My London: Seal

London-born singer and songwriter Seal, who now lives in LA, reminisces on his raving years and the raw London of his youth

Notting Hill is always a place that will be close to my heart. I grew up in Kilburn and Paddington, so Notting Hill was on the doorstep, but it was the epicentre of so much music that was being made at the time, and where I started my music career really.

I haven’t lived in London for a long time – nearly 20 years in fact. It was an incredibly exciting place then, but it was perhaps a little bit more raw than it is now. But that’s just my perspective as I didn’t grow up in what you could describe as a wealthy or privileged environment. It’s always been, and I think will always remain, the creative capital of the world.

When I come in to London these days, it’s for short periods of time to do shows or promo, and there’s just no time to ‘hang-out’. It’s great to drive past or through familiar neighbourhoods though. I’ve got very, very fond memories of the place.

The Soho Hotel – it’s probably not a secret any more is it?

What is my most vivid London memory? The dance scene; clubs and raves. It was such an exciting time – a crazy time really. Although ‘memory’ might not be the best term to use. I’m not sure I remember it all! I’m completely out of the loop with that scene these days. Four kids and nightclubbing don’t mix well!

I think anyone growing up in London at that time that was involved in music will remember the city as an incredibly exciting place. It was such a melting pot of cultures, especially in west London, so I think it’s safe to say the city had a huge influence on me and ultimately my career.

I just don’t have the time these days for hanging out. But I do remember great walks in the parks, friends, pubs, relaxing at friends’ houses listening to music. All good memories of my youth!

I don’t know if my songs captured the scene, or the scene captured me, but I think many people remember those early songs like Killer and Crazy as part of their youth. But that dance thing was what was happening at the time. It was impossible to get away from it.

I do love it in LA. It’s a totally different experience. The weather, for starters, that’s one thing that always used to get me down about England.

The people [in London], they are honest.  That’s not something that can be said for everyone in LA!’

Photo of Seal courtesy of Nabil

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