Samuel Stewart might come from a pop music lineage, but, one year into his apprenticeship on the Los Angeles scene, he’s intensely aware that he must make his own way, and that there’s some serious dues yet to be paid.
“I think that’s the danger of being a professional musician’s kid,” the 21-year-old son of the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart and Shakespears Sister’s Siobhan Fahey says. “People think you don’t deserve what you get. But if I were to get attention I didn’t deserve, I’d feel bad. I’m here, starting at the bottom, playing small venues like anyone else.”
In early November, Stewart will release his first EP, “The Beginner,” a five-song taste of his frolicsome, punk-tinged folk-pop. He has another EP recorded, and with Los Angeles and its environs fueling his muse, he has more than an album’s worth of material written. Yet it is not the scenario he envisioned a year ago when he moved to L.A. to free himself of the shackles of the London indie music scene.
Stewart originally relocated to L.A. to produce the music of Django James & the Midnight Squires – the fledgling band fronted by his teenage brother, Django. Ah, the precocity of teenagers. Despite making noise at the L.A. club level, Django wasn’t happy with the direction he was going, so he moved back to London. “He wanted to go out and experience life,” Samuel says with a note of empathy. “He has all the time in the world.”
- ||| Download: Django James & the Midnight Squires, “Giving Tree”
Samuel, who was actually born in Encino but lived in London from about age 3 on, played in the U.K. indie-rock band Blondelle but has since set aside his guitar to write his music largely on the piano, drawing inspiration from the likes of Leonard Cohen and pop’s lyrical masters. Stewart’s sharp observations evident in songs like “Capital of Second Chances” and “Child Star.” “I couldn’t go to Las Vegas and not write a song about it – it’s inspiring in a bizarre way,” he says of the former. Of the latter: “I was thinking about people being pushed into something too young.”
That doesn’t necessarily apply to him, or his relationship with his father. “I wouldn’t say he ever pushed music on me, but the fact that I was interested in music probably excited him,” Stewart says. “The way he always put it was, ‘If I was a carpenter and you wanted to use my tools.'”
Stewart and his London friends started a band when he was 12 (William Cameron, the singer from Blondelle, now lives in Brooklyn). “We started out kind of Nirvana-ish, then became sort of metal and when we got to be 16 or 17 we sounded indie,” Stewart says. “It’s clear to me now we just weren’t good enough. … We eventually found that we were all moving in different directions, and at the same time I was in a relationship with a girl and we broke up – boo-hoo – so …”
L.A., here I come. “It feels like a rebirth, but on the other hand it helps that I don’t love it here,” he says. “Still, I don’t think it’s as bad as people from the East Coast or London say it is.”
||| Live: Samuel Stewart performs the opening set Wednesday night at Buzz Bands LA’s One-Year Anniversary at the Echo.