The man behind one of the most respectful cover versions Robin S has ever experienced: 21 year old Amsterdamian Sam Feldt has taken the electronic music world by storm this year with his restrained, smouldering house music sweeping up major deals with the likes of Spinnin and Universal.
We caught up with him just after an epic showcase at Electric Zoo to find out more about his past, present and future. Show some love…
You’ve had so many things come up in the last year, between your new releases and tour, so tell us, what’s been going on in the life of Sam Feldt?
It’s been a crazy ride – almost like a roller coaster. Two years ago, I would’ve never thought I’d live to tell what I’m doing today: in the last year, I got signed to Spinnin; I’m playing festivals like TomorrowWorld [in the US] and Mysteryland [in Holland]; my music is everywhere and it’s on the radio… It’s just surreal.
You’ve had massive releases such as Drive Me Home and Show Me Love, which is also the title of your new tour for North America. What can you tell us about the tour?
I did a tour with Thomas Jack before, and back in May I did a mini tour, but this is the first full US and Canada tour I’m doing as a solo artist. For me, it means a lot because I’m playing these venues by myself. It’s always cool to see that you can draw a crowd to a club and people are there for your music, not just because they like the club or they want to go out. They actually buy a ticket – it’s not about the money, but it’s cool that people like your music so much that they are willing and able to do that.
We hear there is a story behind how you found the vocalist for Show Me Love…
It’s actually pretty strange. I was just browsing around on YouTube and stumbled across the channel of Kimberly Anne. She’s a great singer and has a lot of cool songs. I was captivated by her cover of Robin S’s classic Show Me Love. I heard something in her voice that grabbed me. I reached out to her label to get the stems, and the collaboration between us began.
Will she be performing live with you during the tour?
I wish! We had planned to do that in the UK at Creamfields but logistically it didn’t work out. Over the next few months, I want to expand my sets with more live elements, whether it’s instruments or singers.
That live music incorporation is becoming more and more common in DJ sets isn’t it…
It’s all about putting on a show. There are so many good DJs. I think the art of DJing is finishing – it’s still there with turntables, but with the new equipment and technology out there, it’s not that hard to learn how to DJ. How you can still make a difference is with song selection, your own tracks, and of course, elements like live music, or playing parts of your track live, or getting live people on stage to sing. It all helps to take your show to the next level.
What’s your own story? How did you become a DJ?
I’ve been DJing for a long time – I started when I was 12. When I was 17, I set out to be a ‘real’ DJ. I bought my controller, my laptop, I started playing at bars so I was playing mostly commercial stuff. I did that for three years, and I loved making people dance but I didn’t really feel the music. It was too ‘EDM-ish’.
I was playing as Sam Feldt as a side project – not to get any gigs or to get signed, just to have my own personal thing. Strangely, that ended up being bigger than my more commercial work and then I was signed to Spinnin.
Your remix of Show Me Love has such an intimacy to it…
There’s a small group of people that really hate it because they love the original. I don’t see why, because the only elements I used of the original are the lyrics. But you always have haters that curse you if you touch your song. Largely, though, the reaction has been very positive – they feel the emotion behind the vocals.
What else can we expect from you this year?
I just released Drive You Home on Beatport, and it will soon be out on iTunes and Spotify. I just teased my new track with Jasmine Thompson during my Electric Zoo set. It’s just been an ID so far, but everyone is going crazy for it. Jasmine has such an emotional and super cool voice, and the track is a bit more uptempo.
I also just did multiple remixes for Years & Years, and I’m working on a really cool new track with Amber Run. There’s so much music at the moment, but we have to space it out.
What do you think sets you apart from the rest?
If you look at DJ sets, I think I always try to connect with the audience in a way I don’t see a lot of other DJs do. It’s hard at festivals, but at clubs I try to go into the crowd. I want to be part of the crowd, that feeling they have, I want toto level with them.
For my music, I try to find new things to do. For example the brass section in Drive You Home, was recorded live; you don’t see a lot of people doing that.
And a lot of people don’t know that Drive You Home is actually a remix, it sounds nothing like the original track. People are like, ‘what the hell, this is such a slow song!’ It’s a really down tempo, sad song but we turned it into this anthem.
I don’t want to make standard tracks – I don’t think anyone does – but I believe live elements and unique vocals separate me from the rest.
You’re here at Electric Zoo. If you were an animal, what would you be?
I’d be a bird. Birds characterize the feeling I want my crowds to have when they listen to my music – carefree, drifting away, and experiencing the moment and the world as it is.
What’s something your fans don’t know about you?
When I was young, I used to give tours in a museum for dinosaurs! I was the biggest nerd, I don’t know what got into me.
What’s the final frontier for you as an artist?
I want to score a number one hit in the charts. Of course, every DJ wants that and it doesn’t have to happen, but it would be really cool to get a call one day and hear “we hit number one!”