What Sam Robbins does looks effortless. He confidently peers out to the audiences he is performing for, and his smooth melodies and genuine spirit makes everyone smile throughout his performances.
Sam Robbins won the Young Performer Showcase Qualifier, and then months later won the Grand Finale event which was packed with top talent from the New England area and beyond. Sam simply paid attention to the judging criteria and worked hard to make sure he hit all the areas with top scores. He did a medley of several cover songs and also sang one of his original songs, which earned him high scores in originality and creativity. He is self-motivated, genuine and has a quiet confidence that simply grabs your attention any time he is on stage. The one response in this interview which really stood out was the answer to the question, “What is the best advice you have received?”, and he responded with “Be nice”. This is what his drum teacher told him in 5th grade, and he feels it is something he thinks about each and every day as he does gigs, works with others in the industry and interacts with fellow musicians. Sam has performed in several Young Performer Club events, and it is clear he appreciates every opportunity presented.
When did you first get started in music?
I played the drums from 5th grade through middle school, and then switched to singing. I got into singing in 8th grade when someone asked me to sing a song that my friend was going to sing, and since he wasn’t available, I decided to do it. I owe my friend a huge thanks for convincing me to do it.
I never took guitar lessons, so it was a process. My brother played guitar, so one day I picked it up and learned what bar chords were. It was overwhelming since I had so much to learn, so I quit for three months. Then my freshman year in high school, I decided to put the vocals with the guitar and found out I loved creating new music. I had never taken guitar lessons so it was a tough process. I would play around the house before and after school and when an elementary school asked me do a school event I knew performing needed to be in my future. It took a while to write songs, but I found that sophomore year I could really get things going and would do one new song a month. It was still hard for me, but I learned a lot with each new song.
Who was your biggest influence in your early years?
My biggest professional influence was John Mayer. I was also blown away by the Avett Brothers albums which were very folksy. I loved that genre and decided that was what I wanted to do. In everyday life, it was my drum teacher who influenced me the most as I had worked with him from 5th grade to sophomore year.
When did you know you wanted a career in music?
Sophomore year I had read Bob Dylan’s autobiography and said to myself, “You know, I could do that, so why not do it.” My high school was very musical so I joined the percussion group and ended up going to the world championships.
How often to you practice?
A lot! When I’m no working or out doing something, I am playing. It is many hours every day.
What are your music career goals?
Doing well at Berklee School of Music and I really want to be a performer with some industry recognition and be a successful songwriter.
What are your biggest accomplishments?
The biggest accomplishments were winning the Young Performers Club Grand Finale, and getting accepted into Berklee School of Music and SUNI Purchase College. The Finale was a good networking event as I have been invited to perform with other finalists who were in the show, and I am also doing the Young Performer Club shows this summer.
What advice would you give others?
Listen to a lot of music! Find artists who are a big inspiration and watch them play. Also, realize you are no different than they are. I may be a few years behind Ed Sheeran, but I believe I can get there, and so can you too!
What is one thing someone said to you that you’ll always remember?
My drum teacher told me to “be nice”. At that time, I was an awkward middle school kid, but it is something I remember each and every day.
What is something you have overcome that was a challenge?
I opened for Coda Sky at the Boston Convention Center and had to learn how to burp and sneeze in the middle of my songs. I found out that is a good skill to have. I guess I pulled it off as nobody noticed.
What is your process for writing songs?
It has been an ever changing process for me. A lot of times I will get an idea for a melody first. It is always nice when the melody and lyric come together. I can get an initial idea and then ground it with piano or guitar. It is different every time. A lot of people will come up with a line and then expand upon that one idea. For me the idea can drive the direction of the melody.
What was your biggest challenge in a live performance?
I was in high school percussion ensemble. I did the snare drum and it was a lot of learning how to not make excuses for how I couldn’t do it. I finally overcame a part in the song I struggled with, and did it perfectly at the world championship. My teacher nodded at me and I cried. It was a ton of stress as I never did it right in practice either. I learned I needed to get over my brain telling me I couldn’t do it. Beforehand I whispered “I am the best drummer everyone has ever seen.” Talk yourself into the confidence you need. It works!
How are you managing all the marketing tasks?
It’s really hard! My philosophy about this is I am going to be the guy that does it even when others don’t think I will. It is a lot of hard work. I am constantly on Instagram and Facebook and am focusing on all sides of the social media marketing.
Sam looks forward to performing at Hampton Beach and opening for Coda Sky on July 27th at the Seashell Oceanfront Pavilion. He is also excited about starting his freshman year at Berklee School of Music and continuing to record new music. He is in the studio now and has a new EP in the works. The Young Performers Club has enjoyed watching Sam’s progress, and is confident he will experience great success with his music career.