See what Sam Burchfield had to say about being on the road and why he's got a favorite song to play for those live performances.
You just released Where To Run?
Sam Burchfield: Right so this was my first release, this EP; we put it out in February and just started to promote the first single, "Here Tonight" and we're just trying to get things rolling so this is an exciting time.
How did you get into music?
Well, I first started playing I think when I was eleven. I bought a guitar - it was actually competitively because my sister got a bass guitar and I thought I could be better than my sister; she didn't keep up with the bass - but I ended up playing guitar and fell in love with it and just couldn't really stop. I started singing and I just kind of knew that was what I wanted to do.
How would you describe your genre of music?
I think kind of what it is now is kind of soulful folk. Sort of a cross between folk and funk.
Any artists who have inspired that sound?
Yeah, I mean, we really love, I guess on both ends of the spectrum, we really love like Stevie Wonder, that classic kind of soul/funk and Van Morrison and guys like that. Also, you know, some of the newer [artists] like Ray LaMontagne; as far as the folk side of things, I really admire his songwriting and just his voice and his lyrics and Jack Johnson.. But yeah, and then some of the new guys too like new soul like Allen Stone kind of stuff I've really been digging lately.
You keep saying 'we'; are you going out there as a band or as a solo act?
Right, so, right now I'm going out as a duo. My friend Zach, Zach Wells, he just moved to Atlanta - kind of just dropped everything and said "hey, you know, let's do this; let's do this music" - and so, yeah, we're doing a lot of duo stuff right now with him backing up on either banjo or electric guitar or singing so it depends on what the vibe of the song is. We do also play with a full band for the bigger stuff; still kind of developing that full band sound, I think, 'cause it's, I have this vision in my head of what this should kind of capture and we're still trying to figure that out but, yeah, this is a lot of duo stuff right now.
You were invited to go to Hollywood on American Idol..?
I was, yeah, that was kind of the beginning of this story; I was finishing up school at University of Georgia in Athens and had just kind of, on a whim, tried out for the show. You know, got to the point where they had invited me to Hollywood and, at that point, I was also kind of finishing up this EP - it was back in the Fall - and kind of looking at the contract and what all it had to entail. I actually decided not to move forward in Hollywood just because I think it was a process of really learning what I was about, kind of what my identity was as an artist, and it was a really cool experience, but I think it kind of helped with, like, 'okay, I don't think this is kind of my path, I think my path is, you know, really pursuing this, doing exactly what I want to do with this original music'. It was a fun experience and they ended up putting the episode up which really was cool and helped kind of boost this album at the beginning.
So did that help to define your style?
No, I don't think it defined it at all, I think, just, I think when you're put in a situation that you don't expect to be in that was 'oh, hey, you can come and try this thing out for Hollywood' and, you know, they kind of put in front of you what the possibility is, even though you know it's still a gamble either way, but if you were to go forward this is what your life would look like. They put that in front of you and it really makes you take a step back and look at what's important. I think, for me, a big aspect of what was important for me and my music was relationships. These people have invested in me, you know, in where I am; people like Zach who are willing to up and move to pursue this music. So, yeah, I just think it's important to invest in those [relationships] and music is all about relationships, honestly, it's about making a connection to people and it's a personal thing and I think the whole Idol stage just really made me take a step back and really examine that and say 'okay, is this a personal thing; what's important to me about this?' and really dig into that and embrace the fact that I like playing music with friends and having that be my career.
Is there a track from your album that you're most satisfied with?
I think, production wise, we really are probably happiest with "Here Tonight" which is the single we're promoting now. With where it ended up, it just was kind of our first chance at really releasing something professional and we're really happy with, I guess, how "Here Tonight" was captured: it really felt right. But, I love all the songs on there; it's definitely a snapshot of where I was about a year ago when I started putting these together. So, obviously, I'm super - I think most artists are like this - I'm super into the new stuff I've been writing but, you've kind of got to hold that back while you're promoting what you've already been able to record but, yeah, I love the EP.
You're out on tour now; are there any stories or fan interactions you want to share?
Hmm, well, we basically just got in - we were gone for a week and we're back in Atlanta for a little bit here - we were in Nashville for awhile which, Nashville's a really interesting city when you're coming from out of town and there are a lot of artists that come out of Nashville but, really, it was fun. We had a fun night when we ran into the Sam Adams rep at a place called The Row in Nashville and they promoted us and gave us some Sam Adams which was pretty cool and that's a fun group of people to run into; they were having like a giant convention of Sam Adams marketers that happened to be in town. But, yeah, the road's fun, the road is a very.. It get real, really quick; it's great at times but it also is, you know, 'hey, let's not sleep in a comfortable place for awhile' but it's cool getting to go out with Zach because he's one of my good friends and it's good to have someone you can really trust on the road with you who has your back.. I don't know that I have any crazy tales from the road.
Have you got a favorite track to perform live?
Well, I really do like performing "Here Tonight" live because I think it's just been - we just finished that music for it too - like, really digging into it. But, I also really love playing "Doctor" live; that's a song I wrote about my girlfriend who's studying to be a doctor so it's kind of just a personal song but, you know, she's in Augusta, Georgia so we're apart right now so, when I can play that live, when I'm out on the road and stuff, it's like, I don't know.. It's a cool experience to kind of just close my eyes and go into the song and kind of just, you know, escape a little bit. Those really personal songs are fun to sing in that setting.
What do you do when you're not working on your music?
Oh man, we were talking about this the other day. My manager, Andy, who's been really great helping out, we've obviously been really busy, kind of excited to get stuff off the ground, he said someone asked him that same question and he said 'you know what, I don't think I have hobbies anymore'. I think when you really love your work it's not work, it's just what you do so, honestly, I haven't had a chance to do anything but music lately. What I would do in my free time is I'm a big Smash Brothers N64 fan and a big basketball fan so, if I get a chance to go outside and play some basketball it's all good and once I get back to a Nintendo64 I'll play some Super Smash Brothers and, I will say, that I stand by that I don't think anybody can beat me in that. I gotta keep telling people that because I've had some challengers and, so far, I'm undefeated, so gotta hold true to it.
Is there a song currently on the radio that you can't stop listening to?
Aw man, my girlfriend loves "All About That Bass". Yeah, that's kind of a catchy song; I like it because it's got some soul to it. I saw a cover of it the other day, of this girl singing it and actually playing a stand up bass, I don't remember who it was, but that made me be like 'okay, that's really cool, i can dig that song now'. I'm not listening to most of the radio nowadays though.
What do you want people to take away from your music?
I think I want people to really be able to relate and to be encouraged. I mean, some of my songs aren't necessarily encouraging because I have songs about everything, just my life, but, at the end of the day, I want people to be able to be encouraged and to hear something and be uplifted; sometimes, that's not from hearing a happy song, it's from hearing a song that really resonates with you, like something that's powerful, like an experience you've had that you can relate to and it's this feeling of 'ahh, that person went through that too,' like, 'I get that'. But, yeah, just making that connection, making that personal connection with people and, hopefully, they listen because it's positive and uplifting, and not just because it has a danceable beat or something or because it has a cool horn sound. Ultimately, draw them in with all that and then, once they kind of dig into the lyrics a bit, having them be more meaningful and to really have an impact on people.
Anything you want to say to your fans?
Thank you so much. You've got to thank the fans, all the time. Without fans, I am just a lonely guy in an apartment playing songs to myself so, yeah, everyone's been really awesome and supportive on this journey so it's great.