Sam Callahan has just released his third single, Stitches and Scars. Many people may recognise Sam for being a contestant on The X Factor back in 2013, but since then he has been working on his music and even achieved his first chart hit with Burns Like Fire.
Sticthes and Scars is a great track for a number of reasons. The emotional lyrics not only help the listener connect with Sam, but also enables you to relate to him too. However, the lyrics in contrast with the more upbeat tempo of the song gives out a sense of hope, overall giving an uplifting mood to the song.
I caught up with Sam about Stitches and Scars, The X Factor and much more!
Hi Sam, this is your first feature on Pop Affairs, so welcome! Congratulations on your new single Stitches and Scars! Can you tell us a bit about the song and the meaning behind it?
'Stitches and Scars' is a song that I created with 100% real, raw emotion at a time when I was probably in the most vulnerable place I’ve ever been. This song comes from a place so personal that I even feared the idea of releasing it for a long time, but you know what? I think that is what makes the music beautiful.
At the time I wrote this track, I was in a super dark place. I’d made some real, what I saw as, stupid decisions and I was continuously beating myself up about them! So much so I spent whole days starring at my feet hanging my head in an insanely negative head space. Then one day my brother Toby turned around to me and told me to ‘snap out of it!’ He told me, that I have people around me who love me and they don’t love me because I’m perfect, they love me because I am me! He told me, "You could have not made those decisions, you could have not made those mistakes… but then you could also be boring, you could be a stamp collector or a bin man", he said "But you’re not, you’re Sam and as much as it sucks right now, it is partially your ability to make those crazy, rash decisions, mistakes and of course your imperfections that make you, YOU!" This resinated with me so much that evening and that’s where the line comes from, ‘Would I really be me without my stitches and scars?’.
What have you got lined up for the rest of the year? Can fans expect to hear an album any time soon?
I am working on an album right now, but there's no telling when I might decide to release it. I am a perfectionist after all and I won't put it out in a rush or anything. I am in Panto in Bolton at Christmas time playing 'The Huntsman' in SnowWhite and the Seven Dwarfs and other than that I am gigging all over the place like I have been all year! I have loved performing everywhere this year, from all over the UK to places like Canada and Spain, it's been amazing!
Many people may recognise you for being on The X Factor back in 2013, what was that experience like for you?
The X Factor for me was a real whirlwind experience and very much an emotional rollercoaster, the experience altogether and the platform the show can give a young artist to launch their career in incredible, but it can also chip away at your self belief and at your ego and leave you a little lost when you're spat out of The X Factor machine at the other end. Since leaving the show, life’s been a bit crazy! I’ve learnt a lot and I’ve definitely found myself exploring different sounds and types of music a lot along the way too, but this year I can finally say I am fully in love with the music I am creating. I had a wicked start to the year with my single ‘Burns Like Fire’ becoming my first chart hit. I’ve surrounded myself by a wicked team of guys, not forgetting the lads from ‘Mean Recordings’, performed all kinds of shows and festivals globally and I’m now about to release my third single this year, which just happens to be what I’d call my most real and honest creation to date, ‘Stitches and Scars’.
What is your ultimate career goal?
Personally I’ve always had some crazily high expectations and aspirations for myself in my career. Firstly, I’ve always wanted to travel with my music. I am an adventurous person and often you find that adventurous people get to a certain age and take a number of months or even years out to explore, to travel and to see the world! If it wasn’t for having chosen a career that requires giving so much of myself so much of the time, I’d definitely be one of those people who had embarked on some of those things. Instead, I promised myself that if I was going to choose a life in music then one of my key ‘MUST DO’s’ had to be to travel with my music! So far I’ve performed in LA, Miami, Australia, Malia and The Canary Islands among other places! I think the other general goals with my music have always been to tour and to chart!
I don’t have to be the most well known artist in the world and I don’t have to be gigging every day of my life, but I want to do the odd tour, performing to people who love my music and myself for all the positive things that I stand for and that my music has to say! I want to wake up every day doing what I love and I want the people who support me to fall in love with the music I am creating the way that I do.
What advice would you give to someone reading this who wants to become a singer?
Never stop writing. I believe that being an artist means creating art and that art in our case is the music, therefore you cannot let that flame burn out. You don't have to be the best vocalist in the world, you don't have to be everybody's cup of tea, but if you create something honest that comes from deep within your core then no one can judge that, people love whats real in 2018, not just what you think they want to hear!
If you could collaborate with any artist right now, who would it be and why?
I have a couple of different picks for this one! Whenever I go for a session in the studio, I tend to pick between five and ten references for the idea that I have come up with, or the song that I have written just to give my co-writers and producers the best chance of hitting the nail on the head when it comes to getting in the booth with me and trying to create our next masterpiece!
There are always a few names that come up almost every time and these are: Shawn Mendes, Ed Sheern and Maroon 5. I love these artists for their lyrical content, their sound and their overall vibe when it comes to creating new music and I would love to collaborate with any of them! Of course it’s not all just down to the music, I think the overall vibe of an artist in today’s industry is super important!
What has been your highlight in your music career so far?
I have two! The first one would be charting. That was awesome, to see my own music that I wrote in my bedroom about my own experiences in the charts was really something. The second though has to be the arena tour after The X Factor. There is nothing like doing the one thing you love more than life itself and getting to do it in front of 20,000 people a night! That to me, was a dream come true.
Watch the video for Stitches and Scars here:
Up-and-coming singer Ella Poletti has recently released her new single, Bones. Bones is a really strong single that I can imagine being constantly played on the radio, as the catchy lyrics and brilliant production make for a potential big hit. Ella has already managed to achieve getting over 1.5 million streams on her covers in less than a year and with Bones being a really great song, I can see Ella having a massive career.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Ella about her new single and find out what the future has in store for her!
Hi Ella! Welcome to Pop Affairs! Congratulations on your debut single Bones! What’s the meaning behind the song?
Thanks! The song is about a love which isn’t entirely… fulfilling! It’s based on a mixture of experiences that I’ve had and also things that I’ve witnessed.
You’ve had a really amazing journey so far with the success of your covers, can you tell the Pop Affairs readers how you got to where you are today?
It’s a lot of hard work and patience and just pure determination. And a ton of patience. It can be easy to feel like things aren’t moving along when in the big picture they are - and that’s just about having a good team around you.
How did it feel getting over 1.5 million streams in less than a year?
When I found out it felt amazing honestly! Feeling that all my hard work from the past year really paid off.
What would you ideally like to have accomplished in five years time?
Within the next year I’d love to have over 1.5 million streams on a single song! But really just making sure that my music can reach as many people as possible and it can help people through whatever they are going through… that’s most important.
What’s next for you? Is an album in the works?
There are definitely many more songs on the way… I won’t say any more!
What is your ultimate career goal?
My ultimate goal is to have as many people hear my music as possible. I want that music to be relatable to my audience and help them through their problems. I would also love to be well known in the industry as a role model to others.
Singer Russell Swallow recently released his latest single Chemicals. I have only just discovered Russell because I don't listen to that much indie music, but after listening to Chemicals I will definitely be listening to him more in the future! Russell has such a lovely and distinctive voice, and I can actually imagine Chemicals being played in a film, Both Russell's songwriting and voice give him the potential to become incredibly successful in his career, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for him. I was also lucky enough to ask Russell all about his latest single and the upcoming release of his new EP!
Congratulations on your new single ‘Chemicals’! What was the inspiration behind the song?
It's a call to arms, on a very personal universal scale - reminding myself and others to look up from what's immediately gratifying and work to connect with experiences more deeply.
Was music something you had always wanted to do?
When I was a kid I toyed with the idea of being an astronaut, or writing my own magazine, but once I'd heard Jeff Buckley's 'Lover, You Should Have Come Over' I was hooked on the possibilities of music, for expression and experimenting.
What advice would you give to any Pop Affairs readers who want to become artists?
Listen to lots of different music, develop your taste, listen to your gut instinct, and stay true to yourself.
What’s your favourite song you’ve ever written and why?
Oh, now that's a hard question! It's usually whichever song I'm working on. I spent the Summer roaming through California, and started writing a new song about what's been happening in the past few years in the U.K. So much change, upheaval, lies and misdirection from positions of power. The song (working title London Skies) is about recognising your power for good, and also your demons, learning how to live with each of them and not be led astray by them
What’s your biggest career goal?
World domination. And enough money to afford really good whiskey.
Seriously I want to be able to choose who to work with, and to be able to craft truly compelling sounds and stage performances - exploring the relationship between human experience, sound and technology.
Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?
Somebody in a completely different style to what I've written so far, that would be really interesting for me. I've been working on a slow rap/more spoken word style of delivery, so it would be really interesting to spend some time with somebody like Chance The Rapper.
Finally, your new EP ‘A.M. - B.P.M.’ is out in December, what can fans expect from this EP?
A.M. - B.P.M. is the first thing I'm releasing under my own name, and is a 4-track introduction to my musical taste and world. There is a loose narrative about a couple meeting and exploring one another for the first time, surviving a natural disaster, only to find that they're destructive for each other. It's the first 4 tracks in a set of 8, with EP2 coming in Spring 2018.
Sonically, it ranges from the hushed harmony drenched ambience of Sing To Me, through to the driving indie-electro of Chemicals.
If you haven't heard of her already, LINA is a singer-songwriter who won The Voice Israel in 2013. Her latest single I Wore It Better is out now, and she is currently touring with Little Mix as their opening act! I was lucky enough to catch up with LINA to talk about I Wore It Better and what to expect from her set on tour!
1. Congratulations on the new single I Wore It Better! What was the inspiration behind it?
Thank you! I love this single. I’m performing it every night on The Glory Days Tour and I couldn’t be more proud of this new baby of mine! I co-wrote it with the insanely talented Bhavik Pattani, Josef Melin and Hiten Bharadia. It’s a super fun song that talks about overcoming the disappointment/heartbreak of seeing your ex with their new crush, who is wearing your favourite sweater. It explores how that makes you feel, the memories, the pain but ends with positive and empowering feelings.
2. Was singing/music something you've always wanted to do?
I have always wanted to be a performer. I loved being on stage since I was 4 years old- dancing ballet in front of 800 people. It felt like home- and it still does!
3. You're about to go on tour with Little Mix, what do you have planned for your set?
I start my set with an original ballad called Forget - while playing the piano (a costume made pink LINA piano!), then move on to my previous single Can’t Keep Falling, two special covers, and ‘I Wore It Better’. It will be fun - I promise!
4. 2017 is coming to an end, so what can fans expect to see from you in 2018?
New album, new tour and a lot of good music!
I Wore It Better really is a brilliant song, and I can't wait to hear LINA sing it live when I see her on Little Mix's Glory Days Tour next month!
Jack Woodward is a solo artist from North-West England, and has just released his latest single Higher. What I really like about this song is how it manages to captivate the listener, drawing you into the beautiful lyrics. Not only are the lyrics beautiful, but Jack's voice is amazing, showing what a true talent he has. Higher really has the potential to do incredibly well, and I can imagine Jack becoming very successful in the future!
I was lucky enough to interview Jack about his latest release, and also what the future has in store for him!
1) Congratulations on the release of your new single 'Higher'! What were some of your inspirations when writing this song?
Thanks guys, in terms of inspiration for why I wrote it would be to take my music and writing to the next level and really see what I could do with simple melodies and lyrics. To answer in another way the themes that I think came into Higher were really about being aware and caring of the world around us (nature and each other), and also how somebody or something can really remind us to live life in this moment and to its fullest. Theres a real power in the connection and energy in the world when you stop for a moment to sense it
2) Your new EP 'Higher' is out in January 2018, what can fans expect to hear on it?
As well as the title track from the EP, there will be 2 other songs Seven Seas and Pray. Seven Seas is really about escape and bracing the elements and being part of a group and fighting for one another. and Pray is about somebody and their family going through a really tough time with addiction and depression and how it can break down relationships between a family, and about the internal conflict within someone and their fight to survive. Pray has a very poppy feel and is quite instantaneous, whereas Seven Seas has a bit of an indie sound but is a more swaying and anthemic mood
3) How does it feel to be compared to the likes of Tom Odell?
Its a great compliment to have some of his sound and perhaps style in my recordings and particularly my writing. He's definately a huge inspiration of mine and I'd love to measure up to his songwriting some day so its a good one to aim for.
4) If you could collaborate with any artist (dead or alive), who would it be and why?
If not the above, then probably Brandon Flowers, who is just the master of writing melodies, which I also consider my strength, but I think I could learn a huge amount
5) Who is your musical inspiration?
The Killers, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Odell, John Mayer, Red Hot Chilli Peppers. They all have those songs that really affect you and invoke powerful emotions whenever you listen to them
6) Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
Signed to a major record label planning my second world tour off the release of a successful second album. I've got a ways to go yet, but thats why I write the songs (as well as enjoying the process and creation) for as many people to hear them as possible
Luke Rainsford is a solo artist from Wolverhampton who is currently signed to Scylla Records. Following on from his first album I‘m Nothing Like My Dad Turned Out To Be, his second album I Feel At Home With You is due to be released on February 17th, and I was lucky enough to interview Luke about it.
1) Congratulations on such a great album! What was your inspiration behind it all?
Thank you very much! This time around, I took a lot of inspiration from bands such as Sorority Noise, The Wonder Years, The Front Bottoms and Modern Baseball. These are all artists that have these really honest and open lyrics, not always coated behind really complex metaphors. A lot of it is just really simple and heartbreaking, but when they do work in a metaphor it's really well done and cleverly written. I've done my best to put my own acoustic spin on that, and I'm really proud as to how it's turned out! In terms of personal inspiration, most of the record revolves around my relationships (romantic or otherwise) with different people and how they are affected by my mental health, something which I've tried to be really outspoken about on this record. I feel as though depression/anxiety and most kinds of mental health issues still have this stigma attached to them, and a lot of people feel uncomfortable talking about it. If one person listens to this record and it gives them confidence to be more outspoken about their health, and talk to somebody about it, then I will be a very happy man.
2) I assume you must be very proud of every song, but what is your favourite song on 'I Feel at Home With You', and why?
My favourite song seems to change quite a lot. Right now I think it's "Nightmares", which is a song about my insecurities, and how I think they make me appear to people who care about me. I love how this song worked out in the studio, and I feel as though the build to the final chorus works so well.
3) Where do hope to be in 10 years time?
Honestly, I try not to think too far ahead. I never really had high aspirations with music, it's always just been about writing songs that mean a lot to me and if anybody likes what I'm doing then that's just a bonus. I'm very lucky to have people that come to my shows and listen to my music, and I never take that for granted. I guess if I had to hope for something it's just that I can get to a point where I don't need to work a job, and I can just comfortable live from playing my music. I never like to aim too high, I'm just pushing as hard as I can and seeing where it takes me!
4) If you could collaborate with any artist in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
It would definitely have to be Dan Campbell from The Wonder Years. Precisely, it would be with his side project, Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties. He wrote this side project from the perspective of a character, rather than himself, and I'd find that so interesting to work with. I'd love to see how it would work with me and his character writing a song together, or just recording something together.
5) Is music something that you've always wanted to do?
Since the age of 11, definitely. My first instrument was actualy drums, which I fell in love with the first time I ever tried it. I taught myself over several years, and then I eventually picked up a guitar and taught myself how to play that too, and just sort of worked on my voice accidentally whilst writing stuff. It's only the past 2 years or so I've had the confidence to really push and try to make something out of it, but it's definitely always been a huge part of my life, and has shaped the person I am today. I dread to think what I'd be doing now if I didn't have playing shows or going on tour to look forward to!
6) In the music industry people are always quick to compare artists to each other. I can imagine people would start to compare you to the likes of Ed Sheeran and Jamie Lawson, how would that comparison make you feel?
I don't really get compared to pop artists that much, I guess I have a sound that feels a lot more raw. I get compared to artists like City and Colour, Frank Turner and Aaron West a fair bit! As for how the comparison to Ed Sheeran and Jamie Lawson, that makes me feel fine, they're both super talented and I'm very flattered, even if I don't see the similarities myself. I guess being a primarily acoustic artist means I'll always get compared to big acoustic pop artists, but honestly that's fine by me, if someone has taken time out of their day to listen to my music, I'm so thankful for that. They can compare me to anybody that they like!
7) And finally, what advice would you give to someone reading this who wants a career in music?
Honestly, just do what you feel like you really want to do. Don't just follow what is popular at the time, write songs that feel right for you. Also, make friends with literally everybody. Ego's do nothing for you at all, and falling out with the wrong person or being rude to somebody can spiral out of control. Just be kind, be geniune, love what you do, and most importantly, put a lot of effort into everything you do.
Whilst I don't feel like I could give a lot of valuable advice, as I'm still fairly new to this whole thing, anybody is always free to talk to me on Twitter or my Facebook page with any questions and I'll do my best to share some of my limited knowledge with people.
Check out Luke's brand new songs Ties and Home Safe here: