You know those people you see on a daily basis that, despite the fact you see them more than you even see your friends, you hardly talk to? The grocery store cashier or neighbor directly across from you; you could talk to them, you could tell them how your day has went and ask how theirs has been likewise, but you don’t.
Instead, you might nod to them or pretend like you don’t even see them. This is where you’re missing out. Everyone has a story to tell and some of the people you ignore might just be the perfect friend, music aficionado, or lover but you’ll never know that for sure. You’ll just treat it professionally with not an ounce of small talk and then go home like you always do. As for me, I’m just not like that. I love people and I love their stories. That’s what led me to put the small talk aside with my BookFuel assigned author advisor, Sam Raines, and start hearing his stories instead.
When BookFuel, a website that I received six free months of premium service on thanks to National Novel Writing Month, assigned me my author advisor, they chose a young guy by the name of Brandon. Although I tried to find any information on him other than his bio on the website, I was unable to access absolutely anything to strike up a conversation. It’s not that I wanted to make a friend or chat with someone new necessarily, I just wanted to know the person I was going to be sharing my entire novel with. After only a week , they reassigned me due to constantly expanding business. This is when I met Raines.
Once again, I scoured the internet to find anything about him that could allow me to feel comfortable talking with him. That’s when I found a brilliant musician from Denver, Colorado who blew my mind with his incredibly sad and beautiful acoustic songs. I wasn’t sure that it was him, but if it was, I simply had to know.
When we began to talk, I immediately asked him if this musician was in fact himself. When he verified the fact that the young musician holding a three legged wiener dog in a video series he created and singing songs from an album that was absolutely stunning was him, I knew it was time to go from author mode to journalist mode, and quick. Needless to say, after a few days, I sent him interview questions based upon his work and was given some extremely well-written answers in return (what did I expect from a person working for BookFuel after all?).
Samantha Lee Donaldson: When did you first decide you wanted to be a musician?
Sam Raines: I was 16, and my friends Landon and Nathan were writing songs. I heard some demos they had made, and I was very envious. So I guess to be honest it was envy that got me started. I’ve thought back on this beginning and wondered if it means something that my heart wasn’t exactly in the “right” place, but I’ve stopped caring. I think everyone starts something for different reasons than they have for continuing to do it.
SLD: How far would you say you would be willing to go to be a professional musician full time?
SR: I’ve gone far already. I’d say every major life decision I’ve made in the last five years has been made with music in the back of my mind. I moved to Chicago for music. I moved to Denver for music. I’ve reached a point of realization that I can’t continue to judge myself based on my success in music. It’s so arbitrary who makes it and who doesn’t. So right now I’m putting my focus back on expressing what I need to express, and if people start paying attention and I experience some success from that, that’s great. If not, that’s fine, too, because that just means it was meant to be underground. I only want to be on the path that’s mine.
SLD: What inspires you in everyday life when it comes to music?
SR: Simple sadnesses I think. I pay attention to the little regrets and disappointments that people carry with them. I try to pull them out and make them appear to be as big as they actually are. People experience loss and confusion and feelings of not being good enough, and they’re often able to tuck it away and make it seem so inconsequential when, in fact, it’s likely affecting them more than they realize. So I give voice to my own simple sadnesses, and I hope people can glean something from it. Maybe even find some hope.
SLD: Tell us about the album Minutes Left. Where did it come from?
SR: I came up with the title and the general idea for the album when I was 17. I finished writing it when I was 19. And I finally released it last year right after I turned 24. It’s been a long time in the making, and it’s an expression of a short period in my life that was important for me to put out into the world. I think it’s helped me let go, in a way. Closing a chapter. The title is indicative of the feeling of constantly being at the end regardless of how long you’re there. Everything seems so fateful and final and important and definitive. And it is if that’s what you think it is when you’re experiencing it. It’s all that matters.
SR: I almost said “Of course!” but then I’d have let you get away with assuming I’m straight. But I am, in fact, straight. And yes, it was a particular girl. People will be trying to find ways to express love forever and ever.
SLD: You left to Tennessee after just two months in the city as it says in your biography online, but then you returned to Denver, Colorado to give it another shot. How has it been going since then?
SR: Yeah, I spent two months in Chicago. Beautiful city. Just about swallowed me up. But I don’t think I was ready to let go of home quite yet, and I didn’t know anyone in Chicago when I moved there. No one there loved me. I was ready for Denver, and I had a number of friends who had moved before me. So I already had people here who loved me, and that made it a lot easier. Denver is great. If I’m ready for some tranquility, I can just head west into the Rocky Mountains and disappear.
SLD: Would you ever consider doing a show in Boise if given the opportunity?
SR: Yes. I’d love to. Josh Ritter, a huge inspiration for me in terms of songwriting, is an Idahoan, so it might feel a lot like coming home.
SLD: What is one piece of advice you could give to someone trying to make it in the music scene?
SR: This is a tough one because everyone’s different. I’ll just say what I tell myself: come to terms with the fact, sooner rather than later, that you may not experience the success that you’re after. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure–It doesn’t mean you’ve somehow missed out on your destiny–It just means that the music industry is finicky and doesn’t make sense and doesn’t always reward the greatest musicians. And that’s ok. With that in mind, keep going. Keep playing. Enjoy the big gigs as well as the open mics, because that expression and connection is what it’s all about no matter where it is you’re playing. Write-Write more-Write differently. Be nice to the other musicians. You’ve got something to learn from everyone. Maybe you will make it, but I think you know that’s never what it was all about anyway.
SR: I’ll start by apologizing for the means in which I communicate with you, which is basically broad, impersonal posts on Facebook, Twitter, and the website. I wish I had the time to reach out to every single person who has taken the time to listen. There are so many things competing for your attention. The gap between us is separated by backlit screens and lines of text and clever marketing tactics meant to distract you, and even with all that in the way, you managed to give me a chance and hear what I had to say. That’s everything, and there’s just not a way for me to express how grateful I am with words. In this millennium, people are still looking for a real connection with other humans however they can find it.
SLD: What’s next for Sam Raines?
SR: I’ve had the second album written since 2012, so I guess I should start on that sometime soon.
Yet another incredible artist with an incredible story. It’s perseverance and love that make musical bonds this strong and judging by his answers, Sam Raines has both of these qualities under his belt. Below is a link to Sam’s song ‘Metaphysical Mine’ from the album Minutes Left as well as a link to his video for ‘Apple’ starring Seamus the three legged dog. If you would like to buy his album, check out the final link below which takes you to his website!