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Sundaze: Sam Shaw's Ambitious and Emotive Psychedelia

7 June 19 interview: Lily Petkova
photos: James Birtwhistle

Local musician Sam Shaw is one determined fella. From teaching himself to play multiple instruments to seeking out some top names in the industry to support his music, we wanted to know more. So we grabbed him to chat about his latest music project Sundaze...

What’s the story behind Sundaze?
To explain, I need to go back to the start. I’d just finished school and decided to go to Confetti and do Music Tech. I always wanted to record music, so I got some mics and a few instruments with my student loan and taught myself how to play. At the start it was just me, playing all the instruments. It was almost just an experiment, and then I'd play those songs with my friends and then it'd be reproduced live. A lot of my friends are at university, so there's quite a big group of people who have been in Sundaze - it's been who's available at the time. Now I've got more of a solid line-up and we're working on the new stuff and trying to re-jig it so it's fresh.

Why did you choose to call it Sundaze?
Meg and I came up with it. Meg was the foundation of the band with me. We created it together and we really wanted to have a good band name. There are two sides to it: we would always meet on a Sunday and get blazed and be in a daze. But also it was the one day of the week that we'd all chill before I went back to university. It's also just that feeling on a Sunday, or any other day, when you're sat in the sun and you close your eyes and it's so nice.

Do you write all the lyrics yourself?
It was Meg and I doing all the music originally. She would sing and I would be on guitar, but we soon realised that our songs were better off being the pure ideas of each. Now she has her own band, Moon, which is sick. I also realised I needed to make an album. It was actually after my Dad died two years ago. I just suddenly realised that I've got all this time, I'm really sad, and I've got the funds that I need. I wanted to do it for him as a tribute. I had about ten to thirteen songs ready and I just did it. It was very difficult at times, I really doubted myself and I was thinking, “is this actually any good”? No one had heard it at that point. I think it turned out pretty well and I think Dad would have been proud of it. I've been sat on it since, waiting for the right time to release it. I needed the isolation to be able to do it.

Did your Dad inspire the album?
100%. I don't think I would have finished it without that drive. I always wanted to show him my music but I didn't feel it was good enough. We had to leave his house, which was very sad. I knew I would always regret leaving that house without having completed the thing that I was always talking about to my Dad. The songs together almost act like a diary of that period of time; it's quite therapeutic in a way.

How would you describe your music in three words?
Unique, or at least I try to be. Psychedelic, because that's the genre. Colourful.

What are the key musical influences on Sundaze?
It's like a wheel of fortune. Some days I want to make a song that sounds like a funk song, others I want to do something like Black Sabbath. At the core of it all (and I know nowadays this is a bit of a cliché) is Tame Impala. I saw them at Rock City in 2013 and it changed my life forever. I didn't really know anything else psychedelic at that point. The light show and the way that the guitars sounded was perfect and unbelievable.

What do you think of the Nottingham music scene? Would you ever want to move somewhere else for music?
I think it's really grown and got somewhere compared to where it was. Places like Rough Trade have opened and that's been a huge change. It's helped the scene to grow, having such a respected company choose us out of four places in the world. There is such a variety of music as well – loads of bands that are outside the norm and doing big things; Do Nothing are really amazing, Kagoule too. Then there's smaller acts that are really great like Sancho Panza, who have just started and are doing really well for themselves. Moon is amazing. Babe Punch are great too – they get better every time I see them play. Their devotion to the band and the effort they put into their gigs is inspiring to me.

What's your favourite song that you've written?
I think one of my all-time favourites is the first thing we ever did which was Can You Feel It and I think I'm going to put that on the album. It's just really nostalgic for me more than anything - I like the song but I also just like the feeling that I get when I listen to it. More recently the one I like the most is probably Mirror Ball, which actually has a music video coming out soon. It's been done by this guy called Alex Bennett who is just brilliant.

Tell me a bit about the Rainy Daze EP.
We did the Rainy Daze EP as a band last summer. The singer of The Wytches was involved, which was pretty sick. We did it in one day; we went in and did about three takes per song. The vocals were done afterwards and it was just really cool. The guy that mixed the whole thing works with Fat White Family in Sheffield so it was a good collaboration of really interesting people.

Who did all the technical bits on the album?
I had no idea who was going to mix the album before I started, only who was going to record it. Alex tagged me in a Facebook post by Darwin Deez, the guy who did Radar Detector. He put up a Facebook post saying he wanted to mix people's stuff because he was bored and I thought I wouldn't lose anything if I sent it. A day later, he replied. That was Mister Goo. He ended up mixing the whole album. I mixed one of the instrumentals, but that was it. I think that's a pretty big thing. Joe Caithness mastered the album as well, which was great.

What are your ultimate goals for Sundaze as a project?
The plan is to do a big single launch for Mirror Ball at Rough Trade and then work towards releasing the album, which is hopefully going to be on a label. If it doesn't happen to be on a label, I'm still going to put it on Bandcamp or whatever because I've got to the point now where I just want people to hear it. But the sky 's the limit really. I want the music that I've made to be heard by people and for me to be able to do that as a living. I want to feel like it's worthwhile and that other people want to hear it. I've always dreamed of headlining Rock City; maybe it won't happen but I don't care. I've always found that as long as I keep trying, even in small steps, you get somewhere.

Have a listen to Mirror Ball on Spotify.

Sundaze play The Running Horse on Friday 7 June, and then they launch their single at Rough Trade on Sunday 16.

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