We recently reported on singer songwriter and social media phenomenon Samantha Harvey and her new EP, ‘Please’. Now we’ve had the chance to chat with the Ipswich-based artist about her music, and what it’s like to be a viral success.
EP: Hi Samantha! Welcome to Essentially Pop! You’ve had a pretty huge 18 months so far haven’t you! I’ve been reading your bio and thinking WOW how have you done all this – you’ve gone from putting your songs on Facebook and YouTube to promote your wedding singing business…is that right?
EP: Gosh! And now you’re recording with Virgin EMI – how has that happened? What was that like?
SH: It’s all a bit of a whirlwind still and I’ve not settled in yet! And I don’t think it ever will to be honest!
EP: You don’t want to lose the excitement of it all do you!
SH: It’s incredible, I posted online to promote my wedding singing business and one night one just went viral, and from there I received management emails and found the managers I’m with now, 84 World, and they were the first managers who told me I didn’t need a record label, you can independently fund it, and on the back of it we did get a record label, so it’s ironic really – but we got the best deal possible because we did it independently, we got a 360 deal and I’m still in control of absolutely everything; I get a say in how I look, how I dress, what I want to sing, which is amazing, because quite a lot of people lose that control when they sign a deal.
EP: Yeah they do! And I think a lot of record companies these days are looking for the whole package – if you’re there and you can show that you can do the whole thing yourself already…
SH: Yeah – it’s risk free for them because you’ve already proved it, and on the budget we did it on independently, we thought, wow, our budget was very small compared to what a label would put in.
EP: Your debut EP ‘Please‘ is out now. Where’s the name come from, what’s that all about?
SH: It comes from the lead single, ‘Please’, and it’s about a break-up, where you make a decision to leave a relationship, and a few months later when they’ve moved on, you realise you’ve made a wrong decision and you try and win them back – which I think a lot of people go through. So many people are relating to it, I’ve had lots of people messaging me saying it’s been helping them get through their break-ups, which is amazing, and that’s exactly what I want to do with my original songs.
EP: We love the video for it as well – where was that shot?
SH: Thank you! That was shot in Sweden!
EP: You were guaranteed it was going to snow!
SH: Yes! They wanted it to be a snowy video and that’s exactly what they got.
EP: We love the song, the chorus is just so catchy – I don’t listen to a lot of radio but I feel that I know that song…
SH: It gets stuck in your head!
EP: Beautiful! You’re headlining at The Borderline on May 15. How are you feeling about that? Nervous? Excited?
SH: Very excited! It’s only been on sale since 9 this morning [28 March – ed] and I think we’ve only got 70 left to go, so we’ll probably sell out in the next 24 hours, which is amazing. That’s one of the most exciting things to do in this industry, it’s to perform live, and to meet people that have supported me from the beginning, and who are buying and streaming my songs. It’s one of the best feelings ever (see here for information re tickets).
EP: The Borderline is such a good venue, the vibe is really really good. How would you describe your musical style, and who have been your inspirations?
SH: My musical style is poppy, ballads – but I want them to be upbeat ballads, not emotional ones you can only listen to at certain times, people can listen to them whenever they want, and it makes them feel empowered and good about themselves. I like to say that one of my inspirations is Ed Sheeran, I love his lyrics, and like that when you listen to his music you can visualise what he’s been going through and relate to it, and that’s exactly what I want to base my music on. Another one would be Anne Marie, I think she’s amazing, her songs are very similar, especially the ones she’s written; people who really put their own stories in their lyrics, and you can put yourself in that situation without really being in that.
EP: I’ve got as my next question what dream artist or producer would you like to work with – but I guess you’d like to work with Ed Sheeran?
SH: You’ve got it! Definitely!
EP: Is it because he’s a local as well? You’ve got that whole Suffolk thing going on?
SH: He’s like four up near where I live. He used to gig in Ipswich, where I live now, he did hundreds of gigs, he’s grafted so much. He’s been writing for other people, I think it’s just inspiring, it shows you’ve just got to keep going and going.
EP: So what’s the songwriting process for you? You’ve got loads of songs up your sleeve haven’t you?
SH: Yes I have! Basically I started songwriting when I was younger in a scrapbook, and I stopped for a few years, and it’s like, when you stop, your brain goes completely dead – you have to train yourself to keep up with songwriting, to keep practising. So I only started again about a year ago, and I got into it and realised I absolutely love it. When you go out for it for a while, then you have a couple of hours sessions and you work with people that make you feel comfortable, you become motivated. And when I went back in, after I got signed, with some amazing people who’ve obviously been doing it for years, that just completely changed it for me and I felt like I had the ability to do it, and that motivated me to get my stories out, and make some great songs, and luckily the label loved them, and they saw the potential, which is great, because the worst thing would be for them to go, “you can sing, but you can’t write”.
EP: So what advice do you have for anyone who’s just starting out on their musical journey? Is there anything you would do differently, and if so, what would that be, and why would you do it that way?
SH: Personally, if I was to give anyone advice, I’d say to keep recording yourself on your phone, listening back, noting what you like about your voice and what you don’t, and what you want to change, just keep practising and practising. I know people are scared of filming themselves, but I say film it and watch it back, maybe send to a friend of family member asking what you think of this, get honest opinions of people you trust, and then post it out. Don’t get de-motivated. Some of my friends who sing, they do one video, put it out, and it doesn’t go viral, they think, what have I done wrong, I’m not going to do any more, I’m really down about it. I say, keep persisting, keep doing it, it’s all about persistance. If you can do that, you’ll go far.
The things I would change – when I first started, because I wasn’t doing it for the reason of going viral, when I did go viral and started getting comments about how I looked, the way my voice is, it’s not for everyone – most of my bad comments come from men – I did get really upset with it, and I used to read the bad comments and not the good ones, but now I’ve switched it and now if I see a bad one I don’t really acknowledge it, I just blink it, or read all the good ones, and think, wow I’ve got 95% good ones, and 5% people who don’t really have a life.
EP: That’s another thing about Ed Sheeran, he’s said he was reading all the crappy comments on Twitter, and was like, oh they really hate me, then he’d go out and do these amazing concerts and be like, oh okay that’s just keyboard warriors, basically.
SH: Exactly! It does affect everyone in a way, but I’d say to people, you know, not many people would say it to your face, they only say it because they’ve got not much else to do, it’s just over a screen. So if people are starting to do that, just ignore them. That’s one thing I would change – don’t feel down about what people say about you, because it can really affect the way you think about yourself. Be positive at all times.
EP: What’s the saying, “People can only drag you down if they’re below you in the first place”.
SH: Exactly! A few years ago I got into the Law Of Attraction and positive thinking, and that’s changed my life. It works – I visualise anything I want, and for the right reasons, it’s 100% changed the way my life has gone. So I’d recommend that.
EP: I’ve got one more question, and it’s one I ask everyone! What question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview but nobody ever does?
SH: Oh God that’s a good one! Maybe, what do I do on my days off, when I’m not doing what I do?
EP: What is your favourite thing when you’re not doing what you do?
SH: I always spend time with my family, I go to my niece and nephews, I go shopping, I love to go out with my friends. Things that are just normal really. I think whilst I can, I want to do whenever I can, before my life gets too hectic, that I can’t appreciate and do those things in my spare time.
EP: I think you should that anyway, even when you are performing in arenas and what have you! Be normal! Keep your feet on the ground! Thank you Samantha for talking to us! All the best!