Bebeto Matthews, Associated Press
"(Children make) you slow down and see the work through their eyes," Seal says.

NEW YORK — For a man who built his career on singing ballads, Seal's new album, "System," is surprisingly upbeat.

The British rocker says you can thank his blissful home life for that. Seal, who became the envy of men worldwide when he wed supermodel Heidi Klum, credits the couple's three young children for opening himself up as an artist — and giving him more than enough inspiration for his new disc.

In his recent interview with The Associated Press, Seal talked about how he and Klum stay connected, how he creates his music and the essence of life.

AP: Does having children make you a better songwriter?

Seal: They certainly open you up, and they do it in a really interesting way. A journalist recently (said to) me, "I am really surprised that your album is up-tempo and dance. I expected that you are a family man now, and you have kids and you are married, I would have expected a bunch of ballads." I thought it was funny because that person didn't understand the impact of having a family and it really inspires an artist. . . . I watch my daughter in the garden looking at flowers and discovering them for the first time and spending so much time with them instead of passing it by. It makes you slow down and see the work through their eyes. Once you do that, that is what makes you more open and emotionally available.It is when that happens . . . you get inspired to write about other things and other topics.

AP: Is this album a reflection of the state of your life?

Seal: Every album is, to tell you the honest truth. I always think of an album as an audio biography or a soundtrack to someone's life. It is the job of any artist to tell the truth when you are making a record and fortunately for us we do it through music which is the fun part. It is always a picture, a snapshot of that person's life.

AP: Did you feel pressured to get a record out?

Seal: There is always pressure. I was speaking to Lionel Richie the other day and he said something really interesting. He is, as you know, a great songwriter, one of the greatest. He told me this story about the way that he works. He says he is not one of these people who can just wake up in the morning and go out (to work) between the hours of nine and 10. So much so that his publisher would call up the house and say, "Where is Lionel?" His assistant would say, "Oh he is out shopping or doing something." She would go, "What is he doing shopping? He should be working. We need this record." His response to that was what they didn't know is that he was working. I understood what he meant by that. As a songwriter, you never really stop. I finished my album now, but I am writing all of the time.

AP: Are you married to your best friend?

Seal: Yes, she is. It is really important that we have that understanding because apart from anything else it is really healthy. People often talk about the most important thing in a relationship. They say it is really important that you are turned on by your partner and you love each other which is all really true, I often think that the most important thing or certainly up there with love is respect. There has to be a mutual respect. Love is really odd. It is a funny old thing. It can be inconsistent. It is beautiful, but love has an ebb and flow. . . . With respect, that is different. Respect is really simple. That has to be the case in relationship and marriages. The reality of it is, not every day is a walk in the park.

AP: Is Heidi an optimist?

Seal: Yes she is. She has always taught me to be more positive. I was talking to a good friend of mine and we were both talking about how much we've learned from our wives. It dawned on me that that is what it is about. I would hope that I would be in a situation where I was constantly learning by example from Heidi. She is always optimistic and professional. . . . She has a work ethic unlike anyone I have ever met and always tries to have fun. Whatever it is she is doing, she always makes it fun. ... Being around someone like that you realize that therein lies the essence of life. You get one shot and you've got to have fun.