Sam Wills is a 21 year old singer-songwriter based in Hastings. He studied at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford and has played plenty of gigs in the beloved hangout, The Tubman. He’s covered Bob Marley’s Jammin’, recreating it with vocal loops and his delightful voice. Also collaborated with the South Soul Project on 'Broken', which was released on Black Butter Records. Currently in the process of putting together his first EP - although he hasn't settled on a name, he hopes for it to be out by the summer. Apparently it’s going to be a mixture of neo soul, synth sounds and some acoustic stuff. I chat with Sam on how he’s finding life as a musician.
My voice lends itself to it and I've enjoyed listening to soul recently.
Do you write your songs instrumental?
I write the initial instrumental either on logic or piano and then with a producer either completely re-write it or work on it. For this EP that's how I'm going to do it.
Have you been singing your whole life?
I didn't really notice that I was singing and being all musical but I watched back some baby videos and I was singing all the time. I started properly when I was around 12, I'd play around on the piano. I wrote my first song when I was 12, it was utter rubbish.
I do. If I'm going to do a cover I either want to strip it down or build it up. Make it my own, somehow. With 'Spoons' I thought it'll be nice to put some jazzy chords on it and make some of the vocals more elaborate. I do covers in my sets sometimes but only if it's been rearranged.
Have you had any voice coaching?
Yes. I had classical training as well as doing my own stuff.
Is beat boxing and looping something you experiment with often?
Used to, not so much now. It was good for solo sets to add variety, rather than just having keys with vocals. I'm planning to get a band behind me soon in conjunction with the EP release, which I'm really excited about.
On performing - playing your own stuff and covers. Do you do a mix of both?
I do mainly originals and chuck in the odd cover. Some people may not of heard some of my material so it's always good to have some familiarity.
What is your favourite song to perform live?
Changes all the time. I do enjoy performing my song, 'Just Say'. I can play around with the vocals a bit and it gets a good response which is promising as it'll probably end up on the EP. Got a couple of working titles but haven't found it. Mid-summer release.
Are you managed by anyone?
Not currently, have a few people up for it but still choosing. Going to wait until I've finished the EP as much as possible then going to send it to a bunch of labels at that point.
What label could you see yourself signed with?
I'm really up for working with Tinie Tempah's label Disturbing London. It's got loads of sweet people on it, Sasha Keable for instance who sung on Disclosure’s track 'Voices'.
Wicked. There’s loads of good musicians down there and venues that support original live music. Blair Mackichan, who writes for Liane La Havas and helped write Palamo Faith's number 1 single 'Stone Cold Sober', he's really good to know.
Who were your massive musicals loves at 12?
Ever since I was 5 Michael Jackson has been my top inspiration. My mum bought a tape of his and I was hooked. For writing, John Legend and Jamie Cullum are influential. My influences and style has changed, back then it was sort of pop.
How did you end up on Forren’s track ‘This Time’?
Think he just dropped me a line. He said he had this track and if I liked it to jump on it. I sent him some vocals for it and it went down fairly well. It got uploaded to this YouTube channel 'MrSuicideSheep' and it got thousands of views overnight.
Was it exciting?
Yeah it was great, never experienced anything quite like that. That led to working with Shogun Audio, a drum & bass record label. Worked with a couple of things with Spectrasoul. The first one I sang on that got a release was 'The Gift' and 'The Curb’, which is on their album. I had a track on a Shogun Audio complication, worked with other labels as well.
What is the hardest thing about being a musician?
Personally, it's biding time. You've got the raw songs and you want to make sure they're produced by the right people. You write songs and want everyone to hear them but you have to make sure they're the best they can be. In the meantime you've got to wait around for people to get back to you and write new material.
Do you get nervous showing work?
It's still nerve-racking. I find it easier to do it live but it's always going to be part of the career.
FOLLOW SAM WILLS: Facebook / Youtube