Since 2003, Sydney based singer/songwriter Sam Shinazzi has released five critically acclaimed albums and has developed into the kind of songwriter and performer that not only has a strong emotional bond with his listeners, but also has the respect of his peers.
Currently working towards recording his sixth album (due for a 2020 release), Sam brings you the melodic I Wrote A Book For You – the first single to be lifted from the forthcoming full-length release, which also featured in the recent Australian film Book Week and he joins us to talk all about it.
Is this the most exciting period when you’re releasing a new single?
It’s pretty exciting! Daunting, anxious and exciting. I love the recording process, but ultimately you do want others to hear your art and hopefully, best case scenario it becomes part of someone’s day and hopefully life. In my case it is also nice to remind folks that I am still here doing my thing, after a bit of a hiatus from recording and releasing music.
How did the opportunity come about to have your single in the film Book Week?
Heath Davis is a very talented writer/director, and we had a few of our older songs in his last film Broke, which by the way is also a great film. So when he was putting together Book Week, he asked me pretty early on in the process to write a song for the closing credits. I actually hadn’t seen any vision, I just had a synopsis and movie title. He gave me some direction in how he wanted it to be, I took that and added some SAM to it and the result is the new single I Wrote A Book For You.
Is it harder writing a song to fit a movie but also fit with your album as well?
I think normally it would be yes, but I kind of had a vision of wanting to use the song in both the film and the next album. Lyrically it fits right in with the other new songs, musically it is close enough as well. It’s probably the folkiest song I have released, and there will be traces of that on the next album I would think.
How is the creation of your new album tracking?
Not quite tracking recording wise, although we have recorded two of the songs. But generally, it is probably three-quarters written with a bunch of half-finished songs awaiting some love. We are looking to record it later this year for a 2020 release.
Has it felt like a labour of love?
I think at it’s core it always will be. It’s what I do, write and release music, then perform it. While I haven’t stopped playing shows, the releasing of music has slowed down in the past few years, so I certainly feel ready to do that again. I want both my loyal audience and hopefully a new one too, to hear these new songs I have been working on.
How would you describe your sound?
Oh that is always tough to say even though the answer is probably simple. I have always had some guitar twang in there, so alt-country/Americana is never far away. Some call it troubadour style, some singer-songwriter. I am fine with most descriptions. I just know I write songs with emotion, and try to capture that with appropriate sounds around it.
Who has been your biggest influence musically?
Certainly the Boston sound from the 90’s in particular Buffalo Tom and the Lemonheads, as well as the bands they were influenced by Husker Du and The Replacements (both later era). Early Wilco, Elliott Smith. But ultimately, it all comes back to Bruce Springsteen for me. Born In The USA was the first ever album of mine (ever), and he is still my favourite artist and has been the whole time.
Playing with so many big names who did you learn the most from?
I have been so fortunate to play with proper heroes, and they have all treated me so kindly. Buffalo Tom and Evan Dando come to mind, but all the acts have been great to me and my crew. So that is the first thing I think of, and a general rule in life anyway, to treat others in a way you’d want to be treated. Also just no matter what, the show goes on. Whether it’s a full house or a quarter full, whether you’re unwell or tired or whatever … go out there like it is the last time you’re going to play. All of them treat their audiences well too, from the merch desk to chance meetings out on the street. You don’t have to be everyone’s friend, but you can acknowledge them that’s for sure.
And who was the most interesting to support?
I could give you a reason for most of them but I’d probably have to say Evan Dando. I was and am a huge fan, but at the time he went out of his way to get me onto his big comeback show at the Metro in Sydney. I hadn’t released my first album even, but he took a gamble on me based on demos, when others wouldn’t even book me for their tiny venue or support their band at the time. In a lot of ways he got me onto the path I am on now, and I am forever grateful. It was a brilliant night I will always remember.
Are you looking to tour around the country later this year?
I am certainly always looking to play, that is a known fact and if it isn’t, please tell the world. We are looking at some interstate shows late in the year but I would say once the album is out proper next year, we will be coming to your town.
What’s next for Sam Shinazzi?
Finish writing the album, hit the studio and get these new songs we are so proud of down forever more. In between, making a video for the new single, and just playing and promoting it wherever and whenever possible.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Be sure to check Sam Shinazzi on Spotify…