AS he embarks on a UK tour with the 2015 Brits Critics Choice winner, James Bay, modern-soul singer Samm Henshaw speaks to Quays News entertainment reporter Nathan Salt on everything from a debut EP to his choice of games to play on his travel playstation…
Scaling a narrow staircase up through Manchester’s O2 Apollo to reach Henshaw’s rather quaint dressing room the life of a musician away from the glitz and glamour of the stage began to gain clarity.
A two-seater sofa, littered with Playstation3 games ranging from Grand Theft Auto to NBA, was the hot seat for the singer first spotted by Bay on Youtube at the start of this year with his unplugged version of an original track: ‘Only Wanna Be With You’.
A Southampton Solent University graduate, Henshaw admitted it has certainly been a musical adventure since graduation day.
“We have played in Manchester before for Parklife and that was my first festival and coincidentally first time I saw James [Bay].
“To be honest I graduated from uni and then I hit the festival circuit so it has been a mad couple of months for me.”
The soul singer was first spotted by Bay online after one of Henshaw’s original songs took off and the number one artist didn’t hesitate to invite him on his UK headline tour.
“He saw a video of me on Youtube and he liked it and next thing I knew he was asking me to go on tour with him! It’s a huge opportunity.”
The nature of the modern day music industry appears to be leaning towards greater artist versatility and that is something that remains of vital importance to Henshaw who is a man still honing in on his sound.
His debut EP ‘The Sound Experiment’ was released on September 25 and illustrates the number of different tones and styles to the youngster’s musical experimentation.
“The whole essence of ‘The Sound Experiment’ was that the theme is that there isn’t necessarily a theme,” he said.
“My friends used to ask me if I became an artist what sound would I have and to be honest I could never really answer it. I just decided I wanted to experiment and so the EP has lots of different sounds which is right for me at this time.
“It’s a great time right now in terms of [chart] versatility because you can do what you want and if they don’t like it you can always change it up.”
Back in Manchester in early November for his first headline tour where he plays Manchester’s Deaf Institute, Henshaw’s focus will be on his newly released EP which has been well received by fans on social media.
Guys go get the bro @SammHenshaw 's E.P you won't regret it! Seriously!?????????
— Joseph Apostol (@joeapostol) September 25, 2015
“The sound is like a mixture of different things but the core is always going to be soul – mixed with pop, funk and anything I am feeling at the time.”
And when I pushed him for a musical inspiration…?
“I listen to so much music so I have loads [of inspirations] but the easiest thing is to say James [Bay] because I’ve been listening to him since his early EP releases.”
What was interesting as I spoke openly with Henshaw was his humbleness and drive to do what he is doing well with Kwabs – the last support act I reviewed at the O2 Apollo – setting the benchmark with his ever-increasing fame level.
He said: “The Kwabs thing like you say he is wicked and hopefully the same thing can happen to me because touring with James [Bay] is certainly an opportunity.
“It’s more than a warm up for the Deaf Institute tonight because it is the Apollo and, well, that is just nuts!”
And with the interview concluded – I was offered a choice of nibbles ranging from purple grapes to cheesy Doritos before security came to find me – I left Henshaw and his keyboard player/backing vocalist to their gaming set-up prior to performing.
Samm Henshaw is a name that will be unfamiliar to many but much like Kwabs when he supported Sam Smith, people have certainly sat up and taken notice since the gig.
By: Nathan Salt