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Interview: Sam Feldt Reflects On A Rollercoaster Year

Sam Feldt has been through a lot in the past year, including a career-halting injury and the release of one of his biggest hits yet.

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A year ago this past June, I met Sam Feldt on the Elsewhere rooftop during Bakermat’s show. A friend of Bakermat’s, who had him opening for him on his world tour, Feldt was there to check out the set before his own show at Lavo later that night. I turned to Sam and told him “we should do an interview sometime,” to which he said “Next time I’m in NYC, we’ll make it happen.”

364 days later, a lot had occurred, including a life-changing leg injury that came after a horrific scooter crash in early summer of 2018 that put most of his 2018 tour plans on hold. Post-recovery, Sam has also released his 2019 Magnets EP which holds his latest hit single, “Post Malone,” which has already claimed 25 million streams on Spotify in just over a month and sits in the top ten on Spotify’s premiere playlist, Today’s Top Hits.

I sat down with Sam at SoHo House in Chelsea for an exclusive interview before his June return to Lavo, to look back at the past year in retrospect since we’d first met.

 

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. 

 

EB: In your personal life and career, does any moment or accomplishment stick out over the last 364 days? 

SF: One positively and one negatively. Around this  time I had a scooter accident that really impacted my summer. I wasn’t able to perform for two months and had surgery, recover and learn how to walk again. it was pretty drastic and really impacted also my look on live and my career and everything I’m doing. When you realize it can be over in a split second, you start to appreciate everything a lot more. So that’s something that I learned that was actually very valuable to me. 

I think positively, I’m very impressed how well my new track “Post Malone” is doing right now. It’s at almost half a million plays a day (update: it’s now doing 1.2M per day), which is very rare, also for my music. So I’m curious to see where this goes, music video will be out soon. I went to Sirius XM and iHeartRadio in New York, and everyone was really excited about it. Who knows, it might be a new hit. 

EB: Most of the music you’ve put out so far falls into the tropical house lane, and is generally very chill. Is that a reflection of your personality and your taste? 

SF: I started Sam Feldt around five years ago, and before that I was already DJing and producing under a different name. I used to make EDM, very hard kind of stuff. You can feel and hear that my heart wasn’t really into it, and so I said to myself, after struggling and failing, that I was going to create a new name and under that name I’m only going to put out what I love, what I love listening to myself – that was Sam Feldt.

The moment I started doing that was actually the moment I got signed and my success came, so it’s one of my biggest tips that I have to aspiring producers: make music that you personally love and listen to, that you can listen to 100 times before getting bored. 

EB: Are there any tracks that you’ve released in the last few years that made you nervous to put out because it was different? 

SF: It’s always your gift to the world, the thing youv’e been working on for months. Then you put  it out and you never know what people are going to say or think. Overall, I think over the last year, the response to my tracks have been really positive – I don’t have a lot of haters, luckily. 

But yeah, these weird collaborations, like one I did with Akon, you never know what people will think, and there were people who said “This is not the Sam Feldt or the Akon that I know,” but I like pushing the boundaries and I like seeing where Sam Feldt ends in a way.

Also what I did with the album – 24 tracks ranging from 90 BPM hip-hop almost, to clubby 128 BPM foot-to-the-floor club bangers, all on one album – I think that really showcases how diverse Sam Feldt can be, and how open-minded my fans are, in welcoming all of that music. 

EB: Funny you mention that, because I was wondering if there was a big difference between your live show set that incorporates band members & instruments, and your club/DJ sets. 

SF: It’s different because when you play with the live band, the set has to be structured in a way, because they have to know what to do and when to do it. You have to rehearse like a band, with a setlist. My live sets, because they’re instrumental, they tend to be a bit more melodic, and the club sets tend to be more bassy, deep, and groovy. 

For my DJ sets, I’m very free – I can play longer, usually, I can switch it up and really read the crowd and adapt to it. So, it’s a very different way of playing.

EB: So you really are flying by the seat of your pants at a club set, because you’re reading the crowd. 

SF: That’s it. For instance, Lavo is already a different crowd and club than Marquee, and if I were to play a Brooklyn venue like the Bakermat one, I’d play differently. I think that’s the most important job you have as a DJ – that people are having a good time. You see that one thing works, and another doesn’t, you have to change it up.

EB: Thinking about all of the artists you include in your DJ set, do you feature any artists more consistently than others in particular? 

Yeah, there are a couple of artists that align well with what I try to do during my DJ sets. They’re melodic, have a happy vibe, they’re energetic and we share a similar fan base: Guys like The Him, Lucas & Steve – I can play almost all of their tracks in my set. But, I’m always looking for new talent, I’ll play any new song as long as it’s good. 

EB: Today marks six years together with your girlfriend Michelle, who is half of the DJ duo Cat Carpenters. What’s it like maintaining a relationship with someone who is also a DJ and tours? 

SF: It’s actually really cool and interesting. People tend to think it’s hard, but it’s not anymore. We’ve known each other now for six years, and in the beginning, when we had just met, I wasn’t even touring yet. So, we really grew and the first couple years were a lot harder than it is now.

EB: As musicians, do you lean on each other for advice when you’re making music, or do you try to keep it separate from your relationship? 

SF: I think she’s definitely a big factor when it comes to listening to things in the studio, and snippets of things that I’m working on. She has a good ear, and helps sort me through the demos I get on heartfeldt.me, the submissions for my radio show. She’s just started as a DJ, so I help her out with production sometimes as well.

She also works for a startup that I own, called Fangage, running operations there. She’s with me now in New York, and it allows us to travel together, be very flexible, and still keep the businesses running that we have together. I think we’re a great team.

 

For more sam Feldt, check out our first Q&A from last fall where we discussed Sam’s life outside of the DJ booth:

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