Sam Calver is a singer songwriter from Hastings, Rachael Kamara caught up with him to talk about his recent chart success, and featuring on the trailers for The Voice.
Sam has been working hard writing songs and playing guitar since he was 17. After initially struggling to get gigs in some of the venues in Hastings, Sam was offered a gig at Porters Wine Bar in the Old Town, after that it all seemed to snowball into a series of right time, right place moments for the singer and booking him locally is more a case of squeezing into his busy schedule, than lack of demand.
Now working with SPLAY management, based in Paris, Sam’s year ahead is set to be very exciting. Finding a quick twenty minutes in his schedule to chat over the phone, Sam took a break from a recording session at a London studio. We spoke about his journey so far, which in the in the past year or so has taken him to London, Paris, Ibiza, St Tropez, New York and Miami, where he will be returning in March – Jealous? Who me? Not all, I love flood warnings.
I quickly learned that Sam’s success, so far is down to a lot of hard work, networking and as he puts it, “being nice and writing good material”. After adding as many people that had links to the music industry as possible to his social networking accounts, Sam was approached by an agent working in Tunbridge Wells and asked him if he would like to support the The Kinks when they came to Hastings. It was at this gig that I first saw Sam play, I knew then that he must have been knocking on the right doors. After watching him perform and speaking with him it’s easy to see why people want work with him. It felt more like I was catching up with an old friend then pulling out question after question from the Journo bank.
Sam’s performed his own material on the night, a fantastic collection of acoustic tracks so it was a little surprising to hear that he was collaborating on a number of dance tracks. I asked him why he had gone in such a different direction. “I have quite a rock sounding vocal which works great for my own material, but whilst trying to find my niche I discovered that it also worked well on dance tracks, it’s a market usually dominated be female vocalists so I guess it makes me quite different. Through networking I met a lot of different people and ended up collaborating on a dance track with Paul Rudd. It reached the top 10 in the weekly dance chart, and it made it to Number four in the Canadian dance charts. Since then I’ve been contacted by other producers and artists asking me to collaborate with them, my voice seems to suit it and it has opened a lot more doors for me.”
Speaking to Sam revealed that social media had played a big part in getting to this stage. Last year he uploaded a cover of John Newman’s ‘Love Me Again’ which generated a lot of interest. “One of the best things I ever did was record a chart song in my own style and upload it to YouTube. At the moment I can’t reveal any of the tracks I am working on in the studio due my contract. By doing this it allows me to demonstrate my style but in a way people can associate with because they already know the song. I will be making more of that kind of thing when I am out in Miami and adding to my YouTube videos. Social networking makes it easier to make the right contacts, if you do that and make the right decisions things start to happen. It helps you meet someone who knows someone, chatting to a guy at a studio in Brighton led to me meeting my management.”
Most recently Sam’s vocals were on the trailers for TV show The Voice featuring the song “You ain’t seen nothing yet”, thus proving Sam’s earlier statement about networking and being nice. “I met a girl at a party a while back, she works for an advertising agency that provides music for marketing and advertising campaigns. Not too long after, she got in touch and told me the original track that had been put forward was turned down, and asked if I could send her a demo. So I did, and just a few days later I was in a studio recording the song. With that happening and working with management and my publishers I am really busy but I can’t complain, it’s all been amazing.”
Clearly things are going in a good direction for Sam, being nice certainly seems to be winning people over, but as an artists who mainly practised more rock and raw acoustic tracks then he ever did dance, what is the plan now he has found himself in the dance niche? “The dream is to have a commercial chart hit record. I am recording my own EP which will be more my own style than a dance record, but it works as both. I have learned a lot form the people I am working with and I think the songs would work just as well as dance tracks, as they would when performed acoustically. I have stuff ready now but I don’t want to do a self release, or sign a one track deal, I’d rather wait for a bigger better offer and hopefully sign an album deal. At the moment I really don’t know when that will be, it’s a case of developing my USP and waiting for the right time to take an opportunity.”
In the meantime, Sam has got plenty of other things happening, taking some time out of the recording studio to return to Hastings for a couple of firsts, is something Sam is really excited about. Including playing with a full in band in his home town for the first time, and joining the many acts on this year’s Fat Tuesday Tour.
Between gigs Sam is working on a further collaboration with Canadian producer Bit Funk which will be ready to be released in the summer. At only 25 years old his work ethic is admirable, taking on every opportunity to share his music on top of his label commitments, Sam continues writing material for his future career whilst recently signing a new publishing contract with Audiofreaks, the company behind ITV’s The Big Reunion aired in 2013, to write music for other artists and programming.
But all this hasn’t made him Kardashian crazy, he still knows he has a lot of work to do and building up a good fan base in his hometown is a priority. “I really want to play a main slot at the Beer Festival, I supported the 1066 Rockitmen last year but, I’d love to play again with a full band behind me, full brass sections, guitars, drums the lot. I would do some of my own stuff, with some covers too to keep people dancing, I find its best to combine the two when gigging locally.
Sam has been invited to visit Sussex Downs College where he previously studied, to speak to the students about his experience. Something he is really looking forward to. “I want to encourage others to work hard and tell them how it has happened for me. There is a lot of advice out there for people wanting to make into the music industry, but it’s not always the right advice. A lot of people tell you to send your stuff direct to record labels, but in my experience that doesn’t work. Record labels don’t listen to what turns up in the post, it all works on recommendation. The most important thing for me is to keep networking and to keep making contacts.”
To listen to Sam’s music visit samcalver.com