Sam Norman was born in Minehead South West England. By his late teens, he was proficient bassist. Master of electric, upright, fretless and five string bass, inevitably, he took his talent to university in London, where he studied Jazz, then on to study at L.A. Music Academy under the mentoring of 13 times Grammy nominated Kevin Axt. Then later, Jerry Watts (Herbie Hancock Sheryl Crow), Joey Heredia (Scott Henderson Sergio Mendes), Doug Ross (Brett Garsed). Sam has since been performing with jazz quartet “Martini Five-0” with Ray Charles’ guitarist Brad Rabuchin. Sam’s second band, “Pumana” is a Hawaiian act. They recently performed on T.V. show Halo Halo for Channel 18. Pumana perform at large festivals in and around L.A. – Harvest Moon and Irvine Global Village Festival where they’re very highly regarded. Sam is much loved by Long Beach rap artist Kokee Vega, they tour in Hollywood. Finally, in Easy L.A. Sam performs at a Nigerian church, playing American gospel and African music. To call Sam conversant only scratches the surface, and that was quite clear in the interview we conducted with him below, enjoy!
Entertwine: What inspired you to begin playing bass in the first place? What was it like studying overseas in London?
Sam Norman: As a child, I couldn’t have been more dis-interested in music! But by the time I was buying music, I knew I wanted to be a musician. Everyone from my home town of Cornwall played guitar. I bought a bass as a teen just to be different I think. The good thing was, it got me interested in a lot of music theory. Which in London is taught in a more ‘interesting’ way than L.A. You learn more of the science of music. But studying in L.A. is more ‘fun’. You get to play with some absolutely inspiring musicians. They have a real drive for the instrument here.
Your band (Pumana) has performed on the television show Halo Halo and at festivals such as Harvest Moon and Irvine Global Village; what have these experiences been like?
Playing with Pumana is a different experience every time. Playing on Halo Halo was no exception. It’s funny, I knew the audience would be small in the studio and at first thought that it would be easy, by contrast to large festival audiences. I was dead wrong. The atmosphere of a festival lends itself to high energy, ‘anything goes’ playing. While the pressure of that TV appearance demanded perfection! So many silent, critical viewers at home. Not to mention the fact that it was being recorded!
Could you tell us about the time you spent learning with Kevin Axt, Jerry Watts, and Doug Ross?
These guys are all so different in style, and approach. I spent months learning, unlearning, creating new habits, removing old bad ones, and came out more confident and more able by an uncountable factor.
What does a day in the life of Sam Norman look and sound like?
These days, I spend about half of my week time phoning and emailing my bandmates! We all spend as much time rehearsing together as possible when we are not performing. I always look forward to playing at the church, and celebrations can take up most of the day – so that’s Sunday taken care of. Monday mornings are when I catch up with myself, at the moment, I’m calling my folks on Mondays who all pretend to be keeping up with my busy schedule.
What does 2015 hold in store for Sam Norman? How often will you be gigging / touring in the new year?
What I’m most looking forward to in 2015 is of course the new Star Wars movie. In all seriousness, I love film soundtracks, and as a child of the 80’s and 90’s, I love John Williams. It’s a safe bet that my busy gigging and touring will take a backseat to some serious writing and studio time. It would be fantastic to compose a score, so that’s my New Year’s resolution!