Credits: Matthew Lau
It is now slightly more than two weeks since the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival wrapped up, continuing the usual trend as the entree to the year’s gig calendar that was served once again with a large portion of heavy showers from start to finish. The weather situation, however, did little to rain on the parade (we had to) of Sam Rui as we found out before her debut performance at a major festival.
We had little time and got right to it quizzing her on how she felt about joining an exclusive list of local artistes to have graced the festival over the last few years. “The pressure is on!” she replied. “I feel really excited and kind of really scared at the same time carrying the torch. But you know what, I’ve already come so far and the band and the songs are going to be really tight.”
Having first seen her play years ago, her transformation from folk songwriter to R&B singer has brought unprecedented success along with a newfound attention to her bold new image. “Previously I was really shy and comfortable being in my own shell but now with the full band, I feel more confident and it shows especially now with a fuller sound.”
She admits that the maturity process has also made her smarter. “I used to write about boys and I still write about boys!” she exclaimed with a laugh. “I guess I’ve slowly started to be a bit more calculated in the way I want the message to go across, especially with the increased audience. There’s more thought into the process behind the production and the exact message I want to bring across.”
“I used to write about boys
and I still write about boys!”
Besides being a budding singer, Sam has also retained a keen interest in art; something we were wondering if we would see incorporated into her music. “Art has always been something that has been close to my heart from young, and will forever be my main bitch!” she clarifies to a series of sniggers.
“To me, art and music are two entirely different mediums where I express myself.” She clarifies that music is more an outward manifestation while art retains a more internal reflection of events. “To me art is a more contemplative process, and the person I am when I’m doing art versus when I’m doing music is completely different. I get very tense and so far I’ve yet to really find any middle ground where I can combine both mediums effectively.”
Beyond the confidence exuded, there was still a certain air of awe hanging since the remarkable journey has brought Sam from audience to performer in a matter of years. Still remembering her first Laneway experience years ago, she remarks that meeting some of her influences like Sampa The Great, Glass Animals and NAOO would prove to be as surreal as the performance itself. “It’s going to be crazy backstage. I mean I would be ecstatic to even brush past them later!”
Admitting that this performance would be the first preview of her upcoming EP scheduled to release in the months to come, the pressure was proportionate to the debut. Apart from a caffeine overdose from cups of coffee, we cheekily asked if there was a pre-gig ritual that would settle the nerves and get her into the zone. “I’m actually really high-strung, and we’re all actually supposed to take a shot before the set, but I’m quite a lightweight so maybe that’s not such a great idea!” she said. “But yes, I usually just try to chill out and breathe otherwise…”
No mishaps or worst-case-scenario projections in mind happened post-interview.