The first thing you notice about Sam Tompkins is that voice.
Half-sung and half-rapped, it’s completely original and utterly captivating. An artist in the truest sense, he values emotional honesty as much as artistic integrity, with song writing that feels both broad and utterly his own. “What I really want to be remembered for is my storytelling,” he comments. “What people connect with is what I put my heart and soul into.”
Moving from soaring R&B highs, and brutal pop lows, his material is hewn from the everyday, from the struggles that we all experience, that we all go through. And he’s connecting – each new song builds that audience, with millions having already let his music into their lives.
“Everyone’s journey is different,” he comments. Brought up on the south coast before drifting to Brighton, he was smart, but not academic. In fact, it took a while for him to find his place; he spent countless hours practising music in his room, gathering the courage to make his break. “I remember being frightened of what my friends would think,” he recalls. “I come from such a small town, no one ever makes it out. You’re stuck there.”
But he’s made it out. Signing to legendary label Island Records, the partnership is blossoming into some incredible new songs, the sound of a phenomenal young artist moving up a level. Influenced by everyone from Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone to Don McLean, he’s capable of fusing pop with the gritty underground - a kind of timeless talent, whose raw emotion can’t fail to connect.
“People are always searching for something to connect to because we’re in a world where there isn’t a lot of connection,” he points out. “Social media is great but it’s just giving people false reality, so it’s nice to have someone bring you back down to Earth.”
Drawing on his own life, Sam’s song writing is innately personal. ‘You Broke My Heart So Gently’ deals with the aftermath of a break up, while ‘Follow Suit’ was sparked by the suicide of a close friend. It’s honest, but his sheer heart can’t fail to draw you in. “My music is very autobiographical,” he admits. “Every person’s problem is unique, but that’s the beauty of music. If you can hear that emotion in the music, you connect with it almost straight away.”
The reason Sam Tompkins looks for that sense of release is that for a long time he didn’t have it himself. Working dead-end jobs around Brighton, he felt locked in, unfulfilled – music became the lens through which he could communicate with the world. “I want to reach people like that as I feel like I was that person for a long time,” he recalls. “Locked within themselves. I want to have a voice and speak for people who feel like nobody represents them.”
Working with an incredible sense of purpose, Sam balances his creative instincts with a perfectionist streak in the studio. Nobody leaves until the take is perfect, allowing him space to build up a formidable catalogue, one he will unleash over the coming months. “When I’m in the studio, if I’m on a roll then I don’t like to break it,” he concedes. “I feel like I live and breathe it. If I’m not performing, I’m writing, if I’m not writing I’m singing. It’s what my life revolves around.”
He’s his own harshest critic, because that’s where music means the most. “I don’t like to make pretentious music,” he says, “I like to make music that I would listen to. A lot of the time I’m making music for myself, because it’s therapeutic.”
Sam is in complete control of his vision and works across all creative aspects of a release: “Inspiration, in general, is really important to me,” he says. “I love to be super on top of everything. From the writing, all the way down to the editing of the music video or the artwork. All of it is comes from me.”
This is the sound of Sam Tompkins, someone who is living his life, and communicating that on as deep a level as possible. “My closest, closest friends are people who live a normal life, and I feel that I live a normal life,” he insists. “Nothing has really changed apart from the fact that I’m happy.”