Interview with Sam MacAdam

Written by Divine Magazine

Sam MacAdam is a harpist, violinist, and singer-songwriter from Glasgow. With a first class honours degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Sam’s work draws on both classical music along with traditional Scottish culture and contemporary innovation.

Sam is both a composer and collaborator, with her music appearing on compilation albums and The Willow Trio’s debut EP. Sam has been involved with projects that have been funded by the UK Harp Association, Glasgow Connected Arts Network and TASGADH and aims to bring music and art into rural communities and to children with limited access to the arts.

Sam explores human emotions in her songwriting and aims to world build within her compositions and work, taking the listener on a journey with her.

Getting to know Sam

Do you sing in the shower? What songs?

I love to sing in the shower – it’s where I work on wee bits of my songs that aren’t quite fitting together yet. You can let your mind wander in the shower without any pressure, and just see where it takes you.

My cat sometimes sneaks into the bathroom, and she HATES me singing in the shower – she starts popping her paws up on the bath and crying. Sorry Pancakes!

You are a new addition to a crayon box.  What color would you be and why?

Bright pink – despite all my songs being fairly gloomy I’m actually a very extraverted and vibrant human being. Also, I’m pretty loud.

What would be a good theme song for your life?

‘Dear Catastrophe Waitress’.

What’s your favorite board game?

I love a lot of boardgames, but my favorite is any where there’s an opportunity to be a traitor or have a secret identity. I really like the Battlestar Gallactica boardgame, but I’ve never once been the cylon.

Are you a valuable asset on a Pub Quiz team?

Absolutely not. I know nothing about sports or pop culture. If any of the answers involve harps or physics then I’m probably grand, otherwise…I’ll just get the rounds in.

Who inspired you to make music?

I take a lot of inspiration from my closest friend Romy Wymer, and my boyfriend Andrew McDowell (A Heart of Gold). Over lockdown they both worked super hard on their own projects and the flat is always such a creative place to be in – it’s hard not to take inspiration from them both! We’ll all be hanging out together and chatting about the latest things we’re working on or hearing each other create music.

Are you finding the isolation of the pandemic conducive to your writing or is it hindering the experiences you can write about?

I think it’s been a mixture of the two. There was definitely a darkness in the depths of the lockdowns when nothing was happening, and everyone was staying indoors and losing a little bit of what it meant to be a functioning human being. But now that we’re coming out of it there’s such an explosion of art and music being released as people start feeling more uplifted and able to use a little bit more of the free time they had towards the end of lockdown.

Who are your top two favorite artists of all time? Why those artists?

The Smiths, and Belle and Sebastian.

Morrissey’s lyrics from The Smiths era are so poetic – they always contain more information than they’re explicitly telling you. I think they’re phenomenal at capturing emotion and place, and they still feel relevant today.

I just love everything about Belle and Sebastian – they were the first pop gig I saw with my friend Hannah, and I remember dancing all night with her. There’s such a buzz about their music – and I love how much of it is rooted in Glasgow.

Have you always been interested in music? Was there a particular song/performance that made you say “Woah! I want to do that!”?

I saw Nigel Kennedy perform The Four Seasons at the millenium dome. He had such an amazing presence, and that day has stayed with me ever since.

What are your plans for any future releases?

There are a few songs I’m working on at the moment which will hopefully be recorded and finished over the next few months, to form an EP with the other two singles that I’ve released. Then I’m looking forward to working on some slightly more uplifting tunes – maybe!

Are you planning any videos for your music?

We were actually meant to film over the weekend, but the British weather let us down. It’ll be for Longsands, so involves a trip to Longsands and a very early morning shoot. And strawberry tarts!

What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, TV, or other media?

I’m most interested in emotion, place, and time. The sea features a lot – I feel that there’s something about nature and outdoor spaces that affects who we are as individuals. I mean, there’s a reason that nature is so important in literature – from the moors in Wuthering Heights to gentle rolling countryside in The Shire!

Was anyone else involved in writing, recording, or producing the songs?

I wrote and recorded everything myself at home. I live in a flat, so I try to time it when the upstairs neighbours are away at work as the microphones pick up everything! Andrew recorded in the bass guitar for me on my previous song, but I’ll be doing bass guitar from now. I’m a bit of a control freak!

It was mixed and mastered by Edwin McLachlan who did a fantastic job.

“Longsands” explores disappointment and lost love, juxtaposed with a rare and perfect English sunny day, and uses dovetailing string entries to recreate the undulating North Sea, with the harp providing rhythmic stability throughout.

© 2021 – 2023, Divine Magazine. All rights reserved.

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