The Shropshire singer-songwriter discusses the politics of his music, the importance of touring and what it’s like supporting Nick JD. Hodgson…
We may only be four months into 2018, but Sam Johnson is already having a hell of a year. The Shropshire based singer-songwriter saw his debut track ‘Perfect Circle’ crowned BBC Introducing Shropshire’s Track of the Month, resulting in support from Amazing radio and the taste-making likes of Radio 1’s Huw Stephens. His second single ‘Way Back Home’ has a political edge, Johnson drawing inspiration from current world affairs. Below, he talks more about the tack, his success so far and supporting Nick JD. Hodgson…
We love your new single ‘Way Back Home’! Can you tell us a little about the track itself?
I wrote the song in a studio near Ladbroke Grove. I was playing around with some ideas on an acoustic guitar when ‘raised on fame and half priced Monday’s’ came out my mouth. It became the opening line of the track and things just flowed from there.
It has a really impassioned, anthemic sound and you’ve said previously that it discusses the current state of politics. What has been bothering you politically?
2016 was a pretty mental year to be alive and certainly the most politically turbulent that I can remember in my lifetime. I felt routinely bombarded with plot twist after plot twist and felt genuinely shocked by the changes going on around me. I felt a degree of powerlessness and wanted to write a song about it in an attempt to sort through those emotions.
What sort of feeling did you hope to rouse in your audience in regards to the politics of the track?
I just wanted to evoke a contemplative appreciation for the events that have unfolded and the decisions that will now shape all of our futures.
Your previous single ‘Perfect Circle’ was named BBC Introducing Shropshire’s Track of the Day and gained some great support including Huw Stephens on Radio1, Amazing Radio as well as some nice press! How did it feel to get such traction on your debut?
Really great. My local BBC Introducing team have been a constant support to me since I started writing songs and I can’t thank them enough. Getting Huw and Amazing Radio and reading all the nice words in the press was lovely too and a huge boost to my confidence.
‘Perfect Circle’ has a far more intimate feel than ‘Way Back Home’. Do you feel that it’s important to show different sides to yourself as an artist at this point in your career? Why?
Definitely. Intimate and heartfelt songwriting is something I find most fulfilling and I think its hugely important to show a more vulnerable side now and again. I’m being 100% myself in those moments and I think it’s key that early listeners and followers here that from the off.
Things are looking good for you so far in 2018! Is there an EP in the works too?
I’ve got a lot more songs in the bag and am always writing so there’s definitely more to come soon.
You’re about to support former Kaiser Chiefs member Nick J.D Hodgson on tour? What are you most excited about?
The crowd. Nick has some cool fans and I had a lovely quiet and appreciative audience when I last played with him. It will also be great to catch up with Nick and his band as they’re super nice dudes.
Is performing in a live setting important to you as an artist? What to you enjoy most about it?
Yes definitely. It’s easy to dress up who you are as an artist in a studio environment so it’s important that you have those moments on stage where you drop the veil to a live audience. You suddenly feel naked and that rawness is hugely valuable to reflect on when writing or producing new music as it reminds you of who you truly are.
What new artists are you excited about at the moment who you think should be on our radar?
I’ve currently got a big admiration for Dermot Kennedy and saw him live the other day. He blew me away and I think he’s certainly someone everyone should know about. There’s also a cool band called ‘Superorganism’ who have just brought out their debut record that I’ve become a little obsessed with too.
Sam Johnson’s latest single ‘Way Back Home’ is available now. Catch him on tour this April.
Tuesday 17th – The 100 Club – London (supporting ex-Kaiser Chief’s Nick JD. Hodgson)
Wednesday 18th – The Deaf Institute – Manchester
Thursday 19th – The Cluny – Newcastle
Friday 20th – King Tuts – Glasgow
Saturday 21st – The Wardrobe – Leeds