Honest to god, Sam Tompkins is our hero.
words by Lexa Jeanette edited by Ashlyn Robinette photos by Rosie Matheson
In the age of TikTok and Instagram takeovers, Sam Tompkins creates an authentic and safe space through his newest album “who do you pray to?" in which he speaks about the emotional struggles many people face. Tompkins stated if he could describe his album in one word, it would be “honest.” Its core message is: "There is something to be said about the human experience." Prior to UNIA’s interview with Tompkins, I watched his music video for “Hero” and was immediately immersed in a world where remorse and gratitude coexist within families. You see, the thing about depression and suicide is that the topics have been and continue to be taboo— they’re hard to talk about without getting emotional or misspeaking. My first impression of Tompkins’ music is that he tackles the subjects head on by stepping into his father’s shoes and showing us his story. Tompkins’ interview further demonstrated his level of consideration for others. We were all about to leave the conference call due to time being up, but Tompkins offered to stay longer if anyone had any questions they didn’t get to ask. Most of us were shocked at the generous offer and, of course, stayed. Throughout the interview, Tompkins spoke about what we could expect from his extremely personal EP. He detailed his life struggles and how he realized how much sadness his father endured while Tompkins was a child. Tompkins saw his father in himself when he too went through depression. In one of his featured songs, "Hero," Tompkins sings about his father and how he overcame his struggle with depression. However, Tompkins said that he didn’t know how much his father actually went through until later on in life because he was only 5 years old at the time and his father concealed his struggles from him. He alludes to this in the song’s music video. If Tompkins were in his father’s position, he said that he probably would be unable to hide his depression and that everyone in his close circle would know. Tompkins’ father’s efforts to shield his depression from him made him his hero.
Another song on the album available now is “Whole,” a song that speaks to an audience that feels hopeless about world issues going on around them. While it resonates with a lot of young people, it raises the question: How are we to cope with the idea that sometimes our voice just isn’t enough? Tompkins advises, “Try to connect with people at a human level as much as possible... if there’s a reason we’re all here, it’s so we can communicate and enjoy the time we have together.” Tompkins said that all of his songs on the EP fit around “Hero,” even if the song is older than the others. According to his Instagram, Tompkins has been working on “Hero” for about four years and composed 15 different versions of the song before settling on the final one. I wondered if there were any other pieces on the album that took just as long as "Hero" did. But Tompkins said there's a process to making music and that he'd take ages to complete his album if he spent as much time on his other songs as he did on "Hero." Tompkins discussed his personal life and revealed that some of his hobbies include film photography, skating and hanging out with his friends at the pub. Since this isn't a typical album, I questioned if any of his hobbies, like film, may seep into his music career later on such as him creating an album cover or shooting 35 mm film for one of his music videos. He responded with, “I would love to do that one day. It would be awesome to explore more of my points of self-expression intertwined with one another. I wanted to do it already, but haven’t found the right concept. One day though, for sure!” Tompkins’ album “who do you pray to?” releases March 18 and his European tour kicks off in London on the same day. You can listen to a few of his songs from the album now on multiple music streaming platforms and add them to your sad boy playlist. Tompkins didn’t make this album for people who are searching for uplifting or typical pop songs about sex and love, but rather intended it for people who understand that life is hard and need to know that there is healing in not being alone.
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