Samuel Wilbur - photo by Josh Becker

Samuel Wilbur on his new album, “The Age” [INTERVIEW]

by Feb 15, 2024Interviews

An Interview with Samuel Wilbur on his new album, “The Age”

Contributed to by Krista Vilinskis of Elephants and Flowers Media

Header Photo by Josh Becker

 

 

Samuel Wilbur is a singer/songwriter/educator living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A high school social studies teacher by day, and rock star by night, Samuel Wilbur has been writing and recording his own music since he was just 16 years old. Over the last two decades, Wilbur continued sharpening his songwriting skills and live performance. Wilbur has been described as a songwriting machine, who each year writes, records, and produces a new full length album. Each year is a new experiment, a wide range of genres, all filled to the brim with lush harmonies and ear piercing hooks. Encouraged by the favorable recognition of his 2022 solo Album, Tone Deaf, Wilbur channeled his frustrations with the political atmosphere and lack of action on the global climate crisis into an 11 song album called, The Age. The Age reflects upon living in modern day America as the wheels of late stage capitalism fall off, while we fall further and further behind the urgency of climate action.

Samuel Wilbur "The Age" album cover

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you first got into music?

My name is Samuel Wilbur,  I am a singer/songwriter and a high school social studies/journalism teacher in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We listened to a lot of great music in our house growing up. As a Wilbur, our family would always play the Traveling Wilburys albums in the car on road trips. We got a lot of mileage out of those tapes in the family minivan. When I was in high school, my mother shared her record collection with me and I became absolutely obsessed with The Beatles. When I turned 16 years old, I got my first guitar on a mission to learn every Beatles song. The first day I held a guitar, I wrote my first song. A couple months later, I got a Tascam 4 track recorder, and I have been writing and recording music ever since.

Who inspired you to make music? Anyone you admire and why?

Absolutely, I wanted to be like Paul McCartney and John Lennon and write songs about peace, love, and mother earth.

What is your creative process like? For example: what was your process/concept when writing your album THE AGE?

For the last 8 years, I have put out a new album on my birthday, and each year I try to make something a little different. Each album is a little time capsule of that year of my life. This album started with the song called, a Promise; I had recently gotten engaged and was thinking about what that really means to make a promise to spend the rest of your life with someone. I recorded the song in my home studio one night and felt like it was missing something. I tried messing around with a little slide guitar to the intro, and all of a sudden, it had such a folky, Americana vibe, that I hadn’t really explored before, so I decided I wanted to do a full album like that. I was going to a lot of music open mics last year and I wanted to write songs that could hold up just on acoustic guitar. It was a fun challenge, and then each week when I felt like I had something new, I would try it out at Social Cider Werks wonderful Monday open mic in Minneapolis and see how it felt. Sometimes I would write a new song on a Sunday, and finish the lyrics just a few moments before getting on stage. It was so fun to get instant feedback.  I recorded a few dozen songs like that for the album and kept the ones that felt the strongest. Then I reached out to a bunch of wonderful singers in town to have them sing on my album to make it a more collaborative experience. It’s always so fun to hear someone else sing your song and put a new spin on it.

What did you learn about yourself when writing and creating your new album?

When I’m writing, I guess I always learn what’s at the forefront of my mind. A lot of themes that keep coming up in my songs are based on the frustrations of living in America through late stage capitalism, where our government always has money to bail out corporations and fund war, but never money for social services that would actually help people or you know anything to help alleviate the growing climate crisis that affects every living thing on the entire planet. But, I also really wanted to be careful about not leaning into full doomerism. I made sure to include some hopefulness into each song, because we have to remain hopeful so we can continue to fight and create art.

What single is your favorite off your new album and why?

This changes all the time. The Age is one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written and I feel like its message is evergreen. Good on Paper has some of my favorite lyrics, and I really feel like the song and music video stuck the landing of what I was trying to say. My favorite feel-good song is Seasons. It has such a good, walk-in-the-park-on-a-sunny-spring-day vibe to it. It instantly puts me in a good mood.

What would you like fans to take away after seeing you perform live and or listening to your music?

I always feel so inspired and empowered after seeing a great concert, I guess the ultimate goal would be to provide that same experience to my audience. Performing live is unlike anything else because you can feel the energy of the audience in the room and you instantly know when it’s going well, and when it’s going… less well. My main hope for all of my music is for it to reach someone who can find a lyric, or an emotion that they feel connected with. I sing so much about things I’m frustrated and angry about and I hope others can hear those songs and feel like they are less alone. I am just so grateful that anyone is listening to my music, and I hope it continues to find more and more of an audience.

What is next for Samuel Wilbur? Any big plans?

Yes! More Music forever! I’ve already got the next album written and recorded! I’m working with the great Matt Patrick at the Library Recording Studio again to mix and master it. I’m really excited for this next album, it has some indie 90s rock, some disco, and even some 70s rock vibes. The album has a bunch of great special guests on it too, and I can’t wait to collaborate with some more incredible musicians in Minnesota.

 

THE AGE is available everywhere you get your music!

 

CONNECT WITH SAMUEL WILBUR:

SamuelWilbur.com
Instagram.com/SamuelWilburMusic
Tiktok.com/@SamuelWIlburMusic
Youtube.com/@SamuelWilburMusic
Facebook.com/SamuelWilburMusic

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