Sam Smith caused quite a few headlines earlier this year when he came out, However, he’s not the only soul singer “out” there at the moment.
Sam Dickinson has been touring and promoting his album pretty much consistently this year, along with performing in a few pride festivals.
I grabbed some time with Sam in between gigs to pose some questions,
What are your main musical influences?
When I went in to record the album I really listened to artists such as Paloma Faith and Aretha Franklin, however, since I finished the album and the more I listen to it, the more I see the Northern Soul influences that keep appearing in reviews, probably because it’s bold and brassy. Vocal influences really come from artists like Mica Paris and Mick Hucknall as their skill is impeccable.
“The Stories That Occurred” came out about a year ago, what’s changed for you in that time?
Well not the fame and fortune I envisaged! Seriously though, I’ve learnt a lot, I’ve learnt you actually spend the least amount of time singing, which is the whole aim of making music. Luckily, I enjoy the business side of things though. I’ve also learnt that no matter who you are and what your dream is you should go and try achieving it; I said I never wanted to live my life by saying, “what if I’d done that” at any point. They’re some wise words.
What would you do differently listening to the album now?
I think the presentation around the first single How It Used To Be wasn’t what I wanted and I’d really rework a lot of that because it’s such a good song, a song which I thought had the most potential of being a club hit. I hadn’t really learnt how best to spend money when releasing that. I’d also liked to have included another two or three songs onto the original album but I was financially tied to just the 10 songs, it’s partly why I’m releasing the deluxe edition now, I’ve included so many remixes and acoustic songs so people can really see these songs in as many ways as they’d like.
How important is social media to an artist launching a career now?
VERY, especially if you’re like me and completely unsigned with no management or label. The thing about social media is that it’s allowing artists like me to make music they love and be able to reach people without paying radio pluggers and advertising campaigns. I spend a lot of time making sure everything I put out on my fan page is worthwhile and engaging so that people can see what I am up to.
Where would you prefer to perform, a small intimate gig or large open stage at a festival?
Both gigs have their plus points. If I’m playing a small intimate gig then I can chat more and have banter with the audience. If I’m playing a festival then it’s more about playing the songs and making the set upbeat and danceable. I really enjoy both as I love playing outdoors and I love being able to chat about the songs.
With Sam Smith coming out it started a lot of conversations. Is it important for artists to be openly gay?
Yes. I really struggle to understand why this is still considered an issue in the UK. Good on Sam Smith I say. The music industry has had gay people in it for years and years and yet there still seems to be some stigma or need from the media to publicise it. I really thought we’d have been past this point by now. I am glad that artists are coming out and trying to normalise the situation, it should have happened a long time ago.
You’ve never hidden your sexuality, why was this important?
I think because the songs I sing are autobiographical, personal and at times tug on the heartstrings. How could I portray the truth of my lyrics without being honest about who I am?
Which new artists do you listen to?
I listen to Paloma Faith, Sam Smith and John Newman a lot. I am loving the soul revival that is currently taking place in this country.
You’ve had “when you left me” played on the Graham Norton show on radio 2, any TV in the pipeline?
Never say never. I have been trying; it’s just a matter of the right show picking me up. Any TV producers reading get in touch!
What do the next 12 months hold for you?
Promoting When You Left Me and the album. I’ll be touring and playing live a lot more over the next year. This is all going to fund my second album and I’ll be presenting the Pride Radio Saturday Breakfast Radio Show come the end of August. It’s the UK’s biggest community LGBT radio station and one more LGBT people need to be made aware of because they’re doing great things. I’ll be busy that’s for sure!
“The Stories That Occurred” is available on Itunes.