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Sam Smith Demo Gave Me Energy

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Life size statue of smiling Chinese man by Yue Minjun. A&R come President of Capitol Records, Nick Raphael showed the statue to Lemar during the tour of his new home.
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Lemar
Special Guest: Nick Raphael

Intro.

It was great catching up with Nick Raphael. My former A&R man at Sony Music UK and now the President of Capitol Records UK. We spoke for hours on my visit to his new pad. After the house tour and some great food, we sat down for a long chat. Here’s one of the stories he told me about the artist Sam Smith.

About Sam Smith.

” I signed Sam Smith in 2012 with Jo Charrington, she pushed the deal through. We both met him and fell in love with him. Or ‘them’ as I’m meant to say. We met them then. Then in 2013, I got sick in January. When I eventually came back to the office, Richard had played me ‘Five Seconds Of Summer’. I signed it, I believe ,in April. Then my sickness got worse. 

During this time, Sam Smith was making songs, including ‘Stay With Me’ and ‘I’m Not The Only One’. By the way, the song brought me out of all this. I was walking around the Heath, which we’re sat next to here today, with the dogs. ‘I’m Not The Only One’ was playing as a demo. Jimmy had sent me the original demo. He’d done a stupid song structure, so I called him and I said, ‘Put it to a normal song structure!’ He said, ‘No, I’m trying to be clever.’ I argued back and said, ‘No!’

The new demo arrived.

As I listened to it, I start crying. Properly crying, like, lost my shit, crying. And I’m walking through the Heath. I called Sam and I’m choking back tears.

'That's a life changing song', I said. 'Do you really think that?' he said. I said 'Yeah I do, I genuinely do.' 

I called Jo Charrington and said, ‘Have you listened to it?’ She said, ‘No.’ And I was crying, I said, You’ve got to listen to it now.’ I called Jimmy back and said, ‘You’ve written a future classic.’.

Nick Raphael - "I Signed Jay Z For The World"

It Gave Me Energy.

That moment of hearing that song gave me the energy that I hadn’t had for months. ‘Stay With Me’ was already in the bag and we knew we had a good song there. Actually, we got ‘Stay With Me’ pretty quickly, not that far into the recording process. Then we got ‘I’m Not The Only One’. And we’d had ‘Lay Me Down’ from the very beginning.  

So, I had these three songs and I suddenly was like, ‘This is going to sell a million albums’. That’s all I thought. Not twenty million!

Nick introduced Lemar to his new guard dog not far from where he heard Sam Smiths demo that gave him the energy to surge on to long awaited and huge success as President of Capitol Records UK.

I only thought it was going to do a million albums.And I was like, 'Oh my God!' Two things that taught me. One, the power of music. Two, the power of a hit. Not even knowing it's a hit. Because it hadn't been out yet, but 'believing' it was a hit. 'Belief'.Then Jo Charrington made a crucial decision. Sam was going to turn down doing 'LaLaLa'. He had written 'LaLaLa' and 'Naughty Boy' wanted to release it. But his management were saying 'We're not going to release this. No, no, no.'Jo said, 'Just release it.'

A Mega Hit.

That becomes mega hit. And then everyone is waiting for Sam Smith’s new material. From that moment on, the label went from being a joke, that was going to be shut down. To having the following year, 2014, a number 1 with ‘Five Seconds Of Summer‘, not with Sam’s album. Sam went to number two. And those two albums at this moment as we sit here today, one has sold 18.5. That first album.

5SOS Beat The Carters.

The song will do 20 million in its sleep. 25 million sales at least, in it’s lifetime. That’s at a minimum. And the other one was ‘Five Seconds Of Summer’. Their ‘lifetime’ albums with us, the three albums we did with them. Or, three and a half albums we did with them. We did a ‘live’ album – is around 10 point something million? They both went on to become massive in America. 

'Five Seconds Of Summer' are the only band in history to have their first three albums go to number one. 

And they beat The Carter’s, which is Jay-Z and Beyonce on their last album. Jay-Z comes back up in my life.”

Full circle. Again.

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