The London-based singer/songwriter has been slept on for way too long. His songs tell stories in such a mesmerising way that you find yourself getting lost in his voice without even trying. You can feel the cold London wind in his melodies but also what it feels like when the sun comes out again. Moving and refreshing. Sam’s charm and talent are an explosive mix and will cast a spell on you in no time.
His new single “Little Titan” isn’t like any other chart-topping song. It’s based on a movie-worthy “real life” story: Turkish fans have decided that Sam is the incarnation of a fictional Wattpad character called ‘Alikus’. The book is called 4N1K and has already been made into a successful FOX movie in Turkey.
“Little Titan” follows the fictional character’s story while reflecting Sam’s personal connection to the best selling novel. Talk about a dimension-crossing masterpiece.
We Plug GOOD Music spoke to Sam about what it’s like to have an alternate persona and how he found the middle way between fiction and real life in his music.
What’s the story of 4N1K and how much do you find yourself relating to your Wattpad-twin, Alikus?
Brace yourself for a strange but very true story of how I became known in Turkey to be the real life representative of a fictional book character called ‘Alikus’ from a breakout novel entitled ‘4N1K’.
Wattpad is a quite clever and very modern way to publish your writing online, enabling authors to serialize their book in chapters, publishing them as they go whilst building a fanbase. Success on the platform can translate into a major book deal! Or you could see your book being made into a film! ‘4N1K’ is one of these success stories.
But what the hell has that got anything to do with me?
Within Wattpad, the fanbase has an option to choose real life representations of the characters in the story, and hey ho, for the character of ‘Alikus’ they went and chose me. I still don’t know why but suddenly I started getting a massive swell of messages in Turkish that I couldn’t understand and fans of the book kept following me! I knew nothing about the book at that point, but started to take an interest all around in the story, the author, and in the fans.
In a way, I just kind of went along with it. It was random having so many people call me ‘Alikus’ and demand that I come to Turkey for a show. After a while I wondered how I could offer something back to the fans of the book in my own way.
Thus ‘Little Titan’ was born – drawing inspiration from my book character’s journey and with help from the fans themselves I wrote the song. Writing this song I really had to get inside the character’s head. Sharing the truth of your heart can be the hardest thing, but I’ve done my fair share of it in life. Alikus is a bit of a romantic, and I can certainly have those tendencies too.
What did it feel like when 4N1K blew up and you became a star in Turkey?
It’s so random, I mean I really didn’t think I would be noticed on the street but last time I was in Istanbul I was literally followed around by teens too shy to actually come say hello.
Do fans from Turkey call you by your actual name or Alikus?
Ha! A bit of both, I think. Some even call me ‘Samkus’ LOL! I’ve become a hybrid.
Alikus’s story goes like this… He’s so deeply in love with Yaprak, a tom-boyish girl and the main protagonist of the story, but he never really tells her. They’ve basically grown up together as friends for 12 years, but then Alikus finally gathers the courage to speak his truth, and tells her he loves her. His nickname for her in the book is none other than ‘Little Titan’.
“Little Titan, Little Titan // There’s something you should know // I’ve been waiting, I’ve been wasting // Time drying my clothes // 12 years questioning // Where we might belong // To see it was here all along”
Please tell us about what it was like to write “Little Titan”
So much of it took place at home, where I write most of the time. In earnest, I was so excited and writing it full of so much drive to make something the fans would love. I actually enlisted their help too by asking them questions about the book via Instagram about what moment from the book they thought I should feature in the song.
The song has been through one major re-write and I’ve worked with two different producers to get it to where it is now. It’s been one hell of a journey, and one hell of a wait for the fans. Often when I was writing it, a massive smile came to my face. It was pure joy to know that they were excited about it even when it was still being developed.
Will there be more 4N1K based songs?
Let’s see. There have already been a few requests.
I heard you are planning on going to Turkey soon. What can fans expect from that tour?
I’m absolutely heading to Turkey soon to make a music video/tour documentary that tells some of the story. Fans can expect impromptu gigs in and around Istanbul and a larger show in a venue to be disclosed soon.
If you could choose three words that fans connect with you, which words would you choose?
I think the fans on ‘4N1K’ think I’m ‘thoughtful’ because I took the time to give them the song, ‘dimpled’ because like the character of Alikus, I have a massive dimple on the left side of my face when I grin and thirdly and lastly ‘inspiring’ – I feel there’s a great responsibility that comes with being an artist. It’s an honour to have people interested in your work so I really hope that I can give something back.
Besides 4N1K, what inspires you to create such wonderful and atmospheric music?
It’s all just an exploration. I grew up surrounded by music and storytelling in so many ways. I read so much as a child and lived in the world of books and fables. When I was a teen, I listened to pretty much every genre there is being taken to world music festivals. That all somehow feeds into my music now.
There are so many wonderful, challenging, important stories out there that need telling. A lot of my repertoire has a cinematic quality to it because that’s what my understanding of a good story is: It’s a rising and falling, a need to resolve, a tension and drama.
What got you into music in the first place?
At first it was a few random things coming together at the same time. I’d moved up to London from Devon and was travelling a lot for work, often alone. After some time, I had some stories and feelings I needed to get off my chest.
When I started songwriting I met someone outside of my immediate circle of family and friends who put their faith in me. That was the only encouragement I needed to focus my efforts, fuel the engine of my musical development and throw myself into being a student again.
Do you write songs all by yourself?
I write or co-write all my own songs. It’s so important for me to take ownership of the messages, stories and ideas I’m putting out there. Production wise, I’ll often flesh out a vibe and then work with a producer. Production is an instrument in itself – and it’s nice to get another pair of trusted ears on things too.
Sam, tell us, can we expect an album anytime soon?
My first album is coming! To be fair we have all the material but it’s not quite the right time. Timing is everything. So for now, expect a string of new singles as we build up to that fateful moment.
That’s a BIG question and maybe something that time itself will decide. But if I could control time – as amazing and terrifying that would be at the same time – I’d want my songs to move people the world over.
To be an artist that could inspire and help people somehow through whatever was going on in their life with their work. Music can be a medicine. I feel we’ve lost a lot of that in commercial pop music. I want to find my way to serve as much good food for the soul as humanly possible.
Any other updates you would like our readers to know about?
I’m publishing a book! Here in London on the 26th of September to coincide with the next single release entitled ‘Reflections’. It’s a collection of song lyrics, insights into the creative process and other collected writing and images from the journey so far.
It’s a limited edition run, but holy crap a copy of it will be in the British Library! Next year for the first time we’ll be hitting the festival circuit too and taking part in a small European tour. Before all of that though there will be two more singles to wrap your ears around.
And last but not least, where can we listen to your music and follow your journey?
Thanks Sam for taking us on such an insightful journey inside your mind! Now, brace yourself for a WPGM exclusive: We are proud to premiere Sam Way’s atmospheric acoustic video for “Little Titan” below! Enjoy.
Words by Jazz Egger