TIDAL Rising: Sam Vance-Law
On his new debut LP, Homotopia, Canadian-born, Berlin-based artist Sam Vance-Law explores the subject of being young and gay. With a voice reminiscent of Adam Green, Vance-Law emanates a style of airy chamber pop that hints at his own connection to classical music and pulls in the rich, cinematic style of collaborator Konstantin Gropper of Get Well Soon.
TIDAL spoke to the young artist about his connection to Berlin, his musical background and, of course, the world of Homotopia.
* * *
Hi Sam, how are you? Could you please introduce yourself?
Oh, hey! Yeah, I’m doing alright. Hope you’re doing alright, too. It’s record release week, which is pretty crazy. And ummmm, I’m Sam. I come from Canada, and I make music here in Berlin.
When and how did you get into music?
I started with the violin when I was four or five. I guess that’s the beginning. Then, I was a choir boy. Now, I guess I’m in the pop world. So, you know, the usual.
Who were your first musical heroes?
It’s hard to say. I was very small at the time. But I’m thinking probably Bach and the Beatles and Annie Lennox. It’s hard to go wrong with those three.
What surprised you most about Berlin?
Everything. I arrived with zero expectations. This was before I was anywhere cool enough to have heard the hype about Berlin, so the whole city was one big surprise. Still kinda is.
Homotopia is a concept album, which is rare for a debut. How did you end up concentrating on one big topic?
The title of the record was already there and some of the song titles, too, but I didn’t take it too seriously. Then, the songs started writing themselves and I thought I’d just write them down and see what happened. I wanted to see what kind of record I’d write if I didn’t try too hard to steer it in any particular direction and just wrote what came to me. Homotopia is it.
Which song on Homotopia was the hardest to write?
‘Gayby’ was the first song I wrote, so I made a lot of mistakes on it. And then I had to fix them all. That took a damn long time.
How come Konstantin Gropper, a.k.a. Get Well Soon, worked on your album?
We’ve known one another for a few years now; I guess because we liked one another. When he said he wanted to work on it, I said yes, because that guy’s a genius.
You seem to be a very cheerful person. Do you have dark sides, too?
I take things pretty easy, so I do spend most of the time doing pretty alright. That doesn’t mean I don’t find hard times hard, though. And the music I write is perhaps a fine balance between my normal upbeat self and the occasional harder times. As for a darker side, yeah, maybe. Like all of us I guess.
What’s your favorite German word?
‘Nichtsdestotrotz’ was the first super fancy German word I learned, and I used the heck out of it. I like most German words. I don’t really like the words ‘Schwamm’ or ‘Lappen,’ really. Maybe I just don’t really like cleaning products.
Criticize your music from the standpoint of someone who does not like it at all.
This is a fun question, but I don’t really want to put words into other people’s mouths. I’m sure the people who don’t like the record will know what to say about it without me jumping in for them. I guess I’d say what I normally say when I’m not pumped on a record is, [it's] ‘not really my thing.’
How did Max Gruber, a.k.a. Drangsal, end up in your video for ‘Prettyboy’?
Max and I are buddies, and he’s great, so he came along to help out.
Looking one year ahead, what will be the best that happened to you in 2018?
Peace on earth and goodwill to all people. And nobody saw it coming! Everybody’s pretty happy about it, though.
And finally, if your music was a thing, what would it be?
A person, I guess. Just standing there and hoping to be heard.
(Photo credit: J. Konrad Schmidt)
TIDAL is proud to announce the world's first music service with High Fidelity sound quality, High Definition music videos and expertly curated Editorial.