- 02 Mar 23
After signing his debut record deal in 2014 with PMR Records, home to Jessie Ware and Disclosure, SG Lewis received endless offers to collaborate, remix and perform with eye-wateringly talented figures. Building a reputation for infusing disco and pop from decades gone by into sultry electronic bangers (not to mention producing Dua Lipa’s record-breaking Future Nostalgia); sophomore album AudioLust & HigherLove will prove a new high.
English super-producer and artist in his own right, SG Lewis, dropped his highly anticipated second studio album AudioLust & HigherLove on January 27th. The response has been swift and positive, with praise draped on the Reading native for his now-trademark blend of addictive electronic disco/pop on an arena scale.
On his atmospheric 2021 debut times, 28-year-old Sam George Lewis (hence the SG moniker) predominantly worked solo on tracks that yearned for clubs to open their doors. For his sophomore outing, AudioLust & HigherLove saw a studio band build a record that could see him perform in significantly bigger venues than nightclubs. Not that the affable Sam seems to mind; his mission is bringing euphoria to the masses.
Descending into Dublin’s 3Olympia Theatre for a dance event like no other on Sunday, March 26th, the upcoming performance will mark Lewis’ first time in Ireland since the pandemic began. Luckily, he made the most of his lockdowns, crafting the impressive AudioLust & HigherLove and making major tour plans.
“I played at a festival in Ireland pre-Covid but I haven’t been back in a while,” Sam smiles at me through the screen. It’s 7am in Los Angeles, where he’s currently residing part-time, but he’s grinning through the morning pain. “Obviously, Irish crowds are pretty world renowned. I’m excited to see how the audience reacts!”
Much has changed since the first global lockdown halted touring.
“Anything before the pandemic is such a blur,” Sam tells me, looking back to the beginning. “I was like 24 or 25 just like saying yes to everything. You go to a lot of places but when you’re touring, it’s limited. Sometimes you can only see the airport and your hotel because of the tight schedule. The moment can get completely lost. As I’m getting older, I make sure to put a flag in every city and create a memory.”
Across new 15 tracks, Lewis taps the incredible Tove Lo, Channel Tres, Lucky Daye, Charlotte Day Wilson and Ty Dolla $ign to share the mic. Injecting confidence in his own voice in between glorious synths, heavenly beat drops and warm electronic flourishes; it’s some of the Dua Lipa and Elton John producer’s best work yet.
“Release day is always a strange feeling. Not necessarily anti-climactic,” he laughs, laidback. “There’s a lot of waiting to see what people think of it, reading feedback, but also trying to shut it out. I just enjoy having some drinks with friends. There’s a mountain about four hours from here, so I planned to do some skiing for that day - which I haven’t done in a long time.”
Producers often have a sense of mystique or anonymity around them in the public eye, only a few become household names themselves. SG Lewis is being catapulted further into the recognisable category, whether he likes it or not.
“I find that the musician versus fan dynamic puts you in an almost slightly uncomfortable position,” Lewis admits, pausing to think. “I’m just another person making music. Whenever I meet fans, I usually find that within the first five the conversation is very normal. That initial excitement settles down. One perception of me is that I’m just a massive nerd, to be honest! I spend a lot of my time geeking out over production. I don’t think that they would perceive me to be super suave.”
“There’s people that fall into this position not by accident; those who have an ambition to be adored and are natural performers and absorb that energy,” he adds, sagely. “I almost feel like I’ve ended up in a situation of visibility almost by accident in a way as a by-product of this. It’s not something I crave or find particularly comfortable at times. The imposter syndrome does play into it. I’m in a position where I’ve been able to transfer that admiration of music into making music instead.”
The talent initially got his start by posting remixed tracks on line, influenced by the likes of James Blake, Timbaland, The Neptunes and Bon Iver. Chase and Status’ Will Kennard, after Lewis’ first show in Ibiza at Annie Mac Presents, reportedly delivered Sam the best advice at his early career stage.
His first job in music was an internship with the duo, listening to demos. After seeing him play, Kennard urged him to celebrate the little moments of success as they come, instead of ploughing on. Years after his first DJ residency at Liverpool’s Chibuku Club, has Sam heard better advice?
“The best advice is probably about how your interactions with people around you change,” Lewis tells me, relaxed. “The people you grew up with—family, friends, and people you meet. I had come back to LA after the pandemic, and a friend of mine called Jack alluded to the fact that things are going to be different after the album. There were going to be more people around and more people interested in what I was doing. I remember being sort of taken aback by it. Other than that, it’s about navigating the changes emotionally and protecting yourself on the way.”
The album is clearly split into two worlds, with AudioLust acting as the darker, lusty, infatuated, short-lived, and ego-driven version of love. The second half represents a much deeper, actualized, and fulfilled version of the same feeling. Interestingly, Lewis exists in the space between DJing and solo artistry, meaning that the dual concept of the album has a deeper meaning.
“As I start to sing more — I definitely like leaving the listener to their own opinion about the fact or fiction side of lyrics,” Sam grins, shyly. “I have a newfound admiration for artists that write autobiographically. You look at huge artists like Taylor Swift: it’s like a diary. Her fans know who she’s talking about and who she’s dated at what time. That takes a huge amount of exposure and being comfortable with people having a lens on your life. I find that to be uncomfortable for me, so I’m quite happy for people to form their own conclusions. It means less lens on myself.”
“There are songs that sound really personal, but are just total fiction,” he laughs. “Mass perception of my music is crazy. I don't really want to think about it!”
It’s rare - if not impossible - to read an interview with Sam without his long list of collaborators mentioned. For some, this could be tiresome. For others, plain annoying. But for Lewis, he remains proud and humbled by artists coming to him.
“I’m always excited by teamwork. Each collaboration is a different opportunity for connection and to feel something new,” he smiles. “It never gets old.
"Honestly, I love the friendship you get to pull through it. You meet some really interesting people, and some incredible artists who have stories. To watch some of these people work as well is like a real privilege. There’s definitely no novelty that sort of dies with it. On my dream list— which is always huge and ever evolving—but I would say Sade would possibly be number one. Off the top of my head, Bon Iver and Nelly Furtado.”
“A lot of people just end up being nicer than you expect, which is great,” he nods. “I’ve met a few huge pop artists that you might think would be a bit less friendly, just a result of their environment. Lots of the time, people that reach those heights are actually really lovely. Maybe that’s been part of the reason why they’ve made it?”
Sam was posting material out online when his work caught the attention of PMR Records, who invited him to remix one of UK dance hero Jessie Ware’s singles. Ben and Daniel Parmar co-founded the influential London-based label in 2011.
“I don’t know if I’d be in the position I am now if not for Ben and Dan, who saw something in me,” Sam shakes his head, modestly. “Even the fact that I’m sitting in LA in a house, essentially living here. Being a part of PMR Records and the culture at the time was a moment in time with that label. To have that association gave me an early advantage. The effect of the Ballers sync of ‘Warm’ in 2015 is also immeasurable. I’m here in LA right now because I have a US audience, due to that song taking off. The effects have continued to be felt for the last seven years.”
“I'd love to be known as an artist whose music encapsulated a moment in pop culture — not just doing a lot of streams or selling a lot of records,” he muses.
“Music soundtracks a moment and contributes to culture. I also want to be known as someone who is prolific with their work. I need to also enjoy the work that I do for other people, and I want to help artists with their records. I want to make as much music as possible and be a part of as many moments as possible for pop stars.”
AudioLust & HigherLove is out now.
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- 23 Feb 23