Interview with the Hastings musician
Sam Wills is a 22-year-old singer-songwriter, currently in the process of putting together his first EP, apparently a mixture of neo-soul, synth sounds, and some acoustic stuff. “I love that Dilla, Questlove-esque lazy drum groove, and that vibe definitely creeps into some of my tracks.”
“We want to get a few singles and half an album’s worth of material before releasing anything, I hate waiting but I reckon it’ll be worth it.” His highlights in 2014 include meeting and working with exciting musicians and producers.
Sam’s based in Hastings where he says is a great place to be a singer-songwriter. “There’s loads of great musicians down there and venues that support original live music, Blair Mackichan is really good to know.”
At first, he didn’t notice he was being musical, “I started properly when I was around twelve.” Playing around on the piano, on his first song, he says it was “utter rubbish”. On top of studying at ACM in Guildford, he had classical vocal and piano training.
Since he was five, Michael Jackson has been a major inspiration, “My mum bought a tape of his and I was hooked.” Initially drawing inspiration from John Legend and Jamie Cullum, with present day influences consisting of D’Angelo, “His Voodoo album is insanely good. I’m also inspired by a lot of the music on Soulection and HW&W.”
At 18, Sam found himself working with drum & bass labels, writing for various artists. He was approached by Forren to sing on laidback liquid DnB song ‘This Time’, then worked alongside Alix Perez on ‘Annie’s Song’ with heavyweights Shadow Child and Zed Bias on remix duties. Covering ‘Spoons’, he takes to keys, “I thought it’ll be nice to put some jazzy chords on it and make some of the vocals more elaborate.”
A quick look through his Instagram shows snapshots of what’s to come, practising with a band for live shows and studio sessions with Toyboy & Robin and Karma Kid. “I can’t wait to show everyone what I’ve been working on, and play them at some live shows too.” Ahead of his next show in Shoreditch on February 5th, he said his pre-show routine is, “Usually vocal warm-ups and a pint.”
For Sam, the hardest thing about being a musician is finishing tracks. “You might come up with a wicked song idea, then after a while get a bit bored of it and start something new, you end up with a bunch of potentially great, but unfinished songs.” Once he’s written a song, unsurprisingly he wants them to be produced by the right people, so he has to wait around for that too. Pharell and Neptunes are on his dream list of people to work with, “They’ve produced so many of my favourite tunes, I think we’d write a banger.”