Polvito (real name Sam Kynan Powell) is a singer-songwriter from Bristol who stormed our world this year by releasing his debut single ‘Wake Me Up’.
The song is full of synth-pop elements that take you back to the 80’s while at the same time offering you a modern twist. ‘Wake Me Up’ would be a perfect soundtrack for Netflix TV Series ‘Stranger Things‘ or ‘Dark‘ as the song brings mysterious sounds that take you on an imaginary journey. We got to know Polvito better and hear about the story behind the song, shooting his first video and music influences.
Tell us about the journey up until the release of your debut single “Wake Me Up”
I’ve played in bands since I was 14 but only dabbled with a few solo ideas over the years. It’s taken me a while to figure out how I’d want a solo project to sound and in the last few years, I’ve been experimenting with that. I gradually arrived at this dreamy and synth-led pop territory and when I finished ‘Wake Me Up’ I was like “Yes! This feels right. This is the first thing I want to release.”
How would you describe your new single ‘Wake Me Up’?
The song is about being in a difficult headspace and the things that can help to pull you out of that negative place. And it explores those themes in this kind of dreamy and laid back atmosphere. I want it to be thoughtful rather than angst.
‘Wake Me Up’ is about being in a difficult headspace and the things that can help to pull you out of that negative place.Polvito
Can you tell us about the idea behind the music video?
I find that dancing, being in green nature and swimming in cold water are always good for my head so visualising those things in the music video felt natural.
I liked the idea of someone emerging from this pool of murky water and then going on this journey where they float down this river day and night. Later eventually they arrive at the sea where it feels like there’s this kind of release and letting go that happens with the lyric “dance this out of you” that’s repeated. And then you get this drone filmed explosion of dancing-swimming, turquoise clear water lushness. It felt like a fitting finale to a song that’s about waking up from a haze of negativity.
During the shoot how long did you spend in the water?
I basically spent a whole weekend getting in and out of the River Dart on Dartmoor with my friend Adam filming. You can actually see my teeth chattering as I’m singing in a few shots. We filmed in September but the water was still extremely cold. Especially when I jumped into the river at night for these dark slow-mo reverse shots. I was definitely on the verge of hypothermia at one point but we headed straight to a pub after and got a whiskey which sorted me out.
Please finish the sentence: Music to me is…
Music to me is the ultimate far-reaching communicative art-form. I make theatre and films too but I’ve always recognised that music is the most accessible and often requires the least explanation. You can just listen from your own home wherever you are. Even if you don’t understand the lyrics music culturally transcends so effortlessly. That’s what makes it amazing. You can communicate with music with an incredibly broad audience because love for music is such a common ground everywhere.
Music to me is the ultimate far-reaching communicative art-formPolvito
Where do your ideas for songs come from?
At the moment they’re very much coming from how I’m feeling and how I think about tackling the world and my state of mind in a positive way.
What does your creative process look like?
I’m constantly singing and humming melodies, rhythms or bits of lyrics that pop into my head throughout the day and I always record things into my phone so I don’t forget. I’m often the strange person in the corner making noises to myself. So yeah every song normally starts as a rambling voice note fragment! Then I’ll get the piano or guitar involved and build from there.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
That is tricky but I’ll say the first few things that pop into my head: Soft Hair, Nick Drake, Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
Do you face any challenges as an independent artist?
I’ve found that you’re constantly getting conflicting advice. One person will tell you that you have to release an album and the next person will tell you that it’s all about putting out singles and not to worry about the album until later on. And you’re told all this as absolute gospel so it can be hard to wade through the maze of contradicting guidance.
And also just earning any money from music without becoming a wedding covers band (not that I’m knocking wedding cover bands)! But yeah that has to be the biggest challenge.
Is there any piece of advice you’d give to other independent artists who are at the beginning of their journey?
It’s obviously great to collaborate and get someone to produce and mix your music (a friend mixed ‘Wake Me Up’) but I’d always encourage people to learn some producing skills too so they can make something in their bedroom. I’m only at the beginning of that journey but already it feels empowering. And it’s cheaper. That’s good too.
If we’d hack your Spotify account, what artists would we find?
At the moment you would find Nilüfer Yanya, The Marías, Caribou, The Undercover Dream Lovers, Steve Lacy, Blood Orange.
Do you have a song, that when you hear it, you’d say, “I wish I’d written that”?
Do you have any recommendations of artists we might not have heard of yet?
My sister recently introduced me to this artist called Lido Pimienta and when I listened to her tracks and watched her music videos it just blew my mind. Definitely check her out. In particular the song “Eso Que Tu Haces”. It’s a stone cold banger.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
Oh, man! Not sure. I’m in the Bristol band Goan Dogs and we played at Glastonbury a few years ago. It was a modest slot but that was really really fun. And that Sunday after we’d played was one of those ultimate, woozy, life-affirming, festival days.
When did you ‘decide’ that you wanted to create music?
A long time ago! I was small for sure.
How would you define success in the music business?
Earning a living from your music (no matter how modest) without having to compromise your artistic vision.
Do you think there’s anything artists or fans can do to support each other during these strange times of Covid19?
Yeah the online gigs are good, I’ve seen lots of people busking on FB and Instagram which is great. I think sharing advice about how you’re figuring this period out and being generous with your support and time. This definitely is the time to support and not compete unhealthily. There isn’t a finite amount of success in creative practices that we all have to tear each other apart for – we’re all stronger when we support each other’s work.
What have you got planned for 2020 and have any of your plans been impacted?
I’m going to release another single in the not too distant future. That might have to be pushed back a bit but nothing major. This is currently a bedroom project so I didn’t have any live dates that were cancelled but I did with the band and my heart goes out to everyone who’s had important shit disrupted.
What is a song that makes you extremely happy?
The legend that is Bill Withers died the other day. What A Musician. I could obviously pick a lot of songs of his but for the happiness vibes let’s go for ‘Lovely Day’. An utter banger.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience?
Go to where we filmed the music video! It’s so lush and green and wild. Go to the River Dart in Devon and walk the section of the river from Dartmeet to Dartington (Dartington was where I went to the college of arts of the same name). Have a swim along the way if you fancy it too. It’s one of my favourite places in the world for sure.