Who’d have thought that the sound of traffic in Manchester would inspire one of the UK’s fastest-rising pop stars?
But for singer-songwriter Sam Gray, it was the relentless hum of a busy Manchester road that spurred him on to write his lively pop repertoire. It sounds strange but I’d go into the bar everyday and sit there and write.
“The sounds of traffic outside really helped and it was there that I wrote most of my material.”
Now, Gray’s enjoying the fruits of his labour – including national airplay, a world-wide tour and a signing to a prestigious manager.
“It’s very exciting,” he says. “I started doing a few gigs and started writing a few songs and it all went from there.”
But it’s not only in Manchester’s busy bars where Gray writes his material, he also works from home.
“My back bedroom is kitted-out like a studio and I also record other artists. But the trouble is that I back on to a school and sometimes you can hear noises from the playground or people’s dogs. One time I was recording this female signer and she got to the really quiet, emotional part of the song and suddenly this dog barked.”
Since bursting onto the scene in 2011 with the Radio 2 play-listed debut single Cartwheel Queen Sam Gray has gone from strength to strength.
This summer, Gray shifted to a more soulful sound with single This Girl, which doffed its cap to classic Motown, blue-eyed soul and general good-time intelligent pop.
“That song’s about loving someone and not getting anything back. It’s about feeling that the feelings that you have for someone are never returned. It is a really good song and it’s really fun to play too.”
Gray road tests his songs on an acoustic guitar.
“I always think a truly great song will still sound good with nothing else than an acoustic guitar and a voice. That’s how I write my songs.
“And if they sound good stripped-back like that, I know they’ll work with a band or on a record.”
Next week, on Thursday September 26, Gray brings his blend of soulful, warm-tones pop to the Greystones, Greystones Road.