17-year-old releases debut album “Console”

Written by Mikayla Flores

Op/Ed Editor of The Stampede


     In the small town of Goochland, Virginia, the last place you'd ever expect anything extraordinary to happen, a teenage boy has been hovering over his computer for hours at a time. He's not trying to finish his homework, he's not playing video games, and he's not coding a new game. His name is Sam Robertson, (thesamuelrobertson on Instagram) and he is the creator of his own album. Like many musicians today, Robertson's inclination toward music started out when he was young.

    "From the ages of five to seven I took violin lessons," Robertson said. "But I never really got interested in learning how to play Mary Had a Little Lamb. I wanted to make my own sound."

    Robertson was determined to teach himself how to play music, no lessons needed.

    "I found my dad's old Washburn guitar in the garage, and from that day on, I just constantly put myself around other musicians at local music stores and at my church,” Robertson said. “When I heard my mentor, who was the current worship leader at my church, say words I’d never heard before, such as "tonal center" or "intervals", I'd make a mental note to write those down and look them up at home. Then, while I was looking up those words, I’d come across new words that involved other concepts in music I hadn’t learned about yet. I also really had a passion for blues guitar so I would study BB King's music. I'd listen to the notes he'd play and then I'd try to recreate them on my guitar.”

    Robertson has come a long way from using his dad’s old guitar. His makeshift “music studio” in his bedroom includes three keyboards, two amps, several microphones, percussion instruments, lots of pedals, and of course, three beautiful guitars.

    However, Robertson didn’t buy these things because he was wealthy. In fact, before living in Goochland, where he currently resides, Robertson lived in Concord, California for five years. While living there, he was too young to get his driver’s license, and his mother of five sons was not able to drive him to a steady job. So instead, Robertson earned his money by singing on the street.

    “I wanted to get better at playing in front of people,” he said. “So I'd go to the corner of Olympic Street and South Main in Walnut Creek. I'd play covers, and also new materials...just songs I'd written that I wanted to crowd-test. When someone passing by asked me ‘Hey, what's that song?’ then I knew it was a good song. There's always that prideful moment for a musician when they can say ‘Oh, that's my song’.”

    Making a living on the street turns out to a be a very great place to start. That is, if you live in the right city. “I got overwhelming responses from people,” Robertson said. “The people in Walnut Creek always gave generous donations. It also helped that it was a busy town, constantly filled with activity.

    Robertson put over 850 hours into the production of his debut album, Console. It was released on October 9, 2017 on all streaming platforms. Robertson wrote, produced, performed, mixed, and mastered the album. Everything on Console is his own, original work. Console is a concept album, based around the belief that we are all plugged into a "console" in other words, the Internet and electronics.

    "I think the Internet is a place for creativity, and for sharing beautiful and wonderful ideas," Robertson said. "But in this album, it plays the villain. It depicts the story of how that 'console' affects us and alters our perception of the world."

    The album cover is an outline of his face but it is morphed and altered. "That face is plugged into the Console," Robertson said. "It represents how the Console feeds us what we're supposed to look like."

   SpaceX is the second song on his album, and it carries a lot of meaning. "SpaceX is a conflict within one's self of wanting to connect with reality, while at the same time, wanting to be the furthest from reality," Robertson said. "It speaks of trying to sever ties with reality and be free from responsibility, and SpaceX is that place where you can go to achieve that."

    The name itself carries meaning. Robertson intended for SpaceX to mean "space unknown". In math, the x is the unknown you are solving for. In Robertson's song, the x is the fill-in-the-blank. You get to decide what goes in that blank space.

    “Relieve me of these planetary confinements, send me from my own feeble childish reminders I'm alone.”

    Robertson said, "That line from the song is saying, I don't want to be in this situation right now. And while we're at it, let's get rid of these emotions because they suck too. The reason it is a song on my concept album is the idea of putting on headphones and getting lost and transported in music. That's why at the beginning of the song it says, "I solemnly hope I get lost in these vibrations and the sonics, coming from my headphones."

    From starting out as a unenthused violinist, to a self-taught guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, and producer, Samuel Robertson has a bright future in music.