FEATURE: Sam Dickinson – My Inspiration | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Singer songwriter Sam Dickinson opens up and talks inspiration…

Wild Sun is my first single in over 4 years, which is crazy, but I also though I’d never make music again. My last album, 2013’s The Stories That Occurred, was just starting to pick up when I released the single When You Left Me. YouTube views were doing well, I’d just been played on BBC Radio 2, I was about to make my first television appearance and I had major label interest. Then something happened. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Going into a shop was practically impossible, and the time I did, I walked out with a shirt soaked in sweat. I couldn’t step on stage, despite a sell-out London show the following month. I was suffering from insomnia and working 12 hour shifts. So, I cancelled everything, all the promo lined up, all the performances and I stopped with music. I blamed music for feeling so anxious. On reflection, it wasn’t that at all, it was something deeper but with Someone Is Talking I needed to explain myself. I felt like I was abandoning the people who had supported me. I hope Someone Is Talking explains my decision to people. In a stressful world, we’re more likely than ever to develop those feelings. Let’s be vocal about them, there’s no shame in not being invincible. There’s no shame in being human and sometimes needing a helping hand. There’s strength in showing weakness because we’re strong enough to show it and not hide it.

My last album centred around betrayal and losing love, trying to find love and whilst I still write about that from time to time, I wanted to write about different topics, about where I am in my life right now. I suppose, some people might think of a relationship breaking down with my new single, Wild Sun. I guess, it is about that, but I wasn’t thinking about a relationship with a lover breaking down when I wrote the song. I was writing about the breakdown of a friendship which had lasted over 10 years and how I was dealing with that. It felt like a divorce, but not one where I am bitter, but one where I’ve realised long before that it’s needed to happen and I’m coming to terms with that. I sing, “from the rose in early June, to the missing winter bloom, we have broken down.” I’m saying there was a gradual decline, that’s not to say that it won’t come back, like a flower does in the spring, but for now I’m happy. I heard the backing track from the producer, Mark Barzin, it was just a 30 second sample, so I emailed “I’M HAVING THAT!”. I felt an energy from it and it encapsulated my new sound perfectly. It could be the British Soul from the 80’s such as Culture Club, or the British Soul of the 90’s like M People or George Michael. It’s a sound I grew up listening to and once I got the horn driven sound of my debut album out of my system it was always going to be a sound I was going to explore.

I wanted to write a f*** you song and when I heard the brass driven sample of Hanging By a Thread I managed to write the full song in about 30 minutes. I find songs like these easy to write about. If you look at my love life before settling down it was like an exercise in speed dating. There’s always a moment in your life when you don’t know whether you’re coming or going and it really starts getting to you. It’s sassy. It could have been written for an artist like Anastacia or Paloma Faith but sometimes men need to sing about songs like these too because we can be wronged too!

When we look at a photograph, we create an image of what was happening at that moment in time, what those people are doing with their lives, how happy they are etc. We can create a full story from a photograph. What we rarely think about is, “is that smile fake, put on?”. We don’t know anything about that person from that photo. Camera Shy is about making assumptions about people. Someone may be smiling but it might be the hardest thing they have to do that day. It’s a strong message I think. As the lyrics say “we all live in a glass house, but we scream and shout, like we know what life’s about, when we’re filled with self doubt.”

The E.P. closes with an acoustic version of what will be my next single and will launch E.P. 2. I wrote All We Are with Hattie Murdoch, it’s the first of about 6 singles we have written together. When we sat down to write this track I had something on my mind. A drag queen I followed on Facebook, who has campaigned for LGBT rights across the globe, had agreed to perform at a “Freedom of Speech” event. As it turned out it was a far right rally, under the pretence of freedom of speech. As you can expect, this caught national media attention and she was rightly questioned repeatedly about this decision in newspapers and on television. Far right politics is abhorrent and disgusting and that’s what inspired the track, the fact that regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, disability we are all human beings. The sooner certain sections of humanity realise this, the better. The lyrics speak to me hugely in this track, “When the world is turning dark and it cuts straight to your heart, it doesn’t need to be that hard. Just open up your mind, see the world in different eyes, we’re the same you and I.”

I’m proud of this E.P. It’s been a long time without releasing music and it’s the first of a lot of music coming. I have another 2 E.P.’s after this and then my second album, which has 13 new tracks on it. That’s 25 new songs coming. It’s exciting but sometimes I need to step back and not make the same mistakes I did before. Music is powerful.

Sam Dickinson’s new single is released today and his new EP is released on Friday 16th November.

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