Dirty Dozen: Sam Rochford

Sam Rochford is a 25-year-old Connecticut native now living in Nashville where she was formerly an on-air correspondent for 650 AM WSM’s “Nashville Today” show hosted by Devon O’Day. Prior to moving to Nashville, she was the host of “Markov Music” on Boston’s popular internet radio station, WEMF. Sam has been publishing videos to YouTube and Facebook for the last 5 years, garnering a dedicated following for her musicianship, and quirky personality.

Can you tell us about yourself? Where you’re from and what you’ve been up to over the past few years?
I’m originally from Connecticut, lived in Boston for 5 years, and then moved to Nashville a year and a half ago to pursue my dream. I started writing music when my friends and I would go camping, I would bring a guitar and make up terrible improved songs about the dumb stuff my friends were doing. After I started writing, I couldn’t stop! I started performing in local bars and clubs in the Boston area, and uploading original songs to YouTube. I also got involved in local radio around that time and started hosting the show Markov Music out of WEMF in Cambridge, MA.

I moved to Nashville and joined the staff of 650 AM WSM, the radio station associated with the Grand Ole Opry. I started writing with and learning from some of the most talented musicians I’ve ever met. Every radio segment and co-write has been about absorbing all the knowledge I can and applying it to my own artistry. Learning is a lifelong process, but I’ve come a long way from making up dumb songs about my friends around a campfire.

How would you describe your music?
My music is very folk-y and conversational. I like to fingerpick and write about exactly what’s going on in my life without using lots of flowery language or metaphors.

Can you tell us a little bit about your influences?
My music taste and influence is very, very eclectic. I try to learn from any artist or performer I can, even if our musical styles are very different. I listened to a lot of classic rock and folk growing up because it was what my dad listened to. Some of the first songs I learned to play and sing at the same time were by the Beatles and Jim Croce. In high school and college I listened to everything from Top 40 pop, R&B, indie music, bluegrass…. really everything! When I started working in radio my music taste was pretty guided by my work, so when I was at WEMF I was very deep into the local Boston music scene, and when I was at 650 AM WSM I started listening to traditional country for the first time. So to make a short story long, I really feel influenced by all types of music!

What are you currently promoting?
My first ever single is called “So Easy”! I wrote it last year for my little sister’s wedding. I made a lyric-music video where decorated each page of a notebook with the lyrics of the song and flipped through the pages in time with the music. Both writing the song and making the music video were huge, time consuming labors of love.

Have you got a particular song you’ve done that you’re particularly proud of, one that might define you?
I hope not! I’m still writing and learning all the time, so I hope nothing I’ve ever written “defines” me quite yet. Sometimes I’ll write a song that really sums up a year of my life or a certain big change that I’m experiencing, but I wouldn’t say I’ve written something that really sums me up.

What are you currently listening to?
I just checked my Spotify history so I can give you the most honest answer possible. I’m really into Miley Cyrus’ latest song “Malibu”. I think it’s a great step for her away from the Bangerz album and I’m very much looking forward to the new era of Miley music. I’ve also been listening to a ton of Brandi Carlile. I saw her live a few months ago and can’t get her music out of my head.

And your favourite album of all time, the one you couldn’t do without?
This might be a weird answer but I love “Welcome Interstate Managers” by Fountains of Wayne. The album is definitely most well known for the single “Stacy’s Mom” but every song on the album is great. I think I really admire the conversational tone to their lyrics and try to apply that to my own writing. I’m also just really impressed that they can write about something as mundane as working in an office like in the songs “Bright Future in Sales” and “Hey Julie”. When I think about the times I’ve worked in different offices, I always had trouble writing because I was just so uninspired by what was happening in my day to day. So if you’ve never listened to any Fountains of Wayne outside of “Stacy’s Mom” I would highly recommend that whole album.

What are your hopes for your future career?
I just want to be able to sustain myself on music and be happy. I don’t care about being world-famous or being sponsored by a famous brand. I just want to create music I’m proud of and connect with people.

If money were no object what would be your dream project?
My dream project would be to collaborate with musicians or bands that really inspired me like Paul McCartney, the guys from Fountains of Wayne, or Brandi Carlile. I’ve grown up listening to and learning from these master musicians my ultimate dream would be to make music with them!

What’s the best thing about being a musician?
The best thing about being a musician is connecting with people.  Even though my songs are like diary entries, I’ve had fans and friends tell me that they connected with my music in ways that I would never think of. For example, my song “So Easy” was written for a wedding and is about finding true love but I’ve heard people say they connect with it thinking about platonic relationships or family members. I’ve made life-long friends with people I would have never met if it wasn’t for my music.

And the worst?
The worst part about being a musician is the other side of the same coin as connecting with people. I’m not famous by any means, but I am lucky enough to have people that are really passionate about my music. Sometimes when a person connects with your music or your online persona, they can feel entitled to your time or energy in a way that you’re not comfortable with. This doesn’t happen very often, but I’ve had well meaning, enthusiastic people overstep boundaries with me.

Finally, have you anything you’d like to say to the readers of Americana UK?
Keep supporting indie music! Weather you like my music or not, keep supporting the dreams of people that are doing all the work of a record label completely on their own.

Author: Rudie Hayes

Rudie is the weekly host of the syndicated radio show – The Horseshoe Lounge Music Session – playing the best American Roots and hosting terrific live guests.

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