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SPOTLIGHT ON SAMM HENSHAW

Untidy Soul is out now!

Image: Supplied.


British-Nigerian R&B/Soul singer Samm Henshaw recently unveiled his debut album, Untidy Soul. We caught up with the musician to chat about the body of work, the albums visuals, working with his collaborators and so much more.



Tell us a bit about how you began your musical journey, and your background in music…


I was brought up in the church so was always around instruments, I learned to play drums at 5, then went on to play keys and guitar, I didn’t start singing till around age 17,


Congratulations on the release of your debut album, Untidy Soul. The collection of songs explores your own self-growth, how important was it for you to use this record as a documentation of that?


Thank you, I just wanted my first record to be an honest reflection of my life, something I could look back on and be proud of what i put out into the world.


You teamed up with Nwigwe, Maverick Sabre and Keyon Harrold, as well as Josh Grant, Pop Wansel and Brasstracks. How do you think your collaborators helped realise the body of work to the album we hear today?


Well they all played different roles on the album, a lot of people don’t know this but Maverick helped me find my sound and was very instrumental in the records people love today, Keyon played on so many of the albums tracks and really brought a feel to the record that only he could, same with Brasstracks and Braxton Cook, they both helped contribute something special to the records they are on. Josh Grant was the genius who helped piece this whole thing together, the album wouldn’t exist without him.


Walk us through your creative process when working on Untidy Soul, and how the album evolved throughout its creation…


To be honest I’ve been working on some of these tracks for years, I just really wanted to make an album that embodied the influences of my artistry, so something that was soulful, had elements of gospel and also hip hop in it. Putting the actual album together was done during countless zoom sessions with Josh Grant and Gaetan Judd, where we went through tracks one by one and added and removed parts and eventually coming up with the track list.


You’ve shared some great visuals for the project, that together reflect a TV-style series where you play the role of Sonny. What prompted this conceptual exploration for the visuals?


I think I just wanted to create a visual story that matched the ideas I had around the music, I love telling stories and videos give me an opportunity to expand upon these stories. I wanted to leave easter eggs in each video to make it an exciting experience for the viewers also.


How involved are you when it comes to conceptualising and developing the visuals? And what was your most memorable moment throughout filming all the visuals?


I’m heavily involved I come up with the concepts and then develop them with our director Jim Pilling who fleshes out my craziness and turn it into a working idea and script. I think so far my favourite moment has been seeing the grow video come to life because I had this concept from when we were creating the song, I knew I wanted a bonzai tree to represent the ups and downs of a relationship, seeing this come to life really brought me satisfaction.


What messages do you hope listeners take away from the album?


I just hope people are uplifted by the album, life is full of good and bad moments but throughout it all we just have to find our joy. This is why ending it on a song like Joy was very important for me.


How would you describe your sound to someone who is about to press play on Untidy Soul?


I would say its a mix of Soul, Gospel, Jazz and Hip hop all rolled into one


What’s one line from the album you find at times can be stuck in your head? Or a line that you come back to?


"The CEO of excuses

I prince of masking my pain

I used to high five my woes

I used to know them by name

Till I found joy

Oh sweet joy"

If Untidy Soul was a piece of pre-existing visual art, which artwork would it be?


There’s this piece in MOMA in New York I recently saw by an artist called Christine Sun Kim and its called temperature rising, and whilst I know the art is to do with global warming and environmental issues I do like the way it portrays the music notes rising as that's what I think this album will do, the more people share it, the more people will hear the art for what it is.


Which three songs off the album would you pick to play to someone who had never heard your music, to make them an instant fan?


Still Broke, Joy and Grow.


You’ll be performing some live shows later this month. What can audiences expect from one of your performances, and is there any further touring plans? Hopefully we’ll see you on Australian stages in the future.


I’d love to come out to Australia, as soon as the world settles down I will for sure try to get over there. For the live shows expect, energy, musicianship and fun.



RAPID FIRE


Biggest influences?

Dad and Stevie Wonder.


Dream collaboration?

D’angelo.


Album that has had the most impact on you?

Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.


How do you define your musical style in 3 words?

Soulful gospel hiphop.


Best song of 2021 so far?

Smoking Out The Window - Silk Sonic.


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

The Dark Knight.


Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?

Hannah Montana.

What was the first song you loved to sing?

Happy Birthday.


A song you would love to cover on tour?

Harry Styles - Adore You.


Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?

My Dark Twisted Fantasy.

First concert you went to?

I actually can’t remember.


Best concert you have been to?

Kendrick Lemar at the O2.

First album you ever bought?

This i can’t remember either.


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

Spice Girl.


If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?

Lazy Spice.


Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?

I literally had a headline show at Shepherd Bush Empire in London, it was fantastic.


Guilty music pleasure?

Haribo Tangfastics.


If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?

Maybe someone like Anderson Paak.


An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.

MJ or Frank Ocean more recently.


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

Don’t take this music thing too seriously, remember to continue living your life.


The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?

When I discovered that that this was an actual career, I think I was about 17 when that happened.



Untidy Soul is out now!