Sam L. Williams is an extremely talented musician who has big dreams of one day paying his bills with his original music. A multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, bass, piano, and drums, he’s also a skilled singer-songwriter and arranger. The 25-year-old musician is deeply passionate and extremely knowledgeable about Oldies music from the 60’s and 70’s. Read more below.
Response below Each Questions
- Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Sam L. Williams –I have always been a fan of music for my entire life, but I didn’t discover I was actually good at it until I was in my early teens. Before then I listened to music and specifically, the music I grew up listening to (which was Oldies from the 50’s,60’s and early 70’s) but when I was young, I actually was thinking about being a cartoonist at the time because I was also fascinated and interested in Classic Cartoons at the time, but then one day when I picked up the bass and started to play it and I got really good at it, then I picked up the guitar and started to write songs shortly after I did that, I knew that this was what I’m good at & this was where my true talent was at & this was my calling.
I treat music like therapy for me so writing songs is like seeing a therapist for me cause I pour my feelings out into lyrics about what I feel the most strongly about and it’s a reflection of how I am feeling at a certain time in my life. As well as being a musician/songwriter, I consider myself a music geek & nerd so i have an extensive knowledge of songs & artists from the 60’s that goes deeper then what most people have about that subject. And that all started like stated above, when I first discovered 60’s music just when I was getting started on life when I was a toddler.
I knew then that I liked the music and I was also aware of me not being such a huge fan of today’s current music even back then (which still continues to this day to be honest with you with today’s popular music climate for the most part). because I remember when I was a kid being in the same car with my parents & my sister, we would always get into fights as to what station to listen to while we were both in the same car together going somewhere.
She wanted to listen to Radio Disney (at the time Britney Spears had just become a huge pop star and was a fresh and new face in the pop music world. I wasn’t crazy about her then, I”m still not), and I wanted to listen to K-EARTH 101, the Oldies station I loved listening to at the time that I couldn’t get enough of. Also just a reminder I’m 25 years old so I consider myself an “Old Soul” even though I’m not of the generation that grew up listening to this music back in the 60’s.
- Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Sam L. Williams – I have had many twists & turns in my career, and I’m multifaceted so all of these things went into different directions which ultimately resulted into what’s happening now in my life.
I consider myself a music historian & an aficionado on all things 60’s music, so a lot of these stories about that part of my career tie in with the people I have met who were making & recording music from the 60’s, and many of these songs were big huge famous songs.
I once met the guy who produced and wrote a lot of number one hits for Motown in the 60’s, and I was able to secure him as a guest on my podcast. I also met the guy who was the original producer for The Kinks and The Who, and I also had him as a guest on my podcast as well.
I met these people at live music shows related to Oldies/60s music. I started the podcast 3 years ago after being encouraged by friends to do one about 60’s music and I’m currently over a 100 episodes deep into it with over 19.k thousand listeners in total all organically built up since I launched it.
As far as my original music is concerned, I was mentored early on by some cool people that helped shape my songwriting & recording craft when I was young. My first engineer I worked with worked on big hit records in the 80’s for artists like Cher, The Bee Gees and Blondie in New York.
A guy who helped kick start my songwriting career was someone who co wrote a bunch of big hit songs with Neil Sedaka in the 70’s. He mentored me and taught me everything I need to know about writing lyrics. I went to Musician’s Institute quite some years ago and recorded some songs there and I just couldn’t get much momentum going with my own music career after I graduated.
I played full band shows playing my own music but never made any real money off of them, I struggled financially for a long time and to add insult to injury, I had a full length album taken down from the streaming platforms it was on for reasons I’m still unsure of. Then I found the school I’m going to now (Jazz Hands for Autism) and they stepped in and are now providing career support for me for my upcoming release at no cost to me and I became aware of this school after a friend of mine introduced me to the head of the school virtually after she met him at NAMN.
I have been associated with my new school for 2 years now and I’m excited to see what the future will bring with me going there. I’m very hopeful & optimistic about them for sure.
- Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Sam L. Williams – I have a tendency to clap for myself after every song I play live, which is weird but people seem to like it & they don’t necessarily mind it.
- What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Sam L. Williams – I do a podcast every week where I take one 60’s song by one 60’s artist/band, and I dive into it/analyze the song/break it down, then I talk about the history behind it. It’s called the Millennial Throwback Machine, and I also interview legendary musicians from the 60’s on my podcast to get their perspective on their music that they originated back then and I have them share the stories behind their songs.
But, I also have a potential project currently in the works with the organization the Grammy Foundation (part of LA Live). I also have an EP slated for release in May along with 3 other singles you can stream right now. It’s a self produced project where I play most of the instruments & every song on there is an original song of mine. Every song on the release is about relationships & some are based off of real life experiences & feelings I have had, others are written from someone else’s perspective & life and not mine.
- Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Sam L. Williams – I once met the guy who originally co wrote and produced Stand By Me at a Rock & Roll History Storytelling event in Santa Monica, California and I was trying to pick his brain about some of the other hit records he worked on as a producer, and I asked him if he can remember who were the session musicians on some of the hits he worked on as a producer, he told me this and I’ll probably never forget it “after you get to a certain age, the names are the first thing that go”.
- Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Sam L. Williams – Find People in your life that support your dream & want to help you achieve your goals. Be Willing and able to barter with them so that way they don’t feel like they are not being appreciated by you. Honor them as you are asking them to honor you.
- You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Sam L. Williams – Build a community of people within your industry around you and develop strong relationships with people within your industry that can help propel your career forward and don’t burn bridges.
- Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.
Sam L. Williams – I do kickboxing 3 times a week, sometimes 4. I ride my bike and do 20 and at one point, 30 mile rides whenever the weather permits it. It has been a long time for me since I have done those big long 30 mile rides to be honest with you. I try to stick to at least 20 miles round trip so I don’t wear myself out and bite off more than I can chew on any given day when I choose to go cycling.
- What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
Sam L. Williams – Be prepared for the long haul and try not to get discouraged if things aren’t going the way you originally wanted them to go and don’t freak out if you have to start all over again in the middle of your career, cause that can be a part of the process in regards to you pathway to success within your industry.
- Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Sam L. Williams:
“Making Music is learning the rules and then learning how to break them”
“Great Music doesn’t have an expiration date”
- None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Sam L. Williams – I had two mentors growing up that helped me along with my songwriting & recording career. One was a guy who co-wrote big hits with Neil Sedaka in the 70’s, and the other was an assistant engineer for Electric Lady Studios in New York in the late 70’s early 80’s.
One helped me write some of my earliest songs when I was a teenager and the other one recorded 2 songs of mine that I wrote and he fully mixed & mastered them. My teachers at Jazz Hands For Autism in Culver City (the school I’m currently going to) are also very helpful to me in my life and I am grateful for them because they have gone out of their way to help me out with various things in my music career free of charge so I’m very lucky to currently have them in my life.
- You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Sam L. Williams – I would want more Younger people/Millennial/Gen Z people to get excited and fall in love with 60’s music, just as I did when I was just a little boy. And I would want them to know about recording studios and session musicians of that time, and record labels and songwriters and have a deeper understanding of what went on back in the 60’s as far as the music business was concerned.
People within that age group tend to only focus on The Beatles, but I would want to open their minds to other bands & artists from that time besides them. I don’t have a lot of friends in my age group that love this music just as much as I do, and the ones that do love this music as much as I do, most of them are about 12-13 years older than I am.
Other than that it’s boomers & people that were there at that time. With my own music, I want to reach young men who have low confidence with themselves with girls and struggle with rejection & unrequited love and send a message to them saying that I know what that feels like & I have been there personally and can relate to you on that level, even if they have never met me and I have never met them personally.
- We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Sam L. Williams – Hands Down Burt Bacharach. I have been a lifelong fan of his music for as long as I can possibly remember, and I would absolutely LOVE to sit down and eat with him so I can pick his brain undisturbed about the absolutely AMAZING music he wrote with his then partner Hal David, plus talk about the session musicians he worked with back in the 60’s both in England, LA and New York and the studios he worked out of in those areas.
I would also smother him with compliments on his music & mention that the one commonality I have between me and him is that we both love the same kind of chords & chord changes & we both love songs with complex & interesting chord progressions and intelligently written lyrics about everyday emotions & feelings. I would LITERALLY die and go to heaven if this ever happens in my life.
- How can our readers follow you online?
Sam L. Williams – I have three singles out now under my stage name – Sam L. Williams. Those are Keep Her In My Back Pocket, Turquoise Apricot and She Said No, and you can find those wherever you stream your music. Under that same name Artist Name will you find my upcoming EP that is coming out in May. I also have a podcast out now about 60’s music called the Millennial Throwback Machine and you can find that wherever you like to listen to podcasts. You can also find me on my website samwilliamsmusic.net.
Follow on Instagram: @iheartoldies.