Artist of the Month (June 2021): Newmaj
- 27 May 2021, Thursday
Sam Judd, 21-year-old artist, activist and self-proclaimed work in progress, started Newmaj in 2019 on the back of a year traveling the world. His music, produced out of a cabin in the woods and inspired by late 20th-century protest songs, straddles a space between commercial pop and sincere indie-folk, often dipping into UK dance music for good measure.
We caught up with Sam this month, on the cusp of his debut album 'Long Hot Shower' (out June 4, distributed by iMusician), to learn more about the inspirations behind his debut album, his creative process, musical influences, and what being independent means to him.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your musical project?
I’m 21 years old, live in South England, and just finished self-producing my first album. It’s been a crazy year - and I spent most of it holed up at a cabin in the woods making music. Around when the pandemic started I also decided that I didn’t want to go to university anymore - and ever since then, I've just been writing songs.
I have a fairly DIY recording setup - just a laptop, a broken old vocal mic, and a guitar - but it’s amazing how much you can do with just that. I love pop music, and I like writing songs that bring in deep or unusual themes. A lot of the tracks on the album reference issues like civil rights and climate change.
What can you tell us about your inspirations & creative process for your upcoming album "Long Hot Shower"?
‘Long Hot Shower’ came out of a pretty transformative time in my life. My perspective on the world has been changing so much over the past year, and I have noticed many of the people around me going through similar experiences. As individuals, but also collectively, we’re realizing that we can’t keep moving in the same direction and still have a planet to live on. The album attempts to tell the story of all these changes, framing it all in a poetic way that might be affirming and relatable for anybody experiencing the same thing.
What music was floating around in your day-to-day life at the time of composing it?
The album definitely has a wide pool of influences - it’s got folk, country, indie rock, pop, even bits of techno, and UK garage. I was listening to a lot of Joni Mitchell at the time, working my way through her catalog of albums. I’m kinda in awe of the level of intentionality and rawness in her songwriting. Other influences include Maggie Rogers, Sylvan Esso, Bon Iver, and The 1975 - anything that manages to combine electronic music with really interesting songwriting!
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey on streaming & downloading platforms?
I’ve been putting my music on Spotify and other streaming platforms for a few years now. On one hand, these platforms are an amazing way to discover new music, and I’m really grateful for that. But it can often be hard for artists to earn money from their recorded music these days. It seems like the tides are turning though - more platforms seem to be rushing to pay creators. For a while I felt discouraged by how confusing and impersonal the process of distributing my music online has been, but since I’ve been using iMusician things have become so much simpler - I feel supported and listened to, and that's incredibly valuable for smaller artists like me.
What does it mean to you to be independent when it comes to music?
Being 'independent' means I can do things on my own terms. I can decide what music I make without worrying about how marketable it is. It means I can focus on creating in an unreserved, authentic way, which is what really matters. The more I think about streaming numbers and money, the harder I find it to finish any songs - so I love not having to stress over that stuff.
What are you working on right now / What projects await you in 2021?
I’m currently working on several collaborative projects which will hopefully be ready by the end of this summer. I’m really excited to share all this new music with everyone - I’ve spent a year working on this album alone, so it feels amazing to produce alongside other artists again! There’s a collaborative EP coming with Felix Jupiter, and a few new songs with Robin George - I also just started a band, so we’ll see how that goes! The album comes out this month, and I'm very excited for you all to hear it.
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