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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos

SPOTLIGHT ON SAM RYDER

There's Nothing but Space, Man! is out now!

Image: Simon Emmett.


UK breakout star Sam Ryder has unveiled his debut album, There's Nothing but Space, Man!. We caught up with the musician to chat about the release, performing in front of the world at Eurovision, his touring plans and so much more!


Following on from his epic appearance at Eurovision, becoming the UK’s highest charting Eurovision entry in 25 years, the record captures Ryder's signature infectious pop energy fuelled by engaging soundscapes and luring lyricism.



I'm stoked for you because your debut album comes out today, which is super exciting!


Yes, yes. Out for you guys, right?


Yeah, it's been out for 8 hours and 46 minutes here, which is super awesome mate.


Listen, I'd usually... I had these big thoughts that when I finally release my debut album, I'll stay up for when it's released at midnight and like party and do I look like the sort of person that's going to stay up now until midnight? Look at me, tell me would you reckon?


You look really comfortable.


I got a cuppa next to my bed and a hot water bottle.



Love it. Obviously, the debut album, There's Nothing but Space, Man! is out now here, almost out there. I know you said that you wrote over a hundred songs and those got whittled down to twelve. How does one curate such a massive volume of songs down to such a succinct body of work? What was that process like?

You get rid of the naff ones. [laughs] In a hundred songs I would say like there's 20 naf ones that won't really see the light of day, certainly in their current form, you know, might sort of mine them for parts later. So that leaves you 80 and then in that you've probably got 50 that are really good that you think... and then a tiny little fraction above that that you think are magic. And then it's about curating. So there's a possibility of maybe three different albums depending on the theme and the thread that you wanted to follow. I chose this thread because it was more about, kind of things that I wanted to set this moment in time, like about hope and faith and those qualities and how they can be quite hard to retain for a lot of us.


And so how important was it for you to, follow that thread of hope and faith and share those themes and concepts on this [your debut album]?


Well I think really important because for me, that's such a massive part of this whole journey. And ultimately I think a lot of us are similar in that regard. Like if we have hope, then we have fulfilment because we've got purpose. Do you know what I mean? The happiest people on earth have purpose and it's in the absence of purpose that you feel unhappy, in my experience.



Yeah I totally get it. So the album does exist in this kinda soul-pop sonic realm. What drew you to those sounds and how did you go about crafting the overall sonic realm for the album?


Honestly I didn't think too much about that sort of thing. If I liked how it was going and how it was sounding in the demo, then I kind of followed the breadcrumbs there. It wasn't too surgical like that. I really believe in letting the song just be like. We always find a way of getting in the way of things when they happen, I think, like human beings. And in songwriting you'll make something, you'll start an idea and then you'll be like, oh, this reminds me of so and so we should do something like this. And then before you know it, you are trying to manipulate and turn this thing before it's even at a time to conceptualise itself.


When it came to writing this album did you find that you had a particular creative process or do you think each song kind of took on its own form?


No, not really a creative process. Trying to have that, I guess awareness of when a song is kind of coming into form to step out of the way of it and let it be what it's going to be. That's the main process. And yeah, like I say, when I look at the best ones, like the ones that I say felt magic, they were the ones that happened the quickest and the ones that we stepped out of the way of the most.


That's so interesting. So if you had to pick three songs from the album to play to someone who had never heard your music, song that you think would make them an instant on the spot, diehard fan, which three would you choose and why?


I choose Spaceman because it's obviously been a very important song for all of us, on the team. Put a light on me is really fun. That's a really good question, you know? And More maybe. They're not necessarily my favorites either, but it's the sentiment in the song, do you know what I mean? That like tells the person the most about what it is that the project's about and why you think there's something in those songs that's saying something that's worth being said, I suppose? That's a good question. I like that.



I mean, I think everyone should just listen to the whole thing, top to bottom back to front, make a playlist. Is there a particular like line lyric or musical motif from the album that you find will get stuck in your head more often than the rest? Or maybe one that you're most proud of?


I really like In deeply doubt, the opening track, let me get this right, because I find it hard to pick lyrics from the middle of the track "for every master plan there's a fool who's a slave to it, but for every master plan there's a fool who's a slave to it. Yeah. And I think that that's really kind of chatting about that sort of tortured artist syndrome that all of us love to adopt every now and then. Like, "oh my art, I'll die for my art" [laughs], but ultimately you don't have to, no one's asking you to [laughs], you know? And yeah, music especially is something that we've been doing for millennia without the pressure of industrialising it on the scale, in recent history. All you need to do is go back less than a hundred years and it weren't happening that way, but people have still been creating and sharing music for millennia, so there must be some spark of purpose and joy in it. So therefore you can do it wherever for nothing, in your free time without it being like a career and it still bring you joy. And I've been doing that for the last, since I was 14 years old, you know? So no one's asking you to die or bleed for your art and when you get in to that mindset... because I've been there as well, I'm not like judging other people, because I've felt that way, you become a slave to something that doesn't even want you as a slave anyway.


You've developed quite a following on TikTok and across social media. How do you think platforms like that help the trajectory of an artist's career?


I think they've become so crucial. Well crucial if you want to have a career in sharing original music, if you want to be a musician, you don't need anything, you need yourself, a pair of lungs to sing. If you want to be a singer or you know, patience, if you want to learn to play guitar or any other instrument. To be a musician you don't have to share on a wide scale and play big gigs or whatever. Again, this is recent history stuff. If you do want to do that and you want to release records that kind of tour the world or [laughs] whatever, then I think that now as an emerging artist, social media is incredibly important and you'd be naive to say that it's not. But it's not everything, you need to have a foot in each world. Like right now, social media won't do everything just the same as maybe you know, playing to your friends and families down the pub won't do everything. If you want to crack away into a career in music you need to use and utilise both. Music's about connection at the end of the day, you get a certain amount of that over social media. But right now we're doing a bunch of busking all over the UK. I've never busked in my life. I know it's massive in Australia, but I've never done it and I've really fallen in love with it. In a world of social media dominance, it's wicked to have those weird and wonderful connections on the street with people, it creates that full circle effect of music and that emotional touchstone.


Yeah, I love that. What's been like your favourite busking moment so far?


Carnaby Street in London and all the offices opened their windows and were like sitting on the windowsill drinking wine and enjoying the song. It was wicked man, such a vibe.


That's awesome. And so I believe you are going on tour soon. Are you planning on coming to Australia? Can you tell us anything?


Planning? We'll be there as soon as we possibly can be there, we'll be there.



Can’t wait! What can audiences expect from one of your live shows?

A conversation, like a lot of times when you go and see a band or an artist, the energy's directed quite one way, you know, like towards the stage or towards the person on it. But this is really like an emotional dialogue and exchange of energy. And saying that out loud, I know it sounds a bit airy fairy or like quite obvious, but it really... like we've done a tour around Europe, that we've just finished and it really truly was that. It was amazing and yeah, I just, I know we can bring that same vibe to Australia.


Obviously you’ve performed at Eurovision, you’ve performed at the late Queens Platinum Jubilee, all these amazing events. What do you want to tackle next? What's your next big performance bucket list moment?


I have no idea. I didn't expect or sort of envision any of the things that have happened this year, not a single one. So, uh, to start trying to do that now would be a mistake. I think I'm just going to go with the flow and yeah, be grateful for anything that comes our way [laughs].



Biggest musical influences?

Iron Maiden and Queen.


Dream collaboration?

Sia.


An album that has had the most impact on you?

The Stranger - Billy Joel.


If you could create the soundtrack for any existing film, which film would it be?

Um, why not Avatar? That would be fun.


Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?

Miley Cyrus.


What was the first song you loved to sing?

Living On My Own - Freddie Mercury.



First concert you went to?

Sum 41.


Best concert you've attended?

Iron Maiden.


Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?

A Spice Girl.


What would your Spice nickname be if you had to come up with your own one?

Oh my spice name? Hairy Spice [laughs].


An artist that you think has had the most influence on the music industry? The big one.

Well that is a massive one, isn't it? That's really difficult. Maybe someone like Elton [John], because he remains relevant as well, now, like even his back catalog coming back. That's an impossible one to answer. That's just coming off the top of my head now. I'd say Elton John.


What advice would your current self give to your future self for a year from now?

Plough your own furrow. Just focus on the things in your life that you can control.


Good advice. The final one is the moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?

Seeing Sum 41 play.



There's Nothing but Space, Man! is out now!


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