Written by Sophie Wyatt
Coming to us from LA, South-Londoner Samm Henshaw greeted us via Zoom with a bright blue sky in his background. Having had such a packed year last year following the release of his highly successful album ‘Untidy Soul‘, you would be expecting the singer and must-instrumentalist to be taking a well earned break. But no, Samm has teamed up with Fender to release a live session in which he plays some stripped back versions of his songs and goes into more detail about his own experience with guitars, music and life in general.
Having attended the ‘Untidy Soul’ launch party last year, we were well aware of Samm’s welcoming and laid back personality. He joked that he was “ready to be back home now“, as we started to discuss the weather patterns of London compared to his current residency (as you can imagine, worlds apart). And soon we started to discuss his first memories of music. Samm started off by explaining to us that every instrument he can play now, he had a version of growing up. And also that he grew up around people that loved to play and listen to music – one in particular that made a big impact on him. “Another memory that I don’t tell many people is that we had a man that lived with us for about a year or 2, his name was Mr TeTe, he was Ghanian, and he was blind. I would describe him as Stevie Wonder, I would describe him as my own personal Stevie Wonder. He could play every instrument. I remember watching him and taking in everything he did. He was really… instrumental“, he laughed, “in building confidence in my own ability to play. He taught me so many things. Just being able to sit in a room and watch a man that can’t see play piano, and several other instruments, and being exceptional at them was incredible.” This led Samm’s obsession with music to continue, evolving when he went to uni. “Eating, sleeping and breathing music“, Samm told us that he would miss lectures to go and make music with his friends, meaning he was “unconsciously living the life [he] lives now“.
Having dove head first into the music industry back in 2015, Samm’s music has continued to evolve. Describing his music as a “time capsule“, he explained that his songs allow him to “look back and remember what stage of life” he was at at the that time. Songs such as “Still Broke“, allow for this reflectiveness to be responded to. Written in reflection of one of his earliest and most popular songs “Broke”, the track works in the way of an internal monologue looking back at past desires and how they have affected him today. In his Fender Session, Samm performs some other songs from the his most recent album, including “Grow“, “Loved By You” and “The Café“.
When describing his time filming with Fender, he says “It was a lot of fun. I’m kind of in this weird space at the moment, I’ve been living in this kind of bubble for the past 3/4 months since I finished touring. So suddenly having to shoot stuff and perform again was really weird to me.” He went on to explain that bringing his Labrador on shoots and shows with him has become a undeniable highlight. “She comes with me everywhere, anywhere we can get her into. My girlfriend and my dog come to every set, so that made it a million times better because we brightens up a room and everyone gets really comfortable around her.”
After going on a slight, but wonderful tangent about his dog, Samm circled back around to what playing the guitar has taught him. “Music aside, the lesson of discipline and consistency played a huge part in my life. The times where I didn’t want to play, and then coming back to it and realising my ability doesn’t get better if I don’t practice, that was a huge lesson. When you first start playing guitar, it hurts“, he laughed. “It’s not nice or particularly fun, but the idea of getting better is such an exciting idea that it pushes you through.” He also mentions in the session that he see’s music as a “puzzle“. One of which he continues to learn from. So we asked, do you think you’ve figured it out yet? “No, I don’t think I’ve figured it out at all. I don’t think anyone’s figured out music. Which I think is also the beauty of it. I don’t think anyones figured out anything. I don’t want to get deep, but I think that’s what’s so fun about life – it is just all these never ending puzzles. I think that’s kind of great, it’s enough reason to keep living. I want to keep going, not to necessarily figure this out but to get better at it.”
Towards the end of the interview, we got on to the subject of another one of the Samm’s latest ventures – his documentary/short film ‘Us‘. The film takes you on a journey of Samm’s life on the road, his tours and his life with the people around him that mean the most. Being the busy creative that he is, we wanted to know where the inspiration came to make this and share it with the world. “Two things… well not two things, it was a few things actually. This was in my three month period of down time, me and my friend Dan who shoots a load of stuff for us whenever we travel, we had a bunch of footage. When we started we had about 3 hours worth of footage. We kind of made it up as we went along, and then we realised the root of where it came from was gratitude. Gratitude to the people who have supported me for however long I’ve been doing this. It was also good to look and see that situation from a different perspective, just to think ‘Ok life’s fine, you’re doing well’. It was reflective for me.”
And ‘Us‘ is not the last visual creative we will see from Samm. He explains that moving forward he wants to get into more TV and film. And he has a few other tricks up his sleeve. “I’m going to take a break at some point, I don’t take breaks. I’m currently working on a new project, so there’s going to be a lot more music this year. I’m out here finishing another project, so I’m aiming to drop something quite fun in summer. I’m excited, there’s going to be some cool, fun stuff.”