Cultural diversity inspires Dubai singer

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Cultural diversity inspires Dubai singer

Published: Sun 20 Nov 2016, 3:55 PM

Last updated: Sun 20 Nov 2016, 6:54 PM

Dubai-based singer Samantha 'Sam' Tring's soulful voice and perfect pitch sets her apart from many of her contemporaries. Her alto voice blends easily with soul, jazz, funk and pop-rock, at times, almost sounding like Andrea Corr (of Irish band The Corrs). Though Sam is a qualified musician and has performed in many venues in Europe, she reveals that it is Dubai's cultural diversity that has been instrumental in shaping her music. Besides performing with her band in the UAE, the 20-something Brit songstress and model is currently working on her new single titled The Rain. While she dreams of jamming with Ed Sheeran, her main focus is on writing original material. We speak to the singer to know more about her musical escapes.
For how long have you been singing?
Ever since the age of 7. It all started when my mum found a tape of me singing songs by Britney Spears and Celine Dion that I had recorded with friends. Until then, she had absolutely no idea about my passion for singing. From then on, I started penning songs, including my first track On My Magic Machine in the Sky.  
Any professional training you've had?
Yes. When I was 13, I enrolled in a course called Pop Academy at The Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, UK. I loved the combination of singing, dancing and learning about the pop music industry. During that time, I even won an award for 'best vocalist of the year' which further inspired me to pursue my passion and continue at the Academy. I then enrolled for a two-year Band Academy course where the focus was on understanding music theory as well as composition. It allowed us to work closely with other musicians of different disciplines and backgrounds. After completing that, I did a National Diploma and Higher Diploma in Contemporary Music and Performance which helped me broaden my knowledge. Doing these courses gave me tremendous confidence and prepared me for a career in the music industry.

Was music in your family?
From a young age, I've been immersed in music because I belong to a family of music lovers. My mum is a huge fan of Motown and soul, while my dad loves The Beatles, Gypsy Kings and Dire Straits. There was always music at home. Whenever I would go to see a Broadway show at the West End, I used to be in awe of the performers and singers on stage and would dream of becoming be a professional singer (like them) one day.

Which of your family members were into music?
It was my dad's side, my grandad. He had one of the richest, pure voices I've ever heard. My father used to play the violin and sing. My sisters also have great singing voices, and my dad used to joke he would enter us as a girl band in X Factor and call us 'Reds Ahead' (I'm glad it didn't happen).

How did your parents support you in your career?
Though my parents encouraged me in my musical career, they were always interested in me completing my studies first. They wanted me to complete my academic grades and A-levels so that I would have something to fall back on in case things didn't work out for me in the music world. I am truly grateful to them for that.

Do you play any instruments?
I know enough about music to understand instrumentation and the theory behind music, therefore, I can play basic guitar and piano which is enough for me to write songs and compose melodies.

Nervous, cold feet, confident. How was it the first time you stepped on stage?
Initially, I was an incredibly shy girl, but my confidence grew with every performance. Though I still get nervous before a show, I now know how to channel that to make my performances better.
Any embarrassing moments on stage?
I wear long distance glasses and when I'm on stage I never have them on. My vision is not so sharp without specs. Often people in the audience wave out to me or interact from far away, but I am completely unaware of it. They may think I am ignoring them purposely. It is high time I go and get myself some contact lenses. You know, sometimes, I wave out to people I don't even know. That's quite embarrassing. I've also had my days of wardrobe malfunctions. But these days, whenever I'm performing, I carry a spare pair of shoes and a multi-purpose scarf for drastic measures.
What challenges did you face when starting out?
I used to find it hard to sing in smoky places. Now I refrain from singing six nights a week, I have cut this down to preserve my voice.
A concert that inspired you?
I saw Lisa Fischer in concert with her band last year and it was an absolutely unbelievable experience. Sometimes, you need to go out of Dubai and watch artists that inspire you. Fischer certainly did that for me with her technical ability as a vocalist!
Which genre of music are you hooked on to?
For me my style has developed over time - from pop to soul and jazz.
What's on your playlist right now?
A broad range of music from Lianne LaHavas, Sam Smith, Adele, Birdy and Dirty Loops.
One international stage you would dream performing on?
The Walt Disney Theatre in Los Angeles. As clichéd as it may sound, it is a magical place with gorgeous wooden chambers and amazing acoustics. I am constantly learning and growing as a performer. I would surely like to work in musicals in the future.

One living musician you would love to jam with?
Ed Sheeran. There's no question about that. He's such a cool singer and I love his style of songwriting.

Are you working on any album?
I'm currently working on my new single The Rain. Everything is recorded and ready for release. I am just working on releasing a music video to go with it. I wrote the song when I was around 19 years old, but I have never done a  proper recording until now so I am extremely excited to share it with everyone on iTunes!
Tell us how you write original music.
I first come up with ideas for lyrics or melodies. I also collaborate with other great musicians during the writing process as it gives my songs more edge and fresher sound. My main focus now is on original music and I will continue to write as much as possible.
Any other hobbies?
I am currently learning French, hoping to become fluent by the time I'm 30. I'm a bit of a nerd so I love to read and watch movies.
How do you balance personal life with music?
It's actually quite difficult to do that as my friends have regular jobs and schedules and my timings are odd and ever-changing. I try to have a few nights a week to myself or go out with friends.
What else are you passionate about?
I am an animal lover. I have fostered many dogs in the past few years and saved them from abuse and abandonment. I am passionate about this cause and it was an absolute pleasure to support SNIFF charity with my talent and ensure I got as many people along to support as possible. Performing for SNIFF animal charity at Jazz Pizza Express and at Storytop Roof Lounge was a great honour.

If not a musician what would you have been?
I wanted to be a speech therapist or  a midwife. 

How has the cultural diversity in Dubai influenced your music?
I have worked with musicians from all over the world out here and I am continuously learning from them. My current jazz-soul-pop band Sam Tring and The Sleeks consists of incredible players from various nationalities, including Bulgaria, Cuba, Portugal and the UK. We are diverse (in culture) but it gives the band a lot of character.

What has Dubai offered you, in terms of your music?
Dubai has offered me fantastic opportunities to perform at some wonderful venues. I have sung in Europe and now at some amazing venues in  the GCC. I also have ample time in between to focus on my original music.
Your most memorable concert in town?
I love singing at weddings because it is such an honour to be a part of someone's big day.
Which are your go-to places for music in town?
There are new places cropping up all over town these days, and I enjoy checking them out! Jazz Pizza Express has always been a favourite with me as they have great bands and artists.
What do you dislike about the music scene here?
Lack of original music or creativity. I do feel like this is changing though, but slowly.

One artiste/band you would give an arm and a leg to watch if they performed in Dubai?
I've been to a Justin Timberlake gig. He's awesome and I would love to see him perform in Dubai. I also like to watch Snarky Puppy again, I saw them earlier at the Newport Jazz Festival. Terrific act!

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