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INTERVIEW: Sam Rochford

1. How would you classify your music?

The comment I get the most on my writing is that it’s very conversational. I think my songs are a lot like journal entries, and I don’t get lost using flowery language or lots of prose. In terms of genre, I would classify it as either folk or americana.

2. Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?

My musical taste is really eclectic, so some of my influences may surprise you. When I first started writing seriously I was listening to a lot of the Mountain Goats and My Terrible Friend. While both of those bands are relatively unknown, they’ve been huge influences for years. Right now I’m listening to a lot of fantastic female americana musicians like Amanda Shires, Margo Price, and the Secret Sisters.

3. What do you want fans to take from your music?

When I first started writing, I wanted people to understand exactly what my experiences were and where I was coming from on a song, but I don’t feel that way anymore. I’ve heard stories of people relating my romantic songs to their own feelings of familial or platonic love, I’ve heard stories of people relating my breakup songs to stories of their parents getting divorced. To make a short story long, I just want my music to make a listener feel something.

4. How’s the music scene in your locale?

I live in Nashville so the music scene is insane, everybody that lives here is a musician! I’m originally from Connecticut where there isn’t much of a music scene to speak of, so this is a completely different environment from what I’m used to. On the one hand it’s nice, when you meet someone in a bar and say you’re a musician, nobody says, “Well when are you going to get a real job?” There’s a lot of acceptance and support because everyone has the same dreams, but that means there’s a lot of competition. If there’s one bar looking to hire a band for a show, there’s fifty applicants, and they’re usually all pretty great. I like being in Nashville because I feel like I’m learning a lot from everyone around me, but I’m also learning on my own terms how to stand out from the crowd.

6. What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live?

This answer might seem like it’s coming out of left field, but I genuinely think the best concert I’ve ever been to is a Beyonce show. Her and I don’t play the same type of music, but she is the best live performer I have ever seen. Seeing a Beyonce show is more than just listening to music. Everything from the stage setup, the light show, the backup dancers, and even the other audience members are such an immersive experience, it’s almost like being on a different planet… Planet Beyonce.

Beyonce and I have very different approaches to live music, but I would say my favorite part about performing is connecting with the audience. There’s such a different energy when I play a song alone in my bedroom than when I play in front of people.

7. Is there a song on your latest CD release here that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?  

I wrote my first single “So Easy” for my little sister’s wedding. I tried to write the song 6 or 7 times and failed because I was putting so much pressure on the piece to be romantic, and sentimental without being too cheesy, but that’s not what love is. I had to actually stop thinking about weddings in general and think about a person I love, and what it means to be in love, and then it was, pardon the pun, so easy to finish the song and write something that felt very genuine.

8. How have you evolved as an artist over the last year?

This may sound strange but my New Year’s resolution was to be the worst member of a band. That’s not to say I wanted to be a purposefully bad performer, but I wanted to be comfortable playing with people that were way better than me, and to learn from them instead of being self conscious that I wasn’t on their level. There are so many insanely talented musicians living in Nashville, and I try to absorb everything I can from them, even if we’re in different genres. I hate to keep bringing up Beyonce, but I learned just as much from seeing her in concert as I learned seeing John Prine. They’re incredibly different performers, but they’re both masterful artists with enormous fan bases that feel something and cheer like crazy for them. I’ve slowly become an artist that’s comfortable learning from everyone that I possibly can, and applying it to myself.

9. If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, have a drink with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?  

Have I talked about Beyonce enough in this interview? My real answer is Paul McCartney. I listened to the Beatles a lot growing up in the car with my dad, their music is some of the first I learned to play and sing when I picked up the guitar in middle school. I’ve seen Paul in concert and he’s just so charming it almost feels like an intimate experience, even though I was with thousands of other people. I would love to write music with Paul McCartney or just sit and tell him how much his music meant to me growing up.

10 What’s next for you?  

I’m going to write more music, learn more, and play more live shows. I am going into the recording studio in the next few months for my first full project and I want to release new music in the next year or so!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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