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“I’m having so much fun,” Adam Lambert says of his new EP, Afters, a collection of carnal, hedonistic dance anthems in which he encourages the listener to “own” their urges and fantasies.

Although Adam is widely hailed as one of the most trailblazing LGBTQIA+ artists of the 21st century (he memorably became the first out singer to debut atop the Billboard 200 and became the far-right’s nemesis after blessing the AMAs with their gayest performance ever), this EP is somehow the singer-songwriter at his most – as he says in ‘Lube’ – “homo”. More lyrics incoming to support that statement: “Slip in the room, slip right into you / Gonna make you nut”. [Insert Megan Stalter saying, “We love gay! And it’s awesome!” here.]

“In the past, I might have been caught up in playing a game or trying to win in a certain way that caused me to go in different directions,” Adam tells GAY TIMES. “With this project I sat down and thought, ‘I want to do this for me. I want to make music that I would listen to at the afterparty.’ […] Lyrically, this EP is definitely not subtle, but I’ve never been known for being subtle. I’m a pretty honest person. But it’s like, fuck it. Why not? Now’s the time.”

As well as Afters, Adam is gearing up for the release of Out, Loud and Proud, an ITVX documentary following the Grammy nominee as he explores the history of queer music in the UK, interviewing trailblazing artists such as Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor, in addition to Erasure’s Andy Bell, Skunk Anansie’s Skin and MNEK. Below, Adam discusses the “liberating” EP (out 19 July!) and the documentary (now streaming on ITVX), and the progressive change he’s witnessed in the music industry since debuting in 2009 with his historic first album, For Your Entertainment.

Adam, this week marks the 12 year anniversary of you making history as the first out artist to debut atop the Billboard 200 with your sophomore album Trespassing

I know, it’s wild. I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that was a moment.’ It’s funny because I look at comments like, ‘Wait, what about Elton John? What about so and so?’ It’s hard to believe actually, that it hadn’t happened. At the time I said, ‘Surely that’s not true…’

If I had an achievement like that, I’d walk around smug as f**k telling random people on the street, ‘Did you know that I became the first person to…

It does feel nice. It’s a milestone. I was proud to have achieved it, but it was mixed with a feeling of, ‘It shouldn’t be this way, this shouldn’t be something that hasn’t been achieved before.’ Now, many years later, the music industry is so different. It’s amazing to feel like I was part of some initial wave of progress.

It feels like quite fitting, then, that 12 years later we’re talking about your, undeniably, gayest project ever. With this EP, it feels like you’ve never been this uninhibited.

I’m having so much fun. In the past, I might have been caught up in playing a game or trying to win in a certain way that caused me to go in different directions. I’m proud of all the music I’ve made, and it’s not to knock any of it, but I read something recently saying, ‘If your only aim is thinking about what your audience wants, there’s something missing from that equation. With this project I sat down and thought, ‘I want to do this for me. I want to make music that I would listen to at the afterparty.’ Hence the title Afters. Coming from the world of theatre, I’m always concerned with the audience and making sure they have a great time. I’ve not said goodbye to that sensibility, but it’s about trying to balance it with a place of honesty. Lyrically, this EP is definitely not subtle, but I’ve never been known for being subtle. I’m a pretty honest person. But it’s like, fuck it. Why not? Now’s the time.

I’m glad that the lyrics match the energy and vibe of the songs. I feel like there will be a lot of people who identify with this EP…

I think so. It’s summertime, it’s meant to inspire that feeling of freedom, hedonistic freedom, and liberation. This is what you’re feeling when you’re on a night out and see someone you desire. Go for it! Do it! It’s okay to voice these feelings and urges and fantasies. Own them. Own them boldly.

I’ve been a boring motherfucker lately, but this EP makes me want to go to a club just so I can go to an afterparty after.

Exactly. The best part about the afterparty is that we all get wild and turned up in the club, you start connecting with people, and there’s no rules on inhibitions at the afterparty. You can chuck them out the door.

In a statement you said the EP is inspired by your own afterparties. So, Adam, what goes down at these afterparties? Is it too NSFW to reveal?

Just… listen to the songs. Know what I’m saying? Listen to them lyrics! Things are known to happen.

Okay, I can put two and two together. With LGBTQIA+ identities becoming more accepted in the industry, how did the experience writing and recording an EP as unapologetically gay as this differ from, say, your debut album?

I took the pressure off myself. In the past, I would overthink things or have an expectation that was super high, and I would be anxious about meeting it. I’ve done a lot of work on myself the last couple years, and I’m in a good place. I’m able to enjoy it more. That’s part of the process on this one, to stop overthinking and making it so serious. I’m also working with an amazing new team, and this new approach to work has changed things a little bit for me.

As well as this EP, you’re releasing an ITVX documentary in the middle of Pride Month…

Yeah, it’s called Out Loud and Proud and it explores the history of queer people in music in the UK. I’m a co-producer, I’m hosting, conducting interviews with a handful of luminaries, and it chronicles the progress we’ve made over the last 60-ish years. I interview people that represent every decade to try and illustrate the work we’ve done to move forward, and how that connects to the music industry. As we were saying earlier, it’s changed so much. Societal attitudes dictate where we’re at and what we’ve been through, but I also think the industry itself was run in a different way before. There were so many gatekeepers that would create obstacles to keep you from getting into the mainstream because they were so scared of somebody being offended by what you were singing, or your identity in general. And the way people consume music now is vastly different. Before, it was a lot more controlled and force-fed to the public. Now, you will find your audience because of streaming. We’ve given the power back to the listener, and it’s exciting to be in a time where you have a direct line to your fanbase like never before.

Was there anything you learned about the history of queer music in the UK that you didn’t know before?

I had my own version of it, because I’ve been in the industry for 15 years. I’ve seen a lot change. It’s interesting because in the 70s, everything was behind closed doors, not for the press or public consumption. It was a hedonistic time and explosion of culture, art and music, so socially, there was a lot of progress. Then, obviously, the way AIDS affected the gay community in the 80s… It put a tailspin on everything, including music. But, there was rebellion happening in the 80s, where a lot of queer new wave artists came out saying, ‘Hey, here I am.’ I mean, people like Boy George and Andy Bell. Of course, the press at the time were pretty hardcore to them. They dealt with a lot of pushback, and were still rebelling and answering society’s fear towards them with boldness. Then, the 90s was a whole different mentality. Each decade represents a different stage in our evolution as a community.

I’m excited to watch, just so I can tell Gen-Z’s all about the history of British LGBTQIA+ music at the afterparty as Afters plays…

That was kind of the inspiration for wanting to make it in the first place because of the amount of people I talk to at a party, club or afterparty – it’s not all lewd behaviour! I have meaningful conversations, too. Gen-Z coming up right now have such an amazing future ahead of them in terms of how free they can be and how they can express themselves. And this gender revolution that’s happening right now is super interesting, but when you look back at what was happening in the 70s with the androgynous glam-rock movement, there were seeds planted back then. It’s great to bring some history to the table, you know? As queer people, sometimes we forget our history, and I’m kind of a geek about it. So, that was what inspired me to make it, to pass the book and teach the kids!

Adam Lambert: Out, Loud and Proud is now streaming in the UK on ITVX. 

Afters is out on 19 July. Listen to the latest single, ‘CVNTY’, here or below.