Producer and songwriter Greg Kurstin had to keep quiet that he worked with Adele on her comeback single “Hello” for a long time — and he’s just happy the secret’s finally out. “It’s really hard not to talk about it, because it’s really all you want to do is just run around the streets and scream, ‘I just worked with Adele!’” the producer and songwriter tells EW. “That was really testing my patience. But I think I did okay.”
He did — and he also did pretty okay with the song itself: Soon after dropping on Oct. 23, “Hello” became just about the only thing any pop culture-loving human could talk about or watch (the music video broke Vevo’s record for single-day views with a whopping 27.7 million).
“She didn’t want to just go through and write a pop song with any particular formula,” Kurstin says. “We talked about Tom Waits, and different storytellers like that. I think that was the idea, that we wanted to do something that was very honest about where she was at right now, and she wanted to do something that was real and believable.”
And doing something “real and believable” doesn’t involve too many takes — at least for Adele. “She’ll do the first one, and it’s great, and then she’ll do a second one, and it’s even better, and we’ll go until we hit the point where we know we’ve definitely got it,” he says of recording with her. “I mostly let her do her thing. There was not a lot of direction from me.”
Kurstin plays a bigger part in the songwriting stages and compares Adele’s process to Sia, with whom he worked on 2014’s 1000 Forms of Fear. “We just wrote ‘Hello’ from nothing, really,” Kurstin says, adding that it’s “something we stumbled upon when we were playing in the room.”
“Like Sia — we don’t come in prepared with anything,” he added. “We just go in the room and I start playing chords, and we move through different ideas until something feels like it’s working.”
Kurstin’s also credited with two other songs on the forthcoming record, which is set to debut Nov. 20.
Kyle Anderson contributed reporting to this story.