Sam Johnson ist hierzulande vielleicht noch nicht allen bekannt, aber das dürfte sich bald ändern. Mit seiner Debütsingle „Medicine For My Brain“ machte er bereits auf sich aufmerksam und wurde von einigen bereits als der „perfekte, moderne Singer-Songwriter“ betitelt. Anfang November erscheint die Debüt-EP des Engländers, wir haben vorab einige Fragen an Sam geschickt.
Manchmal spielt das Schicksal lustige Spielchen und so war es ausgerechnet der Song, der als großes F*ch You an die Musikindstrie gelten sollte, der Sam Johnson einen Plattenvertrag einbrachte. Wir haben mit Sam Johnson über die Musikindustrie, prominente Vorbilder und seine kommende EP gesprochen:
You’re from Birmingham but your EP is named after an area in London. What’s your relationship to this particular place and what inspired the name?
Sam Johnson: I’m actually from Shropshire, but Birmingham is fairly nearby (haha). The EP is named after the studio in which it was recorded, ‘Eastcote Studio’s’. It’s a studio where I really found my feet as a songwriter a few years ago and a place close to my heart.
Your EP was written during hard time when you had to deal with the end of a relationship and the death of your father. How much did these events influence your songwriting and the EP?
Sam Johnson: The EP isn’t so much influenced by the death of my dad, but does have one song on it inspired by the difficult end of a long term relationship. That song is ‘Stuck Under the Surface’ and is the next single to be released. It was a hard subject to write about and treat honestly, but I thought it was important to do so and it’s ended up as one of my favourite songs on the EP.
You have a close relationship to Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine and he is always credited as your mentor. What is the most important and valuable thing you have learned from him?
Sam Johnson: Kevin was instrumental in instilling confidence in me as a songwriter when I was a teenager. I’m not sure if we’ve hung out enough of late for me to call him a ‘mentor’ but he certainly helped me to put myself out there when I was young. I met him when my uncle married his sister Ann Marie Shields, and he took an interest in my early songs. I suppose the most important thing I learnt from him is to believe in myself and not let people mold me into something I’m not.
Sam Johnson – Medicine for My Brain
Your debut single was produced by Tim Kellet of Simply Red and by the famous producer Elliot James. How was working with them?
Sam Johnson: I actually wrote the song with Tim Kellet, whereas Eliot was the producer. It was great working with these guys, Tim was very respectful that I like to retain ownership of my lyrics and was brilliant in helping to arrange the song and frame it in an interesting way. Whereas Eliot was instrumental to the ‘sound’ of the record. As a brilliant multi-instrumentalist he brought a level of artistry that I couldn’t have brought to the EP by myself. He’s one of my closest collaborators and someone I respect a huge amount.
“Medicine For My Brain” deals critically with music industry. What do you wish would change?
Sam Johnson: I suppose I just wish there was a little more diversity in mainstream music. There is a tendency for major record labels to take less risks nowadays in signing acts that need ‘developing’, and I think that ultimately it’s resulting in everything sounding very homogenised and boring, especially for singer-songwriters. There are of course exceptions to this rule, as there are some amazing artists out there, but I often find they are less supported.
In “Medicince for the brain” you also sing that “everybody wants to sound the same”. You often get compared to the likes of George Ezra, Ben Howard and Justin Vernon. Why do you think people always have to compare musicians to one another and how do you feel about that?
Sam Johnson: I don’t mind it, especially when being compared with Ben Howard and Justin Vernon as they are some of my heroes. I think that people are naturally going to draw comparisons with other artists when trying to describe what you are as a newcomer. One can only hope that one day you will become the artist that others are trying to aspire to emulate in their own light.
Sam Johnson – Trip On Gold
In your current single “Trip on Gold” you say “I never had much luck in life but I always had a way with words”. So, what are the favourite lyrics you’ve ever written?
Sam Johnson: Probably from a song I’ve recently written that hasn’t come out yet. “You can have it all if you came from a family fortune, rendered royal by your blood and the turf that your grandfather bought you”.
Sam Johnson: Who knows. More music?
Die Debüt-EP „Eastcote“ von Sam Johnson erscheint am 1. November 2019. Diesen Monat ist er auf großer UK-Tour, neue Termine für Deutschland stehen aktuell noch nicht fest.
(Foto: Kris Humphreys)