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Samm Henshaw: "I can sleep when I'm dead!"

Holly Knight conducts a Q&A with soul troubador Samm Henshaw about his love of gigging and balancing student life and music.

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Source: wikimedia
Source: wikimedia

Who are your most important influences?

In life, my dad, because he's cool, and God because I'm a Christian so he helps me through everything. Musically, there are loads. Michael Jackson, he's a guy right. We watch James (Bay - Henshaw has been supporting him on his recent tour) every day so I'm getting strongly influenced by him because he's got a good head on his shoulders and he knows what he's doing gives me a lot of advice. Tori Kelly, she's really cool, she's a proper influence. I had a chat with her as well, she's great.

Can you pinpoint a moment that you realised you wanted to be a musician?

There have been a few. I think recently when we did Brixton on the tour I stood on the stage and I sort of looked at the place and the room was packed which was weird because we're an opening act and the room was rammed and I thought holy crap I wanna do this. So yeah, that was a big one for me.

What has been your favourite song to produce so far?

Probably "Redemption" because I get to play guitar in it. That's a bit of a weird reason but I get to play guitar in it which is always fun. I like the message in it, I like the fact that you can make someone sit down and think. Personally, I like listening to songs that make me think 'oh this is about something', songs that make you think about your own life.

If you could collaborate with anyone right now who would it be?

James (Bay). Not just saying that because I'm on tour with him but I actually really connect with him as a musician.

What's your favourite instrument that you play?

I have no idea. The harmonica is fun and I'm not a nuts guitarist but I do like playing the guitar.

What has been your favourite part of the tour so far?

We all played football but before we went to play we had a Chinese and a load of junk food. We were thinking we're young, we can handle this, we'll be fine, we don't need a warm up or anything and then about five minutes into it my bassist Jordan and I were on the floor saying 'I want my mum'. James is wicked at football and he was just running circles around everyone and we were on the floor so that was fun. We also had a jam session with Elle King, she's so funny and that was great.

What's your favourite city that you've performed in so far?

It's got to be Glasgow, but I reckon Leeds is going to be great too.

Did you tour at university?

I was gigging a lot, I was in a band and then during third year I was told I had to stop because it was affecting my work.

How did you find balancing the gigs with your course?

It was alright until it got out of hand and I just didn't go to university, we would miss lectures because we were gigging! My teachers didn't have a problem with it but obviously my grades weren't great so third year I made an agreement with my management and my parents that I wouldn't gig and if I did it had to go towards something at university. So I ended up only gigging once during third year which was sad, very sad.

What advice would you give to young people, particularly students aspiring to be musicians?

Work extremely hard and don't expect it to be easy. If you really are serious about being a musician then work really hard. Don't take any of it for granted, celebrate the good moments but then still be prepared to carry on working hard. Don't get caught up in the moment and forget about what you're doing. Be good to people because you never know who you might turn down. Surround yourself with great people because I'm with all my mates and if I wasn't then I would hate doing this. Have fun and remember it's all about the music so don't get caught up in any other stuff like drugs and drinking. If you want it to be about the music then let it be about the music.

What do you see yourself doing over the next few years?

A lot more gigging, a lot more writing music and that's about it really. Getting no sleep, but I can sleep when I'm dead!

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