Next Wave #535: Sam Smith

A few streets away from being a household name...
Sam Smith by Neil Bedford for Clash

The word ‘pop’ used to conjure images of pencil-thin microphones, squalls of dry ice and terrible Technicolor swaying excused as dancing.

But time has marched on, and thanks to the democratic forces of the Internet, alongside the self-curation of social networks, our personal perceptions of the ‘p’ word have shifted deliciously sideways.

One man currently operating just a couple of streets away from being a household name, Sam Smith, finds even more allure in the topic: “I think the notion of pop music changes every year but thanks to artists like Adele and Lady Gaga we can see increasingly the honesty in pop music.”

Smith is part of a fresh wave of new electronic artists who are rebuilding the face of the popular canon in their own self-collaged edifice. His ‘Nirvana’ EP is coming out of PMR Records, an organisation responsible for honing the sounds of Jessie Ware, Javeon McCarthy, Jai Paul and Disclosure.

And it was with this latter brood of brothers that Sam Smith unleashed his name with their single ‘Latch’, a global hit which whisked Smith around the world and onto stages at Glastonbury and Coachella, a journey that has already altered the DNA of his songwriting and the vision of his own future.

“It’s changed for sure!” admits the lively vocalist. “After ‘Latch’ and after experiencing those massive crowds and the feeling that comes with it then the path to my album definitely changed.”

Hurl in a guest vocal on Naughty Boy’s ‘La La La’ and a good few million YouTube streams to date and suddenly Sam Smith’s panoramic view on pop has widened with startled retinas.

“Those collaborations have been a blessing for me; they’ve encouraged me to take risks and not stick to one genre. It’s brought out my love for all types of music as well,” confides the singer, before frowning…

“I miss those artists like Elton John, George Michael or Prince – all these guys would float in and out of scenes, moving genre to genre. Now I want to do bigger things with my music than I did before.”

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Sam Smith, ‘Nirvana’

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Where: London

What: Soulful pop

Get 3 Songs: ‘Latch’, ‘Naughty Boy’, ‘Nirvana’ (above)

Fact: Sam recently “worked” with pop alchemist Nile Rodgers, saying: “Really he just played his guitar and we just sat there dribbling in happiness.”

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Words: Matthew Bennett

Photo: Neil Bedford (website)

Find Sam Smith online 

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