EXCLUSIVE: Sam Johnson Interview

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In honor of the release of Sam Johnson’s latest single, “Nineteen,” we spoke with Johnson about his new song, recording his new music, and what’s next. Read our exclusive Q&A, below.

Congrats on “Nineteen!” Can you walk us through the creative process?
Hi Stage Right Secrets, thanks so much! The general idea was to try and write a more upbeat
song about my last days of school and come up with something that reflected the golden
nostalgia that smokes up in my head every time I think back to those rather chaotic mischievous

When was it written and where were you when the idea for the song came about?
It was actually written quite some time ago, probably around two years ago now? It’s funny how
long it sometimes takes a song to get released and find new life. I was in my friend Tom’s studio
in London just playing around with some riffs on the guitar when suddenly the line ‘flash back to
95 came out’ and I kind of immediately knew which direction I wanted to take the song from
there really.

Are you considering what a music video will look like?
I’ve actually already made one! I found an old hard drive filled to the brim with videos of my
friends and I messing around when we were younger, and I just thought ‘this is perfect’. So I
stitched them all together and made a kind of montage of the real archive footage that the song
speaks about. It was actually hilarious putting it all together and remembering all of the stupid
stuff we got up to. I showed all my mates that are involved in the video to make sure they were
all happy with it going out and luckily they all loved it.

You’ve released new music during the pandemic when other artists are shying away from doing
so, what made you do that?
Good question. I think the most honest response is that I don’t know what I’d be doing if I wasn’t
releasing music. I’m the luckiest bloke in the world to call music my job, so as much as I feel
slightly frustrated to not be able to tour the music I’m releasing at the moment, I’m certainly very
grateful that I still get to release my work into the world. It’s very therapeutic.

You posted about falling back in love with some of your favorite music. Has your music taste
and inspirations evolved over the years?

Yes definitely. I think I’ll inevitably always be rooted to folk music and all of the amazing artists
that inspired me to write in the first place like Ben Howard, Bon Iver, and John Martyn etc, but in
general my taste is always evolving and in turn my inspiration too. Some months I’ll spend
weeks listening exclusively to hard rock and grunge, and the next I’ll be listening to Jurassic 5’s
back catalogue. I’m a bit all over the place like that.

Do you think Devon or the location of where you write/recorded music plays a role in the vibe of
the song?
Not always. I think it may have more of an effect on recording perhaps, but I think songs are
something you carry around in your heart and your gut wherever you go. For instance, take one
of my songs I’m most proud of ‘Peter Pan’, I wrote that in a studio near Bank station in London,
which couldn’t be more of a corporate area, yet the songs story is inspired by my hometown and
a close friend of mine there, so I don’t think I always bounce off my location. I think the main
thing that helps is feeling comfortable enough for your mind to finally start to unravel and reveal
its secrets to you. If a pretty beach helps then great, but most of the time I’m staring at a wall or
making a cup of tea.

While in quarantine, has being stuck at home hurt you or helped you creatively?
It’s actually been one of the best things that’s ever happened to me creatively. The time out and
lack of pressure has opened up a lot of songs and inspiration in me that I didn’t know I had.
Being able to take my foot off the gas a bit and clarify what’s important to me in my life and my
music has given me a real feeling of direction and purpose again which I don’t think I would
have had by now if I was still stuck in London’s ever churning machine.

What have you been doing to pass the time when you were or are in quarantine?
More recently I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to get to the bottom of a non stop headache
I’ve been having which hasn’t been much fun haha, but aside from that I’ve been learning to
surf, in November which is a little crazy I know, but with my winter wetsuit I’ve been super
content losing myself in the cold Devonshire waters for a few hours each day.
Will you be releasing a project or album in 2021? Can you share any details about it?
YES. I can tell you that I’m very excited about the next chapter, and that it will be the work I’m
most proud of to date. I’m actually in the studio recording at the moment and super buzzed.
Think ‘dark anthems’.

Jacklyn is the Editor In Chief of Stage Right Secrets. Jacklyn's photography and articles can also be found on The Recording Academy's GRAMMYPro, GRAMMYU, PopCrush, Taste of Country, among other outlets. Besides press Jacklyn is a "Jack of All Trades" working various jobs at local concerts and touring.