Before Annie Goodchild, there used to be Sam. After taking an Ancestry DNA test, the acclaimed singer, songwriter and recording artist learned that before being adopted, she used to be named Samantha. This realisation marks the starting point for their new single, ‘Gentle’, which was released recently on the 20th of January.
The track is the first single to be taken from her upcoming EP of the same name, an explorative new collection of cinematic, left-field pop, and Goodchild’s first release under their new creative moniker I Used To Be Sam. To accompany the release, Annie has shared a haunting music video, and kindly took the time to sit down and speak with us about her musical journey so far.
It’s wonderful to get this opportunity to speak with you, Annie. Your new single has become a firm favourite around our offices. Can you tell us a bit more about the song?
“‘Gentle’ was the first song I wrote for the ‘I Used to Be Sam’ EP. When I started writing it, I thought I was asking the world to be gentle with me. But as the song progressed, I realized I was pleading to myself to be gentle, kind, loving and patient. I needed and still need to show up for myself in a way that I haven’t before. The lyrics became vows to myself, and it has been a really nice way to help cast me off in the right direction.”
How did you first start making music? Where did it all begin?
“I had a piano in my house growing up, and I remember sitting there for hours discovering little melodies and then figuring out chords. But even before that I was always drawn to the sound of things in nature or in the city so singing and feeling the resonance of it in my chest came really naturally to me.”
What is your songwriting process for you when approaching a song?
“I don’t have one way of writing, especially with this EP. Sometimes I’ll write out a theme on piano or guitar, that usually have a way of being meditative, and as I repeat them, I can feel or hear in which direction I want the song to go. Other times I'll make more of an atmosphere electronically, or a lyric will come to me first, and then I will match that lyric as best as I can to sound.”
What’s the most important thing for you when you’re writing a song?
“I think I'll never be where I want to be with music and musicianship, so the most important thing for me is to communicate the emotion and experience I'm feeling as honestly as possible.”
When you were approaching ‘Gentle’, what sort of influences did you rely on most?
“I feel like each phase of my life was scored by the music I was most in love with at the time. The combination of those experiences and the music I listened to has really formed how I hear and translate my own life into layers of sound regardless of genre. When I was young, I listened to a lot of gospel, ‘60s and ‘70s soul, RnB and classical music. These artists and impactful vocalists really laid the foundation of ‘pouring all that you’ve got’ into your performance, so much so, that just listening to them, you feel their heartbreak and their joy deep within your bones. When I got older, I started hitchhiking around the States with friends and was introduced to American folk and psychedelic classic rock. It immensely impacted my storytelling. These experiences, combined with my love of strings and the boundless worlds classical music build, really form the bedrock of my music.”
Now that ‘Gentle’ is taking off, what’s next for you as an artist?
“For me, the person/artist bleed into one another. So, as I navigate my experience as a TRA / adoptee, I will hopefully gain some clarity, and that clarity will birth even more music. I think this track and its EP are the first stepping stone on this journey, but I have more I need to get out and more to unpack. As an artist, I’d really love to be producing more. I always want to be communicating what I’m hearing in my head as clearly as possible - for the listener, myself, and when working with other artists - so production seems like a good direction to be heading towards.”
It’s been a delight to speak with you, Annie. One last question, what has been your best moment as a musician so far?
“Ooh - this is a very hard question to answer! There have been a handful of moments on stage where I was fully present despite the debilitating fear of stage fright - and in that clarity, I got to connect with other humans in a way that would have been impossible for me to get to otherwise. Sometimes a mass of people riding the same wave is just magic, you know.
The other side to this answer would be in the studio when you have a special song, and it starts to take shape and come to life. It is really moving and totally addicting.”
The release of the EP’s title track marks the first of many chapters for I Used To Be Sam, it’s the mark of the artist making the bravest, freest and most confronting music of their prolific career. The track soars and skitters with crisp beats, sampled bodily sounds retooled as percussion, and cyclical snippets of recorded vocals that bring a melodic pulse; Goodchild’s voice wavering and roaring with a rawness that comes straight from the pit of their stomach.
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