Originally from Invercargill, the now Wellington-based Sam Cullen is beginning to carve out a lane for himself in the New Zealand music scene. At 19 years old, the artist is gearing up to release his debut EP. With a slew of singles planned before an early September release, there is a lot to be excited about for the versatile artist.
We caught up with him ahead of the release of his first single ‘Love Lies’ to have a chat about his musical journey thus far, and future plans.
Check out the conversation below.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and who you are?
I’m Sam Cullen, a 19-year-old originally from Invercargill. I moved to Wellington last year to study Jazz, and I’m currently in my second year. I’m releasing my debut EP in late August/ early September. It’s a collection of six songs that have been written over the course of the last few years. I’ve finally got around to putting my time and effort into press around them and getting them out, I’ve been sitting on them for so long and I’m excited to finally get them out.
It’s a big cross-section of stuff. A lot of rock influence, some Springsteen in there it’ll be a real mix of things with some pop-rock as well. I’m putting out three singles before the EP. The first one, ‘Love Lies’, comes out on the 23rd of July. ‘All Night Long’ comes out with a music video on the 7th of August, then the EP along with the last single ‘1000x’ will be out around late August or early September.
What was the transition like moving up from Invercargill to Wellington?
Yea it was buzzy. Really different because it’s so small down there, it’s been great being brought up there for the first 18 years of my life. If you wanna play a gig you can play a gig type of thing. It was kind of like out of the frying pan into the fire really. Going up to Wellington I realised it was a little harder to get gigs than back home. But it’s mean, there’s so many people doing the same thing or something slightly different and the community is great and really supportive.
You’re studying Jazz, how does that affect the music that you play now?
I’m still yet to figure out how it’s all going to translate. I went into Jazz school kind of wanting to translate the musicality of the course, not so much wanting to play Jazz or putting Jazz into my music. The things you learn, like the theory side of it, weave into production and pop songwriting. So I’m hoping after three years that will translate.
You’ve got a bit of NZ On Air funding for some of the upcoming releases, what’s it like receiving that?
It’s great! I managed to get it in 2019 as well which was fantastic for a single called ‘Shut The Door.’ I was stoked to get it again, it’s so great having that kind of edge with the track, just knowing you have that extra bit of cash for promo and to get a really cool music video done.
So once the EP is out, do you plan on going on tour at all?
I’ve got a tour booked for 6 dates in late September through to October. So Auckland right through to Invercargill. The live set is just a solo thing with drum pads, keyboard, a guitar and a few different instruments. Yea it’ll be fun, I’m keen to get some local acts on board from each city. I’m just keen to do it more than anything.
Check out ‘Love Lies’ below.