When guitarist turned electronic music producer Samuel Truth (government name: Troy Samuela) was growing up in small town Otorohanga in the nineties and early two thousands, the local music of choice was classic soul, funk and rock. Now twenty one years old and based in Auckland, Samuel got his start in music playing guitar as a teenager in church bands. However, in terms of really impacting on a local and international level, things really started happening for him after he started exploring and producing low-slung stumbling beat music.
"Down home you just sort of have to take whatever music is given to you," he recalls, thinking back just over half a decade. At the time Samuel starting to get in trouble back home, which prompted the family to relocate him to Auckland. "My dad was teaching up at Alfriston College," he recalls. "I lasted there for about a year before dropping out. After that I went to study Audio Engineering and Music Production at MAINZ." At the time into classic rock and heavy metal, after befriending beatmaker 10acious and rappers Rizván and Kenzie From Welly, he began exploring hip-hop and beat music. "All three of them were in my class," he says. "I'd go to 10a's house and watch him work on beats. Rizván's brother is a beatmaker named S.F.T. He got me into that wonky offbeat sound. After that I spent the next half year learning about people like Flying Lotus, the Brainfeeder guys and all the soundcloud dudes. There are so many people on soundcloud."
For someone who came from the worlds of guitar music, Samuel found the possibilities afforded by electronic music production deeply freeing. " I just really liked the whole creation process. Playing guitar got really boring. It became so much about technique. I was just practicing scales. It became something like a sport. Just being able to create full tracks was very liberating." His first breakout moment was a billowing slice of synthesiser psychedelics titled 'Let Me Breathe'. Radio station music directors from the United States started reaching out to him, as did blogs, and even one famous auto-tuned crooner. "T-Pain hit me up on twitter about it," he laughs.
Soon afterwards he connected with Singapore based label Darker Than Wax, who helped him build his audience worldwide, and even secured him his first live performance. "These promoters from Perth called Surface Tension got in touch with them about wanting me to do a show over there," he enthuses. "I really wanted to do it." Making use of a laptop, Abelton Live, a launch-pad, midi controllers, keyboards and an MPC, Samuel pulled it together. "I put off performing for a long time," he admits. "I had never performed electronic music before, so I didn't know how to approach it."
Earlier this month Samuel travelled to America for the first time. While he was primarily there to meet with publishing companies and A&Rs, he also found time to make a single live performance at the legendary Low End Theory club night in Los Angeles. "I was primarily there to try and send beats to rappers and singers," he says. "I did that and then tacked on a performance. I played with Busdriver, Kaytranada, Milo, Bionik and Obey City. It was crazy. Everything was on a whole other level. We don't really have anything like that here yet." "Yet" is the operative word here, because as new generation artists like Samuel continue to quietly break down barriers internationally, we're only going to see more equally skilled and considered young creative talents emerge locally before rising up.
By Martyn Pepperell