When we came across Sam Bowlds’ debut single “Innocence” earlier this year, it didn’t take much longer than the completion of the chorus to get us hooked. Not only was her voice impressive; her heart-on-her-sleeve lyrics kept us hooked and commanded our full attention.
Not only did Bowlds’ debut EP, My Own, land on our list of the best releases of the first half of 2020, it caught the attention of family, friends and fans alike, and the positive response has Bowlds inspired as she continues to release music and dive even deeper with her lyrics.
“The response from family, friends and fans following my EP was so positive! Everyone was so supportive, and the feedback was incredible,” says Bowlds. “It felt so encouraging and affirming to be so well-supported by family like that. They all spoke so much encouragement into me and continued telling me to keep walking in God’s calling for my life, and to continue to work hard to achieve my goals and dreams. It’s been awesome, and definitely inspires me to release more music and get even more vulnerable in my writing!”
When we chatted with Bowlds following the release of My Own, she said she would be making it a point to improve her social media marketing ahead of her next releases. Just eight months removed from My Own, Bowlds has the opportunity to put what she has learned to use with her new single, “Coffee & Cigarettes,” released in mid-November.
“The biggest thing I took away from my last release with social media marketing was to continue to stay engaged with my audience in the weeks leading up to the release, as well as following it. I also try to include them on decisions I make, like what I should cover next or asking their thoughts on what they’ve heard from me already,” says Bowlds. “I keep my music super honest, so I love honest feedback from people as well. Promoting myself and talking about myself or my music is the biggest thing I have had to work on, especially since live shows haven’t been happening as often this year. It has been important to keep up my presence on social media and stay engaged with my audience.”
After being immediately struck by the title “Coffee & Cigarettes,” Bowlds says she followed the guidance of family, as well as the story the song told and its timeliness, in choosing her follow up release to My Own.
“’Coffee & Cigarettes’ came to my mind one day as a cool song title, so I put it in a file of my notes in my phone, and then months later, I found myself in a write with my good friend, Derek Alldredge. We were looking through old notes and lyrics on our phones to help get an idea started, and I happened to check my ‘Song Title Ideas’ in my notes. Derek is a good ol’ classic country boy from Alabama, so I knew of all of the titles I had, ‘Coffee & Cigarettes’ would stand out the most to him. It honestly stood out to both of us, and we quickly took it and ran with it. It easily became one of my favorite songs I had written, and I knew with how excited I was about it that it had to be my next release,” says Bowlds. “I remember sending a rough demo to my sister (who also does music in New York) as I was waiting on the final mixes; she was blown away and said it could be my best song yet, and that she could hear it on the radio. I love the story it tells and how it can be made personal to each person and their own life experiences. Especially with the year we’ve had, I’m sure that many people have leaned on old or new crutches to help get them by, and I felt it was important for this message to be heard in this season where people may be struggling with that.”
After honing in on the direction they wanted to take the song, Bowlds says she and Alldredge took a different approach to the typical “tear in your beer” country song, instead, focusing on everyday coping mechanisms used to maneuver through a lost love.
“We were kind of trying to break down what that title really meant, because there were multiple directions we could have gone with this. The majority of the time in country music, we hear of alcohol as a coping mechanism to get people by or to make it through the night and so on. As much as that is a reality, there’s certainly other habits people don’t realize they have, big and small, in their day to day routines, and that’s where ‘Coffee & Cigarettes’ allowed us to get creative in a different way,” says Bowlds. “The verses speak from the perspective of, ‘Old habits haven’t killed me yet, and I’m just blowing smoke because at the end of the day, that’s easier for me than it is to face the truth and hard facts, loneliness, broken relationships, etc. People around may see these habits, but that doesn’t mean I do.’ This leads to the pre-chorus talking about being in denial of this ‘crutch, then to the chorus of, ‘Well, if I can’t have you, I need to have something else to pass the time and help fill a void, at least until I can have you again or until I can face the truth.’ It’s honestly a very deep song, but I like to keep listeners open to their own interpretation. People ask me here and there ‘what’s this one about?!’ As much as I’d love to answer that in my own experience, and often do depending on who asks, I hope they can also replay their own or create their own while listening.”
After a busy year of releasing music, Bowlds has been busy creating more new music, which is set for release beginning next year.
“I am so eager to share more about new music coming! I’ll be releasing a handful of singles next year, and that will start early into the new year,” says Bowlds. “I won’t give away dates quite yet, but stay tuned, and expect to hear some more raw and honest stories that you will be able to connect to.”
Though 2020 has not been the year anyone had hoped for or expected it would be, Bowlds is keeping a positive mindset as she continues to grow as an artist and has high hopes going into 2021.
“I’m expectant of the best in 2021. I’m really looking forward to playing some live shows around Nashville and expanding my listener base. I love the people I have been writing with, and I’m going to continue writing with them and some new people as well!” says Bowlds. “2020 allowed me to get more intentional with my writing. Some of what I am releasing, I wrote by myself and I’m super proud of it and thankful that I did have and make the time to do that in 2020. As weird of a year it has been, I’ve always been taught to make the best out of what I have, and thankfully, I’ve had lots of time on my hands to get creative with my writing and sharpen the skills I have with that. I plan to continue pushing myself as a writer and artist.”
*”Coffee & Cigarettes is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*
**Read our first interview with Sam here*