Music

Grammy Award-Winning Artist Sam Martin on Making ‘Timeless’ Music And Not Just Another Pop Song

Sam MartinJimmy Fontain

Sam Martin may just be releasing his debut concept album, but he’s no rookie in the music industry.

The Grammy Award-winning musician first made it to the scene when he wrote “Daylight” for Maroon 5, which peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Pop Songs chart. This lead to other collaborations like Jason Derulo’s “Want to Want Me” and David Guetta’s hit singles “Lovers on the Sun” and “Dangerous.” He later went on to win a Grammy for his contribution on Ziggy Marley’s “Lighthouse” from the record, Fly Rasta — giving him the credibility to work with more artists from different genres like One Direction, Prince Royce, Nick Jonas and G-Eazy to name a few.

The singer-songwriter is finally upon the release of his debut LP, Alpha Omegagiving listeners the chance to step into his unique, analytical perspective of self-awareness. Alpha Omega is a powerful reference to the Greek alphabet, seeing that alpha and omega are the first and last letters of such. Martin confirms the full-length project, due out today (March 8), will take listeners on an iridescent journey literally from birth to death (beginning to the end of one’s life), further supporting why he felt the name was appropriate for the meaningful project. His approach to the overall sound is distinct in the sense that it blends different genres while utilizing hip-hop beats and EDM rhythms to bring the stories on the album to life.

Along with the set, Martin is unveiling a 12-minute narrative short compiled of the 18-track album intermixed with emotional imagery of life. He impressively self-directed and edited the short film, as well.

In anticipation of a project that he can now call his own, Martin talks about the inspiration behind the record, collaborations he could only dream of doing and how his personal life impacted the album for the better.

How did you come up with the title Alpha Omega for this album?

Sam Martin: I thought it was going to be called Requiem for awhile because it was birth and death. Requiem is sort of a mass…Requiem by Mozart. So it’s like going back and watching this whole life, and then at the end, the character dies. My lawyer, out of all people [and] who is my really good friend… I gave him the record six months early and he listened to it with his soon to be wife. He’s crying and he’s like, ‘You got me again.’

[Later] When we came to negotiating and the paperwork, he’s like, ‘You’re calling it Requiem?’ I was like, ‘Oh God, my lawyer.’  And he’s like, ‘That’s too negative for that. Your album has too much hope.’ And he goes, ‘What about something more positive?’ And then we were texting back and forth, and one of his texts was Alpha Omega.

You worked with a ton of artists like Maroon 5, One Direction, etc. But for your own project, how did you decide what sound you wanted to go with? And what inspired that?

Well, I never liked that we were doing things that seemed not timeless. That’s of course, an opinion because I always felt like certain styles of music that are not going to last or are a little cheesy [become] totally popular. I could never figure what to dive into then I just stopped caring.

My production choices [for this project], I was using real organs, guitars. I was filtering things. I was trying to use organic drums that were sort of hip-hop. The hip-hop that I think will last forever. A lot of Kanye West-type moments in there. There’s certain songs from the past we still listen to and we’re like, ‘That’s awesome.’ I didn’t want to just go with any genre, or a particular genre, so I went with what I grew up on — which was Coldplay, Radiohead, The Beatles, U2 with some of the modern production tricks of today that are really good in comparison. Really strong drum sounds. Really hip-hop bass sonics with my kind of British American melodies. I wanted to be timeless.

That’s great. That’s the production and melody aspect. How was the songwriting process for you?

I’ve been writing songs forever since I was 12, and I remember the years when I was just flowing with ideas. It was just constant. I would put together albums and all that but I hadn’t felt that way in a long time. We have lots of ideas writing for a lot of people. I never imagined writing for other people as a kid. It wasn’t a dream of mine to write for other artists. It was a great thing and it changed my life, but it taught me so many things I was doing wrong before.

So when it came time to writing this one, I had postponed the whole thing. I had kids. There was nothing going on for me. It wasn’t until I caught this vision that I was going to write this concept album and I got really excited because it was one of the things that I never achieved in my whole life, where the music never stops and one song leads to another. Every song feels on top of the story of the bigger story. It’s like the last thing I haven’t done in the writing [aspect]. As soon as that happened, all the ideas came like I was 12 again. I wrote three songs in one night.

Moving forward, what do you hope listeners take away from the album?

Life flies by, and before you know it, you’ll be in your old age. I think a lot of people get caught up in work and things that don’t matter that much. I was really hoping this piece would center people for the moment and have them reflect on their life and say, ‘Am I focusing on things that matter or am I not?’

As I previously mentioned before, you’ve worked with so many great people. Is there an artist you’re still dying to work with?

Oh, sure! It’s the impossible ones. I would want to just hear Sia sing one song that I’ve been a part of. She has a great voice! I love Coldplay, U2. There was a chance U2 was going to cut [my song]… well, a very small chance… but they passed. Actually, that happened twice. I was like man, Bono! They don’t really cut outside songs, so it was very strange but that was cool. Paul McCartney, and if John Lennon was alive, that would be beyond, beyond. Those are legacy acts and that’s why I got into music.

Follow me on Twitter @champagnelali.

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