23-year-old Shropshire-born singer-songwriter Sam Johnson has shown something of a knack for writing beautifully emotive and soulful songs. Debut single Perfect Circle was crowned BBC Introducing Shropshire’s ‘Track of the Month’, earning it a daytime play every day throughout February, and it also picked up Radio 1 support from Huw Stephens.
He will be releasing music throughout 2018 and looking to build a live reputation with his enigmatic vocals and heartfelt soul. Having supported ex Kaiser Chief Nick J.D. Hodgson on tour over the past month or so, he is now gearing up for a host of summer festivals.
Being nosey so-and-so’s, we decided to have a chat with the man behind this distinctive, beguiling voice to find out more…
SYNC: Please tell us a bit of the background; where did your musical inspiration begin, how did things get started, and what exciting things have happened so far?
Sam Johnson: I first thought about picking up a guitar when listening to my best mate play a Chilli Peppers Riff in school. It was all ego from there, I just wanted to do it better than him. Then I simply stated to try and learn how to write songs on my own. Experimenting and listening to more and more music and learning.
Since then I’ve got quite lucky with lots of BBC Intro support from my lovely local team in Shropshire, as well as Huw Stevens support at Radio 1, and starting to get out and play live and was fortunate to go around the UK recently with ex Kaiser Chief, Nick J.D. Hodgson.
SYNC: Perfect Circle picked up some great support/airplay. How did it feel to have your debut single received so well?
Johnson: Really great. I wanted to go out with something heartfelt and vulnerable so to have it received so well was a huge boost.
SYNC: New tune Way Back Home has an altogether different feel. What’s the story behind the song?
Johnson: Lyrically it’s all a reflection on the mad things I was baring witness too at the end of 2016. It was a crazy year in politics around the world and I wanted to write something that captured the shock and awe of all that.
Sam Johnson – Way Back Home
SYNC: It sounds like there is a wide range of influences at the heart of your music. How would you describe your sound and where you come from musically?
Johnson: I’d say that I have my roots predominantly in Folk and Indie music, but things have branched out a lot further these days. I have a wide variety of influences from Ben Howard and Alex Turner through to The Beach Boys and Tame Impala. I’d like to think my sound exists somewhere between rootsy thoughtful lyricism and quirky anthemic pop reminiscent of Broken Bells.
SYNC: You’ve just toured with Nick J.D. Hodgson. What was that experience like?
Johnson: I’ve just got back and it was such a blast. Being my first tour it’s been weird since coming home and getting used to the quiet again, but overall it was an amazing experience and Nick and the lads were great to me.
Sam Johnson – Perfect Circle
SYNC: Which artists do you count among the most important in your musical development – and which new/emerging acts should Sync readers be sitting up and taking notice of?
Johnson: Songwriters like Ben Howard, Kurt Cobain, and Alex Turner all come to mind. Their lyrics are all so emotive and poetic and I’ve always felt a strong attachment to their music. At the moment I’m really into a glitchy electro pop band called Superorganism and an American rock outfit called Rainbow Kitten Surprise.
SYNC: Finally, what are the plans for the near future? Any new material or live dates on the way?
Johnson: I’ve got plenty of songs in the background and a summer packed with festivals. Catch me at Live at Leeds, Hit The North, The Great Escape, and any of the Dot to Dot shows.