Ever wondered what it’s like to be a DJ? In our series The Low down, we offer a peek inside the world of DJs, producers, managers, and other movers and shakers in the world of electronic music. Check out the first installment here.
When I meet Sam Feldt (aka Sammy Rennings) at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, I didn’t know what quite to expect. My reservations were allayed quickly, he’s instantly warm, giving me a firm handshake, we joke around and we quickly head towards the elevators. It’s almost 4:00 pm, Sam’s due at Sirius XM for a live interview, but he’s thrilled snapping photographs of the people below, Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral perched across, on the upper floors of 30 Rock. I approach the table, he’s quiet and thoughtful, at times glancing at his iPhone as alerts come in from Sirius XM. He’s cheerfully drinking a cup of something from Starbucks and eager to start chatting about his eventful weekend in the big apple. When he talks about his music and his latest North American tour, his eyes get wide; the small-town boy still seems surprised to find himself here.
He tells me everything about his music, the hard work, and how in the span of two years while making his debut album, one album grew to a double album. 24 tracks in total, representing the number of hours in a day. Sam tells me, “Sunrise to Sunset stands for diversity and you can listen to my music any time of the day–between sunrise and sunset. That’s how the idea of the album came together.”
As far as inspiration while making the album, Sam revealed inspiration came from other cultures, artists, and people he encountered while touring. Sam’s rise has brought him to incredible locales around the globe and the opportunity to work with artists he drew inspiration from growing up, “For many years, I’ve been a fan of Joshua Radin and I finally had the chance to collaborate with him…Another track on the album was made with an American band and one with Shaggy.” Clearly, the diversity of culture, sound, and people is what makes Sam Feldt’s debut double album cool and special.
With typically smooth tropical vibes lacing the production, Sam displays his unique signature style on the track with a slowed tempo, and addictive synth-based melody running throughout the release. Topped with the instantly unmistakable vocals of AKON, the rap star’s rich delivery seals the summery feel to the production, which is sure to act as a firm favorite with Sam’s fanatic ‘Heartfeldters’ fanbase. “Growing up, I looked up to Akon and whenever I hear one of his songs it always brings me back to my childhood. Collaborating with him was definitely cool. It’s really nice to be able to get to a level in your career where you’re able to collaborate with esteemed artists who allow you to push boundaries and step outside of the box.” Sam’s double album is a reflection of just that, his need to be challenged artistically, his eagerness to learn from new and seasoned artists alike and his ease to move from one genre to another.
I’m not surprised when Sam mentions who, on the second album, are his favorites. He mentions meeting Shaggy in Miami and how they ended up having dinner, “we found out our music aligned well despite being different. We’re both going for the same carefree, summer vibe. Another favorite of mine from the second album is the one I did with George Shelley–he’s in a U.K. boy band. It’s so different and this is what gets me excited about making music. When making this album, I tried to stay away from collaborations with DJs and producers, sometimes when you have two producers in the studio what often happens is you end up with just combining two styles together. The idea behind my double album is really for me to explore musically and push boundaries. Adding a musician or a singer does wonders for creativity and gives room for growth.”
Last Saturday, Sam finally got the chance to perform songs from his albums at the PlayStation theater with a live band, “it’s more a live band tour than a DJ set–my sound is evolving and I’ve gone from pushing buttons on stage to having a live band experience. It’s cool. That’s a reflection of my albums, the songs are made with musicians: horns, guitar, saxophone, and the list goes on.” Sam brought most of the band members who performed live with him at his Heartfeldt Pool Party at this year’s ADE on tour. “It’s cool to make music with musicians in the studio, but it’s even better to perform live together on tour. Just wait and see next year, I’ll be doing more and more of these theaters.”
It seems there’s no slowing down for Sam Feldt. “There’s a lot of songs in the works, in fact, I have a music project with a big Hollywood actor-singer whose name I can’t reveal just yet. Being signed with Spinnin’ Records, who is now part of Warner Music is certainly opening a lot of doors and a larger network. For now, I’m still working on my radio show, ‘Heartfeldt Radio‘ and eventually I want to start my own record label. There’s a lot of new talent and new producers out there that need support, exposure, and guidance.” Sam is determined to give producers a platform and the kind of guidance he did not have coming up in the game. Talk about goals, the Heartfeldt Record Label is definitely on the horizon.
As we wrap up our time together, he gives me a peek at his childhood. He was once a big fan of dinosaurs. At the tender age of 8, he started volunteering at a dinosaur museum — where he gave guided tours. “I put a lot of effort into everything I do.” Practice makes perfect. Not bad for a small town boy.