Get Lost in the Dreamy Indie Pop Sounds of Sam Wrangle’s Latest Album, ‘Smokey Shady’

Smokey Shady‘ is the new self-released album by Brisbane-based Sam Wrangle. He has made it a varied album, with sweet jangle, dreamy indie pop and Bunnymen-like new wave. It’s a beauty!

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

When I released ‘A Word for Toxic’ in 2021. Felt like the first thing I’d done without putting pressure on myself.

How did this record come together?

Quickly. I decided to stick to processes I knew instinctively and avoid second guessing myself.

How do you maintain your energy and enthusiasm for making power pop music?

Playing everyday. Routine. Listening to your favorite pop music. Greeting as many people as you can. Knowing that you have no choice but to create.

What was the most challenging aspect of creating this record?

Work-life balance. The innate separation of having a job and a hobby.

How did the pandemic and social climate impact the creation or release of the record?

I was really happy to be able to go out as see bands, and not feel like I was gonna catch something. I mean, meeting people in general. The niceties that we took for granted like shaking hands, hugs etc. I missed this a lot.

How do you typically come up with new song ideas?

When something affects me so deeply, and I can’t communicate it – I’ll write a song. Then I’ll try out some new chords. Words come last.

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

When I built up a sort of resilience to feedback/opinions. When I told myself you’ve got something good here that’s worth listening to. Also to be selective about who you listen to.

The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the
new record?

It existing. I’m grateful to be able to produce music in my spare time. It’s a luxury many cannot afford.

How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?

Very necessary. Very great. Though not the kind of urge that makes you miserable. More like the kind of urge you need to moderate and nurture. Like the way Nick Cave talks about his muse. Gotta nurture it – or it’ll turn on you.

How do you see the power pop genre evolving in the future?

I see it growing organically. I’m a fan of the classics. Love a good melody. Love a nice bassline. Love a bit of jingle-jangle.

As an artist, you choose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to
do so?

Yes. But that’s only a recent thing.

You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?

Weyes Blood, Kevin Parker, and Steve Kilbey. Weyes Blood = amazing voice and harmonies;

Kevin Parker = drums and production;

Steve Kilbey = songwriting.

What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?

One I’ve played: most recent with the band. It was fun.

One I’ve seen: The Church at Princess Theature, Brisbane, Australia. It was transcendent. Tear-jerkingly good.

How do you decide when a song is finished and ready to be recorded?

When you’re sure introducing a new element probably won’t improve what’s there already.

How do you incorporate feedback and criticism into your creative process?

Take everything on-board. Don’t get too upset. Most of the time it’s because people want to help you.

Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?

Letting go of things. Feeling a connection with people. It’s exciting.

What compliment you once received will you never forget?

When I met Steve Kilbey at show in London, and he told me to start performing under the name of ‘Sam Wrangle’ and proceeded to compare my name to David Bowie and Billy Idol. Someone rated my hair 8/10 recently.

What place do you occupy in the music industry?

A quiet place. Just that raw undiscovered gem buried deep in the earth.

The record is done, the music is out. Is the best fun done now or is it just beginning?

Fun is only just beginning. Thank you for all of the questions – really nice of you to reach out.

Suppose you were to introduce your music to new listeners through three songs. Which
songs would those be and why?

  1. Dead Text
  2. Stay Cool
  3. Downtime

If you could pick three singers to sing harmony vocals on your next record, who would you

  1. Steven Wilson
  2. David Gilmour
  3. Natalie Mering

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