INTERVIEW | Sam Dickinson28th July 2012
Never one to take things slowly, I joined Sam Dickinson at a charity event where he was performing, right in the middle of my interview he announced “Well Nathan, it’s time to perform, can we finish this afterwards?”
Of course I was only too happy to oblige! After hearing Sam’s demo disc, I was only too eager to hear him perform in person.
With a voice like no other, you can literally feel the electricity in the room. Sam has the crowd floating somewhere between melody and power as he relays song after song like he’s been doing it for years! I’m eager to find out though, how did he become such a natural born performer?
Have you always known you wanted to be a professional singer?
Pretty much! Music is in your blood and it’s something I always think about, in fact I never stop thinking about it. Performing is a natural thing for me so doing it professionally is great, especially going out there and singing my own songs. I started when I was 11 and was classically trained, which is great for learning techniques vocally. I got lessons until about a year ago. I’m a qualified singing teacher; I’ve just not put that aspect into practise yet as I want to focus on my own music first.
What was the first song you ever sang?
Oh god I don’t know! I spent a lot of my childhood singing ‘Tell Me It’s Not True’ from the Blood Brothers, especially to my grandmother, who isn’t at her best anymore. I had to opportunity in December last year to sing that song at Gateshead Old Town Hall, so I jumped at the chance! The fact I could sing that song in the same key as before my voice broke either said something about my vocal range or how tight the pants I wear on stage are. I’m hoping it’s the first!
What was the hardest part of getting your music ‘out there’?
Getting a platform so people know it’s there. Social networking has its upsides and downsides but the best way, I feel, is to gig your music…and then hand out flyers afterwards with links to your music, so people can follow up on their initial interest. Its how I managed to chart in YouTube’s top 40 most played not so long ago.
How did you make your break into the industry?
I don’t think I have really but I’m trying my best! If I keep gaining fans then I’ll get there. The gay community have been so loyal to me; it’s something I really appreciate. Plus I had one person tell me recently that as part of this community we should “look after our own”, which I thought was nice.
You’re currently working on your album, what’s that like? Hard work?
At the moment we’re working on the final arrangements to the songs before taking it into the studio. A few months ago I had a collection of songs, not an album, so the producer told me to go to the genre I wanted to be part of and to stay there. So I have. This summer people will see my blend of soul, jazz and funk, which I can’t wait to preview to people on tour. The album will come early next year; its hard work and expensive but you’ve got to aim big.
Do you have a favourite song on your album?
I love all of them! There is one song I connect with the most called ‘Lift Your Head’. I wrote it about my mum’s cousin who was dying of cancer aged fifty. I wrote the song on the Sunday evening, she died the Monday morning. It has a special place in my heart but it’s not a downbeat song, it’s about living your life to the fullest, as the song says ‘lift your head, and don’t forget, to live your life, without regret’. I also love songs like ‘When You Left Me’ and ‘Don’t Come Running Back’ because they’re so damn funky!
Is that your favourite song to perform?
It is and it isn’t. I enjoy performing ‘I’ve Gone, I’ve Quit’ and ‘Strong’ because they pack a punch and tell someone who’s messed you about to f*ck off basically, which always makes me feel better! But ‘Lift Your Head’ connects with everyone in the audience.
What about your tour, are you excited for that?
I CANNOT WAIT! I’m majorly excited about it. Ticket sales are going really well so we’re looking at different places to take the tour to and whether we can do it financially. I’m not signed so everything comes from me. It’s just going to be a great soul show, high energy, dancing and a load of fun. If people haven’t already got their tickets they should hurry up because we’re going to have a great time. I’ve got a five-piece band behind me on this tour, which is amazing, and some great support acts lined up. We decided to keep the tickets really cheap, £4, so as many people as possible could come. We sell the tickets through my official website so people don’t have to pay a booking fee or postage and packaging either.
How do you go about writing your music?
Different ways. I usually work with my guitarist and I’ll tell him what vibe I want to go for in a song and he’ll bring me a set of chords then we’ll go from there. I love song writing; it’s kind of like an autobiography through songs. As long as people can apply my songs to their lives then I’m happy.
How do you feel before you perform?
Nervous. I have a habit of looking at the audience size from backstage and making myself even more nervous, I’m my own worst enemy in fairness. I pace a lot for about 2 hours before I go on. As soon as I step on stage I’m back to myself.
Have you performed with any big names?
Basshunter and Kelis are definitely the biggest I’ve played with. I’ve supported Amanda Wilson of the Freemasons too. This summer I can add Sonia to that list.
Anyone you’d really like to collaborate with?
Anastacia, without a shadow of a doubt. Her vocals are just crazy! Beverley Knight because she’s a British soul singer, like me, so I’m sure we could come up with something funky.
What are your stage nerves like?
Once I’m on stage I don’t have any, beforehand I’m a nervous wreck!
What do you think of ‘reality TV shows, that make finding fame, and a recording contract easier?
I think it gives people the impression that this industry is easy and everything is about 4 yes’s. It’s not. It’s hard and you get so many knockbacks. Because you come into the lime light so quickly people haven’t had the chance to see your music develop and give you their loyalty, like they might if they’ve seen you craft your music on stage over years. I have nothing against these shows, as I enjoy watching them but I don’t think I’d do very well on one.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
By two of my idols, the first was Beverley Knight who said I should only listen to criticism from people who are constructive and not people who just say, “Well that was shit”. Well why or how was it shit? Mica Paris also said to learn to let criticism to go over your head because you’ll get it every day in this industry and she’s right, you do.
What’s the best advice you would offer to someone trying to make it into the music industry?
Don’t get a diva attitude. Just because you go on stage and perform doesn’t mean you can go around and treat people like crap. It gets you nowhere and people automatically take a dislike to you. Also, interact with your fans. I always reply to messages, tweets, and emails because these are the people who make it possible for you to continue to do what you do.
What are your top 5 songs currently on your iPod?
Tony Moran feat. Anastacia – If I Was Your Boyfriend
Mica Paris – Baby Come Back Now
Joss Stone – Whilst You’re Out Looking for Sugar
Grace Jones – Slave to the Rhythm
Paloma Faith – Picking Up The Pieces
Any celebrity crushes?
Louis from One Direction just makes me weak at the knees and I’d marry Will Young right now.
Where can our readers find out about you?
Well I’m on Facebook so a simple search of ‘Sam Dickinson’ will bring up my music page. I’m also on Twitter (@SamDickinson) and my official site, where you can buy tickets for my tour is