Meet the Artist: Samm Henshaw
Kick off the holiday season with soulful South London musician Samm Henshaw.
Where did you start out?
I grew up in a church playing music. I was playing drums from when I was about four years old. Since as long as I can remember, music was always a part of my life. I didn't ever really perceive it as a career opportunity while I was growing up. You'd just see someone on TV and be like, “Great, good for you. You're on TV and I don’t know how to get there.” So that's what led me to Uni. I studied music – music, music for three years. I thought I would try to be a teacher or something. With Nigerian parents, they were very clear on having to go to Uni. In my mind, there was that voice asking, “what can I do that's reasonable?" and so studying music seemed like a good compromise to make us both happy.
After getting a degree, I lived with my housemates and friends that were also musicians or producers. I had just spent all my time in Uni working on my first EP, and that EP ended up being my dissertation! It was during that time I figured out that music was something I could actually do professionally. That was incredibly exciting. I was passionate about it, and something I was felt I was gifted with. It was just exciting to see what possibility lay ahead, but thank God I'm still here.
How Would Describe Your Style of Music? What Were Your Influences?
I would describe my sound as soul music. I grew up on Soul and that is what inspired me. As I explored music, I started in one place, ended up in different places, and then just came right back around to the same influences again and again. But yeah, I grew up on gospel music and soul music. I got into classic American country, lots of hip hop, rap music but also some very traditional British sounds like Grime. In a way, anything that you hear and experience will always somehow find its way into your art.
What's Your Process in Creating?
Usually we work on the production first and to just figure out the overall sound. I'm simultaneously working on melodies throughout, though. Lyrics come separately, and later on - for me that's the less fun part. I actually have to sit down and think about what I’m trying to say. But the more time I've spent not writing, the more excited I've become. I’ve started to appreciate the power of words in listening to other people's music and seeing how they how they use them. But my life experience has always managed to find its way into what I create and shape my sound.
I remember when I first started learning to play the piano I was spending about seven hours a day on that craft. What I gained from that was, was confidence. Confidence in my ability to play because I was just giving it so much of my focus, so much of my energy to it. I think the more time you give anything, I the more deeply you learn from it. That experience eventually found it’s way into the lyrics “If you give a lot, It’ll educate you”. When you give so much of yourself to something, it ends up becoming a lesson beyond the task itself.
Are There Any Other Genres in Which You Would Like to Create?
I would love to dip my toe into the Afro beats thing a little bit. I'm a sucker for country music, too. I find country music to be really interesting and fun and love the way that they write. It’s from the country writers that I actually base my writing. It has the all the storytelling you could ever need.
Does Fashion Influence Your Music?
Yeah, for sure. I really love seeing iconic pictures of actors, celebrities, and fashion designers from the nineties, doing whatever they wanted.
I’m also getting more into the seventies, just like street fashion. Clean and funky with loafers and flared pants. That sort of stuff.
If I see something and I think it's cool, whether a celebrity or anyone really, it always seems to have something that draws from the past.
What Does “Done Proper” Mean to You
I think Done Proper means giving it your all. You're giving a hundred percent of yourself to WHATEVER YOU DO. You're not holding back. You’re really just going for it.
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