Sandi Thom: ‘The rise is pretty quick but you fall just as fast’

The Scottish songstress Sandi Thom has come a long way since her dreams of becoming a punk rocker got her to number one in 2006.

Thom first shot to fame with her webcasts from her flat in London, which is quite a unique way to gain media attention. She got the idea from a show she had played in Scotland. “I played one particular show in Edinburgh at a venue called the West Bank… the whole thing was webcasted.

Sandi Thom is currently working on a new album. Photo: Ami Barwell

“I was pretty intrigued by it all to be honest, and went and investigated and asked the people there, you know, ‘how exactly do you do this’ and took it back home and said to my manager ‘this could be something that we could do and it might actually be a really great promotional tool’.”

To Thom it made sense to use the internet in this way to gain publicity: “When you don’t have money you’ve got to kind of come up with these things to do something else that’s going to catch peoples attention.”

She admits that they didn’t know how the idea would go down with the public — all they knew was that it was a good idea. “It was a great idea and we didn’t really know if it was going to be successful or not… nobody knew if it would work and it did work.”

The reason it worked, she believes, was because it was such a change from the norm. “It was something that was quite new at the time, quite revolutionary, and there was so much going on and there was a dangerous shift in the industry, digital music and selling music digitally and promoting music digitally was quite a hot topic of discussion… it wouldn’t work now, it’s too outdated. Someone comes along and webcasts something and it’s like ‘who cares’.”

Thom has come a long way in the four or so years since then. Having released two albums with Sony RCA, she was released from the label and went to forge her own label Guardian Angels with whom she released her third album Merchants and Thieves. The album has a much deeper blues vibe about it and is a definite change from the punkrocker days of “Smile… it confuses people”.

“I consider this last record to certainly have definite blues influences, much so more than the first and second. The first and second are more kind of country influence, it’s still a rooty record, and the first and second albums, they were rooty records, they were proper old school songwriting you know.

“I think in that respect the third record was the same but I think the difference was that it was less tampered with. The second album was released and that was the only record really that we did that was produced under the umbrella of Sony so that one was churned over and over again because people weren’t happy with this and somebody wasn’t happy with that.

“Whereas this record, and the first one actually, are much more sort of simplistic and rootsy because nobody was really putting any pressure on me to do and sound the way they wanted me to sound so this record now is just a true reflection of who I am now, musically,” Thom said.

A key to success is to basically hard work, in her opinion, and shortcuts like reality TV are not worth sacrificing the creative control. “That’s really just down to dedication and that’s all I can ever really say, because that’s the truth. You can take a shortcut and go and do something like X Factor or whatever, which I don’t rejoice in or I don’t condone it at the same time, I don’t have any feelings about it, it’s just a personal choice.

“I think that if you take the harder path then you might find that at the end of it all it’s so much more rewarding and you might find the chances are you’ll be able to stick it out for the rest of your life. Whereas if you take the shortcut you might find that the rise is pretty quick, but you fall just as fast. I would say don’t be sucked in by it and don’t think it’s the answer because it’s certainly not. I think that really the only real way to make it work and keep it going is to just work hard.”

Thom is currently working on a new album, planning to write from “now until the end of the year and record in January” and hopes to release the new album by May 2011.

One Response to Sandi Thom: ‘The rise is pretty quick but you fall just as fast’

  1. Candice Simpson says:

    I feel terribly sorry for Sandi Thom. Whatever she does is always going to be judged by that awful first single and the backlash from being exposed when the PR stunt blew up in her face when proved to be nothing but untruths.
    I went to see her in Liverpool in 2010 and the audience numbers were embarrassing, there was hardly anyone there.
    The quicker the lady de-camps to the USA and sets up with her boyfriend the musician Joe Bonamassa and just forgets her dwindling UK audience the better.
    As far as the class of 2006 is concerned Sandi Thom was well and truly left behind by her peers.