“With the Music Industry It’s Just Been Torn to Pieces, so Everyone Is Sort of Discovering What Makes Sense Now and Where to Go from Here”

“With the Music Industry It’s Just Been Torn to Pieces, so Everyone Is Sort of Discovering What Makes Sense Now and Where to Go from Here”

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Having started modelling from a young age fronting campaigns for Levis and Paco Rabanne Sam Way turned to music as an outlet for processing human experiences. Now taking inspiration from his next adventure; parenting, he shares his creative process.

Image credit: Lauren Luxenberg / @Laurenluxenberg
 

In your recent single Livin, you reference isolation and staring at a screen. I think lots of people can relate to feelings of social isolation from the pandemic – have you found music has been an important outlet for you during this last year?

It’s been massive! How I stumbled into music is that I was in a desperate need for an escape I think, or a creative place to put my thoughts or feelings into. I’d say in the early years, music sort of became a kind of therapy for me.

And suddenly as I picked up this guitar, which I could barely play at first, these stories and songs and emotions that had probably been locked up somewhere came pouring out. So it’s definitely been really important to have something creative to focus on during this time. The pure sitting down and making something has been really important to my mental health.

 

What first got you into music? What would you say was your turning point?

There were probably a few things. So the first one I can’t fully remember but when I was young we had a piano in our house and I would apparently just sit there and hit the notes – I think I was quite fascinated with sound from a really young age.

I’ve also always loved language and literature and at the same time I got really into crate digging for CDs that were out at the time. My first CD was The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem. And from that first time walking into HMV and becoming exposed to this whole new world of possibilities and music at first as a consumer just getting into this world.

But this pivotal shift into creating music was all of this unconscious research that I’d done, all of the weird, experimental music I was listening to at the time, and I’d just moved up to London and my Dad noticed that I was experiencing some anxiety and said ‘pick up a guitar’, and with the notes that I could play I just started writing and composing.

“I’d just moved up to London and my Dad noticed that I was experiencing some anxiety and said ‘pick up a guitar’ and with the notes that I could play I just started writing and composing.”

 

Within that sort of creative process it’s clear from a lot of your music that it’s quite self-reflective, is that a conscious thing?

Maybe as a writer I should challenge myself to get out of that, but I can’t help but write about what is immediately in front of me. You know, and often a song won’t come to me for a long time and then suddenly this thing has happened and I need to write about it. And it takes all of my focus, and all of my energy and I’m writing it everywhere, on the tube, at home or in my head. Yeah, so it definitely takes on sort of a self-reflective tone and I think that’s sort of the way I like to write really, just writing through experience.

Even listening through my song archives, you’ll have a good idea of what I’ve been through and what I’ve seen, as most of them are based on experiences.

 

You can definitely hear that sort of journey through the years in your music, and it feels like a really organic sound experience. On that type of music, how would you describe your music style?

It’s so hard because fundamentally, my music has really changed since I began releasing it. But I can comment on what it is now. So first I would say my music is mushy, because I’m about to be a Dad and writing directly about that experience is just so like, full of love and almost overwhelming. So I’m even putting together some sort of lullabies for the kid to get to sleep.

The second one, is definitely cinematic, and I use that word in the sense that I feel there is always a sort of arc to my music. And I like to build that sort of sonic journey, and so many of my songs will start with just an instrument and a voice, like Goliath is a great example as it starts with just a piano. And it doesn’t start building until a minute and forty seconds. Which is really unconventional.

Thirdly, experimental, I don’t like to be put in one sort of genre. I like to experiment and try different sounds.

 

With everything that has gone on in the past year, and now you’re based all the way in Thailand. What challenges would you say you’ve faced during these times?

Despite the general mess that this year has been for everyone, I would say I’ve sort of welcomed the changes and the new challenges. During the first lockdown, my partner and I went from living in separate apartments to moving in together, and living in Devon with my Mum. So it’s been really intense, but it’s shown us what we are sort of capable of.

And now the fact that we have a baby on the way, is such a silver lining to the whole thing. And with the music industry it’s just been torn to pieces, so everyone is sort of discovering what makes sense now and where to go from here. Especially with indie artists, like myself.

“with the music industry it’s just been torn to pieces, so everyone is sort of discovering what makes sense now and where to go from here”

 

As we start to return to normal and get back to making and experiencing music like we did before, is there anyone that you’re looking forward to collaborating with?

There’s a few collaborations in the pipeline, a dear friend of mine Issac B who’s a conscious hip-hop artist, so that’s two sort of styles blending together which is great.

Another amazing artist is a guy called Samuel Proffitt and we’re just finalising the details for that collaboration. Who makes this sort of dark, cinematic and electronic music, which will be great to work with.

And I’ve got a few remixes and some darker dance DJs too, which is going to be fun. And yeah, there’s loads of people I’d love to work with like Nick Mulvey and my dear friend Jetta who’s killing it at the moment. Some really interesting things to come in the future.

 

Is there any advice that you’ve gotten in the industry, that you’ve held dear?

This goes way back, but it was a guy called Eric Hall, he took an interest in me and we’d met in this local cafe and I’d told him that I was making music at the time and he said he’d love to hear it. And I played these three songs and it was no frills just me and my guitar, raw music. And Eric cried and said you’ve really got something here.

And it was that little moment that sort of became a catalyst, of you can do this. And other than my immediate circle of family and friends, who always tend to be supportive anyway, this was support from a relative stranger that really made me never look back and just do it.

 

As a big proponent for mental health and wellbeing, would you say are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the music industry?

I mean in terms of this year, it’s been a really tough time for the music industry in general but there are always going to be more challenges. And being in it, I’ve been affected too. I think a lot of the challenges can be all in your head, even though I am a really positive person I definitely have this sort of negativity bias. You know, where something won’t go exactly the way you wanted or you start comparing yourself to others.

Especially with all the social media about, you look at how many streams or likes or shares this other artist has got. Even when they’ve worked in that industry for maybe years more than you have. And you start taking that stuff personally. You know I think the advice I always give myself is just do you.

And I guess this year has been hard with no physical music, so no live sets. That’s been really hard too. But in lieu of not having an actual community, for me building that virtual community has been really important. I’ve really connected with really close followers. I call them my ambassadors, I have been connecting with them via gmail, like I would a mate. So that’s been something I’ve really been developing during this time.

“I think a lot of the challenges can be all in your head, even though I am a really positive person I definitely have this sort of negativity bias. You know, where something won’t go exactly the way you wanted or you start comparing yourself to others.”

 

Are you working on any new music at the moment?

So we have ‘Can’t Wait To Meet You’ which came out on the 19th March, which is like a direct address to the new baby. And then in mid-June we’ve got a new release coming out called ‘Alchemy’, which is all about how important the artist process is for me and to creators. And then we’ve got a small four track EP called ‘Cello’ which is cello only versions of some of my songs. So it’s just some layered cello parts and my voice.

 

And just one final thing, I wanted to ask you knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?

I think if I was to go back five years, I would have liked to have gotten better at the planning sort of stage. I’m really good at the music creating side but not so much the planning sometimes. And just to be really clear, you can be really good at music but if you’re not methodically planning what you really want to achieve it’s difficult.

I wish I could prioritise a little better, as I’m sort of an opportunist. I used to get all sorts of opportunities and just say yes and jump into those things. But being a little older now, I now realise that you don’t have to say yes to everything.

You know, pick your battles and fight them well. And to any other artist who’s reading this just keep working and keep going and never lose your love for it.

“I used to get all sorts of opportunities and just say yes and jump into those things. But being a little older now, I now realise that you don’t have to say yes to everything.”

 
To keep up to date with Sam’s releases you can follow him on Instagram @iamsamway and check out his music on Spotify including his latest single, Can’t Wait To Meet You.

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