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Interview w/ Sam Burchfield


Closing out the week today with an interview from recent Artist Spotlight feature and Atlanta native Sam Burchfield! Sam is a breathtaking talent who has a real knack for crafting highly styilized folk based tunes that promote audience involvement, and has such a unique way of putting a song in perspective that you fell hypnotized just watching him pour his heart and soul into everything he touches. We talked about how he first got started in music, his experiences on American Idol, and what musical path he's heading on down the road. Here is the transcript from our chat:

Give us your name and what instrument you regularly play?

My name is Sam Burchfield and I play guitar as well as sing.

What is the earliest memory you can recall of listening to music at a young age?

My earliest memory of listening to music is probably listening to MJ's Thriller,

best of Earth Wind & Fire and the KC & The Sunshine Band while my Mom

did her stair stepping exercises in the basement. I still have a weird affinity

towards “boogie shoes” from those memories of her picking me up and

swinging me around while she grooved out to some disco and funk.

Growing up in the Georgia area, what kinds of things did you do as a child

that you have fond memories of?

Well, I grew up in Seneca, SC. A pretty small southern town. My fondest

memories growing up were going out in our back yard (we always had an

awesome wooded back yard) and pretending to fight bad guys. Me and my

best friends would either be Robin Hood, or Lord of the Rings guys, or Jedi,

or whatever. We totally let our imaginations just run wild in those woods. If I

wasn’t doing that outside, I was doing it inside playing with my ever-growing

lego collection. For most of my life I wanted to be a professional lego builder

I’m pretty sure... I kind of still do if we’re being completely honest here...

Can you remember an experience where music had such a profound impact on

your life that still resonates to this day?

I grew up in the Church, and there was a very simple song called Sanctuary. It’s

one of those songs that sort of repeats the same simple melody and you would

sing around the campfire over and over. I really loved the song, but it sort of

became imprinted on my heart and soul when my best friend’s Mom passed

away... He asked me to play the song at her funeral, and it was the toughest

thing I’ve ever done. That song will always have a very special place in my

heart.

Take us behind the recording process for "Where to Run" and what it was like

from a production standpoint?

“Where to Run” was a very long process, not because we were in the studio

for 6 months, but because I was still a full time student and we really had to

find the time to work around busy schedules. Because it was done while I was

in school, and on a budget, it sort of was put together like an old patchwork

quilt. I think the best part was being able to collaborate with some great

friends and musicians. Spencer Smith, Phil Scheidt, Zach Wells and myself

met up in Nashville to figure out what these songs would be like in full band

instrumentation. Then we tracked drums and bass together in Athens, GA at

Domus Sound. That was neat because it was my first real experience recording

in a studio that wasn’t my basement. Most of the other aspects of the album

were done with Daniel Infield in his house studio in Atlanta. It was interesting

because we would record something somewhere one weekend, and then I’d

listen to it and tweak the sound all through the week during classes. I loved

seeing everything finally come together, but I definitely think the next project

will be less spread out and probably done in one central studio.

What are some of your favorite songs you've ever written and how have they

shaped you into the man you've become?

My newer songs are certainly my favorite. Not because I don’t like the

old ones, but because they are very personal to where I am right now. I think

writing songs is really just unloading your own personal closet and laying it all

out there for the world to see. Sometimes that is happy things like love, but

some times it isn’t. I think writing these songs has made me write out the

things that are important to me. I’m out here trying to work so hard to play

music for people, trying to make that my life, but at the same time I realize

that me working too much actually is taking away from other relationships in

my life. It’s a dangerous crossroads, and is something that I’m still learning to

balance... still being shaped, but writing songs makes you do that instead of

just being complacent where you are.

Describe what it was like to audition for American Idol and what did you gain

from that experience?

Idol was a lot of fun, and very exciting. I’ve probably lost all of that

excitement now that I’m on the other side of things. I think the biggest take

away was realizing what was important to me. I auditioned on a whim, and the

next thing I knew I was looking at a fat contract and my life flashing before my

eyes. When I decided to turn down going to Hollywood, it was honestly a big

relief. I had to decide between releasing my original EP, or taking a chance

doing this reality show and singing covers. Nothing’s wrong with the latter,

but I think when I was forced to choose, it really made me look at why. What’s

important to me is not popularity and stability, but rather the relationships

and personal connections I get to make playing music. Idol actually helped me

realize my originality and take ownership of that. I really came away from it

embracing myself as an artist, as opposed to just a singer.

Besides music, what activities or hobbies do you like to partake in to pass the

time?

Well I love to play basketball when I get the chance. And Spikeball, that’s a

pretty sweet new game. Love to hike and just enjoy nature, and recently took

my first overseas trip so I hope to have more European traveling adventures

some day. I actually still enjoy playing with legos, although I never get the

chance too... that’s gotta be the most therapeutic thing for me, just building

awesome things out of legos. Lastly, I claim to be one of the best Super

Smash Brothers N64 players. Me and my college roommates could really never

be beaten. Just saying... If you are out there reading this, I’m officially

challenging you.

What's on tap for the rest of this year, planning any shows in the Boston area

sometime soon?

The rest of 2014 is gonna be playing as much as possible and developing a

full band sound live. We (me and my roommate Zach Wells) are doing a lot

of acoustic duo stuff through the fall, currently on a House Show tour for a

couple weeks. I think leading into 2015 our main focus is preproduction for a

full-length album. I’ve got soo many new songs that I just want to share with

the world that I’m practically about to explode. It’s taken a lot of patience to

approach things how we are. Right now talking to some bigger name producers

and hoping to find the right fit to really make a huge full length. I wish we had

a show in Boston on the books! Let’s make it happen. We can take the MegaBus

up there or something haha.

Lastly, how would you describe your music to those who've never heard of

you?

I think after lots of debating and way too many descriptive words... I’ve settled

on “soulful folk”. Some of it leans into funk, blues, bluegrass, r&b, but the

biggest thing I try to bring is the soul. Not just the genre definition, but just

having a lot of emotion in the music. Sometimes that is more lyrically, some

times melodically, but all the time it is how you play the music live.

Thanks once again to Sam for carving a chunk of his time out to do this interview! Sam is a completely regular guy and it felt like having a natural conversation at a coffee shop or bear where everything flowed naturally and nothing felt forced or awkward, just all straight talk. For more info on Sam Burchfield, 'Like' him on Facebook over here and check out his official website as well right here.

#interview #samburchfield #atlanta #folkrock #americanidol

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