[Entrevista] Sampha searches the past to understand the future – El Sol de México

His full name is Sampha Lahai Sisay. Has 38 years old and born in South London in 1988when “Pump Up the Volume” of MARRSeither Depeche Mode were at the top of the British and world charts. He is of African descent, precisely Sierra Leone. And now he is a prestigious English music producer who has worked with artists as exclusive as Kendrick Lamar, Jessie Ware, Travis Scott or Kanye West.

We talk with the during his recent visit to Mexico, within the framework of the Ceremonia festivalin a conversation where topics such as his latest album, his vision of the reborn English music scene, his piano and even what awaits future generations came to light.

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Sampha, you are part of a generation that is bringing freshness back to music. There are many labels that have been placed on your style, but how would you define it?

“Is difficult to define the music I makebecause I have a lot of influencesAs the funkhe soulhe rhythm & blues and the electronic music. I could rather define my music as something that arises from my soul, from myself. This mix of electronic with acoustic and African influences with the power of London and jungle music… Many people say that it is electronic music, but in reality there is a lot of spirituality in my creations influenced by many kinds of music; It is difficult for me to classify it.”

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Had you already been to Mexico before the Ceremonia festival?

about ten years ago I was here and had a nice timebut I’m very excited to be back for this concert.

His parents emigrated from Sierra Leone to London in the 1980s. His father was a salaryman for a transnational and his mother, apart from being a housewife, was a arts fan and the culture. From the age of eight, Sampha dedicated himself to learning music. He tried string and wind instruments, but his true calling was found in the piano.

Like several artists of the millennial generation, Sampha found the internet to be the main means of promotion for his compositions. On MySpace, the Favorite platform for self-managers in the 2000s, He uploaded his videos with his creations. So was contacted by Mica Levi and The XX. They sponsored the start of his career, introduced him to the world of UK independent music and got him a collaboration with Jessie Ware. After that was signed by XL, one of the seals indie most important in the United Kingdom.

A few months ago you presented your second album Lahaiand a couple of years before you won the Mercury Prize with your first work, Process. What are the differences that you see between the two?

There are enormous differences between each era and the biggest one is thatand I became a father (in the time of Lahai). Before that, in process, I lost my mom. But I think becoming a dad is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me. I have always had questions about life, existential, spiritualall those questions you ask yourself about life growing up.

“As a producer I always surround my work with these doubts,” he continues. Now in Lahai I asked myself about my ancestors and descendants, about the future and my connection with the cosmic whole, to transmit those feelings to music… Lahai It’s a conceptual album about time.the familythe spirituality and about how all this becomes oneself.”

My piano is an extension of me. It is a very special and powerful instrument. It is a key that opens the box of emotions and allows me to document the feelings

His career began as session musicianbut their capabilities instrumental they took him to the production already write songs for artists of grime and jungle (both London genres where the dance evolves in a kind of rehash of the 80s, without reaching the extravagance of the sound vaporwave of the last decade).

After collaborating with Travis Scott and Kanye West for your disk The Life of Pablo, Sampha was found near the artists of the Flying Lotus label BrainFeeder. There he found the one who would be his musical soulmate: Kendrick Lamar.

Returning to the new British artists. Who do you identify with? I must tell you that people like Raye, Yussef Dayes and Idles are gaining public attention in Mexico. It’s as if British music today has more credibility than that of the United States.

This question is very interesting. Historically London has been the center of sound innovations. People are open to all types of music and artistic expressions. It is a very interesting place, especially if you are an artistic creator, because you are going to mix with different cultures.

For me, London is the place where you will mix with all the music: Jazz, electronic, rock, pop, soul, punk, grime… You can find everything. If you like nightlife and going out at night you will find all that. And well, the truth is that you will also find that (London) feeling in my work.

Sampha is a simple man, with a kind and courteous manner. At the end of the talk, he got a bottle of water himself and poured every glass of those present, something you will rarely see in a rock star

His first record, process (2017), it’s a album conceptual about pain. In his adolescencea, Sampha lost his father and older brother, who is recognized by himself as his greatest influence. Some time ago, his mother died from cancer. When his first LP was released, he was praised by British music critics and managed to win the prestigious Mercury Prizeimposing itself on artists like Alt J, Ed Sheeran and their mentors The XX.

There is a long list of your collaborations with other artists. But which one has marked you the most?

I have been fortunate to collaborate with people who appreciate music as much as I do. That he feels it at a high level. On a degree of artistic criticism and personal perspective, music has helped me in life. Know? Above all I share these creative methods with Kendrick Lamar. I am your fan for a long time and I think we feel the same way about each other. He is the one with whom I share the most similarities when it comes to creating music”.

I would like to share something with you: I also became a father in 2020. My son, like yours, was born in a very difficult time for humanity. How do you envision the future in which they will grow?

I think that Humans are very resilient, but sometimes there are things that scare you about the future. Definitely the future is a challenge. The kind of future that awaits my daughter, yours and the generations beyond will have a lot of metaphysical issues and questions about the air, the Earth, about science, technology and our relationship with it. It’s terrifying especially the whole thing about technology, which makes everything faster. When I was 15 years old I didn’t imagine how complex it would be today. Surely for them and those who follow, things will be much more complex… Technology surpasses our human capabilities and our understanding. Yes, I am worried about the future.”

For a 38-year-old man who grew up listening to Stevie Wonder (by the way, his favorite album is Songs in the Key of Lifer), to the Motown sound and eighties house; that comes from a hinge generation that experienced the end of the massification of CDs vinyl against digital media and against the return of the same vinyl records, it seems that the future would not be a matter of concern, but the current canons, where one can live a life after 40 years, have everything in favor of Sampha, who By the way, he is a simple man, with a kind and courteous manner. At the end of the interview, he got himself a bottle of water and poured every glass of those present in the session. Something that you will rarely be able to see in a rock star.

Before concluding, what can you tell us about your piano? What does it mean to you?

My piano is an extension of me. It is a very special and powerful instrument. Its physical simplicity makes it completely instrumental. It is in the Top 10 inventions made by humanity. My relationship with him is very fortunate, it is a key that opens the box of emotions. “It lets me document the feelings and that’s why we have a very, very special relationship.”

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