From Massachusetts to Los Angeles, songwriter Sam Wardlaw drops his soulful and story-like single “R.M.S..” The majority of his songs are not only written on acoustic guitar, but most of the instrumentation is done by Sam Wardlaw as well as production and mixing. Highlighting the lead single “R.M.S.” off his upcoming EP, Sam Wardlaw brings back simplicity with a mid-tempo track and displays a hefty vibe with nothing but an acoustic guitar, bass, and percussion. He sings a story about bringing light and energy to his soul after being sick of his generation and big modern corporations that run your business for you.
Starting with folk instrumentation, “R.M.S.” breaks down into a mid-tempo beat with rhythmic drum patterns, a steady bass line, and the sweet hum of an acoustic guitar. While Sam Wardlaw begins vocalizing, we can hear the soulful touch he wanted to incorporate through his passionate delivery and catchy melodies. He is singing an honest message of losing motivation and inspiration, especially with the current climate of the world. Sweet folk instrumentals take us back to simpler times of enjoying life freely, without thinking about whether you’re doing something wrong by seeing your friends. Sam Wardlaw has tied in a very relatable storyline with “R.M.S.,” and has us singing it from the rooftops to feel some sort of freedom again.
Discover “R.M.S.” here.
Hey Sam Wardlaw, welcome to BuzzMusic! Your latest single “R.M.S.” really brings an honest and truthful message. What did you want listeners to take away from the single?
Hello BuzzMusic, and thank you for having me! I’m not gonna lie, I’m not entirely sure what R.M.S. is about, but that’s intentional. It’s supposed to be written from the perspective of someone who’s burnt out and over-stimulated by modern society. I often feel like that, like I’m taking in way more information than I’m actually processing. So the song kind of flits from one idea to the next in a scatterbrained, almost rant-like way. The hook in the chorus “I had too much of the medication, radiate my soul” is definitely the key line in understanding the song. It doesn’t necessarily mean too much medication in the literal sense either. Medication could be YouTube, online shopping, eating/drinking, video games, social media, etc. I think we all self-medicate on one way or another. As for the phrase “radiate my soul,” I just liked the way it sounded. It’s wonderfully vague! I wrote the lyrics after reading “White Noise” by Don DeLillo, which provided much of the inspiration for the lyrics. That book blew my mind. To answer your question though, I guess there’s not one thing I want listeners to take away from the song, I would hope that it means something different to whoever listens to it.
We’ve heard that Sam Wardlaw played most of the instrumentals for “R.M.S.”, while producing and mixing by yourself as well. How did you begin your creative process and work your way towards a full sound?
That’s right! I generally perform most of the instruments on my albums, but R.M.S. and the E.P. that it is the single for is the first time I’ve actually played all the instruments on all the songs. The arrangement for R.M.S. is quite sparse; it’s really just 2 acoustic guitars, bass guitar, drums, and vocals. I tend to hear in my head what I want the record to sound like before I start recording, which has it’s pros and cons, because it rarely ever ends up sounding exactly like I had originally envisioned it. In the case of R.M.S. though, it actually ended up sounding pretty close to how I had pictured it, which felt like an achievement. In regards to mixing, I wanted the song to speak for itself, so I kept the mixing pretty minimal. As soon as I felt like it sounded good sonically and grooved, I left it be. The song came together surprisingly quickly, I really didn’t have to work that hard to make it sound good, which is not always the case.
Seeing as your single “R.M.S.” was released during the pandemic that’s still afoot, how did you find inspiration for the song even though you’re singing about feeling unmotivated?
The song was actually written before the pandemic, although I feel like there are lines in the song that might actually be more relevant now. As for feeling unmotivated, I do feel like there’s always this push and pull of feeling unmotivated and then feeling motivated to not feel unmotivated anymore. I love lounging and watching episodes of The Office I’ve already memorized, but after a certain point, I start feeling guilty and stir crazy. That’s what happened during quarantine, but amplified to an extent I had never experienced before. After about a month of practically bursting with boredom, I decided to record an E.P. in my room. I guess creativity and laziness don’t have to be mutually exclusive!
Sam Wardlaw is said to be releasing an upcoming EP, what should we anticipate from the content you’ve created? Is the project similar to your other bodies of work?
I’ve only released one other E.P., which is called “Azusa.” My upcoming E.P., entitled “Bright Room,” I feel is a refinement of my first E.P. I’m more confident in these batch of songs than I was with the “Azusa,” and I’m definitely more confident in my vocal and instrumental performances. The first E.P. was almost me testing myself to see if I could do it, so going into this E.P knowing that I had already done it, I felt freer to have more experimental arrangements and rawer vocal performances. I went out of my way to avoid double tracking my vocals, because in the past I tended to use them as a crutch to hide the imperfections in my voice rather than embrace them. The flow of the album feels more focused as well. Overall, it feels like the logical next step for my music.
What's next for you?
Well, I do have some songs from “Bright Room” that I decided not to use because they just didn’t flow with the rest of the album, and there are songs like that from “Azusa” as well, so I may or may not have a B sides type of album that I will start working on soon, but we will see! I might also start releasing more singles rather than waiting to have an album ready, it remains to be seen. I cannot wait for shows to start happening again, I really do miss playing out. Once quarantine is over, I will most certainly start to play shows again, but until then, I will be continuing to write and record music.