Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sam Hunt Interview

If I were to say the name Sam Hunt a year ago you may not have the slightest clue to who I was referring to. Fast forward 12 months and if you are a fan of country music, I'd be willing to bet you've at least heard the name.
 
Sam Hunt is a singer songwriter that was born in Cedartown, Georgia and grew up playing sports. Sam was a college quarterback that went on to move to Nashville a few years ago. In the past few years, Sam has spent most of his time in small, dark rooms creating brilliant songs that some well established artists have picked up and recorded and put on their own albums. All three of these songs have done exceptionally well and they include Kenny Chesney's "Come Over," Keith Urban's "Cop Car," and most recently Billy Currington's "We are Tonight."

 
 
photo credit: facebook
 
Sam put a free mixtape up on his website last summer and since then has signed a major recording deal with Universal Records in Nashville. Sam's debut single from the upcoming album is "Leave the Night On." This single was released to country radio 6 weeks ago and as of today, it's sitting at number 7 on ITunes.
 
I've been a fan of Sam Hunt since he released the mixtape "Between the Pines" last summer. From seeing him perform with 100 people in the crowd to seeing over a hundred people waiting outside bars to get inside to hear him, I can honestly say that I've never met a more determined, deserving and dedicated artist.

Sam was kind enough to sit down with me for a few minutes before his performance at Bragg Jam last night.
 
 
1. A lot of people say that there is no connection between athletics and music. With your background as an athlete for most of your life before pursuing music, do you agree with this statement?
 
"I do disagree with the disconnect between athletics and music. I do think that there is a subculture that starts early on with the youth of America that starts to separate the two in a way that isn't necessarily fair in the long run. I think a balance of athletics and music is an important thing in any culture. That's sort of a philosophy that I actually read one time that I believe was from Aristotle. He talked about building a society of people that is in harmony and it talks about educating a balance of the two. If you're too strong on the arts, then you have a weak people. If you're too strong on the athletics, then you have a violent group of people. I think a balance of the two is something that is fundamentally important to balance a society. I know that's a little off topic but I do think that country music is the genre that has closely tied the two. It is still an interesting path to have gone from athletics to music the way that I did but it's worked out so far for me. I enjoy both."
 
2. When did you first start playing an instrument and which instrument was that?
 
"The guitar. I started out on an acoustic guitar and still haven't branched out much further than that. I learned to play the harmonica a little bit in college and then I bought a little keyboard just a few years ago. I've gotten to where I can play a few chords on the piano. Piano is probably still my favorite instrument so I'd like to continue to learn and get better at the piano."
 
3. What made you want to cross over from songwriter to singer/songwriter?
 
"I think the singing aspect of song writing is an important tool that I've tapped into. As a songwriter, you're combining music, instrumentation, melody, vocal and a lyric. So, to me, singing has been an important part of the melody aspect of creating for me. If I didn't sing at all, it would be tough to come up with the melodies. You don't necessarily have to be a singer to come up with lyrics. Fortunately, I've been able to use the singing element to come up with melodies that will help produce lyrics. I think the two (writing and singing) have always been connected in my approach.
 
4. What is one song that you wish you would have recorded?
 
"It's hard to say because recording a song, to me, is an 'in the moment' kind of thing. The song would have to relate to my life at that moment for me to be as passionate about songs as I have been in the past. Then, as I close that chapter and move into a new season, those songs that I was passionate about don't relate as much so it's hard to say. A couple of years ago a song that Miranda Lambert put out called "The House That Built Me" was a song that really hit home with me. I really love those earthy, singer-songwriter songs that come out every so often that someone like Miranda Lambert takes a chance on and puts out to radio. Then, those types of songs become hits. They are the underdog in 'commercial radio music potential' a lot of the times when you look at it from a business stand point. But, musically, if an artist can break through with songs like that, it just shows how great songs truly rise to the top."
 
5. What inspires you to write music?

"For inspiration, I typically have to relate to the emotion that I'm trying to express in a song. But, as a human being and as someone who lives a life a lot like the lives that a lot of other people are living, there's certain emotions and feelings that we all experience. Relationships are a big part of that. I tend to be inspired by ideas or emotions that I have lived out. Especially from a relationship standpoint at my age now. I'm sure as I get older and start to relate to different things as an adult, I'll write about those things. But, in the last few years, the songs that I've written have been mostly about relationship experiences because that's just the most emotional part of my life."

 
6. What's your favorite song that you've ever written?

"That's another thing that changes. I would have to answer that question in this moment and that may change in a week. Right now, the song that I really like performing and the same song that is going to be on the album is a song called "Break Up in a Small Town." I really worked hard on this song and spent a lot of time on the little nuances of that lyric."
 
7. What is one piece of advice that you would tell young artists to remember?
 
"I would tell those artists to write music that makes them feel something. Don't pay attention to genre boundaries. Don't pay attention to what other artists are writing. Don't pay attention to what any other songwriter has said before or think they might say. Just think about what makes you feel and say what you want to say. Sing in a way that makes you feel something and then see what comes out on the other side. Let yourself be vulnerable and hope that other people feel the same way that you feel about it."
 
8. What is an item on your bucket list as an artist that would mean a lot for you to be able to scratch off?
 
"I would say to make a record of songs that I'm proud of and that I didn't hold back on. A record that I sunk my heart and soul into and that's the position I'm in right now. I'm working on that record and I'm almost finished with it. That's still a milestone, probably the biggest one, for me, as of now. Until I do that, I can't really look past to what the next thing would be."
 
9. What's one thing you do before every show?
 
"I don't have any rituals that are consistent or are a necessity other than something like getting dressed."
 
10. What's the most memorable moment you've experienced so far as an artist?
 
"As a pursuer of a career in music, the most notable thing that has happened to me is having a song recorded by Kenny Chesney called "Come Over." That's the first time I had a song of mine reach the radio and the radio is such a pinnacle in the career I'm involved in now. That was such a huge thing and a big leap forward in my project."
 
11. You've toured with a variety of artists. What's one thing that you've learned from them?
 
"I think the biggest thing has been the hospitality and the appreciation that they have shown me as an opener. Now, knowing how that feels and what that meant to me, I want to always be able to express that to anyone in the future who might be coming out on the road with me as an opener or as a fellow tour mate. I always want to express my appreciation to anyone who is willing to share the stage with me."
 
12. Who were your favorite artists to listen to growing up?
 
"The only outlet I really had to listen to music growing up was the radio and it was always 90's country. So, I could probably sing word for word every song that was on country radio in the 90's. I could make a long list but just to name a few: Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, and Kenny Chesney. I was more a fan of the song rather than the artist so I'm just a really big fan of 90's country."
 
13. Your album is set for a fall release date. Will there be any songs on the album that were also on the mixtape?
 
"I have a few songs that deserved more of a life than just having been put on the mixtape. I'll put those songs on the album and there's six or seven from the mixtape that will be cut for the album. Of course, they'll be fully produced versions."
 
14. "Leave the Night On" has been on country radio for 5 weeks now and has already broken top 25. Did you expect the single to do this well, this quickly?
 
"No, not at all. You can only try to make predictions based on the past. I've followed country radio and new artists and sort of educated myself on how the charts work for a while. I'd never seen anything like that before so my expectation was not that high. I am proud to have a song on the radio no matter how many times it is spinning. To have it moving that fast is pretty insane to me. I don't get caught up in those things as much as I do focus on how many people are coming out to see us play. I look at how passionate they are singing the songs back to us and how many people are buying the song. Radio is huge but I didn't really know how to go about convincing them to play our music. Fortunately, the music spoke for itself. The only way I knew to get people to come to our shows was to give them music and that's why I put out that free mixtape and they spread the word which has been a huge testament to what we are doing. It's really meant a lot to me. It's cool because the radio helps us reach more people and that's a circle that keeps going and helps us out."
 
FAN QUESTION -I asked y'all on twitter and facebook one question you wanted Sam to answer and the number one response (by far) was the following:
15. How many pairs of shoes and hats do you have?
 
"I've loved shoes since the first time I saw a pair of LA Lights and my mom wouldn't let me get them because they were too expensive and the first time I saw a pair of Jordan's and my mom wouldn't let me get them because they were also too expensive. Since then, I've loved shoes. No matter what I have on, I like to have a good pair of shoes. I have a big industrial rack that is full of shoes and I don't really know how many pairs are up there. I'm ashamed to say but I definitely collect shoes. And the hat rack is right above it and it's loaded down, too."
 
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As you can see from these answers, there's much more to Sam Hunt than being the new "it" guy in country radio right now. I'm so thankful to Sam and his entire band and team for always being so nice and welcoming at shows. I've never been more proud or honored to support an artist and I hope y'all will start to and/or continue to do the same. The crazy thing is, I have a feeling this is JUST the beginning for Sam Hunt.
 
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12 comments :

  1. Yayayayay!! Love this! I'm listening to the Sam CD that you gave me as I type this :) So happy for you, Katelyn!

    XX, SS || A Little Seersucker Sass

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  2. LOVE this. And you. And Sam. That's all.

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  3. Reading from Britain. Great artist. New fan!

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  4. omggggggggg I was so at this show last night and I LOVE that he called you out from the stage for sending out his CDs for him. if you're not hired by Sam Hunt, you should be. Love your passion for music and love his passion for his career. I "met" you last night, I'm Ashley!! GREAT great article.

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  5. this article made my night! you sent one of my sorority sisters sam's cd earlier this year and we listen to it all the time. loved this interview. great questions, too!

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  6. I met you last night!! You were so nice to give me a CD right then and there. Thank you for interviewing Sam. What honest answers. This read like he was talking to an old friend. What a fantastic guy.

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  7. Hey there! I'm a new reader from Paris stopping by. I follow Sam Hunt on Twitter and saw this post on his page. This is a great article. Sam Hunt is an incredible artist with a lot of talent. Nice to "meet" him through this interview.

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  8. love love love!!! great interview! SAM HUNT IS MY FAVORITE! I want to meet him so bad!

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  9. I saw this on Sam's twitter, too!! I was at the show last night and I heard him talking about you from the stage about sending out the CD's. I met you after the show was over and you're so nice! This article makes me love Sam because he's so thankful for the early support which he obviously has in you. SO happy you got to interview him. This is an amazingly articulated article!! xoxo-grace

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  10. Such a great read! Thank you for sharing!

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  11. Truly enjoyed reading more about Sam Hunt and his music through this interview! I happened to be at his performance during Bragg Jam and had never heard his music before. So glad my friends & I ended up at the Crazy Bull. Already bought his single & looking forward to buying the album! Thank you for sharing!

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  12. which the number of his shoe?

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