Sam O’Connell is on a rocket fuelled ride and has no intention of getting off. This 19-year-old Mt Martha local has got the vocals of a well-seasoned singer – his voice sort of croons and melts out all over your mind and body – although he’s never had any lessons and started pumping out tunes on Facebook. His first EP Down the Line is a ripper and is available on iTunes (and is distributed online through DITTO). You can also pick up a copy at one of his many gigs around town.
“I’ve sold 60 EPs so far” says Sam, who is everything a young folk muso should be – shoulder-length hair, cute quirky face and a dishevelled but earnest demeanour. “I was brought up on folk music. Dad is Irish, so listening to Irish folk” (and the John Butler Trio) “was normal in our house”, which he shared with his two brothers and parents. “I used to play soccer but busted my knee in 2014. I was out of action for three months and turned to music. I’m influenced by artists like Matt Corby, Passenger, Ziggy Alberts and Mumford & Sons – folk singer songwriters who tell a story.”
So this is how Sam’s story goes… He’s completed a Diploma in Community Recreation and may be a primary school teacher in the future, has written and performed 10 songs since deciding music is the thing for him, plays guitar, ukulele and banjo, has performed at the now demolished Harba, God’s Kitchen and MOTH, his first single I’m not ok has had some radio play and he’s off on a solo tour to Perth this month. So what’s the secret to getting so exposed so quickly?
“I entered a Bank of Melbourne Competition with I’m not ok in 2015. There were over 350 entrants and I got accepted to the top 12. People logged onto a website and voted for the artist they thought should win – and I got down to the top four in Victoria. The song got some radio play on PBS and I went into the studio with the three other finalists to sing live. It was cool. I’ve sort of been busy since then.”
And that’s the way he likes it. “All I want to do now is write songs and play music.” Budha Lilino at 100% Entertainment takes care of his promotions and Sam’s not looking back. Dividing his time between girl-friend Molly Wainwright and friends, wrestling (he loves WWE), and writing and performing suits him just fine. I ask him if things aren’t happening too fast.
“I’m ok. I love it. This is what I’m meant to be doing.” Ride on Sam…ride on.