Breakthroughs in music can come in a variety of ways. Coverage, a record deal, a headlining show – all of these can contribute to what an artist or team view as career progression. Moments such as this can take years to come to fruition however; Russ for example had to release 11 albums before his overnight success and 6LACK faced homelessness before becoming a Billboard charting artist.
The UK’s Sam Tompkins can relate to the art of perseverance. The act has been hard at work and only recently saw the fruits of his labour. Although he’s performed with the likes of Krept and Konan and Jason Derulo before, his own career has been centred around grafting over time and building momentum. On the back of his version of success (an Island Records recording contract) L Ø S T C U L T U R E caught up with the singer over email to talk his current single ‘Follow Suit’, bad label deals in favourite social media apps.
Hey Sam, thanks for joining Lost Culture today!
Hello, no problem. It’s a pleasure to talk with you guys.
Congratulations on your signing! How does it feel to have signed to Island Records?
Thank you so much, it really is a surreal experience. I feel so honoured to be at a label that brings so much history and supports me for who I am as a person as well as what music I make. Really can’t wait to just get started and make music for generations to come.
What’s it like living in Brighton as a music artist? What’s the scene like there and would you say it’s harder to build a career in comparison to bigger cities?
I love being from Brighton. I am so so proud of it. It’s a really liberal place, very multi-cultural, so the support is almost like 10 times bigger than anywhere else because everybody is so open to new sounds and styles. I think it’s becoming easier and easier to be from Brighton and make things happen, because people are realising you don’t have to be from London to get things done. More creatives are moving here by the day and it’s close enough to London to fit yourself into that scene if you want to as well.
Moving onto your new single ‘Follow Suit’. You’ve covered XXXTentacion on Soundcloud in the past, did he inspire ‘Follow Suit’ or any of your sound influences?
‘Follow Suit’ is about a friend of mine who sadly lost his fight with depression and my immediate feelings afterwards and almost battling the very same demons he was. The overall message is an uplifting one though because at the end, it is me professing the fact that I would never follow suit. I was a big fan of XXXTENTACION’s work. I particularly liked especially how vulnerable he would leave himself on a track and that’s something I have definitely began to do. It helped find me a purpose within this industry and since I unlocked that in myself everything has changed.
‘Follow Suit’ is a sad song, do you feel like there’s a general trend of “sad” music in the industry today?
I wouldn’t say there is anymore of a trend of “sad” music today than there was 20 years ago. I just think people are learning to be open about their emotions more and it’s being reflected in people’s preferences when listening to music.
Was your aim always to sign or were you happy to go the independent route?
To be honest, I signed a very shitty deal as a teenager with an independent label and I had to get myself out of that situation, which was a very tough experience. It put me off for a long while and I was happy doing it myself for as long as possible, but Island have always been my favourite label and I’ve always loved what they stood for, so when I met the team and everyone and everything just seemed to click, it was almost like it was written, you know?
How do you feel about the music industry today?
The music industry today is strange. I’m seeing a lot of people I’ve known for years succeeding and that makes me happier than anything, but i’m also seeing a lack of real sheer honesty in lyrics from people who are at the top. I get it, sometimes you gotta make songs that are vague enough conceptually to hit every possible audience so you can secure the bag, but what I’ve found, is if you write a song that comes from the heart, and I mean really comes from the heart, even people who have never felt that particular emotion can relate. It’s just fact.
Are you currently in album mode at present or focusing on the EP’s?
To be honest, I’m not in EP mode or album mode. I’m in song writing mode, which is the mode I wanna stay in. Too many people worry about having a structure for their writing. I just write about however I feel and then figure it all out afterwards.
Finally, which app today do you find most efficient at building / maintaining a following?
I think Twitter is my favourite. I like Instagram, but it feels like it is kind of all about making your life seem as cool and edgy as possible in pictures, but on Twitter I can sort of just say “today i’m eating a big bowl of cornflakes” and people understand me way better than they ever could by seeing me taking a picture in front of the Statue of Liberty.
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