Essentially Pop had the pleasure of speaking to Sam Callahan about his new album, ‘Covers’.
Best known for his time on The X Factor in 2013, Sam has recently taken a break from music. He’s now back, and partnering with male suicide prevention charity, The CALM Zone, which provides support for men with mental health issues. All proceeds from ‘Covers’ will be donated to the charity.
In our exclusive interview, Sam spoke to Amy Bell about his own mental health and what each cover means to him, and why he chose to work with The CALM Zone.
Hello Sam, thank you for taking the time to speak to Essentially Pop today. How are you?
Very well thank you Amy! It’s always an exciting time when you’re releasing new music as an artist and being this close to Christmas just adds to that excitement too, right!
You have teamed up with The CALM Zone for your new EP release. Mental health and men’s suicide is such a big topic right now, why do you think it is so important as a person with a platform, to speak about these situations?
For me personally, I’ve been through some severely tough times when it comes to suffering from mental health and aside from that, so have a lot of people around me. I lost a couple of friends not long back, one of whom had some serious mental health issues, he was one of my closest friends and he had these amazing highs, but his low moments were ridiculously low. He was really creative and super into his music, so ‘Fight Song’ on the album is one which I picked for him as we used to jam it together on guitar when it came out. Harvey, brother, that’s for you! Ultimately I believe in helping people with the power of music and in this instance, there are too many people who suffer in silence! I believe that if we can get even one person to seek help or speak to someone about the demons they’re facing then we’ve done our job, any more than that which we achieve will be an amazing bonus.
Of course, there are many charities out there that talk about mental health, what made you choose The CALM Zone, to donate your proceedings to?
Not everyone knows this but my hobby in life is Motorsport! I race cars. It’s not at a professional level or anything but I absolutely love it, and last year there were a few cars invited to race in the series which I race in regularly, The All Porsche CALM Trophy! This series was started by a lovely man named Philip Walters, whose son, unfortunately, committed suicide after suffering from some severe mental health problems. Philip started the series to raise money for CALM, so we got talking and I loved the sentiment! I wrote and released a song called ‘Stitches And Scars’ last year about some of my own mental health issues, so it made total sense to get involved with my new music!
You have spoken openly about your mental health, and you’ve mentioned ‘Stitches And Scars’, can you tell me a bit about the songwriting process?
The songwriting process can vary hugely. For me ‘Stitches And Scars’ came easy! In my opinion, the more passionate you feel about a subject, the quicker it comes to you. I wrote ‘Stitches And Scars’ as I was right at the end of the process of dealing with some really difficult times in my own life and I think everything was so fresh and so raw still, that the words just came to me!
You have also spoken openly about anxiety and are a strong advocate for mental health, can you remember the time that triggered your anxiety?
I have spoken about anxiety before on social media, yes, but I’m not an anxious person! My Mum has anxiety and my girlfriend Robyn has anxiety, so I’m well versed in the subject. I know it’s not something to dismiss and pretend doesn’t exist as it really really does! The only time I have ever been anxious was around the time I suffered my lowest moment and my biggest / darkest mental health experience. It was a case of everything mounting up after my time on The X Factor, a bunch of hate and death threats and threats against my family from trolls on social media, and then finally a huge invasion of privacy that was conducted and portrayed in the public eye for the world to see. At the time I shut myself away for days in my apartment and my first real experience of anxiety was feeling like everyone was talking about me or judging me when I finally did muster up the courage to leave my own four walls. It’s a horrible feeling.
When you have a bad mental health day, what are the things that you do, to help with yourself?
Generally, I write music to express myself, I go to the gym to let off steam but most importantly, I’ve learnt to talk about it! I am fortunate enough to have amazing people around me and I now know that if I ever do need to speak to someone there’ll always be someone willing to chat and help me out… It’s suffering in silence that does the real damage.
Do you feel that music helps you with your mental health?
Absolutely! The power of music is magical. Music gives you all sorts of feelings and mental health is all about how you feel right? So if a song can make you feel a certain way and the meaning behind the lyrics can motivate or encourage you out of that dark place. How can that not be helpful!
Your new EP, ‘Covers’, is out Friday 29th November, and I have listened to the sneak peek of ‘I’ll Be There For You.’ Why did you decide to put that song on there?
So the album has a lot of songs on it. Some of which I chose to match the sentiment and mission of the charity CALM, but some of which just mean something to me personally. ‘I’ll Be There For You’ is the song I sang at my sister’s wedding for her first dance, it will always hold real value for me and is a beautiful song with a lovely mantra anyway. However, if I do say so myself, there’s not a more suited sentence for someone suffering from mental health than, “I’ll be there for you”.
How did you decide to choose the particular songs that you have on this album?
The songs were all chosen for different reasons. Some helped me and others I know through some tough times, some mean things to me on a personal level and some, I just liked!
What was your inspiration behind the creation of this EP?
The album was originally planned after I had begun creating content for my Music YouTube channel. However, for me, I guess it’s a bit of a thank you to the fans for being so patient with me this year as I’ve been working on a lot of different things and there hasn’t been a whole load of new music for a second. However, when CALM came along, the direction of the songs changed and tying it in together all just seemed to make sense.
How long did it take to decide what songs should go on the EP?
I’m not going to pretend its something I’ve been mulling over for ages. This release was never set to chart or take over the world, it’s just a bunch of songs for the fans, they’re songs I liked and songs I wanted to sing, so not a whole bunch of time to be honest. I recorded them over a few months I think!
Were there any songs that you decided against having on the EP?
What is one message you want people to take away from this EP?
I want people to just enjoy the music and if along with that someone learns from it that it’s okay to hurt and okay to speak up about hurting, then amazing! I’d love to help as many people as I can with the charity and aside from that if one or two of the songs in themselves motivate someone out of their struggle, what a thing that would be!
Tell me a bit about the recording process of the EP.
The interesting and exciting thing I can tell you is we didn’t hit the studio just to record these songs. We went there for a bigger purpose and there is a lot more where this music came from, so watch this space.
What are your favourite covers on the EP?
Skyscraper / One Call Away / Fight Song
Finally, where can people buy this album?
EVERYWHERE! Haha, I’m serious this album will be available by Friday 29th on Spotify, iTunes, AppleMusic, Google Play and anything else you may use!
you can take a sneak peek of the EP here: