Sam Airey is a singer songwriter who is based in Leeds. This week, as he prepares to launch his debut album, he spoke to the Yorkshire Evening Post.
Your album, In Darkened Rooms is due for release on Friday. Which is your favourite track on the album, and which have had the best reception live?
I think there’s always a natural inclination to be more excited by the newest songs on the record, as they feel really fresh and exciting – I think as a songwriter as well you always hope that your latest material improves on your previous work. In that case, I have a couple of favourites; I’m looking forward to playing ‘Lacuna’ live as it feels a little different for me in terms of direction. It’s a sparse and quite intimate song that tries to create a real sense of space.
You have been likened to early Bon Iver/Justin Vernon, which is a great compliment in itself. Who are your influences, and how would you describe your sound?
It’s definitely a huge compliment, I’ve been a fan of his work for a few years now. In terms of the influences that maybe shaped me as a songwriter, I grew up on a lot of folk music; the likes of Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen. In my teens I stayed playing in bands, discovered Jeff Buckley and became of obsessed with alt-country records by Ryan Adams and Bright Eyes. Sonically, the decision to start performing with a band also had quite a profound effect on my music – I love a lot of big indie-rock and post-rock records, bands like Explosions in the Sky, The National and Sigur Ros. So I think the album reflects a balance of these sounds – there are quiet reflective moments but also it’s quite textured and cinematic at other times.
Records are making a comeback in peoples music taste of late, how important is it to release physical music and why white vinyl for this release?
To me it feels pretty crucial. We live in an age where everything feels fast-paced and ephemeral, and vinyl records feel like a refuge from that. I think the record is probably the purest physical manifestation of the idea of the album as a body of work to be appreciated in context. It’s lack of portability means you can’t be distracted by day to day life, forcing you to stop and enjoy it. I think the accessibility of digital music is great, but ultimately some people will always want a physical product, and that’s a really great way of supporting the artist. In that way it feels important to create something unique for fans who buy records - the white vinyl is a limited run which looks great and hopefully people are excited by it. In that sense it’s a way of saying thank you to everyone for their support.
You will be playing the Brudenell Social Club on May 24. The venue has quite the history of both established and up and coming acts. Are you looking forward to playing the venue and to a home crowd?
I love the Brudenell. Nathan and the family have done such a brilliant job of establishing the venue as a real pillar of the Leeds community – for musicians and the rest of the general public alike. It’s been a big part of my life in Leeds and has always been my favourite place to play. Not only that but I’ve seen so many amazing shows there over the years, from local and international acts. It very much feels like a musical home and I’ve always known it would be the place I’d want to launch this album. We’re going to play the whole thing from start to finish and I’m really excited for people to hear these songs.
What can fans expect to hear at the upcoming gigs? With a full album and a strong back catalogue of EP’s to your name, do you feel you can mix and match your set list more?
I’m looking forward to playing ‘Lacuna’ live as it feels a little different for me in terms of direction. It’s a sparse and quite intimate song that tries to create a real sense of space.Sam Airey
In terms of the launch we’ll be paying full attention to the album as I think that’s what people expect from these occasions. But we have a few dates after the release and there are plans for a bigger tour later in the year, so at that point I’m sure we might dig out some older material too!
Sam Airey plays at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds on May 24. https://samaireymusic.bandcamp.com/