Writing an anthem that hits the heart of millions isn't easy. Even for Adele.
In her first lengthy interview in three years, the singer has spoken about the details behind writing her new album, why she steers clear of fame and what Hello, her new single which has wracked up 107million views on YouTube (and counting), is about.
Speaking to i-D about Remedy, one of the first tracks she penned for her upcoming album 25, Adele says, "I loved singing it so much I got excited like 'I'm on a roll!'
"[But] I weren't on a roll. So I started knocking out some shit songs - they weren't shit," she corrects herself, "they were good pop songs, but I was just trying to bang it out, I didn't want to think about it. And, you know, it got rejected. My manager was like, 'This isn't good enough.'
"Yeah, it knocked my confidence a bit, but I also knew, you know. And then I flew [producer] Rick Rubin over, to play him the songs and he was like, 'I don't believe you.' That's my worst fear: people not believing me. So I went back to the drawing board."
For every album, Adele says she buys a new notebook, sniffs it - "cause smell is important" - and then she gets "a big, fat sharpie and write my age on the front page. 25 has five exclamation marks after it 'cause I was like, 'How the fuck did that happen?!' 21 to 25."
She says her latest work is about "trying to clear out the past", something her new track Hello is also about.
When interviewer Hattie Collins says it initially struck her as "an apology of sorts to the guy she used to date, the one Someone Like You's about" (we had the same reaction), Adele replies, "Oh, god no. That's over and done with, thank f**k...When I'm away, I really, really miss my life at home. The way that I feel when I'm not in England, is...desperation. I can't breathe anywhere else."
"I'm so attached to my whole life here. I get worked up that I'm missing out on things. So Hello is about wanting to be at home and wanting to reach out to everyone I've ever hurt - including myself - and apologise for it."
It seems keeping a firm grasp of her North London working-class routes are essential to Adele and it's the reason she's afraid of fame.
"I'm just frightened of it, you know? Frightened of it destroying me and it ruining me, and me getting lost and turning into some of the people that I love with my whole musical heart. I get frightened. And I get frightened for the people that I love, feeling like they've lost me."
Referring to the paparazzi and social media, she continues, "It's definitely harder to avoid it than it is to give into it. I think most people tend to give into it because it is easier, but I just can't. I'm uncomfortable with giving into that kind of thing."
"Me being photographed in Waitrose is being famous for no reason and that is something that I am not up for and I will not stand for, for myself.
"It's not me trying to be like fucking anti-famous c**t-y, I just want to have a real life so I can write records. No one wants to listen to a record from someone that's lost touch with reality. So I live a low-key life for my fans."
During her hiatus, Adele gave birth to her first son, Angelo, with boyfriend Simon Konecki, which she briefly spoke about: "It's f**king hard. I thought it would be easy. 'Everyone f**king does it, how hard can it be?' Ohhhhh...I had no idea. It is hard but it's phenomenal. It's the greatest thing I ever did. He makes me be a d**khead, and he makes me feel young and there's nothing more grounding than a kid kicking off and refusing to do what you're asking of them. It used to be that my own world revolved around me, but now it has to revolve around him."
Read the full interview where Adele talks about her proudest moment, her love for Amy Winehouse and how she's changed in the last three years at i-d.vice.com.
Images: Rex Features, Instagram/Adele