Sam Coe is a singer-songwriter from Suffolk who blends the fast-paced sounds of Americana with the toe-tapping beats of country, blues and rock to create a melody that anyone would enjoy. It all began with a band called Sam Coe and the Long Shadows, which played traditional country music. In 2019, she decided to make a solo album, which developed into more of an Americana sound, now she’s gearing up for another album release in 2022. We caught up with Sam to see how things are going, and to talk about her life with music.
As with many musicians, Sam claims it’s the only thing she’s ever been any good at, explaining: “I think from quite a young age, when I was learning how to play keyboards, I knew that I wanted to do a job that I would wake up every morning and want to do. That was always my mindset, and I thought that music would be a way that I could do that.”
That said, Sam knew it wouldn’t always be easy and that being a full-time professional musician would be a tough road to navigate and to make a sustainable living out of. To tackle this, she set-up a music education business, which she runs alongside her musical career, helping her manage her day-to-day whilst still pursuing her passion.
Talking more about the business, she explains: “I own and run the Wharf Academy, which is a music school in Norwich. We’re based in a medieval church, but we work in a lot of schools around East Anglia, providing teachers to teach music in schools. That’s been really tough over the last year with most of my schools being closed or lockdown, but we’ve managed to overcome that with a lot of online teaching and a lot of adapting our work to fit the current climate.”
As for her career, after the success of Sam Coe and the Long Shadows, the record label approached her to make a solo record, where she could have a little bit more freedom to escape the genre of country music. Through this, Sam became encouraged into taking the leap and making a solo record, which was released in 2019.
She shared, “I’ve been thinking of ways that I can adapt as a musician to cater for this kind of new world, where we’re not gigging at the moment; and I’m currently working on my YouTube channel. I’m documenting the whole process of writing and creating an album for 2022 – whilst not knowing whether we’re going to be able to go out and tour it over summer or go and play the festival scene as we usually would do.”
Sam confesses that she has found this new transition to online work to be okay and that it’s something she had been putting-off anyway, claiming that she’s ‘old school’ when it comes to music. She continued: “I still like to work on pen and paper and want people to hear my songs from my mouth straight into their ear, rather than through a medium of a computer or something – but the world was moving that way anyway. I knew particularly YouTube, TikTok and video creation was important for artists but I think I was just clinging onto the old-school side of making music because that’s so enjoyable. This has kind of been the little push that I’ve needed to make that change to more of a digital presence.”
Since releasing her solo album, Sam has gone on to do a few virtual gigs throughout lockdown, performing for The Green Note in Camden, and the AMA festival in January, with the help of Epic Studios in Norwich for allowing them to use their studios. She also did a workshop there, which she found a great experience.
At the workshop, Sam was able to get write alongside six other songwriters and work with a member from the NHS to create a song that highlights all the hard work the NHS does for this country Sam was paired with a pharmacy technician, and ended up writing a song about his experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. The songs created were then also aired at the AMA festival.
Looking forward, Sam believes the future holds a ‘big change’ for the industry, admitting: “The only way we’re going to be able to keep our profession going is if we adapt. That doesn’t really just stand for the musicians; that stands for everybody, including the tech crew, engineers, and venues. Everyone’s going to have to realize that this is the world now, and we can’t just complain about it. We’re going to have to adapt to make it work for us.”
With that said, Sam thinks there will be some positives too, believing that there will be a new ‘appreciation’ for live music and events when they can finally return. Until then, Sam admits there’s still plenty that can be done to support independent artists.
She said: “I think the key thing is to engage online with people, to make those artists feel like you’re looking forward to seeing them again. Buy their merchandise if you want to, stream their music, watch their live gigs. All of those things sound like they don’t really make a huge amount of difference, but honestly every single like or view we [artists] get on something online just warms our hearts, and makes us realize that people are still interested and people are waiting for us to come back.”
On from that, her message to those who love and miss live music would simply be: “to be patient. It will be back, and everyone needs to think about the feeling of that first gig back. If you’re a musician playing it or if you are an audience member watching it, that first gig back is going to be killer.”
Lastly, we couldn’t resist on ending on a fun question – so we asked if you could collaborate with any artists that are alive, who would it be and why? Sam Coe replied “Right now it would be Brandi Carlile. She’s an Americana artist based in the US, and she’s been doing incredible work. She’s really keen on encouraging women to make music by making sure that we’re having our songs played on the radio the same amount as men – just things like that. On top of all of that, she’s an incredible vocalist and musician, and I adore her!”
I love that, a nice positive end note. Thank you to Sam Coe for taking the time to chat to us.