‘No one is nobody’
Sam.Sun, the 22-year-old musician, radiates vitality when he talks about music, a great love in his life since he was a little boy.
“I was always surrounded by music when I was young,” Sam.Sun said. “My family members were all very musically inclined. My cousin would play the piano and just fill the room with beautiful sonnets.”
For Sam.Sun, that’s when the curiosity began to spark. As he grew older and his schedule began to fill with extracurricular activities, music always stayed in the picture, with a heavy focus on chorus and band. Though music was weaved into the fabric of his life, he never felt it was something that he could, or should, pursue.
It all changed with his first keyboard, a gift from a friend. After that, his musical inclination soon grew to a full on obsession.
For the next few months, Sam.Sun spent the majority of his time sitting in his room, closed off from the world, giving life to the music that had so long been in his head.
As his love for music grew, so did support from his peers, and it wasn’t long before he was recording original tracks and putting EPs together.
Sam.Sun is an artistic factotum, playing the ukulele, tuba and piano.
“Never all on the same track,” Sam.Sun joked.
But in Sam.Sun’s opinion, his strongest instruments are his voice and his lyrics, as he exclusively plays original songs.
“People want to hear your soul sing,” Sam.Sun said. “I want to show people a new song for them to potentially fall in love with. If you support your music 100 percent, people feel that. Singing covers for me would only be like 50 percent, not singing it as the person who wrote it intended it to be sung. I sing my own music knowing exactly where to hit it and how to sing it with heart.”
Writing his own lyrics allows Sam.Sun to send out a specific message to his listeners; a message that’s close to his own heart. The message: No one is nobody.
“I’ve felt like a lot of times in my life I’ve been overlooked in some ways,” Sam.Sun said. “Or people will only see me as one thing. You’re more than just a person in a room. That’s what my music says. I want to make sure everything I sing has that message behind it, and I think people relate to that.”
In “Lost in Paradise,” Sam.Sun’s three-song EP, the message resonates.
With love songs, like his tracks “Superglue” and “7 Ways,” to, “Holiday,” a song about coming of age, the EP is a tender example of what Sam.Sun continues to give in his regularly dropped singles: passionately sung lyrics that sound as real and raw as the experiences that inspire him.
“I mix and master everything myself in my own studio,” Sam.Sun said. “It’s completely self-made. It’s real; it’s raw; it’s not perfect. But I’m staying away from big industry sound, I don’t want it to be boom boom boom all in your ear. I want it to be about listening further.”
As far as being locked into a specific musical genre, Sam.Sun isn’t interested in being put into a box.
“I’ve had a really tough time explaining to people what I do,” Sam.Sun said. “It’s like R&B/Hip Hop meets ukulele beach vibes. I’m really not afraid to go anywhere with my music. I go from acoustic guitar/pop to Hawaiian rhythms to beats that are deep with psychedelic melodies.”
Sam.Sun feels music is a universal language, all about connecting. With recent experiences connecting to the crowd, his music has never felt so real.
He performed most recently on FGCU’s campus, playing at Eagle Radio’s listening party and at SoulFest, a concert that donated all proceeds to HIV/AIDS awareness put on by the student organization SoulFlowers.
“Playing Soulfest really made me feel alive,” Sam.Sun said. “I could really feel the crowd. And at the listening party, that was the first time I saw people out there singing my lyrics. We were all really connected.”
As far as the future goes for Sam.Sun, he keeps his dreams big, hoping to be making his way up the line of Florida by this time next year, having toured across the state, but that doesn’t mean that he wants to rush the little things.
“I really want to get to know my locals,” Sam.Sun said. “I want to make a connection with people more than anything, and my music allows me to do that. I want to be at a place with performing where small coffee shops hit me up like, ‘Come through and perform.’”
Performing live two nights a week, he’s starting to build that rapport. Monday nights you can find him playing at No. 3 Craft Brews and Beer Bar out in Cape Coral, and Thursday nights he plays on South Street in Naples. He also drops music frequently on SoundCloud, under Sam.Sun.
Sam.Sun takes his music as seriously as he does his part-time jobs, working both at Nordstrom’s and MASA, a restaurant in the Mercato in Naples.
As a solo artist, he knows he has to work hard to hold himself accountable for making his dreams come true.
“Every single time I clock out of work, I’m clocking into my life,” Sam.Sun said. “It’s not that I’m just clocking out, I’m going straight into music and arts, connections and networking. That’s what I’m clocking into. Any moment is an opportunity.”
Through realizing his dream, finding a good group of supporters and seizing every opportunity that’s come his way, Sam.Sun is now on the brink of a life he didn’t think was possible, and continues to work until music can become his full-time profession.
“I always tell people, ‘Don’t settle, don’t be afraid to dream bigger than what you are right now,’” Sam.Sun said. “Things that at first were shocking to me slowly have become normal. Make greatness your normal. Don’t settle for small success. After SoulFest I said ‘What’s next?’ immediately. Always be looking.”