Ibiza, which has an international reputation of being the ultimate party destination, doesn't seem like the place to go when you're trying to focus on work.
But for James Blunt, the Spanish island was the perfect getaway — and inspiration — to create the follow-up to his multiplatinum debut, "Back to Bedlam." The disc made Blunt a worldwide star, thanks to last year's ubiquitous ballad, "You're Beautiful." But it also put him under the harsh glare of the spotlight — soon, people were dissecting every aspect of his personal life, including a high-profile romance with model Petra Nemcova.
So for his second album, "All the Lost Souls," Blunt retreated to Ibiza, and found its party scene to be an ideal creative backdrop. And he thinks fans will hear the artistic growth with every track: he says his sophomore set shows "more depth, maturity and more experience. It is deeper and richer. It is nice to grow as a musician and enjoy it so much in the process."
Blunt, 30, sat down with The Associated Press to talk about his new album, how he's adjusted to fame, and why he's not trying to please his critics.
AP: Are you worried about the sophomore jinx?
Blunt: No. It doesn't exist. Lots of people try to talk about the pressure of a second album and it is something we create. Music is not about competing with other people's albums and it is not about competing with a first album or the album before. It is about enjoying music and it is about the expression that you get, the passion you have for music and the need to express oneself. I wrote and recorded an album because I love music. ... It is not relevant to how it might sell and the number of units. It is not relevant as the chart position it gets. It is the fact that we did something we are really happy with and really enjoyed doing. That is more relevant than anything that other people might try to apply in terms of pressure.
AP: When did you realize your love for music?
Blunt: My mother forced me at a very early age (to play) the piano. I had miserable piano lessons which I didn't enjoy at all. When I was about 14, I saw a mate of mine playing the guitar and it looked like much more fun. I asked him to show me a few chords and from there I started writing some songs.
AP: Do you write about the perils of fame on this album?
Blunt: I wrote about all of the things I experienced over the last three years and some of those have been watching what is going on in a public sphere. Although it is not something that people will directly relate to themselves of being in the media eye, we can all relate to being in a group. If you are in a school playground it is very much the same as being in the media eye of people talking about what so-and-so is doing and the media do that and we do that in the school playground as well. I write about the experience of that and the effect of that.
AP: Do you read the blogs and tabloids?
Blunt: I would get sent a few things. I think if you get a good story, a positive story, you should match it with the negative story as well so you realize that they are at the end of the day just stories that anonymous people are writing. They are not relative to everyday life. I will read them to see what I have to talk about in the next interview.
AP: Do these tabloid reports hurt your feelings?
Blunt: It certainly doesn't hurt me. The only time journalists need to think hard about what they do is when it effects other people, the consequences of what they do. If someone goes and knocks on my grandmother's door — who is an 80-year-old widow — and starts asking about who I am sleeping with, I think that person needs to go and have a long hard look in the mirror.
AP: Do you think the British press is harder on you?
Blunt: Not at all. We just have a tradition for giving each other a hard time in Britain and I am sure it is character building.
AP: Why "1973" for the first single?
Blunt: It is really because my music is influenced by the '70s. It is about time spent in a nightclub with a friend, we can all relate to having good times with a sense of nostalgia, a reflection of times gone past. That time I spent was in a club called Pasha, on the island Ibiza which opened in 1973.
AP: Do you want to win over critics with this album?
Blunt: I didn't write and record my album for a critic. I did it because I love music and because I need the express myself through music. I made "All the Lost Souls" and the first copy is the copy I am over the moon with. The success is in the recording of it. If one person likes it or another person doesn't, it will be a bonus to be able to go out on tour and share it with people who enjoy it, but it is not the reason I make music in the first place.
AP: You had a quick rise to fame. What are your reflections on the past few years?
Blunt: It depends how you define success. Fame is not a measure of success nor is money. Fame is a human constructor and an addiction of ours which is not relevant. If you talk about celebrity we should focus on people who do important jobs like doctors and nurses, a whole host of other jobs out there that we could celebrate just as much as actors and musicians. They are all just a relevant and just as important. The success I have, I have shared some great moments with some friends along the way and have had a great time and met some incredible people around the world while I have been doing my job.