Sam Brookes Who Brings Folk Hip to Life
We meet under the Apple Store flag in Regent’s Street. Young and Scandinavian looking, Sam Brookes is handsome and reminds me a little of Kurt Cobain. His brown hat was the dead give away, as up until this point, I’d only seen him online with it on. It was his song Roof On My Head on a You Tube video that prompted me to make contact.
The 24-year-old Sam Brookes, was born far away from Tripoli, Libya in Chertsey, Surrey and his family come from Bracknell. With three step-brothers and a sister, he tells me: “I’ve always loved to sing. As a young boy, my father and I performed in front of the Queen with the Royal School Queen Victoria Choir at the weekends. I was alto soprano and my father was bass.
“Only at 17, though, when I didn’t do so well with my A-levels, I turned to my music and began to seriously write songs. Quickly, I learnt to play in front of people at pubs and l still mostly perform in small venues. My bi-weekly Monday night at the Windmill pub in Mayfair holds up to 35 people and I like to perform unplugged.”
Sam’s music is folksy, hip and the lyrics emotionally charged. ‘In Weeks,’ the first single from his debut album due to launch in August, is about friendship, how people drift apart and the wrestling that goes on between them.
For Sam: “Human behavior is what makes the world go round and makes everything thrive. There is no mystery in my music and no clever words. I like to keep it honest, simple and I love all the great folk musicians, from Bob Dylan to John Martyn.”
The highlights of his young career include performing as support with the Subways, going on tour with Ray Davies, winning MTV’s ‘Get Seen Get Heard’ talent competition and performing four consecutive years at Glastonbury. Now signed to Helium Records, Sam’s debut album has been produced by Mark Frith and Chris Hughes (Tears for Fear, Adam and the Ants, Paul McCartney).
Then I ask Sam about the ‘Tripoli’ song and what inspired him to write about Libya’s young boys and men. He said: “It was a Sunday morning. I was alone at home with a bit of a hangover. I turned on the TV and felt overwhelmed. Things were kicking off in Libya and the Japanese tsunami had just happened. I am a young man, safe and warm in my country, with a roof on my head. It made me think about the Libyans who want to act and change their lives. The internet now means something, or anything, can spread and the world is spiraling…”
For the future, Sam hopes to sign with a booking agent and go on tour to see more of the world. He will be busy also with many live shows scheduled for the Summer, which will include performances at Glastonbury Festival.
Finally, I ask him about that hat: “Do you wear it all the time?”
Proudly, he takes it off and shows me the label. “Look, it is a Stetson Elkador hat, made of 100% wool. I like the brown. And yes, I wear it all the time. A habit I got from my father. Truly, it is always handy, to keep me shielded from the cold, the rain and when the wind blows. Plus, it keeps my hair out of my eyes.”
Full details of Sam’s next performances, check out his website: www.sam-brookes.com.
You Tube video by kind permission from Sam Brookes.