From the catwalk to the stage, Sam Way is on a musical mission.
London-based journalist Marcio Delgado catches up with the British singer-songwriter on creativity, ninjas, washing machines and being an independent artist.
Last time I met Sam Way he was strolling down the catwalk in a bright orange pair of flip flops for Superdry, the casual clothes wear brand whose clients include footballer David Beckham and Queen Elizabeth II’s daughter in law’s sister, Pippa Middleton.
Fast forward a few months and the British model turned songwriter and performer is making sure that lending his image to campaigns and fashion shows doesn’t get in the way of his musical career as he talks to us about his recent tour of the UK and the release of his new single Bucket List.
‘I actually don’t do many catwalks. I was told I walk funny by a designer in Milan one year during show season. But modelling and its temperamental nature as a profession is making it possible to dedicate time and care to my music which would be impossible in any other job’, acknowledges the 26 years old Devon born model whose catalogue of work spans campaigns for British menswear Topman, American designer Tommy Hilfiger, Spanish clothing retailer Pull & Bear, Italian luxury fashion house Dolce & Gabbana and television adverts for Diesel and Paco Rabanne, to name just a few.
We are meeting today for an exclusive interview and photo shoot in Camden Town, a diverse London neighbourhood mostly known for its colourful population of punks, independent stores, rock & rollers and its sprawling market occupied by countless tourists searching for souvenirs. This is the area where English writer Charles Dickens once lived and where singer Amy Winehouse was born. It is at the back wall of Winehouse’s favourite pub, The Hawley Arms, that we found ourselves taking shelter under as the London skies darkened and the rain began to fall. As the rain pounded the rooftops we talked about his future projects, his recent collaborations, his faulty washing machine, his inspiration and chuckled at the bizarre circumstances his modelling career has put him in. ‘The first job I ever did I had to wear a dress!’ he muses.
‘This area, for me is all about creativity. The diversity here is inspiring. Making music is all about having a creative journey’, says Way while taking of his shirt and getting changed into a blue pair of jeans on the pavement. At 6ft tall and with striking cheekbones Sam would hardly go unnoticed by strangers passing by in the street, let alone when he isn’t wearing any pants – as he’s doing right now.
‘I am fortunate to come from a very musical background. My dad plays guitar and so does my mum. They were always into world music and I grew up listening to lots of diverse artists… and being dragged to countless music festivals as a kid.’ He remembers with a smile.
But it wasn’t until a few years ago – and almost a decade of working full time as a model, that he embraced music as a profession.
‘My first ever music gig was an open mic on Broadway Market in East London, back in 2012. A friend of mine basically forced me to play some of my material, some of my earliest songs, she practically pushed me onto the stage. Of course it was frightening, I still get nerves every time I play, but it was the turning point. The experience made me just want to get up there and do it again. The next day I went to Denmark St, one of London’s musical hubs, and bought my first proper guitar. She’s called Heather, names after my mate who made me get up on stage. I’ve always loved storytelling and all my songs tell stories, they mean something to me and as a performer it’s my mission to make sure others can connect to it’.
When he’s not gigging, practicing or on a photo shoot Sam has a passion for cooking, graphic novels, writing on his blog, doing yoga, and exploring London with his friends.
‘I am disciplined; you have to be when you are your own boss. I guess that self-motivation is the key ingredient. If you don’t have some form of structure and ritual in your life time can easily pass you by, and time is short, we have to make the most of it. I’ll even plan what i’m going to eat the next day! A little bit of foresight helps you be so much more focused, so much more productive.’
With the weather conditions worsening in Camden – London doesn’t require any special effects as the British skies can go from sunny to stormy within minutes – it is time to wrap up the photo shoot and the interview.
I ask if he is managing, somehow, to blend those two words – fashion and music – and the answer comes fast:
‘Absolutely Yes!. Connections and connecting people are so important, and the fashion industry can open so many doors. I know I’m very lucky to be able to cross between those worlds and bring people from one into the other’ – confesses the musician who once wanted to become a computer games designer…. or a ninja…but at this moment in time and for the foreseeable future has other much more tangible priorities on his list.
‘My washer/dryer machine is playing up and is leaving all my clothes with this weird texture. It’s weird because it dries nicely but then it’s only when I wear the clothes that I realise i’m sweating out washing powder as I go, I really need to sort that out’, laughs Sam after packing away his guitar, changing back into a his own outfit, and disappearing into the flock of tourists that crowd the Camden streets.
Sam is coming to the USA soon to play in NYC and LA.
Model: Sam Way | Photographer: Walterlan Papetti | Hair and make-up: Michele Di Giovanni | Stylist: Tasha Leslie | Assistants : Gwen Robbana and Josh Goldberg | Sam Way wears Foxhall @ www.foxhalllondon.com.