Sam Beeton plays at The Glee Club on Saturday 12 May
You’ve just been touring with Charlie Simpson, how was that?
It was good. It was interesting in terms of the people who went to the gigs. I had my preconceptions about what sort of people would go to a Charlie Simpson gig; but it turns out they’ve all grown up. It was good fun for me; most of the nights were sold out. I didn’t have a band, I just had my guitar and opened the evening.
How did you get into music?
I don’t really know! I began playing because my mum and dad are musicians and by the time I’d got to sixth form age at school somehow had managed to have got some interest from labels and it just seemed the obvious thing to do to go into it. I was signed by Sony at 16. I wanted to do my own thing, it was probably a bit naïve jumping into it. In hindsight, I should have gone with an independent label.
Did you used to play gigs before you were signed?
Yes, I used to play all the usual haunts around where I live in Carlton. Weirdly, there’s quite a few music venues there. In particular there’s a blues bar and that’s where I started to play. They used to let me in when I was fourteen and sing Nina Simone songs.
Can you tell me about Christopher Bailey spotting you and doing Burberry Acoustic sessions?
Chris saw the music video I made with Sony, and he really liked it. At the time he was doing a campaign with Burberry for young British actors and singers.
Did that make quite a big change in your early career?
Yes it did, it introduced my music to a whole new audience. It was very strange for me, because it was a whole new world and something I wasn’t used to, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
You’ve toured with The Script, James Morrison, and Scouting for Girls to name a few, which tour was your favourite?
Probably James Morrison, that was the first tour that I ever did and it was like a forestry commission tour so it was held in forests at night, it was magical.
Going back to the Script, Danny is a judge on The Voice - what do you think of programmes like that?
I take a really old man’s grumpy view of programmes like that, but over the past few months I’ve began to watch The Voice, mainly because Danny is on it , and I recognize now that when people make sweeping statements about it like “it’s killing music,” it’s not. You have so much amazing music around, it’s just a TV show, and if a great singer comes out of it that sticks around for a long time then surely it’s a positive thing.
You’re playing at The Big Session Festival, are you excited for that?
Yeah it’s going to be really good. I love any festival, whether it’s big or small. I hope the weather’s alright, it will probably be miserable.
So what’s your dream festival to play at?
Probably Glastonbury, I’ve never done it and I’ve had a few chances before. I’ve played V festival and that was great. I’m always jealous of people who get to play Glastonbury though.
How about international festivals?
Oya in Norway. I’ve been to Norway a few times, and it’s brilliant, the people there are really different.
Who are your favourite artists to listen to?
There’s a band I really love called Band of Horses, people like Ryan Adams. I also like Wilco a lot, they all seem to be American. Rufus Wainwright has an amazing voice.
Who’s your dream collaboration?
There’s a guy called Ron Sexsmith, he’s a legendary songwriter; he’s never really made a commercial success, but he’s someone in the Industry that everyone knows about and really respects, and I’d really like one day to work with him on a song. My brother would love that because Ron’s his hero.
Can you tell me a bit about the record club?
It’s kind of a subscription service. I had so much material coming out of the Sony deal that was backlogged, I kind of wanted to get it out there and get it off my chest. The lucky thing about having a deal like that is that a lot of people are drawn to you straight away, and I just wanted a way of engaging with my fans directly. There had just been months and months where it was ‘Sam’s record is coming in two weeks’ and it wasn’t there, or ‘Sam’s record is on hold’, and so this way there is an instant reaction. They get a CD through the post each month, it’s a quite a retrograde thing to be doing.
That might get quite difficult when you become REALLY big and will have to sign every CD...
It’s quite a struggle already! We have around a couple of thousand subscribers, so it takes the best part of three days to get through and write on them etc. The great thing about it is it’s instant reactions to everything you’re doing. People pay for the whole year, they get one each month, and then at the end of the year we package it as one whole album so everyone is unsure on the idea can buy it then.
What’s been your greatest moment so far?
It’s probably been actually in the past year, and the starting of The Record Club. Most people would think it would be the signing of a major record label, but really no, because even though it’s quite a small thing over the last year, it’s slowly built and it’s been a lot of hard work. Most people find that even if you’re doing all the pedal work yourself, even if you only get a little bit of gain from it, you feel the achievement a lot more.
What’s the best thing about coming back to Nottingham?
It’s got to be friends and family, and getting a chance to catch up with everyone, and familiarity. I love being on tour though, if I could I’d be on tour constantly, everything’s always changing and you’re never settled. I’m so lucky to be able to do it.
Any plans to record an album?
I’ve got plans to do a proper record alongside what I’m doing with the record club. It’s interesting because over the past few months I’ve had quite a bit of interest from labels again, trying to tempt me back into it. I am enjoying what I’m doing, but the bad angel says you don’t want to sell yourself short. I’ve had a taste of complete control over it now, and I want to keep that, but inevitably you have to give something away. It would be foolish of me not to try and get it on the biggest stage possible, but there’s also a credibility that I like that comes with just doing it on your own.
What inspires your music?
I have no idea what inspires me, it comes and goes really. Every time I finish writing a song that feels complete and makes total sense, I feel like I need to change it.
What are you most looking forward to over the next couple of months?
Probably Season 2 of the Record Club, which is just starting this month. We’ve had a whole year, people have liked it and re-subscribed, and we have a lot of new subscribers from the back of doing that UK tour. It’s building again and it will be interesting to see in a couple of months down the line where we are. It’s always quite a trepidacious thing to be doing because obviously you have a month to write, record and release it and you want it to be the best it can be.
What do you think about Notts music scene?
The Nottingham music scene is a very peculiar thing. It’s very small, there’s so many great musicians but I don’t think they interact with each other that much. In other places, groups of bands seem to do a lot more together, but that doesn’t seem to happen a lot here. I hang around with Nina Smith and Dog is Dead, I’m playing with them next weekend.
Anything to say to people at Leftlion?
I’m so glad to finally sit down and have an interview with Leftlion, simply because I’m an avid reader and I think it’s the most interesting and truthful document of culture and what’s going on in the city, and it’s funny.
Sam Beeton with support from Nina Smith and Kagoule plays at The Glee Club on Saturday 12 May 2012. Click here to buy tickets.