After the triumphant response to her highly-praised collaborative LP 'Conscious Stars' alongside Casey Abrams in 2022, fast-rising singer-songwriter Sam Stokes is back once again to deliver her hotly-tipped new studio album 'Common Ground'.
Featuring the previously shared singles 'Amuzani', 'Like A Feather', 'The Sun & The Moon' and its stunning title-track, this new twelve song collection makes for a beautifully rich and tender listen. With her sweet and supple vocals layered across a wistful production from start to finish, 'Common Ground' sees her continue her ascent as one of the more mesmerising names doing the rounds right now.
So with the new album available to stream now, we sat down with her to find out more about her origins and what has been inspiring her most lately.
What was the first instrument you fell in love with?
The human voice. It’s so powerful. It carries so much emotion and depths of meaning. Sometimes by a single note, sometimes a slew of quick spoken tones. Each voice carries lifetimes of love and experiences.
What kind of music did you love when you were younger?
Anything and everything. Back to the big band orchestras with Glen and Frank, jazz masters like Miles & Ella, funk in its prime with Parliament Funkadelic and Stevie, the folk era in the 70s with Joni and Carole. And of course, rock ‘n’ roll. Zeppelin, Beatles, Stones, Jimi, Fleetwood Mac. And growing up in Southern California is definitely filled with our great surfer/chill-beach jams, like Beach Boys, Sublime, Jack Johnson. If it’s music filled with love, it’s probably on one of my playlists.
What was the first album you remember owning?
It was either Norah Jones’ album “Come Away with Me” or Phil Collins as the soundtrack genius behind the Tarzan film. Even as a child, I always had a feeling of this old soul loving the slowness of jazz and silky voices. While at the same time, a fully animated joy guide living inside - eager to bang some instruments and dance around in a forest.
What is the one song you wished you could have written yourself?
I don’t really live in a scarcity mindset - or wishing I did something or going someplace I wasn’t destined to do. Instead, I can share a song that I thank God every day that I was born in time to hear that song, to experience that artist write and perform it and appreciate it for its beauty. That song would probably be, “Landslide” by Stevie Nicks. It’s one of those songs that I am so grateful she heard it, recorded it and she shared it with the rest of us. My life is better because this song is in the world. It always disarms me and brings me back to such a tender and open heart space.
Do you have any habits or rituals you go through when trying to write new music?
Step 1 - Kindly ask the ego to leave. Send it on a walk. Send it out of the building.
Step 2 - Give myself permission to make mistakes and play/sing terribly. I often have the greatest breakthroughs and growth when I’m making mistakes. It’s a sign that it’s new and outside of my comfort zone.
Step 3 - Have fun. Even if the new song coming through is bringing me to tears - embrace those tears, hold the moment, love the moment, appreciate the beauty of the message coming through.
Step 4 - Hit record on some device somewhere. Otherwise it was something only for me in that moment alone. Which is also incredibly precious.
Who are your favourite artists you have found yourself listening to at the moment?
Right now, a big fan of Madison Cunningham, Jacob Collier, Brandi Carlile, and been really digging deep into those groove tracks from Michael Jackson lately. Damn! So good.
If you could open a show for anyone in the world, who would it be?
The Rolling Stones would be pretty insane. Just the longevity of their touring career as a band - I’d love to learn from them and move like Jagger.
What do you find is the most rewarding part about being a musician?
Giving something to someone in the form of a song when they come to a show. It’s incredibly rewarding and moving to connect with people in this telepathic, kindred sort of way. I always feel like when I go on stage I’m not myself, but a mirror to those in the room. I reflect back to them what they see and feel inside.
And what is the most frustrating part?
I really don’t have any frustration with any of it. My life is research and development. Every high and every low is all integral to better understanding the human experience to reflect it back to the world. So it’s all cosmic in its own way.
And what is the best piece of advice you have received as a musician?
It’s all about the craft. It’s about the music and your own internal journey within all of it. Enjoy every moment along the way.
Sam Stokes' new album 'Common Ground' is available to stream now. Check it out in the player below.