Producer, songwriter, singer, and all-around talented individual, SG Lewis creates music that feeds the soul. Hailing from London and bursting onto the scene with his smooth, silky production, real name Sam Lewis quickly showcased his ability to blend the worlds of EDM and R&B alike. Since the release of his 2015 debut EP, Shivers, the 24-year-old continues to perfect his craft in the studio while delivering the most memorable live shows. Read more…
At 24 years old, Sam has worked with some of music’s favorites, including AlunaGeorge, Gallant, and Clairo. Most recently, he unleashed the second phase of his 3-part EP titled Dusk, Dark, Dawn, which will be released via Casablanca/Republic Records.
For those who don’t know, who is SG Lewis?
I’m from London. I’m a producer, songwriter, and occasional singer. The best way I would describe it is I make downtempo, electronic soul music.
That was my question, where do you fit in the realm of EDM, R&B, and hip-hop?
I guess I blend a couple things, but electronic soul music is kind of like the central theme. There’s always influences from dance music as well. The rhythm always comes from more club focused genres rather than hip-hop, so blending those things and trying to mix and match them.
You’re from the UK, how does that play into your life and career?
It’s strange because I don’t think I make particular UK sounding music. It’s kind of hard to tell and be self-aware of that, I guess. But I think that being from London, the weather definitely has an impact. When I make music in LA, I make a very different kind of music. In London, it’s generally a little more depressing. [laughs] Because it’s generally darker and rainier. The lifestyle is a little bit different.
How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
It depends on who you are really. For me, it’s quite important because I collaborate a lot. LA is just the central of the universe in terms of artists being here and the people you can meet. But you don’t necessarily have to be here. As much as there’s a lot going on, the internet is very powerful. There’s no one you can’t contact by means of the web.
What’s your favorite part about the city?
Sunshine and palm trees. I’m a basic bitch. [laughs] Just that kind of California aesthetic puts me in a good mood. We’ve been on tour for a minute. We went from the East Coast all the way across through the South. I woke up in Santa Barbara… it’s beautiful there. I woke up there and my whole heart and body, I was like “I feel so happy right now.” [laughs]
I went to UCSB for 2 years. Did you party over there?
No, I’ve been super well-behaved this tour. It’s been so grueling, in terms of the shows we’ve been playing and the band. Plus I’m singing more and more. When you’re deejaying, you can kind of party more. But when you’re singing, I learned very quickly that you have to look out for yourself. Because over the summer, I tried to party in between shows. Then I turned up to the next show and couldn’t sing for shit.
At what point did you realize this music thing was forreal?
I always wanted to do it in some way, shape or form. But I think the first time that I was like “okay, this could really be a thing” was probably when I saw “Warm” in Ballers on HBO. This guy named Scott Vener played the full song in it. Before that, I was just making music in London. When that happened, it kind of blew up overnight. I was like “oh shit.”
What was the inspiration behind keeping your real name?
SG Lewis is just my initials. I wish there was a really elaborate interesting story, but actually, I was doing some work for a major label when I was around 17. I was doing a bunch of production stuff. Bits and bobs were getting used for other people, like ghost work, etc. Then one day, I delivered the remix and they were like, “Oh, we’re going to put your name on this one.” I was like “cool, great!”
I was kind of getting fucked over, but I didn’t really know it at the time. I was just like “Oh, I’m just doing bits and bobs for other people, that’s just how it works.” They were like “We’re going to put your name in it, what do you want your name to be?” I was like “Sam Lewis.” They were like, “That’s terrible and boring, what’s your middle name?” I said “George,” so that’s when they were like, “How is SG Lewis?”
It sounds like the author name.
Yeah. Sometimes when people are really drunk, they’ll be like “CS Lewis!” I’m like “uhhh kind of?” The guy that writes the Narnia books. [laughs]
“Better” with Clairo is almost at a million on YouTube. Did you foresee it blowing up like this?
Oh sick! I haven’t checked that in a while. I knew that I loved that song but it’s cool to see people connecting with the video. Definitely, because the song was so cool to make. I had the idea for the video. I was just watching a bunch of old P. Diddy videos on Youtube, and all those 90’s hip-hop videos. I was like “fuck, it would be so fun to do a stupid version of that where we’re in tracksuits and fucking around.”
How was shooting the visual?
Oh my gosh, it was so much fun. Literally, I was up ‘til like 4 am watching all these videos. I text Grant (manager) like, “Yo I got this idea. Me and Clairo are going to don the double adidas tracksuits and buy a droptop.” He was like “uhhh it’s a cool idea, but we’ll see if anyone runs with it.” Luckily, the whole team was like, “Fuck it, let’s do it.” It all happened super quickly. It was super fun to shoot. I was super jet lag though, so I kept losing my train of thought.
I love your record with AlunaGeorge, “Hurting.” She’s bae.
Yo, she’s amazing.
What was the dynamic in the studio?
It was literally the first time we met. I’m a fan of hers, I grew up listening to her. She’s the queen of dance so for me, I was a little bit nervous, I was like “oh shit, it’s Aluna.” She came to the studio, we tried a couple things, and it didn’t go straight away. So we went and got burritos. Then we came back and after kind of getting to know each other a bit, it just happened super quickly. [claps]
Literally, we finished the whole tune in one session, and it was exactly as it is in the final version. Usually, you work on it a bit after, but I was like “oh, it’s kind of done.” it was so sick. Obviously she’s a singer, but she has a real opinion in terms of production. She has ideas. She’s like, “No, I want it to sound like this. She knows what she wants.
What’s the intention behind a 3-part EP, Dusk, Dark, Dawn?
I wanted to create music for 3 different stages of a night out. I kind of became obsessed with the purpose of music, like what’s the setting that you listen to all of those? Say when you listen to the Migos, what is the purpose? Is it trying to make someone cry? Is it trying to make someone dance? For me, so many of my greatest memories are from going out, going to festivals, and just experiencing music in a live context.
I became obsessed with the idea of music at the start of the night which was always for me disco music and West Coast hip-hop. Warming into the night, like sunset hours shit. Then the middle of the night is always house techno and hip-hop. It’s always higher energy. Then the music at the end of the night is kind of what drew me the most. You know when you get back from a huge night out? And people play really downtempo, emotional music. The challenge of creating those 3 different sections or parts was really fun to me.
That’s awesome! It’s so unique.
Thanks. I had the idea and as soon as I had the idea, I was like “I have to do this.” I went to my team and they were like “it’s kind of weird and different.” But luckily, everyone allowed me to run with it. It’s been so much fun and so fulfilling to do, because I feel like it hasn’t been done before.
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
That there doesn’t need to be any exceptional circumstance for you to do the thing you love. I was raised in a family who didn’t play music at all. Music wasn’t a part of my life, it was just the thing I loved. Just by putting yourself out there and taking chances, creating something and putting stuff out there for the world to judge. If you just keep working hard, then you will be able to get there.
What is your take on the music industry?
I think it’s changing rapidly at the moment, but also that change always presents an opportunity for innovation. It’s like SoundCloud has kind of died and I’m sad about that, but there is a new platform and a new way. New subcultures will emerge. If you just complain about change, then you’re going to get left behind. You have to look at it as an opportunity rather than “oh, people aren’t listening to albums anymore.” You have to be like “oh, well what are people doing differently, and how can I be one of the innovators on that platform?”
What did you do with your first check?
Good question. [laughs] I think I just went and bought a silly amount of clothes. I bought myself a nice jacket. My first check, I was really 21. I got all my friends together and was like, “I’m fucking buying the drinks!” I took everyone out and I was like “I’m a baller.” Then six months later, I was shit broke. So I did my 6 months of being a fucking idiot and being like “yeah, I made it!” And then being like “wait hold up, I should probably work harder.”
What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
I wake up in South London in my flat, and I go and get coffee. I’m a massive coffee slob, so coffee and a ginger shot. It’s this weird health thing I’ve gotten into. It probably doesn’t do shit. I chill for a bit in the morning. I don’t work very well early in the morning so I go to the studio around lunch time. I get to the studio, and I’ll either be doing a session or writing by myself. I write music until late in the evening. If it’s not too late, I go play five-a-side football with my friends from school. (It’s like soccer.) Then go to bed really. I don’t do much apart from seeing my friends and make music, to be honest.
3 things you need in the studio?
Piano, coffee, and good people. You can work by yourself and that can be fun, but if you’re with people, they need to be good people. It’s really hard to make good music with shit people.
How important is social media for your career?
It’s difficult because I feel like Instagram has replaced or has become a form of a blog now. It’s there to be utilized, but I dont think it’s absolutely necessary. There’s artists like Frank Ocean and people who shy away from it, and have such a benefit from that for being mysterious, etc. It’s there for an opportunity, but it’s whether you want to take it or not. We all have days where we love it and we all have days where we hate it.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
Damn. I mean, I studied math and physics. I did like A level. I was going to do mechanical engineering, then I was like “I can’t do this.” I was miserable. I had a teacher sit me down proper, like in a movie. He called me into the classroom at lunchtime and was like, “What would you do if money wasn’t an object?” I was like, “I’d make music,” and he was like, “Go and do that!” I had an intervention from my teacher.
What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
Ooh, I’m going to say two. There’s one on this tour with a guy named Trevin, a fan who just responds to my shit all the time. He’s hilarious. We’ve just been talking for 2 years, with memes or funny bullshit. He’ll just be hyping up my music or whatever. We’re just internet buddies, and we met at this gig in Texas. We were like “yeahhhh!” Also someone on this tour, it was the first time someone got a tattoo of a lyrics from my song. I was just freaking out, it was crazy. It was sick.
Favorite song to perform in a set?
Good question. “Aura” is a lot of fun. It’s a song off Dusk. It’s very high energy. It’s kind of like a party.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
At the moment, Bobby Caldwell. He’s an old soul singer. But recently, this guy named Channel Tres. He’s sick. He’s so good. He’s from California.
Pharrell. I feel like a stalker, but he’s my idol. Honestly, I’ve done so many interviews where I talk about him, he’s just going to get weirded out. But I don’t know if he’s tuned in to that, he’s busy being the GOAT.
Anything else you want to let us know?
If anyone’s listening to my shit, thank you. Please keep listening. Big love.