Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Introducing // Sam Handy //

If there's one town in the UK thats consistent in producing talented musicians whilst being synonymous with hosting some of the best live acts, its undoubtedly Reading and 23-year-old Sam Handy is the latest talent to deliver. Since the release of his debut track Early Light just over a year ago, Sam has been building up huge traction to his music with major backing from the likes of BBC Introducing and it's not hard to see why. Combining genres from blues to rock and soul, he writes in a way that will never go out of style and now he's back with a brand new single, sounding bigger and better than ever.

Maple Syrup is the latest track from this talented singer-songwriter, and a commanding track to kick off his 2017 takeover. The track resonates with incredible power, as Sam's soulful vocals carry the song through its light and shade moments, with his falsetto sounding effortless. Sonically the track is as sweet and radiant as the title suggests, but inside the track is impassioned lyricism surrounding heartbreak which cleverly juxtaposes the first listen. The sprawling percussion against the striking blues riffs creates a track which feels almost limitless, providing the perfect backdrop for Sam's vocal melodies and allowing for a dynamically beautiful soundscape.

It's hard to believe that this is only the second release from Sam, as his music portrays him as an artist with a huge back catalogue, yet he's only just getting started with sharing his unique sound. For such an epic second release, it's difficult to elude as to where he might take his music next. But, if these two songs are anything to go by, you'll want to keep Sam Handy on your radar.

Maple Syrup is released on June 9th, but you can pre-order the track here! I was lucky enough to have a chat with Sam about some of his musical influences and his music career so far, which you can check out below alongside his brand new track...




Your music has elements of blues, soul and rock, how did you begin to develop your sound?

As early as I can remember, I have always had a love for blues music. Whether it be Clapton, Mayer or the Stones, listening to these artists has always had a profound influence on the way I write my music, especially on the way I play guitar. I currently start with the guitar whenever I write a song - it is the first thing I pick up, and it influences everything else around it. Blues is in everything we listen to! It is raw, it is real, and it is the seed for a lot of music out there, whether they know it or not!

I’ve always had a love for rock music, and a good riff can go a long way for me. Bands like AC/DC and Audioslave still give me chills and feels no matter the day, and rock music for me has always been the dark side of that musical force that keeps the balance of all things. It’s the attitude, the style and the freedom to show off what you’ve got, whether it be a leather jacket or a guitar solo!

Soul music found me whilst I was studying in Guildford. I fell in love with how musicians were able to blend all of their different influences and styles into this big melting pot. I found so much freedom for expression and improvisation, and it raised the bar for me as a songwriter. I started to experiment with other instruments and styles, as well as pushing myself as a singer.


You say your influences include Prince, John Mayer and Michael Jackson, what aspects of their music do you use to inspire your own?

I loved how colourful and outrageous Prince was with his sound and style, and I still do! His ability to go from sexy sassy pop, to an untouchable god of rock by just picking up a guitar was something I would dream of being able to do as a kid! The amount of expression and emotion he’d put into each of his songs inspired me to do the same - to be weirder and more creative!

I fell in love with Michael Jackson after I was shown his ‘Off The Wall’ album. I’d obviously heard of MJ, but I was not familiar with this side of him. There was this level of musicianship that blew me away, and the energy he put into every song was unprecedented. His ability to bounce his lyrics off the band and then blend them in harmlessly was amazing, and it really inspired my style of writing lyrics and melodies.

My family and I moved to Georgia in 2006 because of my Dad’s job. We moved across the pond to a town called Suwannee, which was a few miles outside of Atlanta. Everything was like Hollywood said it’d be, school busses and all. I was a shy kid at the time, and I learned to appreciate music a lot more whilst I was out there. I remember driving with my Mum when we heard ‘Why Georgia’ by John Mayer come on the radio. We both loved it because it was all about this guy who had moved to Georgia trying to make it feel like home, just as we were. Ever since then I’ve appreciated Mayer.

Since then, Mayer has always been a strong inspiration for me as a songwriter by helping me find a balance between being creative and outlandish, whilst writing something that anyone can relate to, rather than hiding too far into a niche.

Which artists are you playing on repeat right now?

I saw Andreas Moe at the O2 recently, and I loved his whole performance. It felt like he had so much to show! His band were on point, and you got a strong sense that this dude was influenced by a lot of different music. I heard blues, Eastern European jazz and even that melody at the beginning of his song ‘Ocean’ has a very strong oriental vibe to it! 

Another band I currently have on repeat is Vulfpeck. These guys are from another planet, and their bassist, Joe Dart, is so entertaining to listen to! The whole band is some kind of evolutionary step for musicians, and I can’t wait to see where it leads!

Your latest single Maple Syrup has a narrative of love, heartbreak and change, what inspired you to write this track and title it this?

I was in a relationship at the time, and had just finished a show when the “we need to see other people…” phone call arrived. Rather than getting upset or mad about it, I just sat down at my desk and tinkered until I was able to sleep. The sun was starting to come up when I finally had the guitar line down, and it’s still the first thing you hear when the track starts. I decided to sleep on it, and I saved the different versions I had as ‘Maple Syrup’, so that I would find them later on.

It begins with a verse about a woman, which is very brief, but once that verse is over the woman is gone. The song then moves to me, and from here on Maple Syrup is actually me talking to myself. My internal battle of ‘light versus dark’ I guess you could say. It’s about overcoming my faults, and choosing to learn from them.

I called it Maple Syrup because I didn’t want people to think this was just another sour heartbreak song, but something sweeter and uplifting. That my faults and failures are the beginnings of better things to come, as long as I learn from them. 

Maple Syrup has got an incredible mix of soul and blues elements to it. Can we expect a similar sound from your future music, and when might we expect to hear it?

Maple Syrup has a b-side to it which is literally sat on my shelf ready to go, but I’m currently waiting for the right time to release it. It is a lot livelier and more upbeat than Maple, but still has a similar vibe. I’d love to see how Maple Syrup turns out, and from there I’ll be able to better gauge when I should release the next one.

You recently performed at the Purple Turtle this May where you’ve gigged before in the past, what’s the energy like there and was it exciting to be back?

I was invited by BBC introducing Berkshire to support the band JUDAS for the Reading leg of their tour. It was great meeting the guys! They were very humble, and have a very unique writing style which sounds even better live. I’d recommend going to see these guys, they’re playing the Isle of White Festival this year, so if you’re around, go check them out!

The Purple Turtle seems to currently be the epicentre for Reading’s music scene, which has evolved rapidly over the last couple years. The energy on a good night is fantastic, and our last show was probably our best one yet because of the turnout! As musicians, we play better when there’s more people to play to. We feed off of a crowd’s energy, and then give it back ten-fold, it’s like some weird musical law of physics!



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