Meet Sam Fender, the UK rising force playing Falls Festival
Named along with artists such as Sigrid and Khalid in the BBC Music Sound of 2018, the rocker is uniting powerful themes with catchy-as-hell tunes.
Featured in the BBC Music Sound of 2018 alongside break-outs such as Khalid, Sigrid and Tyler The Creator collaborator Rex Orange County, there's a fair chance that the UK's Sam Fender might just be one of the next big things. Uniting powerful lyrics and anecdotes on social issues and politics with a guitar-driven, indie-pop sound, the comparisons to names such as Jake Bugg and Falls Festival headliners Catfish & The Bottlemen aren't so far-fetched, the latter of which he'll be joining on the Falls line-up for his Australian debut shows. Dead Boys, Fender's most recent single, showcases his sound perfectly - uniting breathtaking vocal hooks with guitar work that range from soft and acoustic-like to large and charging, which drive the single's lyrics on toxic masculinity and male suicide.
The official video for the single - out now - does nothing but cement these themes and your love for Fender. "The video means a lot to both of us," says director Vincent Haycock on the clip, which Fender hopes will reach out to people that need it and encourage people to speak out on the issue. "I'm incredibly proud of the call to action Sam put forth and entrusted with me. Our theme was toxic masculinity and fragile masculinity, and how this can affect young men. I wanted to maintain focus and yet slightly abstract the visuals so that it becomes more about the pressure people are feeling and the possible hopeful outcome that love could bring to these situations."
With Fender set to make his Australia debut at Falls Festival - line-up, tickets and more details HERE - there's no better time than now to better get to know the rising British force. Do it below as you dive into his latest video, and stay tuned for heaps more to come before the year's out.
So to kick things off, you’re pretty big in the UK but you’re yet to really break-out in Australia. Can you give us a little intro on yourself and what to expect from your music?
22-year-old songwriter from Newcastle, I write everything between loud anthemic guitar songs about government surveillance and sexual harassment to haunting intimate ballads about the claustrophobia of small towns.
Can you tell us a bit about your songwriting processes and how you lock a track down?
I write a lot of poetry, then I marry it with a guitar or piano. Classic old-school songwriter.
You took a year and a half off after your initial break-out to try to refine your sound and your place in the music world – how did that go, and what’s been the outcome of it?
It gave me the time to write some good stuff. I got locked in a shed by my manager; I was fed peanuts through the keyhole whenever I wrote something decent. He let me out when I wrote Play God.
Dead Boys is the first single from your upcoming EP, can you tell us about the track and its inception?
Dead Boys is a song about male suicide; it came from a very personal place. I wrote it after losing a close friend to it. As soon as I played it to other people, it raised the conversation about it and really opened my eyes to how much of prevalent problem it is. Nearly everyone I talk to has a story or knew someone who's done it.
Hopefully, it will help raise awareness.
Do you think that there are enough musicians – especially high-profile ones - out there tackling these issues through their music? What do you want to see from more musicians in this sense?
I don't necessarily think that it's the duty of musicians to raise these conversations, I write purely from my experience, if something matters to me, it will be in my music. I don't think music has to be about heavy things, it doesn't have to be about anything really, some pop songs have little or no meaning, but they serve their purpose to the people that enjoy it. It's completely subjective. However, I do think there's space in the world for more social commentary in popular music, there's plenty to talk about.
I have to ask about the cover art – what was your thought process behind the shots of the bird? Is there a symbolism or meaning behind it, or did you just see the bird there and go “yeah alright, that’ll do thanks”?
Genuinely, we were driving down the road when this magpie flew into the car and died. Coincidentally, we were shooting footage for Dead Boys, and the magpie is the mascot bird for Newcastle, so it accidentally became a metaphor for the 'dead boys in my hometown.'
Like I mentioned, it’s the first single from your forthcoming EP, which I believe is your debut EP, right? Was there anything that pushed you or inspired you to dive into a full-length EP, or did it just feel natural after a run of singles?
I've purely released singles for a year now, so I think my followers deserve a body of work to sink their teeth in to, also, I'm writing profusely at the moment so if I don't get them out they'll fall behind!
You're coming to Australia for the first time as a part of Falls Festival – which is huge. What can we expect from your live show?
Expect nothing, just turn up on the day.
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