The recent release of Sam Johnson's new EP 'Are We There Yet?' has seen him embark on one of his most ambitious and euphoric projects to date. His new EP, which was released earlier this month, features five new original tracks, including 'Peter Pan' and his most recent single 'Shoulder To Cry On,' which sees him take on a reflective and emotional light on his song-writing.
Speaking about his new EP, he explained:
"'Are We There Yet?' marks a definitive farewell to my childhood on both a personal and musical level for me. It's an EP that maps my recollection of a time gone by that I miss greatly and contemplate often. Written with both optimistic intention and wistful yearning, it is a body of work that sways in torrents of emotion that even I struggle to define or understand. On a musical level, it's been a part of my growth, but on a personal level, it's a much-needed bit of closure to a beloved time in my life that I need to leave behind in order to move forward. Are we there yet? I don't think so, not just yet, but I think I'm more at peace with the journey now."
His previous releases have always had a recurring theme of being bold and uplifting. The songs featuring on his new EP are certainly no different! He continues to go from strength to strength, with the recent release of his EP marking a key stand-out moment in both his personal and professional life.
Here at The Lowdown, we recently had the opportunity to speak with Sam Johnson about his exciting new release, how he first got into music and much more. Check it out below!
Your new EP 'Are We There Yet?' was released earlier this month. Have you been looking forward to getting it released and for everyone to now be able to listen to it?
"Yes - totally! It's been a long time coming. It's a great feeling getting it out into the world. A lot of the songs on the EP were written a number of years ago now, so I've been looking forward to them getting a new lease of life with this release. I find it so interesting how songs can live for so long in the minds of the artists that write them, but then be brand new for a person who is listening to them for the first time. It's almost a rebirth for the song and the meaning."
For anyone who hasn't heard the EP yet, could you sum up in a few words what people can expect from it?
"A few words?! Bittersweet nostalgia and my coming-of-age drama angst set to music!"
Can you explain what sort of sound is heard throughout the EP?
"It's a tale of two halves really! A few of the songs have more of a classic stripped-back vibe, but others have a slightly electronic element to them - perhaps a hint to a slight evolution?"
How did you first get into music? Is it always something that you have wanted to be involved in?
"From as early as I can remember, I've been avidly consuming music. From long car journeys with my parents learning every lyric to Jamie T's 'Sheila' by heart, to performing at as many open mic nights as I could each week on my gap year in Australia, music has always been a huge part of my life. I suppose the first pull was always towards lyrics and poetry. I really only began playing the guitar and my first 'songs' as a means of communicating the words I was writing down. From there, I fell in love with classic folk artists like John Martyn and Joni Mitchell, with the raw story-telling country power of Johnny Cash also always lingering at the forefront of my mind."
Who would you say are your musical influences?
"A lot of the main ones are above, but the biggest hole left in that list is perhaps my biggest inspiration...Ben Howard, particularly his second album, 'I Forget Where We Were.' The instrumentation and intensely emotive communication of his emotion on that record just completely changed my outlook on music really! I retuned all of my guitars and wrote exclusively in strange alternative tunings for a good two years and still do occasionally to this day. I don't think there's many people on his level when it comes to musicality and vocal performance."
Is it important for you to use personal experiences in your song-writing, inevitably taking it to another level?
"Yes, although I'd say it's not always essential. I often find a lot of good inspiration in writing and developing stories around characters that I dream up. They always have some sort of personal connection, whether it be from a friend or simply some social narrative or political event that's going on around me. I think it's definitely possible to write great songs without them being very obviously connected to you. Take for instance one of my favourite songs of all time - 'Pumped Up Kicks.' I'm fairly sure Mark Foster wasn't directly involved in a tragic school shooting, but simply watching the news one day informed a song that would go on to change his life forever."
Has lockdown given you the opportunity to focus even more on your song-writing?
"Yes - more than ever! Since I first started writing music, I don't think I've ever had such a prolonged time to focus on what I'm trying to say and what I want from my music at the moment. This time of reflection and quiet has been invaluable to me, and I've hopefully produced some of my best songs yet!"
When things do get back to some sort of normality and when it is safe to do so, are you planning to get out and perform your music live?
"YES, YES AND YES! The first thing I want to do is get out on a big tour and touch base with all the people that have found a connection with my music over the last few years. I miss playing live terribly and can't wait to get that energy back again."
Is there anything in particular you want to achieve during your career?
"I'd love to play Jools Holland and Glastonbury. Jools (Holland) was a promise I made to my Dad a long time ago, so I'd love the opportunity to play his show in particular."
Finally, do you have a message for all those who support you?
"From the bottom of my heart, thank you! It's taken me a long time to be able to say that I've actually got a few fans - a lot of tears and resilience! Your belief in me means the world and keeps me going!"
Sam Johnson's new EP 'Are We There Yet?' is out now. The EP is available to purchase from all usual normal purchasing and streaming outlets.
By Rachel Dempster