- Wed, 2008-09-03 11:20
21 year old Sam Isaac has spent this summer playing at a number of festivals across the country. With his blend of quirky indie-pop songs about falling in love and the ups and downs of life, he has been putting smiles on the faces of many a bare footed festival reveller this summer.
You may have caught him live before, on his own with nothing other than his accoustic guitar and lovely lovely voice, and be this the case or not, now is the time to go and see him again. With the immanent release of his debut album, Sam Isaac will be touring across the UK with his band. I Like Music caught up with Sam to chat about writing song lyrics, the best gig he can remember and what to expect if you do manage to catch the man himself live and kicking (well, less kicking more strumming probably, but you get the gist)
"I Like Music because...without music I would have nothing to do all day that would make me happy.” Sam Isaac
ILM: Can you describe the vibe of your new album?
Sam: I think what I'm trying to make is a good, up-beat, indie-pop record.
ILM: And how has that been going?
Sam: It's not too bad. I think we're about half way through. We've recorded a lot of the guitar, drums and bass. We are getting to the stage where we are going to be putting the extra flourishes on and start recording some vocals, which is the scariest part.
ILM: Are those extra flourishes planned or spontaneous?
Sam: We went into the studio with a really clear idea of all the parts we were going to put down. Then my producer Dan said they were all rubbish, so we decided to change loads of things. That's all good. It's challenging.
ILM: Do you know your producer, or is this a first time experience?
Sam: I actually recorded my last single Fire Fire with him and I was pretty pleased with how that came out, so I thought I'd do the whole album.
ILM: How do you find working with a producer? Is it difficult to take criticism?
Sam: I think we've got a good relationship. Although obviously when he tells me a few times a day that something is crap then I get angry because it's something I've written. But I think it's good to have someone there, and it's encouraging.
ILM: Do you have a technique for writing lyrics?
Sam: I don't rush them. If I go two months without writing any lyrics I try not to get worried. I think lyrics that are forced out aren't any good. The only way to write lyrics is to do it when you've got something to write about. If there are words going round your head then just write them down. It is very sporadic. I can go without writing for three months then write lyrics for three songs in a week.
ILM: Do you have a favourite track on your album so far?
Sam: Yeah. There is a track called Bears which has been recorded as a demo before. Me and the band have made a lot of changes to it since then. Now we've got it down on record and it's sounding really exciting. It's good when you've got something that you've done live for a long time but not had the chance to get it down in the studio. Then when you do, for it to sound exactly how you wanted it to.
ILM: How do you work with the rest of the band?
Sam: I write the whole song with the lyrics. I will have an idea of what I want the instruments to do. When I write a song I can kind of hear in my head what I want the full band version to sound like. It is just a case of getting into a rehearsal studio and trying to tell people how to play instruments that I can't play.
ILM: How were the festivals this year?
Sam: Really good. I played a lot of festivals last year but it was really frustrating beause I was playing solo. I really like playing solo but when you're playing in a big field, when it is you and a guitar, it can feel hard to project. You know what your songs are meant to sound like, but it can be hard to get that across with just your voice and an accoustic guitar. So it's been really fun to have the band there.
ILM: Any highlights? Best festival?
Sam: Latitude festival was incredible. We played first thing on the Sunday. We played the second stage and it was absolutley full. There were a couple of thousand people there. It's the most people I've ever played for.
ILM: Did you celebrate that evening?
Sam: Yeah we did. I got to watch Dave Gorman do some comedy!
ILM: As a relatively young, new artist, what are your feelings towards the internet and downloading of music?
Sam: I've got really strong views on it. My personal view is that you shouldn't steal music. I think young people in Britain have a habit of sayiung Oh I'm poor when they are actually very comfortable. I've travelled to Africa and we're not poor. It is hard to say but people think they deserve music for free. It doesn't hurt to buy CDs or download a song you really like. You should pay for music. Every musician I know is struggling to survive and has no money. Writing amazing songs should be rewarded with money, at least enough money so you can pay your rent.
Bigger artists giving away their music for free is essentially an irresponsible thing to do. Radiohead are my heroes and I lost respect for them when they released their album for free. I think that moves such as that stop new artists from emerging. It suffocates music. I think you have to pay for music. There is no way of living otherwise. People think all of these artists have loads of money. But it seems that only the big names, the ones at the top, do.
ILM: Would you ever consider doing anything different?
Sam: At the moment it's pretty much the only thing I'm any good at. If I wasn't doing music I don't think there would be any other job that I'd be good at. It's not something I'm going to be able to do indefinately, there is going to be a point where I become bankrupt and I can't do it anymore, unless I sell a lot of records.
ILM: What are your future plans?
Sam: I'm releasing an EP and single. So I'm letting people know about that. I will be touring in the autumn before getting the album out in January 09.
ILM: What can fans expect if they come to see Sam Isaac onstage?
Sam: Just six boys making a good indie pop racket. Lot's of instruments and instrument swapping as well!
ILM: What's the best gig you've ever seen as a fan?
Sam: It was probably one of the first shows I went to. I don't think much can replace that rush of being 15 and going to that first show. It was Jimmy Eat World at Bristol Academy. I was about 15 and I'd never been allowed to go to a gig before. It was so loud that my ears almost bled! It was just amazing. I came out thinking I'd had the time of my life. I don't think you can replace that feeling when you come out of your first gig.
ILM: What music are you into at the moment?
Sam: I've really been enjoying the Jonny Foreigner album. I went on tour with them earlier in the year. Live they are really chaotic, but brilliant! The record is brilliant too and so entertaining. There are some massive tunes on there. I can't seem to get away from Noah and The Whale either. They seem to be everywhere. Usually I'm not so into the things that are constantly on the Radio, but I think they're great.