IT has been good to speak to Sam Dickinson…
as he has been talking about his new single, Wild Sun, and revealing its story. The songwriter lets me into his world and explains what music truly means to him; what we will get from his upcoming E.P., From the Glass House: Part One, and which artists have made an impression on him through the years.
I wanted to know whether there are going to be any gigs approaching and which three albums are most important to Dickinson; which rising artists we need to get behind; the advice he would provide to approaching artists – he ends the interview by selecting a great song.
Hi, Sam. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! I’m good, thanks. It’s been a busy week in fairness; some long days. I have been gearing up to release my first new music in a long time. I forgot how much you actually have to do! But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Of course! My name is Sam Dickinson and I am a singer-songwriter from Gateshead, which is just outside of Newcastle upon Tyne…and, yes, I have the accent! I released my debut album back in 2013 and that was a concept album; recreating the sounds of Stax and Motown with some big horn sections and big vocals. It was so much fun to record. I toured the U.K. with it and received some amazing airplay too. It was all self-financed, so you can imagine the pressure that came with that but, you know, I look back now and think: ‘Wow, you really did well!’. Although, at the time, I would constantly think I could do more, do better.
This time around, I took my time with new music and went with a different sound and vibe. To be perfectly honest; just as the album was taking off - which was a year after its initial release -, I started suffering from anxiety and depression. Everything became just too much. So, I halted everything for a year or two. During that time, I went into radio, presenting my own show - something I still do. I just needed time to work out who I am and why I had these feelings. So, when it came to working on new music, I thought I’d take a different approach in sound and what I wanted to talk about.
Wild Sun is your new single. Can you talk about the story behind it?
Wild Sun is one of those feel-good tracks where you’ve come to the realisation that the person you’re with is no good and you just don’t want to deal with it anymore. We’ve all been there. You have that moment where you stop feeling like a failure in love and you say to yourself: ‘What the hell am I doing with him?’. It’s the weight lifted off your shoulder moment: “We could try to start again, we could say that we are friends, but we’ve broken down” the song says.
It is from the E.P., From the Glass House: Part One. How much of your own emotions, experiences and struggles define the songs?
Oh, completely! Isn’t that when music is at its most powerful?! We can have similar experiences as each other and that’s why and how people relate to music.
How powerful and important is music regarding well-being and how you can strive as a person? Does it hold a lot of power and comfort?
Massively. You know, when I was suffering from anxiety and depression - and I still do to some degree. However, I was sitting with my counsellor, really digging deep and she said to me: “Sam, why don’t you try writing music again? It could really help you”. I thought she was talking rubbish to be honest but I tried it. I worked on a song called Therapy which is from a project coming next year and it just felt right. So, from a songwriter’s perspective, you can get so much off your chest and feel good but, when I listen to the music, I want to connect too. I feel like I’ve done that with my new music.
There’s a track on From the Glass House: Part One where I talk about my struggles. It’s my favourite and I’m so proud of it. I start by explaining why I appeared to quit music then I talk about how I feel now, looking back: “You won’t believe me now, but you should feel so proud/of everything you have done, life is there to be won”.
There’s also a song called All We Are on the E.P. It’s in acoustic form as the full version will be the next single and the first off From the Glass House: Part Two. I wrote it with my friend Hattie Murdoch after we watched a friend of mine, who is a drag queen, be vilified on national television and social media. She’s come back stronger and I sing about how we’re all human beings; we need to come together and work together - especially in this era of Brexit and Trump.
Were you raised around a lot of great sounds? What sort of music did you grow up around?
Oh, my god! Yes! Aren’t we all influenced by what our parents listened to?! On the way to school in the car, I would listen to Gabrielle, Simply Red; Lighthouse Family, Beverley Knight; Everything But the Girl. I could go on but those artists have shaped my music and the sound I have. We used to listen on cassette! I think they’re starting to make a comeback. Haha.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
The new E.P. will be released and I’ll start working on the release of the second. I just hope so many people get to hear it and enjoy it.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
I have three...
The first was hearing my music on the biggest radio station in the U.K., BBC Radio 2. It was like I was on the verge of making it; I am so proud of that. The second was playing in front of 30,000 people at Newcastle Pride and the final was one of the smallest gigs I’d done. We were in a tiny venue in Newcastle but the vibe was electric. I was just relieved I didn’t have to pay for the broken chairs from people dancing on them all night!
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Gabrielle – Rise
This album is a lesson in sheer and utter class. Her heart had been broken; the father of her child was convicted of a hideous crime and she could have released an album slagging him off. She didn’t. She had class and that says a lot.
Anastacia – Freak of Nature
This album is a lesson in self-empowerment and has some amazing songs on it.
Aretha Franklin – Greatest Hits
Need I say any more?! It’s Aretha.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Literally, any of the artists I’ve previously mentioned. Although, I’m sure it’d have been Aretha if I’d been asked this six months ago.
My rider wouldn’t be crazy: just some food and a nice New Zealand or South African Sauvignon Blanc.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Keep going! Keep plugging. Believe in your brand and always question if it’s the best you can give. With hard work comes success, so get to work.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
My tour will be announced in the New Year for March 2019. So, follow me on social media for that announcement.
How important is it being on stage and performing? Do you love playing your music to the crowds?
I love it. It’s a bit like radio where people can get to know you and, after the show, you get to know them. Music connects so many people. At my shows, there’s a group of people who come to every show together and they met because of my music. I love seeing them at each show, enjoying themselves. I also love seeing new people at shows; you can tell at the beginning they don’t know what to expect then the music does the talking.
IN THIS PHOTO: HATi
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Not a huge amount, if I’m honest. I usually feel guilty if I’m not working. Is that the classic workaholic sign?! I do enjoy eating out and a nice wine. I also work out to de-stress and unwind - crazily, it works!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Beth Macari – Clone
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