Interview: Five Minutes with S.A.M.

Take some time out to meet S.A.M. Heading up three labels in the form of Oscillat Music, Delaphine and Dalia, the producer has a busy schedule, between releasing his own music, remixing others’, managing the labels and being an active member of Mandar. Recently, S.A.M remixed Salomé Le Chat’s ‘Cruising On The Playa which was released by Rebellion. Samuel Andre Madsen grew up in a religious family in the countryside of Denmark, before he moved to Copenhagen to study theology, where he would discover his love and talent for creating music. Since then, he has toured all continents of the world, sharing his cosmic and trippy danceable beat with anyone who cared to listen. 

Find out more about S.A.M, the underground musician who is beginning to make waves in the main stream scene, in the interview below.

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

For two reasons, that I wanna point out. First of all, I’ve always played and performed music as long as I remember and simply cannot imagine a life without it; it’s on my mind all day – every day. Secondly, because I think arts are in a crisis of authenticity, where lots of artists feel a need to conform their expression or vision with the industry’s expectations. I know first hand that you can have hundreds of people telling you what they think you should or should not do because it’s smart business-wise, and that can make you question your motivation and essentially compromise the artist within-person in order to make an influencer or business person out of you. I’m not even sure that I am a pure artist to be honest, but I’m here to at least have a conversation about it. It is difficult to navigate in the scene as it has become and I don’t think I’m the only one questioning the trend. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have “success” using social media, I am just saying that for many artists it’s a compromise, and the algorithm holds a certain power over the artist’s choices and therefore often over the Art as well.

Tell us about the music scene in Denmark while you were growing up?

My first introduction to the Danish scene came very late when I was 19 years old and started going out at Culture Box and Dunkel (now closed) along with warehouse parties such as Syg Lyd and such Copenhagen parties. The scene at the time felt like it was extremely potent with young talent. The most important place for me was a tiny underground bar called Ritz in a basement in the red light district. I would become a resident DJ and make life long friends here. All who were there in the 2 years it was open will still speak about it with affection to this day. I would start producing music in Copenhagen as well and one day Jus-Ed was playing at Dunkel and I hung out with him and got to play some music for him that he would then sign to his label Underground Quality. Local Copenhagen label Tartelet Records also signed my first Vinyl release back then. The sound that was popular was US House generally and we made some amazing illegal raves in various locations at the time. Now the scene is exploding and there’s a huge community of Techno producers and players from a vast variety of genres.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

Lately, the idea comes first, but it depends on the month really. Sometimes I start by tweaking a synth till I arrive at a nice sound, and then work from there. In those cases, a single sound feels like it’s calling out for certain other sounds that I can then hear in my head and then those ones ask for more sounds or maybe some of the new sounds will demand so much space that I will have to delete the initial sound. Those sacrifices are made every day to be honest and I love it. So I guess it’s a synergy of some kind where the sounds not only are ideas, but also give ideas while killing others.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

Oh man, where should I start. Currently, I am working on collaborations with Lazare Hoche, Malin Genie, Chris Stussy, Ida Corr, Lewiee Blaze, Noha, Woody, Salome Le Chat, Butch and more.

You’ve recently had the opportunity to remix Salomé Le Chat’s ‘Cruising On The Playa’. Tell us about your favourite part of this remix.

Yes, I am personally liking how it turned out to be super crisp and tight in the sound design, and the fact that it’s one of my only tracks with vocals is also a big deal for me. I love the challenge to work with vocals and in this remix I love how I could add some additional backing voices to Salomé’s lead.

What’s on your current playlist?

I honestly am listening to all kind of music at the moment from Marcos Valle over Little Simz to Marine Girls. I am not really listening much to house or techno at home. But if I should give a good tip then dig through 2trancentral’s YouTube channel. It’s packed with amazing tunes, picked by one of Serbia’s best collectors.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

When I read this question my heart literally jumped up. It’s emotional on stage and I can get such a boost of energy and feel such a connection and joy through music with my fans. Because of social distancing and clubs being closed now I think a lot of performers like myself are feeling some kind of existential crisis in some ways similar to loneliness or perhaps feeling estranged without that connection. I love when my fans write to me about anything on my socials so that I can connect with them about music that way now that the stage is closed. I can’t wait to be back on the road and dance once all of this nightmare of a pandemic is over.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

Without getting too nerdy my favorite technique is actually distance form music. The more I spend time with my partner or family and friends or just go for a walk or something, the more I feel I get filled up with a need to express something from within. I don’t want to ever get stuck on a formula where I am comfortable. I want to be uncomfortably searching for other ways or techniques to experiment. I’ve just found that the worst I can do for my music is to work too intensely on it.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

Yes, when I finished my masters in Theology, I quit my 3 jobs and took a little credit in the bank and gave myself a year to work on music only. After the first year, I saw that I had improved a lot as an artist and that I found at home in the lifestyle, and financially I could see that I could soon live from it if I continued, so I did.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

Water 🙂

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Silence really. I don’t want to be wringing every new bit of creative juice out of me and never feel full, so I make sure to take breaks and have days where I don’t touch any equipment.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

Okay I am really excited about Sonarworks. It’s a software measuring your speaker or headphone frequency response in your studio, and then correcting the frequency curve to a nice flat curve. It really does wonders. Apart from that I am excited to receive a sampler from the little Florida based company Isla Instruments soon. The sampler is called S2400 and is a new sampler built on the sound and design of the legendary SP1200 but completely modernized. I also last year got the little Moog Sirin which I am super happy with. It just sounds to phat and sits so easily in the mix and works great via USB with an interface that reveils more “under-the-hood” capabilities.

Any side projects you’re working on?

Yea, some hip-hop and some chill lounge songs, but it’s all in it’s early stage, to early to reveal too much about.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

Very much in every way as both a producer and a DJ. I’ve always been a cross-genre DJ and loved to use different genres to take people on an interesting journey, but I feel that I the last 2-3 years have learned so much about production and DJ’ing that I feel another kind of calm and confidence in my craft.

As the head of three different labels, what’s your message to musicians looking to make their way in the industry at the moment?

It’s super difficult to make the way in the industry at the moment as it’s pretty much impossible to play anywhere. I would say that there is a lot of strength in working in collaborations these hard times. It’s nice to be able to support each other and get the sense of belonging and of a community that’s alive though closed down. So yea, collaborate with someone. 🙂 I would also say that it can help financially a little to spread out the time and effort on different areas of your work, so that you will be able to harvest from many fields and not depend only on gigs. Maybe make some aliases and start a bandcamp. Accept more remix opportunities, start a new label with a clear concept for example by reaching out to a distribution with a link to the music you want to release and a concept for the label. Distributions such as Subwax Bcn can be a major help in creating a label, basically putting out the money. 2020 is also a good year to dive into your manuals and to get to know your gear on a deeper level.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

You can expect a new release from Lazare Hoche and I on our label Perfect Pushup as well as a collaboration with Chris Stussy. I am contemplating releasing a club album as well of tunes that I’ve worked on the past two years.

Famous last words?

Ask yourself hard questions and be kind.

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Written by Sarah Britton