Michael Green Interviews... Sam Jenkins
Here is a Q&A with singer-songwriter Sam Jenkins. She talks about her experiences in music.
Where did it all start for you getting into music?
I remember as a kid my older sister had guitar lessons and so I used to sing with her as she played. We were always doing little shows together dancing, singing and acting and forcing our parents to watch lol. But it wasn’t until I was about 12 years old that I really considered performing as something I wanted to take seriously.
Who are your influences?
I grew up mostly listening to pop music. Starting with Billie Piper then Britney, Christina Aguilera & N’Sync became my favourites. I would say Christina Aguilera had the most impact on who I am as an artist today as she opened my eyes and ears to more bluesy and soulful sounds with a more honest approach to lyrics. Now I like a lot of R&B artists. My current favourite influence being JoJo.
With your music where do you tend to get your inspiration from e.g., how do you start your songs & what's your process?
With my own music I try to use my own life experiences as inspiration. It adds a personal touch but also helps me work through whatever I’m going through in that moment. But there's been times where a movie or character from a show inspire a song. A few years back I wrote a breakup song inspired by Ross and Rachel from Friends when they were ‘on a break’. If something moves me then I try to tap into that emotion.
For the process I use GarageBand a lot and find loops and samples to write over. Occasionally I’ll have a melody or lyric in mind and play in the chords myself on a midi keyboard then add a drum sample. Its a great way to get started especially if you don’t play an instrument.
For my released song ‘Hold Me’ I worked with a producer and sent him the demo I made on GarageBand then he took it to the next level adding layers and changing the loops for real instruments and generally making it sound professional. Its good if you can find a great producer to work with. It really helps a-lot.
How do you decide what songs to cover?
I always seem to pick album tracks or more unknown songs to cover. I think I’m drawn to songs I can relate to more than what people know but I’m also aware that a bit of balance is good so throwing in Stevie Wonder or TLC is always a win with an audience
I want people to get to know me as an artist so a-lot of the time I’ll cover songs that I grew up listening too that have shaped my own sound. Normally that's a good R&B classic like Aaliyah or Ashanti or sometimes an old bluesy or soulful number from an artist like Etta James.
I’ve also tried taking songs that aren't in my style and remaking them to sound more R&B. I just stick the chords in Garageband, add some 7th and 9ths to the chords and some R&B style drums (normally a loop or sample I’ve found). This is great for taking a song everyone knows and putting my own style and stamp on it 😊
How important is it do you feel it is to listen to current music as well as music from the past?
So important. One of my favourite things to do was find out who influenced the artists that I love and then listen to them. Listening to Christina Aguilera led me to Etta James and the older soul music. I love exploring where my favourite artists got their sound from.
I think as an artist you always want to take inspiration from both old and new music so you can figure out what you like and find your own unique sound.
Do you feel it is important to watch other acts perform and to watch other live music?
Yes, it's amazing how much you can learn from watching others. Whether that's down the local open mic night or a bigger artist on tour. For me it helps me understand what's possible and sometimes just listening to an amazing artist live inspires me.
Finally what tips do you have for anyone starting out when it comes to making music & performing live?
Don’t be afraid to start with a karaoke bar! I put off performing for a long time because I didn't play an instrument and it felt unauthentic to perform with a backing track, but I took the risk, and it paid off.
I would also say it helps to take a friend if you're nervous or just go and watch first. Also, try and connect with the other artists, find them on instagram and ask them where they perform. The more musical your circle becomes the more normal performing live will start to feel.
And go to Michael's open mic nights! He's always super welcoming and friendly 😊
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