The 17 Year Old Songstress With an Old-Rock’n’Roll Soul
Sambea Cochrane (pronounced Sam-bee-a) is a young artist from Toronto, Canada. Her undeniable talent has landed her all around the world, and has pushed her closer and closer to her dreams.
The 17 year old songstress started her musical journey at the age of 4 when both her and her parents realized her love for singing. She would learn just about every Disney song imaginable and constantly be reciting the lyrics. This brought her into vocal lessons, and after a performance of John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jetplane” at a Florida Crab Bar, there was no turning back.
Her love for music brought her to Canada’s Major Children’s Choir at the age of 12. She had the chance to not only sing with plenty of other kids her age, but learn all about the history and theory of music as well. Among other things, the choir eventually brought Sambea along on their Eastern Europe tour where she got to perform and visit some of the most beautiful venues the young artist has seen. Understandably, some of her favourite venues were the oldest churches in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland. While she cherishes her time in those grand buildings, her dream venue comes from her old-rock’n’roll-soul that hopes to one day play at the great Wembley Stadium in London, England.
While her main instruments are piano and guitar, Sambea has a knack for picking up just about any instrument she can get her hands on, including the ukulele, saxophone, and flute!
Her urge to learn more about her musicianship is an obvious attribute in how she goes about writing her songs. It also shows her old-school taste in music. Cochrane’s influences stem from the classic rock era, and translate into her own music heavily as she’s constantly experimenting and wanting to try new things. Some of her favourites are Queen, The Beatles, The Eagles, Billy Joel, Tom Waits and plenty more of the classics. However, the influences don’t stop there! Growing up in an Irish household brought her to many classic musicians from Ireland, and as a young girl, Taylor Swift really sprung Sambea into deciding that music was her passion.
Cochrane’s music is influenced a lot by her life, especially in the writing of her first album, “Radio Road”. Her description states that it’s “a compilation of songs that demonstrate and represent the range of emotions that I experienced during that period of my life and was, in a sense, my own diary put to a tune”.
A personal favourite of hers on the album is “Cigarette Smoke”, due to the sincerity of the lyrics. She found that some of the words perfectly encompassed the idea of her album. It was her young self realizing that life wasn’t completely logical, and her coming to terms with that. The second song on the album explained that feeling with the lyrics: “I tried numbers, all I knew, my God above. Every formula, equation, ever devised, I tried codes, machines, and realised that science wouldn’t show me how to love”.
After the release of her album at the age of 15, Cochrane has realized that she has changed a lot since then. Her most recent single “Geneva” was written and influenced with the idea of having a strong storyline. With the ideas from Billy Joel’s “Scenes of an Italian Restaurant”, and the Eagles song “The Last Resort” the young songwriter was on her way! She claims that the song was very experimental, and was a success at the same time in her eyes. And there is no doubt that others will agree with that statement.
As she is currently finishing up high school, Sambea hopes to pursue music as a full time career when she is finally able to. The artist hopes to have a long and rewarding career, just like all of us dream, and we’re dreaming that hers in in the music industry, where she belongs!
Maddie: How did you first get into music?
Sambea: That’s a pretty hard question to answer because, for as long as I can reasonably remember, music has always been a very large part of my life. It was never something I was forced into doing in any way, it was just something I always did and always wanted to do more of. When I was probably around 4 or 5, however, I began starting to really love it and began seeking it out on my own volition. It was when I learned almost every song from every Disney movie and many of the classic musicals and constantly sang them around the house that my parents thought it would be a good idea to get me a vocal coach, and it was after a successful performance of John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jetplane” in a Florida crab bar that I decided to audition for the part of Gretl in Toronto’s production of The Sound of Music. After 7 months of callbacks, though, I was denied the part for being too tall! I began to create my own music when I was in grade six, while starstruck and inspired by the woman who would go on to become my childhood idol, Taylor Swift. From the moment I wrote my first song up until now, the part of my mind that comes up with these ideas is always somewhat active in the background of everything else, so much so, that writing songs has simply become the way that this manifests.
Maddie: Do you play any instruments? Which is your favourite/which would you like to learn the most?
Sambea: I do! I’m almost completely self taught on piano and Guitar (which are the ones that are by far and away most applicable to the type of music that I currently write) and I used to play some saxophone, ukulele, and flute, but I try play whatever I can get my hands on. I’ve been wanting to learn drums, the mandolin,and violin for awhile now, mainly so that I can gain an more in-depth understanding and feel of various aspects of music, and an even wider range of sounds on which to base my creative processes.
Maddie: What has been your favourite venue to play at, as you have traveled all over the place performing?
Sambea: There are many incredible venues but (this is a strange one!), my favourites that I’ve performed in would have to be some of the oldest churches in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, and Russia. When I was around 12 I joined one of Canada’s major children’s choirs, where we not only sang choral music, but learned about it, as well as the theory and history that brought it to fruition. After a few years of ‘making my way up the ranks’ in this particular choir, the group went on a 3 week tour to Eastern Europe, where we were able to perform in some of these fascinating churches, so, by sheer opulence, these would have to be some of the most beautiful venues that I’ve encountered.
Maddie: What would your dream venue be?
Sambea: Hard question! There are so many classics, but Wembley stadium in London, England would have to be up there. Not only does it hold an enormous audience, it was the stage that my all time favourite band, Queen, performed at in 1984 during the Live aid concert series, which has been widely noted as the most significant concert in rock history. Obviously this is ambitious, but I’ve got to start somewhere! First, I’ll try and make it to Toronto’s famous Massey Hall.
Maddie: Tell us about your first album, and how it came to be? What was the inspiration behind it?
My first full length album (Radio Road) is pretty much a compilation of songs that demonstrate and represent the range of emotions that I experienced during that period of my life and was, in a sense, my own diary put to a tune. I was only around 15 at the time of its release (meaning that most of the songs were written when I was around 13), but despite being young, in retrospect, I think I had a lot to say! Be it the songs I wrote about my experiences with being in middle school, my own conceptual ideas, first time romances, or simply having fun with friends, each song describes its own realm of emotions, which, to me, are important to encapsulate and express. Each song, although not always inspired by positive emotions, acts, once written, as somewhat of a placeholder for that time frame. I find that writing a song about something that I am uneasy, happy, bothered, upset, angry, or even generally apathetic about, allows to basically say: “Yes, I experienced that, and this song signifies that I no longer need to think about it. Let’s move on!”.
Maddie: What is your favourite track on Radio Road and why? Do you have a favourite lyric?
Sambea: Hard question! I’d have to lean towards ‘Cigarette Smoke’ as a personal favourite. I remember I really put my heart and soul into those lyrics in (hopefully!) a clear and succinct way, and devised an interesting little piano ‘riff’ to set the tone. My favourite lyric, not just from ‘Cigarette Smoke’ but from the whole album would have to be:
“I tried numbers, all I knew, my God above. Every formula, equation, ever devised, I tried codes, machines, and realised that science wouldn’t show me how to love.”
like this lyric because it acts as a metaphor for my tendency to attempt to apply some degree of logical consistency throughout all areas of my life, and I think the subtle, underlying theme of the whole album is really just my young self realizing that life isn’t always logical, and that there are many areas of life that do not benefit from being internalised by way of a logical framework. How is it that all our lives we’re told to be logical, but somehow the most important things in life are illogical!? It’s all of the questions like these that keep the song ideas coming to my mind.
Maddie: Tell us about your most recent release, Geneva! How do you feel it differs from others you’ve put out?
Sambea: Geneva is one that I’m very excited about! This song is actually the first ‘story song’ I’ve ever attempted. I had been listening to a lot of the older classics like “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” by Billy Joel, and “The Last Resort” by The Eagles, so I figured that, like them, I could use the second person narrative voice to write a song not just about my own reality, but the reality of many, and could in turn, use the song and its lyrics to talk about more universal themes that exist within society, and thus, hopefully, relate to an even broader audience. ‘Geneva’ was very experimental for me in that respect, but all said and done, I think it was a successful experiment, and I hope that others who hear it will agree with me.
Maddie: Who are some of your biggest influences (living or passes), and which would you like to work with the most if you had a chance?
Sambea: So many, almost too many to count! Queen, The Beatles, The Eagles, Billy Joel, Elton John, Tom Waits, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Simon & Garfunkel, and Meatloaf are the kinds of things that were often played through the speakers of my house, so with the help of my parents, I fell in love and became deeply inspired by many of the greats who came before me. As well, there’s Taylor Swift, Panic! at the Disco, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry (since I can’t be a musician of today without knowing anything about ‘today’ music!), but one of my most unique influences would have to be from a lot of Celtic music, the genre of music that, personally, I hold in the highest regard of all. Having grown up in an Irish household, I have grown up hearing the fantastic music of The Irish Rovers, The Chieftains, Sinead O’Connor, The Dubliners, The High Kings, and so many more. Obviously the music that I write can’t be clearly described as Celtic (or as any other clear-cut genre, for that matter!), I don’t think for one second that my music lacks this Celtic influence
Maddie: What are you next plans for your career, and where would you like to see yourself in the next few years?
Sambea: At this point, were I to carry on with music on a full time basis (which I very much hope to do), I’d definitely like to see some increased traction with regards to my work. I’m yet to lay out a detailed, structured plan of measurable and attainable goals, but I would hope to land myself a record deal, and see some progress in a few of the other projects that I’ve been participating in. Down the line, however, like every other 17 year old on the planet, I want to make it big time, and to have a long, rewarding career doing something that I love
Maddie: Where can we find you on social media’s, and where can we find your music?
Sambea: My Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are all @sambeacochrane,but I’m also on Spotify, Youtube, Google Play, iTunes, and all of the other major music streaming/purchasing platforms, so be sure to check out my stuff!
Links to Sambea Cochrane
Facebook for mobile: https://m.facebook.com/SambeaCochrane/
# The 17 Year Old Songstress With an Old-Rock’n’Roll Soul