Sam Ryder: ‘Playing the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee was incredible’
The TikTok sensation, Eurovision star and Soho House member reveals the music and the moments that have shaped him
Friday 9 December 2022 By Gisselle Barbaran
In 2023, the Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Liverpool, marking the first time in more than 20 years that the UK has hosted the event. A stark reflection of how historically poorly the UK has placed in the competition for the past quarter of a century. But that all changed last year thanks to Essex-born singer-songwriter, Sam Ryder.
With his incredible vocal theatrics, effortless charm and an absolute belter of a track in ‘Space Man’, Ryder claimed second place for the UK – just behind overall winners, Ukraine. Given the ongoing war with Russia and ensuing instability in the region, the UK will now host on behalf of the Ukraine.
Pre-Eurovision, Ryder gained popularity during lockdown through TikTok – amassing a massive following (currently at 13.8 million) with pop music covers showcasing his powerful vocal range. He’s subsequently garnered a legion of celebrity fans including Justin Bieber, Sia and Sir Elton John.
Since the contest, Ryder has been hard at work recording his debut album, There’s Nothing But Space, Man! which is out tomorrow. To celebrate its release, he sat down with Soho House to share the tracks, the albums and the artists that are most magical to him.
What was the first album you ever loved?
‘Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. I first listened to it while on a school trip. I found the scratched-up CD on the floor of the bus. I had my CD player on me and tried putting it in, but only one song would play: ‘The Evil That Men Do’. At the time, I thought it was so cool, fast and melodic. I fell in love with heavy metal and electric guitar that day.’
What’s your ultimate comfort track?
‘“And So It Goes” by Billy Joel. I think it’s the most beautiful track ever written – he has such a way with words. There are lines in the song that just punch you in the stomach. He’s my favourite artist of all time.’
Do you ever listen to your own music? And if so, which track means the most to you and why?
‘Not a great deal, to be honest, because there are artists like Billy Joel to listen to, But no, I do more so when I’ve just written something in the studio. When you feel like you’ve done a good job and the song is just stuck in your head and you can’t stop listening to it.’
Who are your key musical influences?
‘So many. Billy Joel, definitely. Vocalists like Sia, Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Lou Gramm and Steve Perry. They all sing from the absolute core of their being.’
If you could play one instrument that you don’t currently play, what would it be?
‘I play a tiny bit of piano, but awfully, so I would love to be a good pianist and play any song off the top of my head.’
What’s your favourite gig memory?
‘The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. It was incredible to be able to see everyone united for a common cause.’
If you had to pick a soundtrack to your life, what would it be?
‘“You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon. It’s just so joyful. You just bounce when you hear that song.’
Name the artist you’re most excited about right now.
‘I’m really stoked about Stormzy’s new record. I’m also excited about Kings Elliot – she was supporting us recently. She was amazing when she opened up the tour.’
What’s your pre-performance ritual?
‘Fifteen minutes before going on stage, I do a couple of little vocal warm-ups. I like to go with the flow and try to remember that performances are about having fun and are experiences to enjoy. It’s so much bigger than hitting every note correctly. It’s about what feeling you can project, and in return what you get back from the people in the room.’
Sam Ryder’s album ‘There’s Nothing But Space, Man!’ is out now