Samuel Dobson is a Sydney-based hip hop artist, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who has a passion for eclectic sounds and live instrumentation. Check out his tracks on Unearthed and catch him live with with his "very impractical" 11-piece hip hop orchestra.
Tell us about your music. How did you develop your sound?
Music has been something I've done for most of my life. Over the years I've developed deep interests in a pretty eclectic mix. As a child I was pretty much rock and roll. By the time I hit high school I gravitated towards anything that sounded new and unfamiliar and became very interested in jazz, which I went on to study at the Sydney Conservatorium. While at Uni my interests shifted again to hip-hop and the world of experimental 'noise' music. After Uni I lived, travelled and learned music in several counties in Africa (Mali, Senegal & Ethiopia). When I returned I started regularly attending Sydney Symphony Orchestra concerts and became very interested in the world of classical music, whilst at the same time investigating more traditional jazz styles.
With regards to hip-hop it's been a very slow evolution. My very long term partner in crime/producer is Peter Farrar (P Major). We did a lot of experimenting and wrote A LOT of demos together, some of which we compiled into a mix-tape 'FKVOL1'. After that I wrote a mixtape that I called 'Shazza-T' which was a series of tracks paying homage to some of my favourite rappers and at the same time further developing my own sound. It was while making this that I realised how much I enjoyed telling stories.
When I started writing 'Samuel' I had developed 3 live projects for presenting hip-hop; Triceratops (a psyhadelic, auto-tuned, future-soul trio) with an amazing drummer Miles Thomas and Dave Rodriguez (aka Godriguez - who's now smashing it as Sampa The Great's producer). Hi-Tops Brass Band (a New Orleans inspired March band who I rap and sing with) and my own live project (a 7 piece band I used while I was still performing under the name Shazza-T). I realised I had such an incredible arsenal of musicians, producers and technical wizards around me and a bunch of them had expressed an interest to get involved with future projects so I held them to it!
What’s your greatest source of inspiration for making music?
The musicians around me who I get to work with every day! My full time job is playing music (I am a double bassist) so every time I go to work I am consistently challenged, educated and inspired by all of my peers. There are a lot of talented men and women in Sydney right now. Its fantastic to see so many of my close friends are kicking goals.
What can punters expect from a Samuel Dobson live show?
The current band is an 11 piece right now - string quartet, two horns, a three piece rhythm section, a singer named Kate Wadey and myself on bass and raps. Everyone's background is either in jazz, classical or rock/pop and the caliber musicianship is really exceptional. Then we all come together and play hip-hop.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given and who was it from?
A good mate of mine and someone who I work with quite a lot is a guy called Justin Fermino. He never explicitly gave me this advice in words but I inadvertently learned this from being around him -
Apply for grants, organise your own shit and get proactive about your own career.
What Australian track would you play to cheer up someone who was crying?
Blue skies and walking in the park and maybe eating ice cream.... But after dark.
Say no more
What Australian track would you play to someone to make them cry?
I don't even think this song is sad. There's just a melancholy beauty to the melody. Really beautiful track.
You’re the DJ at a party. The dance floor is pumping. What Australian track do you put on next?
This one's only just come out. Gotta check this guy out if you haven't already
What was the last local gig you went to? How was it?
A local artist who goes by the name AKABaz
launched his album Memento Mori at the Red Rattler in Marrickville. The music is very unique and quite hard to define. He has a big group with three really amazing and contrasting vocalists Brian Campeau, James Daley and Elana Stone. Really inspirational stuff to see live.
Tell us about the bands or people in the Sydney music community that inspire you.
I am mostly inspired by my musical peers, friends and colleagues. Although if I had to pick just one person it would be Peter Farrar (aka Pmajor). We've worked together for about 11 years now and I can confidently say no one person has had a greater influence on my musical development - across all genres - than Pete.
What are your plans for 2016?
I'll be releasing my debut album 'Samuel' this week and taking my 11 piece band on a mini east coast tour. Beyond that it'll be the same as every other year - music music music. Hoping to have another mixtape out this year and also get the ball rolling in the next album. Also if I can fit in some bridge tournaments too I'll be one happy guy.