Posted On 28 Jun 2018
Meet the remarkable musician and philanthropist, Samuel J. He recently released the luminescent single, “Embrace,” off of his highly anticipated album Into the Light.
His inspiring music, as well as boundless generosity, conservation efforts, and philanthropy have allowed him to generate devout fan bases all over the globe, including Bali, Brazil, Los Angeles, New York, and Australia.
When he’s not making music, Samuel J runs a project called Break Through Paddle that helps people suffering from depression and thoughts of suicide by taking them out into the ocean to surf and paddle. He used the profits from his album Brazil Live Project to build a school in Favela Brazil.
Connect with Samuel J Here:
Learn more about Samuel J in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time, Samuel! Where does this interview find you now? What’s on tap for the rest of your day?
Greetings, thank you for the opportunity. I am just organizing all the new opportunities that continue to emerge and balancing the final steps of mastering the album.
Overall, how do you think 2018 has been treating you and your music career? What has been one goal that you have had this year and how close are you to reaching it?
2018 has been really blessed and productive. I have aimed to put the album out this year, and after a lot of hard work things are on track with that.
Definitely taking my dad on tour-we have spent very little time together this past ten years. I managed to book some of the top venues in Bali, including main stage of the BSF and shared the whole experience with my father, which was very special.
I have really enjoyed hearing back from people about how the music uplifted them and in some cases helped them through life traumas and illnesses. Both at live shows and listening to the new singles “Angel Song” and “Embrace.”
Growing up, was music always a big part of your life? Can you recall your first ever musical experience?
I grew up in a pioneering musical scene in Bristol in the South West of the UK, that has birthed the genres of trip hop, dubstep, drum n bass, new age folk. Regardless of these genre names it’s just been an epicenter of new sounds Portishead, Massive Attack, etc. Growing up, no one was concerned about being on top of the pops or winning shiny awards, it was all about making something super deep, purposeful, beautiful and heart moving, because that’s what moved us all in the first place, the power to communicate something real, and that has never changed. I feel that still fully present in my music.
I wrote my first song for my Medlar tree in my garden when it died.
What has the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? Has there been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
I have been surprised actually by the amount of huge promises that have come up from major labels and investors who have not delivered their word; that has been the biggest challenge. Ultimately it strengthens one’s ability to remain unattached.
How do you think you and your music have been influenced by your hometown and where you live today? If you don’t think that it has affected you at all, why is that?
We are our environment inevitably, where we live shapes us in some way. As a musician I feel inspired by what I experience in my day to day life. In Brazil, the courage of the poor people especially the young children was very influential on my own life and my music. The deep peace and desolation of my home shores of Cornwall are interconnected with my music. I feel I discovered my love and passion for nature there and I have always felt closer to home, closer to nature. Los Angeles allows me to see what those with opportunity choose to do with their abundance and also how people are navigating living with all the social expectations that are so apparent here. To really see what people are dependent on in feeling valuable.
I find it interesting that sometimes musicians choose to go by something other than their own name so why did you decide to go by your full name?
My mum and I thought it was appropriate a long time ago. I try to let my music speak and represent the depths of me, not my name.
Let’s talk about your new single “Embrace.” What was the inspiration for this track? How do you think it compares to anything else that you have worked on in the past? How does it prepare listeners for your highly anticipated album, “Into The Light”?
It was more a series of events that inspired the song, a series of life circumstances that were really hard to accept, and that ultimately had me feeling super challenged. That moment when you can either give in or break through, or turn away or embrace it. “Embrace” was born from that moment, when we have to accept and acknowledge our reality as it is before we can change it. “Embrace” actually has a different feel to it than the rest of the album. Into The Light is hands down my life’s best works; I feel there is a song on there for everyone. I poured my heart into it.
What other songs on “Into The Light” are you excited for people to hear? Did anything surprise you about the overall process of putting this collection together?
I don’t have any favorites, the beauty of each song is that it will resonate differently with each listener. It was a real journey.
I have written an abundance of music these last few years. I was originally thinking of creating an acoustic album of eleven selected songs, but then I selected the most resonant from this body of work. I shared these ideas within the dynamic of a really brilliant band I heard in Brazil, and then another band in California and another in Asia. I would record with bands at the end of tours which really just refined down the selection and I decided to develop the Into The Light album into an album of full compositions. But there had to come a point where I had to stop adding, so there are two following albums already lined up. I have recorded in several world class studios from Chackymuna in the Balinese forest to renowned studious including Jackson Brown’s, 4th Street, DAS and Warner Bros. Ultimately I ended up getting some of the best results in my built-in music studio inside my RV in California.
I wrote and recorded every song, every instrument part, then produced and mixed every composition. I bounced and sent every file to my incredible mix engineer for final mixing. I had lost a couple of recordings along the way due to poor studio formatting. Needless to say I am bursting to share this now.
I would love to learn more about your Break Through Paddle project. How did you first get involved with it? Where did the idea for it come from?
I am a lover of the ocean through and through. I taught surfing for ten years and in that time witnessed what a powerful healer the ocean is. It dawned on me that it is in this environment not the clinical walls of a studio that allow the best restoration and indeed best breakthroughs for an individual’s session. I am a qualified spinal specialist, so I combined several techniques, including movement and breath in the break through sessions. I now have referrals from around the world. I help people overcome big life challenges traumas and addictions.
What was it like using the profits from your previous album “Brazil Live Project” to build a school in Brazil?
Well it was amazing, I honestly chose to do that over releasing with Sony because I simply couldn’t wait for them to deliver any longer. I am grateful for all the support we received although with the right reach and media platforms in place I could contribute a lot more, which is why I am focused on building as an artist so that i can contribute to the greater good of all people more impactfully. The children from the favelas I worked in across Brazil remain my greatest life inspirations. For more information you can check out the campaign video.
What do you think makes for an ideal show for you? What has been a favorite performance of yours so far? Do you have any upcoming shows this summer?
Really when people listen it is so much easier to bring the full presence of the music into the space. It has always felt like a co-creation; the way the audience listens influences how the artist plays, just like any conversation. One of my favorite performances, hmmmmmm, there have been so many, opening for Ben Harper was very special for me. He was always a great inspiration to me in my youth, so to find myself opening for him with a twelve thousand strong crowd in Brazil was unforgettable.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period? If you don’t think it is, why is that? Would you say that other musicians are making music that has been influenced by this climate?
Well my new album is founded on the premise that all life on this planet at this time has come to an ultimatum where we are realizing we cannot go on the way we are if we are to uphold balance within ourselves and our natural world.
We are presented with a massive decision, to try and actively help things change or just keep waiting and hoping they will.
It is in this time now that everything is coming into the light.
Both individually and as a collective we are almost being forced to shed those things that are no longer serving us, and the earth is doing the same. Everything is moving into the light.
I believe we are all being influenced by this shift, musicians too.
What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all?
Yes, I want a team of little umpa lumpas on hand to travel with. I enjoy sharing good messages and connecting with people from around the globe. I don’t enjoy the notion that we are in anyway more valuable as people because of our numbers – i just don’t buy into all of that. It’s not like talent or quality is on a ratio with views and likes. I am a lot more passionate creating, writing, performing and making music than I am posting about it for sure.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
My sister first and foremost. Mapia Lota, she has been a huge inspiration and guide to our responsibility in this time as global citizens. I don’t have many artists as such I feel influence my music, I try and let it come through source rather than adapting to someone else’s style. I love so many different types of music right now, but especially what I hear from New Zealand, West Africa and a lot of the new acoustic sounds from the UK. I would still love to tour with Xavier Rudd, Bonobo and John Legend.
If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island forever, what musical item would you take with you?
My little martin for sure – although it would be cool to have a double bass that I could flip and turn into a boat.
If your music was going to be featured on any TV show that is currently on right now, which would you love it to be on? Or if you prefer, what is a movie that you love that you wish your music was featured in?
I don’t watch TV, but I would like my music to be on CNN news and Fox news to have an opportunity to share the truth with the masses. I have been told by many producers and feel that my music is very cinematic, especially the new album. I would be happy for my music to be in movies that contribute to the greater good of this world. I don’t discriminate, I am just happy to have my music shared in scripts that talk from the heart and are about communicating a meaning and purpose, not just sales.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music?
Some sense of new hope, upliftment and peace.
Where can our readers connect with you?
I am building my instagram so @samueljmusic and my website www.samjmusic.com My music is on Spotify, Soundcloud and itunes.
Please stay in touch follow me on this colourful journey around the globe, sharing the light of music.