Drawing inspiration from "past feelings, and even the smallest things which were kind of secondary to me, from my friends, mum or dad's experiences", Sam Tompkins has welcomed support from artists such as Elton John, Bastille, and Bebe Rexha. At only 21 years old he has also performed and recorded alongside Krept and Konan, Jason Derluo and MNEK, whilst his debut EP in 2017 reached over 500,000 streams.
Like many musicians rise to fame in today’s world, Sam Tompkins recalls the internet and social media as the best tool for his creative growth. A string of viral videos had helped him amass a strong following even before he started releasing studio recorded music. Sam’s activity over social media helped create an exciting opportunity with Krept & Konan: “I did a cover of one of their songs ‘Fallen’, Konan really liked it, and that started a thing called the Fallen challenge on social media. Through that, me and Konan became friends and he asked if I wanted to come out on tour and sing 'Fallen' with them”.
A particularly vivid memory involved the famous American influencer Amber Rose – “the first big push on social media was when Amber Rose was in the UK, she had let people know where she was staying through Instagram. So, I went with my friend Hussan, who wanted to interview her for his YouTube channel, and we ended up filming me serenade her to the song 'Drunk In Love' by Beyoncé!”
Since then, Sam has been causing a stir in the UK with the recent video release of his new track ‘Follow Suit’, which amassed over one million views in under a week. Touching on a sensitive, poignant time where a close friend committed suicide, the pain of that memory is felt through Sam’s abrasive, gritty voice which over the persistent pounding beats creates an incredibly powerfully moving song. Sam wanted the video to come across raw, “as the song feels better to listen to when you can see and feel the emotion”.
Creatively using his Step-father's garage or “man cave” as he describes it, the term helps portray the space as a metaphor of his mind. He tells Clash: “There are loads of random stuff on the walls, bicycle wheels hanging up, it’s perfectly messy in a way”. Sam’s creative vision expanded to more than just the space he was in, but also the little details; “I didn’t want to use a proper studio mic, I wanted a short mic just at bass level, which sounded properly raw”.
Speaking about artists who have helped him improve and influence him as a singer, Sam mentions Amy Winehouse’s presence to have been admirable. “She didn’t compromise with anyone,” he insists. “She didn’t compromise her sound, she just figured out a way for everyone to like her music because she was so likeable”.
However, one of Sam’s biggest influencers for giving him the belief to create music was Ed Sheeran. He adds: “I was a big fan of Ed Sheeran when he came out, he was someone who got me into music in the first place. I used to be quite insecure about how I looked but when Ed Sheeran came out, looking a bit scruffy and bit obscure but everyone liked him, and that made me think I could do this too.”
Sam’s musical interest stretches further to the UK’s emerging urban underground music scene. “I think the people doing the best stuff are more in the underground genres, you’ve got people like slowthai and Octavian are doing bits!”
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Words: Kofi Yeboah-Mensah
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