EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – SAM DUCKWORTH
Sam Duckworth has come a long way since hit Get Cape, Wear Cape Fly Days. 2016 saw a venture with electronic music and 2017 has seen the release of Kingdoms, a folk punk album that is perfectly suited to his raw acoustic style. RUSHONROCK co-editor Adam Keys caught up with Sam to discuss the album, life and the political inspirations behind his music.
RUSHONROCK – Hi Sam, thanks for joining us at RUSHONROCK. How’s everything been with your following the release of Kingdoms?
Sam Duckworth – It’s been good thanks; it’s been nice to spend a bit of time on the road, touring with the 12 piece live band. I love starting the year on tour; it feels like it kicks things off with a fresh energy and perspective. After that I’ve been firmly in the studio, both in Essex and in London, writing lots of new music for the year.
RUSHONROCK – You’re in a real creative purple patch at the minute, between Recreations and your self-titled work. Could you tell us a bit about this?
SD – I’ve spent the vast majority of the last three years working in studios. Either my own or working for others. It’s been a hyper creative period, which has had different waves. Electronic – Recreations – Baby Boomers 2, acoustic – Sam Duckworth – Kingdoms and something a whole lot different. Essentially I have three hats.
Recreations is me in electronic world, Sam Duckworth is me and acoustic and Get Cape… is me with a big ol giant band sound. I’ve had to invent these boxes, to partition the sheer volume of things being worked on. The hardest bit for me has always been working out what goes where.
RUSHONROCK – Could you tell our readers a bit more about Kingdoms?
SD – Kingdoms is part new album and part anthology. I’ve had a few songs, such as 1986 and 3rd Generation, in my solo sets but they haven’t had a proper release. Working with Xtra Mile has helped open things up for me a bit and once I started writing, I quickly became clear it was a solo anthology project and it had to be finished and released quickly. Sometimes records tell you how they need to come out. I think a big part of this is because it’s the most exposed I’ve been on record, perhaps ever. It was recorded in a week and is an accurate reflection of me as a solo artist and a thinker.
RUSHONROCK – There’s a strong socio-political commentary throughout. Could you tell us how the likes of Brexit and Trump have impacted upon your song writing and life in general?
SD – Racism is one of those things that changes everything. Those lucky enough to never experience it will struggle to identify with it, but those unfortunate to experience it will know the exact moment everything changed. I became politicised when I became angry that I was being treated differently because of the perception of who I might be, because of the colour of my skin.
We live in an age where the West is unstable economically, and blame is being put on migration. Demonisation is widespread and racism isn’t far behind. As a vehicle for songwriting, I try not to be too “protest songy” and more emotional commentary. Outside of pointing things out, I feel like my job should me more to motivate. Trump and Brexit represent a difficult new horizon for modern civilisation and with it will come mass inequality and racism. It is our moral duty to fight for a peaceful, diverse future.
RUSHONROCK – It’s not just politics. In Lifestyle Concept Store you talk heavily about counter culture and the arts. For music fans, this is something we share an affinity with. Could you tell us more about your experience with this and a bit about the track itself?
SD – I feel like cities are too expensive. As a result gigs become very expensive experiences. The cost knocks through every stage, right up to the bar. £5 for a bad beer in a plastic cup is not a pleasant experience. With the dwindling of physical sales, many artists have become more reliant on live profits. This leaves a dilemma, rising cost of gigs + need to make profit = unpleasant experience to go to for most. Gigs are like church, they are places to learn, to think and to have fun. Fun is important. By being short termism in the way we treat this process, we are in danger of making culture have a financial barrier. This back and forth, along with previous noise regulation, has led to many great venues closing. I feel, as a society, we need to put more value on our cultural spaces. This is something that can only come through funding/incentives and not sponsorship, that ship has sailed. It works in Europe, that’s probably why we don’t adopt it.
RUSHONROCK – This album is full of folk punk vibes, and you’re now signed to Xtra Mile Recordings. Is there a better label to guide you through this genre?
SD – I used to street team for X Taster in 2003/4 I think it was. I’ve loved records on this label from then until now, they are a passionate, decent, hardworking group. They put their energies and priorities into making sure it’s a pleasant and creative environment for all involved. It’s an honour and a pleasure to be signed to this label. It allows me to have freedom to have different projects and also to retain an independent spirt and ethos.
RUSHONROCK – We love that you’ve changed your Twitter handle to @notcape. You wrote some great songs all those years ago, but is this now something you are trying to move on from?
SD – I’m not sure. Ask me in 10 years – I kind of regret dropping the name.
RUSHONROCK – Recreations and Kingdoms are hugely contrasting sounds. Could you tell us more about this and what we can expect from you going forward?
SD – These two records are the first of projects being in boxes. I’m glad they came out back to back as they really highlight the contrast in the 2 projects. I’m 3 albums into my “Sam Duckworth” journey and 1 into Recreations, I look forward to seeing where both end up next and also what becomes of the question above.
Northumbria University Journalism graduate, rock and roll enthusiast and co-editor of RUSHONROCK.com.