Sam Smith said they stopped wearing “makeup and female clothing” after they were assaulted aged 19.
2019 has been a transformative year for Smith. The singer came out as non-binary in March and announced that they were switching to they/them pronouns in September.
In a new interview with Out, Smith revealed that they are simply picking up from where they left off before they entered the music industry.
They said they had previously dressed in a more “feminine” manner, but had made a conscious decision to present as “butch” after they were assaulted.
“I was 19 when I moved to London, and I got punched,” they said.
“I used to wear lots of makeup and female clothing, and I got punched by this man, and ever since that happened, I started to dress down.”
Smith said that after they changed their image, their music career “started to lift off”.
“I made a decision in that moment that I felt more comfortable and safer pushing myself to that male side, and it helped,” they explained.
“It helped my music because I guess there was nothing polarising about me in that album, so I could cross over to all these parts of the world that are extremely homophobic.”
Smith revealed that they became “depressed” while writing their second album, The Thrill of It All, because of the “‘Sam Smith’ character” they had created.
“I was depressed because I was this person in suits who other people wanted me to be,” they said.
“I can wear a suit now, actually, and can feel completely different in the suit, but at the time I felt, I’ve got to be butch for other people.”
Because of this, Smith felt as though their music had suffered.
“I think people can hear that. As soon as I came out with [recent singles] ‘Promises’ and ‘Dancing With a Stranger’, I started playing. I started having fun. I started being myself.
“My art has become truer and more honest after coming to peace with being non-binary.”
Smith is currently gearing up to release their third album in 2020, which they said will move away from their previous “acoustic-y, soulful version of pop music”.