This very musical group of four is definitely going places. An EP in the works, enjoying some radio airtime, being featured in a short film, scoring important gigs around town, and gaining popularity whilst juggling all of these things, The Sam Willows have had quite a ride and it's not even close to the end yet. Also, them being the nice (and nice-looking) folks that they are, they found some time to chat with us. Here we go!
Hi Sam Willows! Introduce yourselves.
Hello world! We're a local quartet with a heavy mix of influences from Dirty Blues and Soul to Indie-Folk. We reside mostly in the Western province of Singapore, although occasionally venturing east for sustenance.
Also, we don't sport a traditional "frontman" - it's the four of us leading the charge. The Sam Willows is - Jon, Ben, Sandra and Narelle.
So what’s behind the name?
Rather unfortunately, Sam Willows is not the name of a doe-eyed dreamy singer-songwriter with wispy blonde hair and the voice of God.
Alter-ego's are an enigmatic way of giving character to someone / something. Individually, we're all different - influences, personality, hair - and we wanted to have a name that represented our collective energy, something that resonated with all our voices but in one voice too. It's all about what each person brings to the table. In the end, we don't want a spread of confused cuisines, we want to create our own.
Sam Willows is our alter-ego. We are The Sam Willows.
Describe the music of The Sam Willows in a succinct sentence.
Pragmatically speaking, we are best described as "Three vocals, one guitar".
Your EP of all original songs is coming out soon, describe the writing process
and your inspiration for the material.
It's been a labour of love. A lovely labour, rather. Most of the songs actually took shape quite some time before the tracking sessions, so it was more of "workshopping" them and watching them evolve dynamically and emotionally.
Storytelling is king, and it's something we're trying to elevate with this EP. We didn't intend it from the start; it just came out of our writing. Themes of pilgrimage, sacrifice and love form the undercurrent of the project. Hopefully when people listen to it, they move past the music and harmonies and get to invest a little into the humanity of it. We're not Shakespeare, but we're all storytellers.
Any stories/memorable events during the EP-making process?
We try to mix it up during the recording period so we don't reach what our producer Bang Wenfu calls "saturation point", the point where after all the hours of work you can't seem to make sense of anything. It's a job hazard for, well, any job.
We did random projects / productions / gigs individually and as a group. Most memorably, we teamed up with some of our crazy-fun friends to form a band (Platonic Pi), and ended up winning Singapore's battle of the bands contest Stardust 2012! Who'd a thunk it?
Also recently, you guys were behind the official song for short film ‘Hun’. How was that like!
It was bittersweet. Josiah Ng, the film director, is a personal friend of ours, and we were over the moon when he approached us with a fantastic MV concept and collaboration initiative. The song was Nightlight, and it fit perfectly with the direction and themes of the film.
The song itself is an emotional journey, and at that time still embryonic (we hadn't fully arranged it yet), so the collaboration was an opportunity to see the song be fleshed out and put in context. You can never predict emotions when they're put on a pedestal, and the process was surprisingly hard, revisiting old feelings that lay dormant under the simplicity of songwriting. But Josiah captured it, made it poignant and powerful, and created art that was true to the soul. You can't put a price on that.
What’s in store for The Sam Willows next?
We're launching the EP! Make a date with us on the 27th October 2012, 7:30pm at TAB. We're in exciting times and working with fantastic people. Apart from that, we're heading into the 987FM studio for an interview feature. We're also involved in TAB's 2nd Anniversary Concert / Charity Fundraiser on 8th September alongside acts like Inch Chua, Brandon Lee and No. IV. And finally, a Timbre originals session late September.
Here's where to catch them next:
TAB's 2nd Anniversary Concert x Bone Marrow Donor Programme Fundraiser
8th September, TAB
26th September, Timbre Substation, 7:45pm
The Sam Willows EP Launch
27th October, TAB, 7:30pm