Q: Hi Sam! I really love the lyricism in “Old”. The instrumental is simple but beautiful, really focusing on your vocals and lyrics. Can you walk me a bit through the writing process on this track?
SAM OPOKU: I was trying to create a song about growing old, as it’s a reality for everyone. At that time, it was close to my birthday, and the concept of getting older was on my mind more frequently. It felt similar to the New Year, where you start reflecting on your life. I thought about how even though my friends and I are in our late twenties, we still feel like kids at times and have no clue what we’re doing. While writing the song, I looked at some classic songs and music videos for inspiration, and I came across “Piano Man” by Billy Joel. I imagined myself in that music video, at that bar, and daydreamed about what I would say to the bartender if I could talk to him. I imagined Billy Joel at the piano, singing about my hopes and dreams that didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted, and I thought of responding to him with why I was in that bar in the first place. From there, the lyrics just flowed.
Q: Was there a pivotal moment in your life when you decided to follow your path as a musician?
SAM: There were many pivotal moments, but the first one that comes to mind is when I was fired from my full-time job at Grand Canyon University. I had to make a choice about which path to take in my life. After that, I decided to fully immerse myself in making music and follow my dream, regardless of the financial risk. I realized that even though it was difficult to take a leap of faith, I was waiting for a moment just like that because I’m not sure if I would have had the courage to take that leap without a gentle push.
Q: From the title, it seems like “Old” on the forefront is about the difficulties of getting older, but there is obviously a deeper meaning as well. Did any real-life events occur in your life that inspired the song?
SAM: You’re exactly right. It’s more about finding the spark that makes you feel like a child at any age, despite the regrets of life. There’s a line in the bridge of the song where I say, “But there’s still some time to build us a sandcastle inside of this hourglass.” I want to preserve the things that make me feel like a child. That is the heart of the song.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice about the music industry that you’ve received, and how has it helped you navigate through your journey so far?
SAM: #1: Nobody really knows what they are doing. Understanding this to its core has helped me feel less pressure about being creative, and it reinforces that everyone starts off by loving the music and then creates their own expression of it. In most careers, people have a roadmap to guide them, but in this industry, you have to pave your own way. In the music world, what’s considered “hot” is constantly changing, so you have to push the boundaries to discover your true capabilities. Your audience will find you.
#2: Most people will remember how you make them feel, not how talented you are. If you happen to sing well, that’s just a plus.
Q: Jumping off the last question, what piece of advice for other up-and-coming artists do you have for those trying to get their name out there?
SAM: Don’t be afraid to fail forward. Fall in love with the process rather than the destination. Let tomorrow worry about tomorrow. In that order.
Q: The production on “Old” is really remarkable; will you walk me through the production process?
SAM: I listened to Jaymes Young’s song “Happiest Year of My Life” and Olivia Rodrigo’s song “Drivers License.” I loved how the production complemented the lyrics and wasn’t too complicated. I wanted to give the poetry in the lyrics time to breathe. My friend Brandon came from LA to lay down the keys for me and add some extra synth textures. It was important to let the song breathe, so I listened to it repeatedly until I thought of a bridge where I could slow everything down and play with the chords. I don’t produce often, but when I do, I produce alongside the lyrics I’m writing. I structured the song to build up to an emotional climax by adding strings, drums, synth horns, and a choir of voices (all performed by me, standing in different places using different tones). Then, I wanted to bring it back to an intimate place at the end. By slowing it down, it feels like the song is taken right back to its heart. It brings back the child in me and reminds me that at the end of the day, it’s always about the people you love.
Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only have three albums with you, which would they be?
SAM: Beethoven’s 9th
James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical
Jon Bellion – The Human Condition
Frank Ocean – Blonde
Stromae – Racine Carrée
Drake – Take Care
Q: In your own words, how would you describe the music that you typically create?
SAM: I create music that fuels the soul, music that I can listen to while trying to fall asleep. My music makes you feel like a kid again and creates a bridge between something and reality. It’s a vibe, authentic, and makes the listeners feel like they’re really hearing somebody’s genuine perspective rather than a song driven by an algorithm. I believe in my music, and it is lyrically conscious. I prioritize lyrics because I care about what I’m saying, and melody comes next because I strive to be a modern-day Mozart.
Q: Any projects in the works? Tell Everyone what’s next for you!
SAM: I have a new Afrobeat single called “Royal” coming out at the end of July, with visuals to follow. I’m also planning to release a small EP in the fall. I’m excited about working on a few projects with some talented producers from Ghana, Nigeria, and LA. Very excited!
Interviewed by Melissa Cusano
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