It’s true. Some people seem to have it all. But who says life is fair?
Mr Sam Way is the genetically blessed, multi-talented musician who also happens to be a heart-of-gold gentleman. When I first met Mr Way, the Devon native living in London, it was through his work as a model. After a short conversation, I quickly realised there’s more to the man than just asthetics, his depth of character was clear and I discovered a new career move into music.
As a self-taught musician and songwriter, his work is authentic, sensitive and experimental. His songs enable a broad mind to become introspective. It’s no wonder music legend Eric Hall, who helped launch the careers of Queen and the Sex Pistols, has taken him under his wing. After listening to his songs, I had to find out more so we met up in South London to shoot some portraits and talk about his life, career, family and ambitions.
Sam is wearing a leather bomber jacket by Wood Wood. The wool sweater is by Dunhill London.
Who are you?
A Devon born, city dweller who holds the spirit of adventure close to a heart that is often worn on his sleeve. I’m a creator, who has lived a life akin to a leaf in the wind for almost half as many years as I am old and I’m an anime loving wordsmith, a storyteller, who believes that the question above is something like an eternal process- as surely the answer, life like, must change.
How are you feeling right now?
My brow is slightly furrowed. Squinting from the sun that beams down onto the veranda of a Villa in Greece. I’m away from home on a press trip, and feeling like the hustle of London is far away. I feel, though I’ve just got up, I could easily fall back asleep.
How would you describe yourself in 5 words?
Ambitious. Introspective. Spontaneous. Selfish. Hungry.
What’s your star sign? Does it define you?
I’m a Pisces. I’ve never really given much weight to the stars and their bearing on our personalities before 2018, but some of my closest friends are the same sign. I align with the ideas that Pisces are creative, sensitive and difficult to pin down.
Sam is wearing a suede jacket by Our Legacy and tailored pants by Etautz.
How long have you lived in London and where are you from?
I grew up in Devon, moved to London when I was 20, I’ve been here 8 years now.
What do you love about the city?
So many things – the people I’ve met, the opportunity for discovery, the markets on a weekend, the pubs, and memories. It’s home now. I love where I live too in Bethnal Green.
You’ve just spent some time in the States, how was the expeirence?
For the last 3 months I’ve largely been in NYC with a few weeks out in LA. They are distinctly their own worlds. I took as few day trips out of town – and it was nice to see life outside of those heaving city’s to experience what I would call – the white picket fence all american dream. I think I have become american in my appetite for coffee, party because they do such shit tea out here, and it’s worth noting too, I have barely cooked for myself the entire time I have been here – maybe thats because naturally I’ve been wanting to explore, but its also because I feel ‘take out’ culture is more deeply imbedded here. I cant compare anything in the UK to LA – I’ve yet to find that sense of ‘home’ there yet too, but in NYC I’m lucky to have a community that I slip into so easily it almost feels like I never left, and love this city, there is so much opportunity, so much hustle, and everything happens within such a small proximity. New yorkers are tough and no nonsense. I feel Londoners, though they wont dare to look at you in the eye, are perhaps a little more polite.
Why do you do what you do?
I am quite compulsive, but songwriting must be a product of the lifestyle i’ve lived for so long now; travelling, largely alone, and often having large chunks of free time. The Devil makes work for idle hands, i’m fortunate mine took to the guitar. It’s also just a joy to make music, sometimes these songs just come out of me, and I think it’s one of the principal ways I channel and process my emotions.
What’s your earliest childhood memory?
Mum and dad have always been apart for as long as I remember, I don’t have any memories of seeing them together or kiss or hug, which means from about 3 years old I can’t remember anything. But I remember drawing this picture, it’s one of the only things from early childhood that is vivid, maybe because mum kept it and we discovered it when sorting though all my old drawings is the reason it stuck in my memory.
In the pictute I’m in the middle, I’ve drawn myslf as perfecty and as in proportion as I can. I must have spent some time colouring myself in neatly, I’m in the middle of my parents, holding both their hands. Dad to the left, a gaunt tall man with pencil legs and mum – who still maintains in her 60’s an athletic, healthy body – to my right with a obese form. She’s practically swollen, a gross misrepresentation of her actual self.
How did your parents create the man you are today?
If it wasn’t for my Mumma, her strength as a single mum, her ability to listen & be present, her capacity to love no matter what, her capacity to give, to transform, to educate, then I wouldn’t be here. She was there for me as a child, a teen and a young man all the way up to now. She’s the reason I am, in every way. I can’t hold her and her spirit in high enough regard.
Tell the story of how you first got into music?
I met a man in a cafe. Honest. He tuned out to be none other than Eric Hall, manager of the Sex Pistols and Queen and he expressed an interest in my songwriting, which had only just been born as a remedy to an incredibly tough break up. I was full of sorrow and heartbreak, and my story and my songs spoke to him. He was a big catalyst in me deciding to pursue music as a career. There were other catalysts, a string of them to bring me to here, but that was the very beginning.
You said your personal taste in music is different to the music you make, how is that?
My taste is pretty eclectic now – if it sounds good to me, then I’ll listen. Im not genre specific anymore but I used to be – streaming services have in a way spoilt how I consume music. I used to be such a nerd, collecting weird bootleg CDS, random electro mix tapes and following the new alternative/dance/dub step scene with dedication. I definitely wasn’t listing to anything that sounds like the sound of the last single back then. I used to carry around one of those 48 CD holder plastic wallets – and I felt my music collection used to define a part of who I was. Really songwriting, playing the guitar or the piano has been the most immediate form of creation for me – but watch this space – all those early influences and soundscapes are there in the back of my mind. Who knows how they will manifest in my own work.
Do you have a Favourite record / song / lyric that sticks with you?
Let it be.
What do you think makes a great song?
A think a great song leaves you effected – for better – for worse – for whatever reason – it connects with you – it moves you – to cry, to smile, to dance
Hat is Sam’s own, Tee is by Uniqlo and Suit Pants are by Etautz.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
10 years GARCON? I don’t know where I’ll be next week – lets catch up then shall we? I think I would like to be living somewhere else, maybe not in the UK, somewhere warmer perhaps, I would like to have my own music studio – I would be writing the new album, or maybe working on somebody else’s, and I would like to get up every day and do yoga as the sun rises. I imagine family too – and also owning a cafe – I imagine the sea – lots of guitars – and living next door to my best mates.
Do you have a belief system?
I believe, our energy, something of our consciousness, goes somewhere when we die. Vauge as that is. There is so much that I cannot explain in this world. I’m actively spiritual, and meditate when I can. Music is a form of that for me. I’m interested in how to make this world and this life as incredible as it can be. ‘m interested in understanding myself, others and the complex human nuance. I want to push and explore all my boundaries and live just on my edges without falling off. Sometimes I live like today is my last day – other times I plan miles ahead into an ungraspable future. I believe in storytelling. I believe in the people around me. I also believe karma. On a very practical level, it works.
Coat is by Dunhill London, Suit is by Etautz and shoes are from Grenson.
Have you experienced death? How did it affect you?
This year me and all the boys I grew up with came together – back to Devon – to mourn and celebrate the life of a friend who was taken from us too soon. I’m welling up just writing this, it’s so sad he’s gone. It hit everyone hard, I saw people dealing with it in different ways and through different stages. I began writing a song about him too – one of the ways I process my emotion – but I’ve left it incomplete for now, it wasn’t perfect – and I think if i ever do show it to anyone, or share it with our friends, it has to feel totally right/totally complete/has to do him justice.
Mental health has been a big talking point over the past few years, particularly in young men. What keeps you grounded and sane?
You will never truly know what it’s like to see the world through someone else’s eyes. To live as they do, wake up in their skin. We all have our shit and it’s a responsibility and challenge to look after our mental health and health of others. Men, my generation at least, are talking about our emotions more, which is maybe why it’s now in focus. We’re all crazy in our own ways, but what keeps me grounded right now is to do with the grounding my mum gave me as a kid, the network of friends I had around me growing up, and a grim sort of determination instilled in me from somewhere unknown. I wake up, reflect on what has been before and try to do it a little better.
What do you think your legacy will be?
If I have children, then I guess they will be it more than anything. An artists works always outlives the artist too right? So maybe my songs will live on. They are living works after all. I know is I want to leave behind as little drama as possible, though that is easier said than done.
What advice would you give you 18 year old self?
a) Stop doing that right now… and b) Stay in contact – start assembling your contact list, collect e mails and numbers and stay in touch. I think of all the incredible people I met when I was young and travelling for modelling and now I would love to reconnect with some of those people again.
Leave us with words of wisdom?
Life is change, accept that you are a process, and know that what lies behind you or in front of you is nothing compared to what is inside of you.