Sam Perry is a name thousands of Australians have fallen in love with through 2018. The young vocal loop artist struck a chord with music fans and viewers of The Voice Australia where Perry took out the winner’s title for 2018.
Shifting the goalposts of what was considered the norm for music contestants on this platform, Perry’s music styles and curiosity when it comes to the manipulation and delivery of sounds in different ways, quickly made him a household name.
With new music in the works that will bring him to more Australian audiences before the year is over, Perry said he was excited for what is on the very near horizon.
“I’ve been trying to get some inspiration in some beautiful spots in Australia. I’ll be in writing sessions with some cool people, then I’m over to Melbourne to start recording some singles and extra content. It’s really hard for me to harness my lives down and all my vocals into an actual studio production, so I’m learning every step of the way, but I’m absolutely loving it,” Perry said.
The young musician described his looping process as a “love-hate relationship.”
“I’m doing the beatbox and the middles and basses and the singing on top. It’s all about frequencies and making that sound sit as a whole. It can be quite hard to carve gaps into your overall set and make it pop. I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to make my beatbox actually sound like drums and my harmonies all melt into bass lines that flow together. So, for the live set and what I’ve got comin’ up, it’s sort of an explanation or an example of how I loop and I show the audience in a clever way. Then, as the set ramps up, it goes into all of these different mashups and drum and bass rollers and high energy sort of movement. By the end of the show, you forget you’re listening to just voice. But, the whole set is entirely voice production and it’s a monster to be workin’ on right now, but I’ve been workin’ on it for the last month. I’ve got a couple more months to go to fine-tune it, but I’m really happy with how it’s all sounding.”
Perry will be touring through November and December, bringing his thriving live show to venues around the country. 2018’s experiences have set Perry up for a wild ride – one that he wants to get some exciting new artists in on too.
A strong supporter of new talent, Perry has put a call out for young artists to submit their music, with one selected to support him on his national tour in each state, as part of his Not A DJ Support Competition.
“Starting out as a local artist in a small town, I know all too well how hard it can be to meet the right people and be heard amongst the already established bands. I’m not great at networking and there is not really a rule book to follow. All I knew, is that I wanted to perform to a room of people that were there to listen.
“I grew up in Perth and we were lucky to get, to begin with, big acts coming through. I always go to these shows and stand at the back of the room and just wish that I was that support act and I never knew who to contact – mainly because my confidence isn’t the best, so I never really reached out. I didn’t really know who to reach out to. Now I’ve got this platform of people around Australia that love what I do and I know I’m inspiring a bunch of musicians and up and coming loop artists. I deal with emails every day and try to give support back to artists that are trying to find their sound.
“I was that kid, so I think it’s really cool to be able to give back and hold this comp where we are getting flooded with submissions and of acts that we’d never hear before. I want to build my art and set my place in this industry. I thought it’d be great to use my platform and harness it and throw it back to someone. The music we’re getting back is really, really great. It’s important that we have some pretty big people who are going to be looking at these submissions as well. It’s not just performing live. They’re all paid gigs by the way – it’s not just a gimmick to get more people in. It’s a paid opportunity to come and perform in my room and connect. I’m even hoping to collab with some of these artists live during my set.”
Perry said he was excited to hit the road on what is set to be his biggest tour yet. “This is going to be a huge tour. We didn’t just want to do a couple of shows and there’s a couple of regional places where I want to really explore more regional Australia and take the shows to. Because I’m a solo artist, I can put my gear in a backpack and I can travel with it pretty well. I wanna hit as many towns as I can in the future, but we’ve really tried to put it together. They’re smaller rooms – they’re not giant. That way, I can connect with my audience a bit more.
“I played a festival in Port Hedland the other week. It was nice to be in an environment with just music lovers just vibing with you. It was the first time I’ve had people singing my own songs back to me which is mind blowing to see. As an artist, it’s always been a goal to have people singing your songs back to you.”
During his national tour, Perry will use his loop station with an effect processor. He’ll plug his microphone into his bass guitar pedal, wipe its memory and rebuild sounds that work only with his vocal cords.
“Everything you hear will be generated from my voice.”
Emerging from his experience on The Voice with bolstered confidence and ambition in spades, Perry hit the ground running in striking out further on his own in the independent arena. Inspired by other Australians who had been able to take their interest in looping overseas, Perry followed suit and the results were quick to speak for themselves; connecting with fellow artist Dub Fx over a shared love for music, looping and travel.
“For me, Dub Fx is the king of loops. He’s the Jimi Hendrix of the loop pedal for me. I stumbled across his work on YouTube and it opened up this whole new world of this new style of music. I jumped in and I was looking up videos of different loop artists around the world for days, so I thought I’d give it a go. I’ve always made noises and have been annoying to be around, so I thought I could harness my energy into the loops. He was a massive step forward for me and my absolute ultimate goal is to be able to perform with him by the end of my career. I wrote to him a few months in and as he came through Perth he had me up to support him and featured me on a couple of videos. He’s been guiding me ever since. So, to be able to connect with one of your all time idols like that and for him to have the time for me was just mind blowing and gave me so much confidence to push my art form and see how I can grow as an artist.”
A seasoned performer, The Voice gave Perry the opportunity to finesse an already thriving skill set on a huge stage, connecting with his fans and continuing his creative journey under the guidance of US superstar, Kelly Rowland. Perry blew away the crowd and turned four chairs with his cover of Prince’s When Doves Cry.
“It was the first cover I’d ever attempted and I think I was definitely the odd one out. I didn’t think it was going to go down well at all. Before I started that song, I turned over to one of the producers and said ‘Look, if no chairs turn, do you mind if you don’t air my episode?’ I was so sure that no one was going to like it because I was that different and it was just a bit out of the norm. At the same time, I never did my hair, I never tried to be anything else except me. I never wrote down things I was gonna say. I just went in there every day. I was given a song and tried to remix it into my own style and my own interpretation of what I could do with it. I just showed up and was myself and I’m just blown away that so many people connected with me on my own personal level.”
When reminiscing on the controversial comments made on social media about Perry having an unfair advantage over the other contestants, he described the comments as a fair argument.
“I think a lot of people see the machines and think it does it itself, but there’s a reason why lots of people aren’t doing this. You can’t buy it off the shelf like that. It takes years of work to fine-tune my sounds and at the end of the day, there’s rules in place for a show like that and I didn’t break any of them. Everything was coming from my voice.
“I saw a lot of comments about auto-tune and all of this nonsense. The pedals I’m using are from 2006 and auto-tune I don’t even think was an effect back then. It’s not even a function, so it’s something obviously I’d never touch. If you’re an artist or a musician and you understand a little bit about loops and effects, you’d know that it was all real and what I was doing was real. I didn’t really let it get to me. Every time you’d see a comment with someone saying ‘He’s cheating,’ or ‘That’s not real,’ or ‘It’s auto-tune, you see another ten explaining what I was doing. I think when you’re in the limelight like that you’ve got to accept it. You’ve got to be cool with it and you just gotta move on. There’s always gonna be people. It’s so easy for them to have their opinion these days and I think it’s fantastic. Of course I was different. I was there to be different and I think it’s important to be different.”
Working in such a national spotlight in the way Perry did, would be enough of a challenge to shake the confidence of any artist. Nerves were replaced with excitement however, leaving Perry chomping at the bit to embark on a bright new chapter of music. Learning to adapt and use the platform he’d been given to continue on his grind behind the scenes, eventually lead him to this point – branching out on his first ever national tour.
“Gaining a fan base has given me more confidence. People seem to be digging what I do and that’s a big boost in itself. The experience has been so wonderful for me and I guess we will see what happens in the future, but this year is very busy and I feel very grateful for that.”
To enter the Not A DJ Support Competition, send a demo (SoundCloud or private download link), bio and photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tour tickets are available here.