ONCE again, I am the feet of another promising and terrific…
solo artist with a bright career ahead of them. Samuel Jack has just released his Let It All Out E.P. and the third track-by-track video for the song, All the Things – where he explains the inspiration and story of the song’s creation and germination. Raised on the legends of Blues – B.B. King and Etta James counting among his early idols – and spending his formative years in London: the South West-based musician even recorded an E.P. in his caravan. There are few like Samuel Jack so I was eager to find out more about his recording process and inspiration; which musicians mean most to him and his plans for the future.
Hey Samuel. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey, hey. My week’s been full of lovely musical endeavours; rehearsals, writing and a gig for Sofa Sounds London, which was ace. I’ve been saving up for some swanky new equipment for my home studio too (which arrives today!). I’ll be indulging myself with my new toys for the rest of the week.
For those new to your music: can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m Samuel Jack: a singer-songwriter; I write and sing and sing what I write. I’m London-born, Dorset-bred via Amsterdam and Johannesburg. I currently live in a caravan on the Dorset-Somerset border. I’m a new artist and hope to be in your ears more and more over the coming months.
It is rumoured you record and rehearse out of your caravan (or did in the past). Is that true and is it an environment more suited to your musical style? What was the decision behind this?
I certainly demo. in the caravan, yes, but use a studio for proper recording – but I rehearse and write in the caravan all the time.
I moved in the caravan mainly because it’s cheap; allows me the flex. to be on the road as much as possible. I also wanted a chilled space to write in literally in the middle of nowhere: tranquil, it allows me to be solely focused on music.
It’s just me and the sheep. It gets a little cold through winter. It’s not exactly The Ritz, but it’s home for now – some central heating wouldn’t go a miss 🙂
You hail from Dorset and have performed widely through the county. What is the music scene like there and are there enough opportunities for a young musician like yourself to be heard?
If I’m honest, the Dorset music scene isn’t the most thriving – not to say there haven’t been some great artists emerge from here. Venues are closing doors quite regularly; it’s a tough one. To really get yourself heard you have to travel, which luckily, is something I love.
After you were spotted in a local restaurant and invited to play the Avalon Stage at Glastonbury, it all must seem like a dream. What was the experience like and how nervous were you stepping on that stage?
It was all a bit nuts really. I couldn’t believe it. At that stage, I only had a bunch of unfinished songs too so it was a mad scramble to get a long enough set together. I was totally nervous: I think it’s always good to be a little nervous but these were killer, knee-shaking nerves. I think I did ok, though. It was an amazing experience. It was a real shot in the arm for me at the time. I was kinda just working in a pub, writing when I could. A bit all over the place I guess, and then suddenly it was like ‘boom, you’re opening Glasto. stage’.
You are playing The Hospital Club and Sofar Sounds in London. Are you looking forward to those gigs and what how does playing London compare to Dorset?
I look forward to every gig. Sofar Sounds shows are so brilliant and they’ve been great to me.
I’d do one every day if I could, and yeah, Friday’s show at The Hospital Club should be great. I love playing London. I was born there; some family is there still; I’ve played some wicked venues so far but I’ve definitely got many on my list I want to tick off (Wembley etc. etc.)
Your music has been played on U.S. shows including Nashville and About a Boy. Have you been getting feedback from U.S. fans and would you like to perform in the country if offered the chance?
Yeah, I’ve been really lucky. There are a few T.V. shows out there that are liking my music and I’ve had several really cool placements. I actually played a few shows on the West Coast earlier this year. The plan is to be back out there in the New Year. I love the vibe there. I remember landing at LAX and driving straight to the studio just thinking to myself: wow; a few hours ago I was in a caravan in a field in the middle of nowhere; now I’m driving through Hollywood about to cut a record. Those are the sorts of stories I wanna tell my grandkids (note: I don’t have any grandkids) haha.
The video for Let it All Out (your latest single) seems like it was fun to shoot – involving a group of friends constructing a house-like structure and releasing balloons. What was the idea behind the video and what was it like shooting it?
It was so much fun, and yeah, the people in the video are all friends of mine. The idea came about because the song is about release, togetherness and about having a good ol’ sing-song. I wanted the video to capture those themes and I think it does that. We built a church-like structure.
I’m not a particularly religious guy, but after spending time in South Africa, I fell in love with the way whole communities would gather together and sing the tribal songs; the traditional songs; sometimes at a church and sometimes in the townships.
I like the idea that a church is somewhere people come together so we built one 🙂
Let It All Out is the E.P. and has gained some great reviews. The songs are quite emotional and vulnerable at times. Did the writing and creation (of the E.P.) occur at a difficult time for you and how do you view the creative process in hindsight?
Y’know, it’s an amazing thing, writing a song. You’re putting yourself on paper. I’m no sob-story, but yeah, I guess that vulnerability you hear and that emotion is derived from points in my life where I’ve struggled a bit. I’ve moved around a lot – I’ve lived in bedsits, caravans and trying to make ends meet – all whilst writing & performance music. It’s a labour of love, y’know? Relationships have been tricky; romantic and not. I’ve had some confusing family stuff happen to me over the years but I’ve tried to enjoy the journey and I’m loving every second of the ride right now. Things like that contribute to the way I write for sure, and they’ll continue to do so.
Which songs from the E.P. do you view with the most fondness or hold a special place in your heart?
I love all the songs on the E.P: that’s a toughie. Remember Me and All the Things will always be particularly special to me. I’ll let you listen to the lyrics to work out why 😉
Your voice has been compared to Hozier. Is he someone you follow and what singers/musicians have influenced your style and career?
I’m just trying to do my own thing; make my own sound; tell my own story.
It’s flattering to be compared to Hozier. I feel really honoured to be put in the same bracket as such great artist. I love old Soul, Blues; Gospel, Roots and Electro. I draw influence from a lot of the old greats and like to listen to as much music that’s coming through now as I can.
I know you were raised on artists like B.B. King and Etta James. Do you think there are few icons like this in modern music and how do you compare today’s vocalists with the legends of old?
I mean, don’t get more wrong. There are some voices out there: some big, big voices, but for me, unless you look really hard you’ll struggle to find a voice like Etta James and James Brown – that raw, rugged; natural, oozing-out-their-skin-type passion and delivery is hard to find.
Looking ahead and what are you especially looking forward to in the coming months?
I’m on-tour through November. It’s my first small U.K. tour: playing in Manchester, Bristol; London, Brighton; Cardiff and the South West – can’t wait for that! Also, I’m writing every day. I’ve got a bunch of new material in-the-works that I’m really happy with; excited for people to hear it. Beyond that, we’re working on European dates, and as I mentioned,
I’ve got a bunch of new material in-the-works that I’m really happy with and excited for people to hear it.
Beyond that, we’re working on European dates, and as I mentioned, hopefully a return to the U.S.A.
You have come a long way and achieved so much in a short space. What do you attribute this success to, and what advice would you give to others coming through?
Ah thanks. I’ve been very lucky to have worked with some great people – two in particular from my label – they’ve pretty much taken me from working in a restaurant to being on stage. I owe a lot to them, but of course, all this stuff starts with yourself. My advice would be to persevere, surround yourself with good people; do what you do, and most importantly, enjoy the journey.
Music is defined by long hours and huge demands. Do you manage to take time off and disconnect or is that not a possibility at the moment?
I worked in hospitality for years so I’m no stranger to long hours: hard work’s in my blood.
The great thing is that now I’m exchanging long hours in a restaurant for long creative hours on the road; playing live, writing. I love it.
It’s my passion. I’d do it every second of the day if I could.
Finally, and for being a good egg, you can name any song you like (not one of yours as I’ll include that); I’ll play it here…
Awesome . I’m well into Honne at the moment. Have a play of Honne feat. Izzy Bizu. I played with Izzy last October; she’s brilliant. Listen to Someone That Loves You.
Follow Samuel Jack