S-X: "My experience with it (fame) is mad because there are two people that I’m living for, me personally and S-X"
Alice Gee | 23/01/2022
His debut solo release “A Repeat Wouldn’t Go A Miss” caused quite a positive stir within the music industry. S-X or to those who know him Sam, is already a worldwide music sensation having worked with the likes of Childish Gambino, Meek Mill, and more producing hit after hit. Having carried the baton producing with some of the greats, it’s time we get to see the Wolverhampton all-rounder take front stage, as he talks to me from his new home.
S-X: I’m in the process of finally having bought my flat. It had all the owner’s furniture in for months and so it’s now gone. I’ve lived here since December 2020, already it’s been a tower of my furniture and the owner. I’ve been almost moving in here for like, nearly a year now.
A: So exciting, peak adulthood right there, It’s so exciting for you to put some roots down and make it home hopefully before Christmas. I want to kick off with an easy question, you’ve worked with some incredible names over the years, including Childish Gambino, Meek Mill, Lil Wayne, amongst others how do you think producing with them has prepared you for your solo endeavours?
S-X: Producing with them and learning how they do things in the studio gave me all of this experience to be able to take it into something for myself, which I’ve always wanted to do, I just hadn’t really had the confidence to do it. I’ve always known I wanted to perform so speaking to them about how to do both is what I took away from those experiences
A: It must be nice especially when it comes to confidence, feeling that you don’t have to shy away from things to stay in your comfort zone. It must have been a bold thing for you to do?
S-X: It is one. I think that was when I started to realise I’m much more mature as a person and that it’s fine to live for me, It’s never too early, it’s the perfect time to embrace it rather than being how I was feeling beforehand. I would say I was scared or embarrassed of what people would think. Before starting I just wanted to stop everything, I actually stopped producing for some time and started to solely focus on what would make me happiest, dropping everything I didn’t want to do.
A: I love that. I feel like the older you become the more you find you’re coming into your own. I mean your 20s are pretty rough, at times they’re not much better than being a teen.
S-X: Completely! I find what you’ve learned in your early teens and childhood helps in a way but then all of sudden you become a ‘mature adult’ when you’re still a kid in your early 20s. Now I’m 29 years old and I’ve only started to accept myself for who I am. And, you know, the experiences that I’ve gone through over the years have been applied to make me who I am as an adult. It’s crazy, but I feel way more knowledgeable about myself and my music included.
A: You grew up in Wolverhampton with family really close by, literally just around the corner, did that influence your route into music?
S-X: 100% I think that’s how I got my spot in Music. I grew up and lived in the same area my whole life, so the kids I grew up with, we started making music together. And still being in Wolverhampton, so close to my family is literally what keeps me sane. Although I’m always in London, and I’m always travelling I love the fact that I get to come home to the countryside where I live now.
A: I’m with you on that one. I grew up in the countryside, so going home and being grounded and just doing normal things at a different pace to London is always nice. Speaking of things grounding you how did you find the response to the release of your mixtape?
S-X: We dropped that song in November 2019, that really accelerated my career, and then the pandemic happened. So for me, I was on this huge incline, I signed a record deal and then my whole world just changed. We didn’t have a Plan B, so I didn’t release music for a year and a bit, I’m very grateful that my fans waited so patiently to be honest. Going through a pandemic as an artist and not being able to perform or earn much money while still having the pressure to deliver music was such a hard thing and I know I’m probably speaking for most artists right now, to go through that and not be able to perform makes you feel like you’re not an artist anymore. It made me feel like I can’t be the person that I want to be as an artist. So that’s how I found myself working on my album, which is coming next year
A: So when it comes to your mental health what’s your experience been with it?
S-X: My experience with it is mad because there are two people that I’m living for, me personally and S-X which can make it hard dealing with mental health issues. I’ve only just recently learned how to start to manage both, but people don’t see both, they see them as the same. I’ve had to learn things like what it’s like to have fans outside and how to deal with having extreme anxiety about it. Because having people approaching you in street is the maddest thing, so I found myself not going outside at the beginning. Initially, I didn’t realise I was dealing with mental health issues until I was 23, but it wasn’t really until I got more known that I felt it personally affected me somewhat more.
I’m not saying I’m the most famous person in the world, obviously, but people still approach me daily, and some days I’m just not there. It’s tough as I don’t want to not speak to people, but it’s a new experience that I’m really finding hard. I don’t ever want to let down anybody who’s just trying to show love and have a conversation but in my head, the build-up and everything I’m about to start seeing is still a very recent experience, one that’s hazardous to my mental health, so I’m just being more conscious of how I’m I am that day.
A: I think that’s completely understandable. It must feel like such a breach of privacy at first especially when you feel like you have to be grateful and see the other side because it’s part of your job and you’re doing the most amazing thing that you’ve always wanted to do. And it’s finding that balance I think between you kind of having boundaries and saying that to yourself.
S-X: I guess it’s just what comes with it. The fact is that people are going to approach you because they listen to you, or they’re in front of you. Don’t get me wrong I really do love it when people approach me, just some days you subconsciously feel as though you have to hold the persona that funds it because they see you like that when I want to always just be me.
On the positive side, I felt like my experiences with me have somewhat helped others. From having those experiences and learning more I’ve been able to give friends, both in the industry and out of the industry advice from what I’ve learned in counseling, things I can apply to the conversations that we have, and seeing how much it helps them from them not having that support system there or whatever it may be. It’s an amazing thing that I’ve been able to pass on for friends and be there for them. I want to say, I think everyone should give counseling a go at some point because speaking about it makes you realise things, giving you more understanding of yourself, which is what the world needs more of.
A: Oh, 100% I’m the biggest advocate for therapy. But I think it’s really interesting what you said and the theory about that, because sometimes it’s really hard to see the progression we’ve made because it’s yourself, so it’s great that when you can support other people and then they can see how far along you’ve come.
S-X: That’s exactly when you can see that because you’re taking in other people’s information and resonating with it in a way that you want to.
A: I don’t really believe in the question of ‘what are you’re hoping to be doing in five years’ as who can predict that far ahead. But in closer terms, you mentioned next year you’re going to get back out on tour?
S-X: We start touring in January and through February, and there are still some tickets available. The album is really my main focus for now as I kind of have that to have finished. Otherwise, I want to get more out, I’m looking to drop more in the first quarter of 2022 and then hopefully another album and another tour towards the end of the year. If you ask me about my goal? It’s that I don’t want to stop.
A: My last question is whether the music you’re bringing out Is it similar to what you’ve produced before with others style-wise? Or is it something totally different?
S-X: This will be my debut album and I’ve always kind of said I’m not releasing an album until I feel like I’m myself fully with that going in. It’s definitely that time now. It’s gonna be way different from the earlier stuff I’ve done, but it all follows suit, you can listen to the first project and listen to the album, and you’ll hear the graduation of it and how much I’ve developed as my standard. As far as I feel, it ties in well. There is more flavour to it, it’s just enhanced the graduation of the ethics that you’ve heard before.
And a graduation it is, with his distinctive sound evolving for its very own time in the limelight. If the enhanced flavour is anything to go we can certainly expect him to reach new heights and if his present nominations are anything to go by we can expect to see him in the hall of greats.
Words: Alice Gee
Photography: Vorn Smith