into each other in nightclubs and renewing their promise, that Seal and Adamski wrote and recorded “Killer”. Is it true that Seal made up the words on the spot?

“Not really. Adam did the instrumental side of it and because he said it was called ‘Killer it sparked off these lyrics Id written about three years ago for a rock song called ‘Killer, I was convinced it needed something more so I racked my brains and came up with the ‘solitary brother bit. Adam wasnt convinced that it was right but I kept telling him it would be OK.”

Adam finally agreed and the pair had a Number One and everything was roses. Except that Seal is reported to be having a major tiff with Adam over the credits for “Killer”. Seal goes a bit pensive and, after an immense pause, says:

“Id like to set the record straight on this one. Ive got no grievances with Adam. First and foremost we were friends. I think, initially, just through lack of communication between my management and Adams record company, we couldnt come to an agreement over how I was credited on the single. It was supposed to say ‘Adamski featuring Seal but it didnt. Now its all rectified and its not that much of a problem. Theres no hard feelings — me and Adam are definitely still friends.”

But Seal still looks a bit upset so we move on to the life he led before becoming a singer/songwriting type.

“I used to do electronics, and I did architecture for a while at South East London College. I didnt really want to go to college, but I was getting pressure from the Nigerian side of my family. They value education very highly. If youre not a doctor of this or a professor of that, youre not going to get on in life. I wasnt really into it. I was in the fashion industry for about five years, making clothes for a Kings Road designer. But I always wanted to be a singer first and foremost. I remember when I was 11 my teacher put me on the stage to sing a Johnny Nash song, ‘I Can See Clearly Now, in front of the parents and teachers haahaa!”

But now hes singing his own songs and hes aiming to take the world by storm with his first solo single at the end of July.

“I spose you could say Im aiming to be quite … massive,” he says a little shyly. “But being Number One is nothing. When ‘Killer drops out of the Top Ten people will soon forget who I am.

I dont think Ive made it yet.

“‘Killer was like a hint of Seal. The new stuff is like progressive dance music, major energy type stuff. Its atmospheric. Before it was the Adamski show so I couldnt really do a lot of the stuff I wanted to do on stage. Im looking forward to really letting myself go.”

So, do you think youll be a super mega person then?

“Well, I think Im quite exciting. Erm, and I do think I have star quality, but only in the way that everyone has. Everyone could be a star … but Ive realised that I could be.”