Sam Daniel

MOBO Interview | Sam Daniel

Describe Sam Daniel in 5 words


Adventurous, Easy-going, Believer, Visionary, Focused. By the way, I had to google words to describe a person's character and these resonated with me the most.


Is the message in your music or music in your message?


To me, that sounded like the same thing [Laughs], but probably the former. The message of hope, faith and love, as well as other themes such as real life and relationships, are always heard in my music. I tend to write songs with lots of global style anthems that anyone can sing, anywhere - You may even find yourself singing it in the strangest of times. So I guess sometimes when there are no lyrics, it becomes the music in the message.


What or who inspired you to enter the world of music?


When I was much younger my mother had to take me on buses everywhere as she could not drive and I had no one else to look after me. Because of my sheer boredom, my mum bought me an FM Radio to keep me company. I used to flick through all the stations listening to every style of music it had to offer. I loved it all, especially the rap stuff. I got into Eminem quite quickly and, during my early school years, I started buying all his singles from Woolworths. There is no musical background whatsoever in my family, it’s not in my blood, so there was not much that had driven me to pursue this career. My uncle bought me a cheap Yamaha keyboard, probably when I turned 13. I started to play over rap songs, copying the melody and drum beats.


I picked things up very quickly. When I saw Grime MC's spitting bars at lunchtime, I also started writing my own lyrics and spitting bars. When I watched church musicians play during service, I also picked it up and made it my own. With a little copying, a little guidance, and A LOT of listening to music, it became a part of me. Currently as a multi-instrumentalist, I play the keys, acoustic guitar, drums and bass in various styles and genres. I rap, but I sing a little more nowadays, or at least I try to [Laughs]. So, above all else, I know it was a Godly inspiration put deep within my heart which led me to become a musician. It could have been anything, keep in mind I was extremely good at art, football and maths growing up, so maybe you can make your own mind up.


A country or regime only allows you to play one album on their national media network, which album and why?


Wow, this question is only hard because I grew up with so many albums that saw me through joyful and hard times. I have to think about this one properly. For me, it’s going to have to be 'Shout Your Name' by One Thing Live, simply because of the wide variety of styles that were included on the album. Lots of fun songs, still songs, and stuff in between, that can be adaptable to different environments and situations.


Tell us about your latest release.


Who Is Like You? (None Can Compare) is an upbeat track of Contemporary Christian influence. It features the legendary Jaye Thomas from iHOP-KC/Forerunner Music. The song was written during a random evening when I was hanging out with my good friend and mentor Ruth Soundarajah. We were writing to one of her songs when I got a little side-tracked and started jamming and improvising. With the chord sequence and melody, I was playing, Ruth then came up with some anthem-like lyrics to accompany it. This totally caught me and I knew we were on the verge of creating a hit! I recorded it as a voice note and from there we worked on the lyrics. We had some lyrical input from friend, envisioning the structure of the song and how I would produce it. Nine months later, after countless hours of producing, arranging, recording live instruments and vocals, mixing, editing videos, promotions, graphic designs and more, the song was ready for the world to hear.

The response was pretty slow at first, probably because it was my first ever track without any rap, and of a Contemporary Christian style. I don't think it excited all my listeners to be honest, and most people had no clue I sang a little, played musical instruments or led worship. This was totally new for some people. However, the song got out there and we found it reaching the top 10 on the US iTunes Charts for Christian and 4th position for Gospel. The song was also played on the BBC Asian Network, becoming my first Christian track to feature on the station. Through this song, I’ve been told that my music brings communities of people together, which I believe has been evident since the beginning of my career.

My debut album, Love + Grace, will be released this year. This album will include a wide range of styles that I grew up listening to, with a little spice of my own. These are songs of influence that project the sounds of nations.

Any British Gospel artists that you admire?


I admire many of the rappers well known to the scene such as Jahaziel, Guvna B, A Star, Victizzle, Faith Child and many more. I admired these guys when I started to write Christian rap songs. Although I have other influences now, I always find myself checking up on their music! I also respect and admire Ben Cantelon, Philippa Hanna, Coco Dupree, Ccippo, Shabach, Rend Collective and Naujavan.



Where is your next gig?


In April, I have gigs in Gravesend, Ilford, Romford, Putney and Italy. There’s also the possibility of a show in Canada and The Philippines too. More information is posted on my Facebook page.



Where do you originate from?


I have been called almost every type of South Asian in the book [Laughs]. I’ve also had people ask if I am Bulgarian, Italian, Romanian, and Caribbean. The truth is my Mother is from Jaffna, Sri Lanka and my Father is from Chennai, India. I was born and brought up in London. Since I was only raised by my mother and learnt her way of communicating, I tend to consider myself as a Sri Lankan.



Is Mobo an inspiration to your musical journey?


The MOBO Awards have always been an inspiration growing up. I have shared a stage with some of the artists who had been nominated or won a MOBO award in the past. I congratulate Kanya for sticking to her vision and pushing through. I’ve discovered new talent through MOBO and this added influence to what I do today. More than anything, I always thought it would be great to be recognised or win a MOBO one day.


Where do you see your music career 5 years from now?


5 years from now I see my fiancée and I travelling across nations, running workshops, speaking at events and conferences. I'm sure by then we both would’ve released a couple albums, possibly in different languages and genres. I see the possibility of a book release, which I have already started writing. My heart is not just for writing songs and making music. I dream of running an orphanage one day, playing a fatherly role in other young people’s lives. I long to reach the lost, broken and needy through whatever means possible.

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Steve Alexander Smith