Having just released his long-awaited debut album ‘In Darkened Rooms‘ just a few weeks back, we decided to catch up with Sam Airey regarding the album, writing music and the future. Over the past few years up until this point, Sam has released various singles including the award-winning ‘The Blackout’ as well as having gained support from the likes of Huw Stephens and Lauren Laverne. The indie-folk songwriter’s debut shows Sam as a versatile songwriter, overlapping genres from traditional folk to post-rock and beyond throughout ‘In Darkened Rooms‘.
Hi Sam! Firstly, so that our readers can know a bit more about you, please introduce yourself:
Hello! First and foremost, I consider myself a songwriter, because that’s what I love doing the most. I write music under the name Sam Airey, for the most part because that’s my real name! I started making music at a time when pretty much every singer-songwriter was using a band-like pseudonym, but I wasn’t aware of anyone else with my name so it felt alright to me.
I’m based in Leeds where I’ve been for the past few years, but originally I hail from the Isle of Anglesey in North Wales. It’s a beautiful part of the world. I find it hard describing my music, but mostly I write sad and reflective but hopeful songs. Lyrically I like the idea of storytelling an narratives, but often I just like playing with words, although sonically, there’s a conscious effort towards using dynamics to help paint a bigger picture.
Your long-awaited debut album ‘In Darkened Rooms’ was released last week! If you had to describe the album in three words, what would they be and why?
Hiraeth – Hiraeth is a Welsh language word for which there is no direct translation, but is likened to homesickness tinged with grief. While these songs were written over a number of years, I think they are bound with at least an element of this idea – the concept of nostalgia and missing a very specific feeling or place.
Expansive – I’m always reluctant to say that my music carries a certain ‘sound’, as that’s always something that is subject to change. However there’s a fairly consistent feel to the production on the record. We wanted to build some big soundscapes in parts of it, but also to have those quiet and intimate moments too. I think we managed that.
Overdue – Pretty self-explanatory, but this record took a really long time to materialise. Lots of setbacks, lots of time spent in and out of the studio. I’m just glad it found its way into the world and I’m already busy writing the next one.
The album has been a long time in the works, but do you feel as though you want different things from your music now than back when you released early singles such as ‘The Blackout’?
Not necessarily, I think that as a songwriter you always hope there’s a natural progression – in terms of song quality and production – but progress is sometimes quite a subjective thing and often not as linear a process as you think it would be. When writing I’m usually trying to capture a specific mood, which is how ‘The Blackout’ came about – but I still look to do the same when writing new material.
What would you say is the most rewarding thing about writing music is?
Nothing really beats the feeling of finishing a song that you’re happy with. Some of them come easily and organically, and the rest are more challenging. But regardless of how they’ve materialised, there’s nothing more rewarding than knowing you’ve documented and created something worthwhile. That’s the main part for me.
Obviously, the secondary part is the moment when people connect with those songs. That’s a really special thing too. But chiefly, I write because I need to, and not with listeners in mind.
Finally, have you got anything to share regarding upcoming gigs and what have you got planned for the rest of 2017?
I played a few shows just after the release, but we’re heading into festival season now. I have some exciting ones on the horizon including Blue Dot which looks incredible, and also I’ll be making my first European festival appearance at Indiefjord in Norway, which looks like a stunning location.
Currently, we’re planning a bigger UK tour in the autumn, and hopefully a few other European dates too. At this point I’m keen to play as many shows as possible.
We’d like to thank Sam very much for his time! You can check out ‘Epitaph’ taken from his latest album ‘In Darkened Rooms‘ below and also follow him on social media via the following links.