Read our Q&A with London musician Sam Way for tips on the best London venues, his favourite iPhone recording app and more.
Sam Way, Singer/Songwriter
Sam Way has been songwriting, creating new music, collaborating, and performing live under his own name for about 6 years now, but has safely been in love with music for as long as he can remember. He grew up in Devon, binged the most obscure music at every opportunity and played the piano informally and then eventually moved to the 'big smoke' 9 years ago to be amongst all the opportunity there.
He taught himself the guitar upon moving up and began, in the most organic way with no real goal in mind, to write songs about life, exploring his love for language and music to shape songs that seemed to bookmark these moments in his life. He kept on loving it, kept on growing and everything has started to develop exponentially in the last year. He's about to release 6 new tracks before mid 2019, and his involvement in The Rattle space is a massively exciting start to this year.
What inspires you to be a musician?
I think now it's a compulsion! A way to express what I see or feel around me in myself, or in others, or the world itself; in a unique way. To capture some magic that cannot really be named. I'm inspired to learn, to be humbled by it, the vastness of music and what it can do, and how it can affect peoples lives. To know that the journey never stops. On a personal level, music has been such a massive bestower of richness in my life, and has enabled me in a way, to pursue something deeply meaningful.
What is the best part about being a musician in London?
It's such a brilliant city, full of brilliant people, so much talent, opportunity, adventure and lessons too. It's a deeply inspiring place to be, and the London scene seems like it's always the front runner on trends and newness in the industry. Like it's where the world looks to to discover the next big thing.
What is your favourite London venue for gigs?
Brixton academy is always a solid shout for live acts. But I love playing the smaller more intimate ones, hidden gems like 'The looking glass' which hosts an amazing live music night behind a secret door that looks like a mirror next to the main bar.
What is the biggest challenge you have as a musician today?
For me - making sure it's actually a sustainable, viable career choice, that musicians are paid and valued fairly. Also worth noting, there are a lot of sharks out there...
Do you think the industry is changing for the better?
There's more power to the artist, more manoeuvrability, and finally streaming is taking over from illegal downloads, so.....it's a YES from me.
What are the three tools you could not live without?
My guitar, My notebook, Logic pro
Are there any new apps you have discovered and would like to recommend to other musicians?
I love Spotify for artists and the insights it gives, but apps - I bought a really nice little mic you can plug into your phone called a Zoom mic, you can export the files direct to your laptop and it's a low cost, transportable way to always be able to record really decent sound quality. Perfect for recording on the fly, or for better quality on live recordings at home.
How do you find opportunities to gig?
Hustle! Be on the scene, go support your mates and keep on asking questions.
What are your fondest musical memories? Eg. In your house? In your neighbourhood or town?
HA! Recording the radio onto cassette - jeezzzz - or - buying my first proper guitar on Denmark street in London
How do you reach your fans?
Instagram, mailouts, brand collaborations - any way possible basically
What is it that compels you to publish music?
The entire process, from inception to publishing is deeply meaningful to me, the love of the creation, and being able to share that creation - it's a beautiful thing. Sometimes, after a gig, or in response to a song you've released, someone will reach out to say it the music touched them in some way, moved them - and that feeds back into this loop, that this creation, this sharing of one's self, is somehow good...is adding something to someone else's experience.
What are your thoughts on streaming services?
It's how the industry is moving, and we should all keep up. I think they're redistributed the power a lot - and enabled easier discovery etc, but streaming can be terrible for artists however, unless you're banking those million streams and more. I think any artist needs to make sure their music is at peoples' fingertips when they want, but.....maybe there's something else on the horizon. Tech and music is moving so quickly.
What is something you wish you had known sooner?
That Pro Snape was rooting for Harry all along....... (or)....That so much can be achieved without a massive budget and a willingness to collaborate with other great talented people. This is a marathon, not a sprint ----
Are you actively looking for record labels? Do you think it could be a good option?
I'm distributing through a small indie at the moment, but have had previous disasters with labels. It all depends on what value they add to you, and what they really want from you in return.
How do you balance your music with other passions - partner, children, job?
It's harddddddddddddddddd. But life is a balance whatever you do, thats modern London living - sometimes you just have to put the guitar down for a while.
We hope you enjoyed reading Sam's story and experiences as much as we did. Follow Sam and check out more of his music on Spotify here.
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