For the Toronto-based Alt-Pop artist Sam Louis, the honeymoon stage of a relationship amongst the wonder and spectacle found within The City of Angels became the inspiration for his newest single.
This sonic architect has been occupied writing and refining his second record, "8 Ball," since early this year, and to heighten the anticipation of its upcoming release, Louis renders up his lustrous vocal tones, over a wholesome low-end, and a magnetic top-line to produce "Shiny,"—his own joyful gyration over the radiating Pop aesthetic swallowing up all the vibes of 2020.
On "Shiny," an exuberant radio-cut featuring Shayan Amiriof as the master-mind producer, and N.Y. Mastering Engineer, Mike Tucci (Chris Brown, Young Thug), Sam buzzes over mystifying, and wonder-producing synths amidst the clatter of modern production that induce an immediate rush of intoxicating Summer ecstasy.
The track was designed to hook you over the melodic inclinations found throughout this songster's captivating catalog, and he radiates over the harmonies in the chorus when he sings the hooking lines, "you keep heating me up, like an L.A. Summer."
As the whirl of 16th notes tosses over the hi-hats, the punchy rhythm of the kick fuses with layers of chopped-up backing vocal harmonies, and an upswell of filtering pads that carry us onward as we sway along to the effervescent musical experience. The Pop-based production ultimately forms an infatuating backdrop for Sam's alluring melodic delivery; he describes sensual moments within the bustling nightlife of L.A.'s city streets utilizing enamoring descriptions that land health in our core.
Tapping into both the intoxicating energy of Alt-Pop and Shayan's cohesive production arrangements, "Shiny" is a gleaming teaser for the long-lasting after-glow we can expect to find in his upcoming E.P. expected to drop later this year.
Can you start by telling us what the experience has been like working with Shayan, where you write and record your vocals in Toronto, and he produces the beats over the Border? It’s been a pretty dynamic experience for sure but one that taught me a hell of a lot. This was the first record where I recorded my own vocals in my bedroom. Shayan virtually walked me through a few presets and plugins that he usually uses in our sessions and then I locked myself in my room until everything was tracked. It’s a little different when you’re running your own session, especially with vocals you have to be able to be your own critical yet motivating producer and constantly ensure you’re getting the best takes while maintaining the proper performance energy. It was an eye-opening moment for myself and one that showed me how much I truly love the recording process. Meanwhile, over in LA, Shayan had been working his magic, shaping this starry-eyed 80’s arpeggio, into something bigger. After a few remote mixing sessions with him, we started to get a glimpse of the lo-fi summer track you hear now. It’s interesting because growing up, I got to witness all these incredible BTS studio sessions where you’d have the Beatles or Michael Jackson writing and recording revolutionary records in the studio. As an artist, I always crave that true studio experience, but I think with Shiny we got pretty damn close to recreating that similar studio atmosphere virtually.
Can you recall some of the most crucial moments for your artistic development this year, especially leading up to your second Extended Play? This was a pretty critical developmental year for I think every artist and even society in general. Coming into 2020 I had just finished releasing This Love, streams were continuing to flood in but I knew I had to continue to innovate and understand my sound. I began to start co-writing with some incredible musicians around Toronto and in Los Angeles. I wanted to take the time and lift the pressure off creating and writing and just build an arsenal of new songs that I love and represented who I was and what I wanted to say. When COVID hit back in March I was in Los Angeles preparing to meet with Shayan to record the vocals for Shiny. Things began to escalate with the virus and the recording session had to be postponed, and unfortunately, that meant that Shiny had to be put on hold. Instead, I hid out in an LA rehearsal space and started playing piano for a few hours, I was bummed and with everything going on around me I thought it would be hard to be creatively fuelled but it was actually the opposite. This is when the acoustic version of This Love came to be, and thanks to the beautiful aliens of Spaced Visuals, we were able to put together a live recorded performance just before I flew out back to Canada. When I got back, I knew I had to find a way to record Shiny even in this Pandemic, I had a few virtual writing sessions with Shiny’s co-writer/hit junkie Andrew Bontempo and we reimagined the song, chipping away the parts until it really started to shine. At the same time, I was working with Shayan to learn proper vocal recording techniques for pro-tools in hopes of recording Shiny myself. This really opened my eyes to the back end of the release process and gave me a newfound confidence in vocal engineering and editing.
Where do you channel your inspirations from creatively, and how do you keep things progressive and innovative throughout that process? This was such a rocky year mentally and emotionally for the world but I think can end up being one of the biggest creative and innovative revolutions. Being locked down and in quarantine for the first few months of the pandemic changed how I viewed music. During this time, I actually fell back in love with the art and creation process. I took my acoustic guitar from the basement and brought it up into my room, this allowed me the creative freedom I needed. When I had an emotion that I had to get off my chest, that guitar stopped being an instrument and felt more like a convenient paintbrush. I felt like I was back in high school again, coming home around three watching Much Music and looking up Sloan and Green Day solos. I began re-investing into guitar, I purchased a new electric and wrote more songs than ever before on it. Different songs, because with a guitar the rhythm of your melody is shifted than on piano, I began finding that original voice of mine. I used to write so much on guitar growing up but stopped because I became more proficient in writing with a piano as I got older. These new inspirations and songs that I was building kept circling back to a more 90s/2000s aesthetic, pulling at influences like The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Foo Fighters, I wanted to expand on the styles they popularized and I think in the new music coming out you’ll hear those anthemic melodies lit up in a new light.
Could hint at the theme or narrative you'll be manifesting on your upcoming Extended Play, and maybe a few sentiments relating to the work you've already into its development? As an artist, I’m always thinking of themes and constantly trying to intertwine concepts so they can resonate not just with me but a mass general audience. The idea for the next album started to shape itself over time. After playing a game of pool with my buddies back home, we were down to the last shot and there was only the 8 ball left. That one object emanating so much power, and such a manic difference in outcomes. On one side that ball resembled victory and celebration and on the other complete loss and regret. Sink it too early and the games over or take too long to sink it and miss out. This one object having so much weight to it, a moment of make or break, life or death, really echoed out to me. I couldn’t help but compare my music career and point in life to it. This past year I’ve felt like I’ve been juggling this line, creating songs that speak about points of no return, full highs and complete lows, and how dramatic each side can be. I’m taking my time to make sure this next album is everything it needs to be; the right music, the right feeling, all need to happen at the right moment because if this is my 8 Ball, there’s no going back.
What has been keeping you inspired in 2020?
The world around me usually inspires my creative energy and artistic flow, but this year the world was in a different state. So I began to pull my inspiration from friends and family that surrounded me. Stories and experiences that we’ve shared and new hopes of how to get through one of the toughest years for our humanity. I’m lucky enough to have such a beautiful, genuine, and talented pool of support. My momentum for this year was fuelled by the passion of those same family and friends, their constant grind pushed me to not only move forward but to branch out and discover new opportunities. In a year of stolen opportunities, it’s up to us to take on those new challenges that we thought were impossible and work towards the possibility of achieving them. If 2020 did anything for us, it has made us a more resilient and determined culture. One that gets back up when they’ve been knocked out of the ring.