Who is she, Sam Smith?
Last month the British singer-songwriter released a video for “How Do You Sleep?,” a collaboration with Max Martin, Savan Kotecha, and Ilya. "I have never been this excited for a release," Smith, 27, had teased on Twitter. "My inner dancing queen is about to come out. You ready?"
But no, we were not ready. And as it turns out, Smith almost wasn't ready either.
"I was so scared," he admits in a new behind-the-scenes video, revealing that he had "panic attacks" and "intense anxiety" leading up to his first dance rehearsals. "I think jumping into your issues sometimes and into your insecurities can really help."
"I love to dance. Ever since I was a little kid, it’s an amazing way to express myself, but it’s always been something I’ve done privately in my bedroom or whilst intoxicated in the club," he explains. "But it’s never been something that I’ve wanted to put into my music."
"I felt quite restricted by my performance for many years, actually. I felt that if I moved too much, the way that I wanted to, I would be laughed at," Smith continues. "I think recently with coming to terms with my sexuality even more than I ever have and my gender more than I have, I think I felt this freedom to start moving in a way that’s just more confident." (Smith has come out as genderqueer but says he is currently using he/him pronouns.)
"I’ve always shown one side of my personality, which is my sad, vulnerable self, but I don’t think people have got to see all the sides of me, and I’m excited to share this part."
Directed by Grant Singer with fierce choreography by Parris Goebel, the “How Do You Sleep?” video shows the Grammy winner serving some major steps and voguing poses alongside shirtless male dancers.
"Thank you to all the beautiful humans around me who have helped me really come out my shell over the past year," Smith wrote on Instagram.
Goebel in particular snatched Smith out of his shell, with somebody else along for the ride. "She said to me, 'Let her out. Let her out,'" Smith recalls. "I decided to just take a leap of faith. There’s a vivacious woman inside my body that is being set free."
"Dancing the way I am, and expressing myself, and being femme, and wearing heels on set, which I did, and all this stuff, it’s scary. But I love being scared. I’d rather be scared than feeling safe and comfortable, because safe and comfortable has driven me crazy."
Watch the "How Do You Sleep?" BTS and original videos below.