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Interview With Sam Nelson

Copyright 1999-2000 The Unofficial Sam Nelson Fan Club. Do not use without permission.

Name:Sam Hilliard Nelson
Marital Satus: S

1. Sam could you tell us a little about your group "h is orange" and the music you do?

The h is orange project initially began about four years ago. At the time I was living and studying in Spain and was contemplating the direction my life was going in. It became increasingly clear that music has been the only thing that I have ever felt consistently passionate about. It was at that point that I decided to seriously pursue music in anyway possible. I immediately began writing songs and playing guitar and before long, I had completed an entire LP's worth of material . Unfortunately, because I was to be in Europe for another seven months, I couldn't begin recording until I returned to the United States.

Upon arriving back in this country, I accumulated as much equipment as I could. In order to remain as self contained and free from external influences as possible, I focused my energy into sample based keyboards and sequencing. During this period, I was considered somewhat of a hermit in that I hid myself away and forced myself to learn my instruments until I was proficient. While completing college, I tried to stay sane by producing alot of uninspired dance and ambient music. Ultimately though, it gave me the chance to experiment with structure and form, and let me hone in on the particular type of "sound" I was looking for for the h is orange project.

Essentially, h is orange is me and the sum total of all my creative energy from that time consolidated into one neat little package. Most importantly, I think the experience has presented me with a clear cut picture of who and where I need to be.

I suppose "the music I do" stems primarily from what I listen to and what I hear in my head. There is no sure fire formula involved in the creating of the music. Usually for me, a song begins simply with an acoustic guitar and vocals, and expands from there. My generic description is that it mixes an organic foundation with electronic elements. In effect, this isn't saying anything at all. To be honest, I'm much more interested in how people interpret what they hear for themselves and how they make sense of the music on their own.

2. Do you write your own music?

Yes, I write all of my own music.

3.Who are your musical influences?

Not to sound harsh in saying this, but to be honest, I don't really know where to even begin with this question. You have to be careful in answering questions like these because if your not, you'll permanently paint yourself into a corner. I can understand that for many people its important that things be organized and compartmentalized but personally speaking, that's not what I am about. For me technically speaking, rhythm is important, as is composition and structure. A song doesn't have to be played or sung by the best musicians, or by certain types of instruments to be a good song. Sincerity and energy are equally important also in that ultimately, its the emotion that you come away with that defines the song. I love old Rhythm and Blues records. Early Straight Edge Hard-core had a profound influence on me, as did early 80's synthesizer driven New Wave.I'm also really into Bossa Nova. The beauty of music is that it's like a random marker (or smell). It puts you in places for different reasons. It also takes you back to where you've been. As the world becomes smaller and more accessible, it's hard not opening yourself up to different types of influences from all mediums. With this said, I couldn't pinpoint exact examples but you could throw Funk, Rap, Disco, Techno, Classical, Reggae, Folk, Anti-folk, Electronica, Jazz, Country, Hard-core, and Metal into the bag because I do love it all.

4. What instruments do you play.? Do you sing?

I play a bit of everything (bass, guitar, drums, keyboards) and I also sing. I love every instrument for different reasons but I really enjoy the drums. Percussion instruments make the world go round. On this record I played every instrument except for bass. I did this basically because I wholeheartedly subscribe to the idea that if you are going to do something right, do it yourself. I've been a member of many a slacker band and this method helped eliminate the element of inconsistency and dependency on others. The down side to this method and perhaps the most obvious consequence, is that it takes considerably longer to finish. My brother Matthew played bass because he has not only been incredibly supportive of my project, but is also a phenomenal musician who most certainly helped enhance the overall flavor of what I was trying to accomplish. For playing live, my friend and drummer Guy Staniar and I have been holding auditions.

5. How is recording coming along.

I have just recently returned to the West coast and have dived head long into getting my studio up and running. I have vocal overdubs, mixing, and mastering yet to do but the album should be released within the first couple months of 2000.

6. Aside from your music, what are your other interests?

Anything that involves creating is of interest to me. It doesn't really matter what it is. Writing, painting, drawing, whatever. I have found that a healthy existence demands the constant expression of ideas even if its only for your own benefit. Just produce. Do something, and keep doing it. The day I no longer feel like expressing myself is the day I want to die. A second passion for me would most certainly be traveling. I have a hard time staying in one place for too long. There's too much to see and too little time to see it.

7. Any comments you would like to share?

I guess I would just like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank those of you who have supported me thus far. I appreciate your commitment and patience and will do what I can to keep you informed. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I'll try and answer them as best and as fast as I can....stay tuned to and enjoy the ride.