Sam Weston is a recent buzz name in the electronic music scene, but if you’ve been around the traps for a few years, you’d know he’s been kickin’ the curb in the Aussie music scene since his early teens, playing in indie bands and electronic outfits. He’s one half of Alba and he’s the creative force behind Shiraz Voyager. He’s paid his dues studying audio engineering and has spent a large amount of time working at Sydney’s iconic Studios 301. We sat down with the enigmatic ‘Never Been In Love’ producer to unveil his story with an all-in Q&A. Hit play on his exclusive MoVement mix and have a read below.
Sam, thanks so much providing us with a fantastic mix! You’re definitely no stranger to pulling together a sweet jam – can you tell us a little bit about the incredible journey that you started on with Shiraz Voyager?
This project really started for me around early 2015, I think it was around that time that I decided that needed to try something new because I really wasn’t feeling satisfied with what I was doing musically anymore. I had always made music with other people before then, and while I was always producing music alone on the side, it wasn’t until then that I felt that I really needed my own project as an emotional and creative release. It took a year or so until I had the confidence to put anything I was making out, it’s been so nice for me that people seem to be enjoying what I’m doing.
Some people think you just appeared onto the scene like magic, but prior to your debut tape selling out within weeks of it being available, you’ve been working hard on your craft, including being one creative half of Alba. Can you tell us a little bit about how it all began for you?
I’ve been playing music since my early teens, and was in some Indie bands back when I was younger and was always drawn to electronic production from the start. Thom Mcalister (Cop Envy/the other half of Alba) and I went to highschool together so we’ve been making music together for well over a decade now, and most people until recently only knew what we have been doing together as Alba. I also studied Audio Engineering and worked in the recording industry for 4 or 5 years after that, mostly at Sydney’s Studios 301, so I’ve been involved in music in a lot of different ways over the years I guess.
Both parts of Never Been In Love is a producer power-house release for you, and we gotta’ say, as a listener it’s a serious musical journey which lends to some strong visuals when easily losing oneself in the music. What sort of inspirations did you draw on when creating this, whether musical or otherwise?
I’ve found that this project is largely fuelled by what’s happening in my personal life at the time. Shiraz Voyager was half written at a time when I was drinking too much and living a pretty destructive lifestyle, and a lot of the motivation for me finishing it came from me getting sober for a while and wanting to get my focus back on music. Likewise, Never Been In Love was mostly written over 2 months I spent living alone in a shack on the coast near the edge of the Nullarbor in SA this year. It was a very challenging and lonely time, and the music was largely influenced by the severe landscapes out there, it’s very barren and the weather can be quite extreme. I was using a generator for power and so didn’t have power for my synths all the time, and that influenced my work flow a lot too, I used a lot more samples than I’m used to.
What is your hot tip for getting a step-up in the Sydney house/dance/club/DJ scene?
I don’t know if I’m really in a position to advise other people on how to get a leg up, I still feel like I’m only just starting out have a long way to go before I would consider myself successful. I guess for me it’s just been a case of keeping my head down and trying not to get discouraged after 10 years of playing gigs and trying to make it work. It’s frustrating, it’s emotionally and financially draining, but if it’s what you really want to do and you really believe in what you’re doing then it will definitely be worth it in one way or another in the end. I guess my main piece of advice would just be to be honest with yourself about what you want to be doing, because if you aren’t doing it for the right reasons it will probably show.
How do you think the ever-pressing topic of the lockout laws is changing our local scene, and do you have any tips for both up-and-comers and fans out there to battling this?
Everybody talks about the negative aspects of the Lockout Laws all the time, which is obviously important, but I prefer to focus on the positive changes I’ve seen come out of them. I hear a lot of people talk about pre-lockout Sydney as if it were some sort of late night utopia, but from my experience it really wasn’t. My memories of it are that Sydney’s parties have always been very under-attended, and it was generally pretty repetitive and monotonous as far as events and venues go. One positive I’ve seen come out of the lockouts is that the promoters that are still going are trying really really hard to make parties great and are working together to make the nightlife more special here, and most of them I know lose money hand over fist and do it for the love of it. I’ve had more fun at Sydney parties in the last 2 years than ever before, and have seen way bigger, more receptive and interested crowds, and I don’t think it would have been the same without the lockouts putting the pressure on everyone. People come up with some pretty ingenious ways to have fun when you put pressure on them and take away the legal ways they can do it.
One place a newcomer to Sydney has to check out to have a good time?
Dixon House Food Court or Eating World.
Any shout-outs to some up-and-comers you’ve been keeping your eye on?
I’m a huge fan of all things DJ Plead, Jon Watts, Ben Fester & Cop Envy. Most of them haven’t even had a release yet but from what I’ve heard 2017 will be huge.