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