NewTracks New Artist: Sam V

NewTracks New Artist: Sam V

Proud Auckland city resident Samuel James Verlinden , aka Sam V, combines elements of classic and contemporary RnB in his latest release Dreamstate. The track was made alongside producer Edy (Edward Liu), and perfectly shows off the duo’s talents with its a combination of dreamy ambients and punchy pop hooks. This refined sound also caught the attention of NZ On Air Music, who featured the song in their NewTracks compilation this May. 

What high school or other music training was important to you?

I’ve always done music. It’s never been something that I was trained in, but more so something I’ve always done. But in saying that, shout outs to Mr Polijanich & Mr Dwyer from my days at St Peter’s College. Those two blokes immersed me in all kinds of music (orchestral, jazz, world) and helped instil that self-belief that I’m capable of anything. Also, thank you to the rents (dad’s mean on the guitar).

What other projects might we know you from?

I’ve been floating around the music scene for a lazy minute, I’ll tell ya that for free! So people might know me from my days as an artist signed to DNK World Music, where I released the glorious tune I Want Ya (which is still playlisted at City Fitness – $7 a week gym – come on now). Or perhaps even the somewhat Kiwi classic I Just Wanna Love U, which featured Parris Goebel’s Royal Family in the video as part of a crafty campaign for ANZ. And if you don’t know me that’s coo too.

How has your songwriting evolved to what it is right now?

Songwriting was a skill that came to me relatively naturally. Being somewhat of a wordsmith (top in class for English in year 10, G), I was throwing around heavy-handed vocabulary such as ‘indubitable’ and ‘benevolent’ from a young age. However, I was also performing and creating melodies, so inevitably the two merged at some point. NZ artists D Love and Vince Harder helped me with songwriting initially, but I branched out and began experimenting with genres, melodies and storytelling around the age of 16. 

Right now, my songwriting is extremely diverse and versatile – I try to write for others as much as possible and also write for a plethora of genres, ranging from RnB, soul, pop, jazz, hip hop, rock, opera and reggae.

How did you come up with the name for the new project?

Whatever springs to mind first is what I go with, yeeeeeeeeeeee.

What makes Dreamstate stand out for you as a single?

I think the track has an extremely polished, smooth and accessible feel for all audiences. Lots of the music I’ve been making recently with my producer Edy has been abstract and sonically out of the box. However, Dreamstate creates an eclectic sense of feel with its elements of classic and modern RnB, drawing from the likes of Craig David and Brandy.

What is the story behind Dreamstate?

The story of Dreamstate is told from an objective (narrator) perspective, focusing on a dysfunctional relationship in a dystopian world. The male character seeks corporeal indulgences and fun, while the female character is enamoured by dreamy delusions of grandeur and living a lavish lifestyle. Ultimately, the two clash.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

I’m a huge fan of the harmonies in the song and how they shift in the different verses. But I also enjoy the lyrics in the pre-chorus..

So she just sits in her Dreamstate with them high hopes,
Fantasies and a tightrope,
Poolside and a condo with them fur coats in alignment,
to the lifestyle that she wanted,
He downin’ shots in the lobby,
Waiting for the site to arrive…

Who else did you work on the single with and where?

I wrote, recorded and worked on the track in Morningside at the whare of my producer Edy, who I think is the best young producer in the country. At the time I’d been saturating my ears with the tunes of Brandy and caught a vibe (tell you that for free, ha ha).

Anyways, Edrick and I smashed it out in a few hours and toyed with the idea of bringing in a feature before eventually settling on the track as a solo smasha. Initially, I was sceptical of my songwriting. I felt the storyline I was telling wasn’t clear or concise enough, but fortunately, I stuck to my guns and kept the lyrics.

Describe in one sentence what you want listeners to take away from this song.

Whatever feel they derive from it is what I want them to take away, more power to the listener.

In general, how do you work out what song would make a good single?

In a batch of 5-6 songs, Edy and I will typically have a favourite we think should be the next single. From there we roast each other until someone gets upset and spits the dummy…. Nah just yankin’ ya chain. I think artists and collaborators know when you have a good single, it’s normally an energy you feel in the room and when you show people.

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for, with this band or others?

Yea. I’ve had a finished project called I Made This While Sitting In The Mac For A Minute Now just waiting to drop… will do that sometime over the next few months. We’ve done music videos for about 5 songs on the project so far, so just a few more and then we should be good to go, woo. But aside from that I’ve been working on a few new projects including my follow up album and a likely EP with Y$O (a collective featuring Embher, Chris Bates, Dscndnt, Edy and moi).

Can you please tell us three other local tunes that should be on a playlist alongside your song.

NZ music is cooo, we are very very talented!
PoetikFor My City
Bailey Wiley ft MELODOWNZ  Sugar
Sam V X Edy X- Detox (plug the fellas next release in there… May 31…)

How many of your previous applications didn’t get funding or didn’t get included on NewTracks? Got any advice for people out there?

EEEEEEEEK, a fair few lol. I received funding a few times when I was younger, which at that time included making the Kiwi Hit Disk.

After missing out a few times recently, Dreamstate was fortunate to get included on NewTracks, which is a testament to the effort we put into our craft as independent artists. My only advice is to keep chipping away, build your skill set, audience, confidence and apply away. If your stuff is good you’ll eventually reap the rewards!

Was there an NZOA criterion you struggled with in the application? Which one was it and how did you work it out in the end?

I managed to fit the majority of the criterion, but am still ticking off some of the boxes such as festivals, being featured on blogs etc… all in good time, gimme a year.

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

Anthony Fantano loves his music alright, weeee.

How can we find you on social media?

I’m pretty dusty with modern technology, but @samsonverlinden1 on the IG should have ya finding Sammy V, eah. @Sam V on FB should also find you the wild man with the vocals.

Who did you make the music video for Dreamstate with?

I directed the video and was fortunate to draw upon the talents of Iavana Seuala and Angelina Pierre, who are both doing amazing work in the dance community. Two of the best young dancers in the world.

Dan McClay shot the video with the precision of 2004 Tiger Woods, and Paolo Bayogan edited the goods together with the clarity of 2005 Dan Carter vs the Lions. Drew Allison nudged the stills with her film camera, the fellas helped design the set and Jess(i)e turned up.

Any last words?

If you’re a young gun independent muso, look after ya mates and get them involved in the work you do, they’ll help carry you to the top. And also thank you, I love you. From Sammy V.