Here at Crushable, we like to feature up-and-coming artists that we can see becoming the next big stars of the music industry. Sandi Thom may not be a newbie in the world of music, but we bent our rules a little bit for her because we love her music so much.
The Scottish singer is a big star in the UK, but recently moved over to the US and is working on building a fanbase here. We don’t think she’ll have any problems – her rich, powerful voice and blues-rock vibe are a refreshing change from the sparkly pop dominating the radio. And her success in the UK proves that she has what it takes to make it big. You might recognize her debut single, “I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker” from her first album Smile… It Confuses People. The song shot to the top of the UK Singles Chart following a series of popular webcast performances from Thom’s basement.
Sandi’s new album, Flesh and Blood, is set for release in September. Read on for our interview with Sandi, and find out about her new record label, why she made the move across the pond, and how a new country is like a new boyfriend.
Crushable: This is your fourth album. Can we expect a different sound, or something similar to your past work?
Sandi Thom: It’s an evolution. I think that’s the best way to describe it. It’s a more mature record, and I think it’s more sure of itself in that I’m more sure of myself and where I want to be musically. I think that since I started putting records out it’s been a journey to find that sound. To hone in on it, and to really discover what my particular sound is. And I really managed to do that with this record, working with the people I got to work with. Rich Robinson producing it, and the band that sat in on the sessions, those musicians of that caliber really stretched me and pushed me to the limit. It was a challenge, and it was a good thing that it was challenging, because it brought a lot out of me that I didn’t know was in there. It took it to the next level.
Is your inspiration coming from a different place?
My inspiration as a songwriter has always been the same types of things. I always feel inspired to write about social situations and what’s current and relevant in the world. That’s from the first record and it’s still there in this record, too, so that I don’t think will ever change. And also, it’s a reflection of personal experiences from the past couple of years. So as a songwriter it’s hopefully an improvement on the previous records, but it’s certainly the same types of things that inspire me.
Does it feel different to play for audiences in the US and the UK?
Yeah, I think it does to a certain extent. I’m relatively new here, but not so much in the UK. I have more high recognition, my name is widely recognized there. So here it’s like starting a new relationship. We’re just in that stage of getting to know each other and being all excited and giddy. So it’s a really refreshing experience.
What has been your most memorable live show experience?
I would say the day I played three shows on two continents. We started at seven o’clock in the morning and played a show for a TV station in Scotland. In a basement. And I remember it was really cold and it was made of stone, and we were all really tired. We played for half an hour and it was filmed and broadcast, and then we took a flight to London. We were playing a gig there at one o’clock in the afternoon, for a bunch of media people and fans. And then we got a flight to New York, landed in New York somewhere around nine o’clock at night, and we played there at ten or something in Brooklyn. The whole thing was recorded and filmed, and people were following us from papers, so it was crazy. Three shows in one day.
What made you decide to move over to the US?
I met a boy. He’s from New York, from upstate New York. We were doing this transatlantic thing, and I started spending so much time here, it seemed sensible that I just move. Because I came here, and I was spending lots of time here because my boyfriend lived in West Hollywood, and I would be here whole periods of time when he would be out on the road and I was still there. I was living here. And I just got really accustomed to it. I guess you can say that home is where your heart is, and that’s where my heart was then and still is now. So it drove me to move here permanently to be closer to Joe, my partner. And I love it, I really do. I actually feel like this is maybe where I’ll be for the rest of my life. But I’m Scottish, and I’m very patriotic about Scotland, and I make sure that everybody realizes that I am a born and bred Scot! But I do love living here, I really do.
What do you know now, coming into your fourth album, that you didn’t know at the beginning of your career?
Oh, so much. I think that when you’re younger, and naïve, and rock ‘n roll, you think it’s gong to last forever. You think that the rainbow is endless, and you’re never going to find the end. I think more now than I did years before, I realize the value in that every single person you meet is a potential fan of your music. So it’s really important, for moral reasons obviously, but also as a career person and a musician, every single person you meet, every dude in Starbucks, every person you shake hands with, could potentially go out and buy your record and like your music. That’s what’s going to aid your career and help you thrive. And I think I didn’t really see the value in that when I was younger, but I do now. You have to be humble and pleasant, and always be on your A-game.
You head your own record label now. What’s that like?
I set it up because I think after I was with Sony, I didn’t want anybody else to fall into the same pitfalls and traps that I did. That’s why I called it Guardian Angels Records, because the whole thing is that we guide and protect. That’s my mission with other artists that I feel passionately about, and also with myself, to be able to guard yourself in this business because there are lots of pitfalls. And I set it up initially to release my own record, and it kind of just grew arms and legs. We signed other acts, and I have a hip hop act, and a classical singer, and a rock band, so it’s really broad strokes in terms of genres. There’s all sorts of different kinds of music, but we all consider ourselves to be a collective in that any one of them will help the other one promote their music. My logo is an angel with big wings, with a girl’s face, and I have that tattooed on my back. And one of our acts, our hip hop act, just got it tattooed on their chest, and another singer/songwriter we represent has it on the back of his leg. So it’s like the stamp of identity, that you’re part of this group, and that people have really bought into it for life. So we’re trying to do something that’s different and be forward thinking, and create new ways to promote people’s music, and be different and just not like the traditional music model. It’s great, because we have a deal with Universal, and the label is an imprint on Universal, so everything that we cut gets mass exposure. We have the best of both worlds, really.
For more on Sandi, check out her website.