APU alum Sam Denton releases debut EP “For Now”
Just one year after graduating from Azusa Pacific, Sam Denton is already working toward his dream of becoming a professional musician.
Denton’s first EP, For Now, dropped today, marking his first real foray into the music world. He has released five singles, including two that appear on the EP, which have accumulated nearly 250,000 streams on Spotify, but For Now represents more than just a few hit singles.
“These are things I’m dealing with now,” he said. “I’m letting myself be a little bit more emotional about things.”
The first single off the EP is entitled “Smoke in the Mirror”. In it, Denton explores the feelings he still has for a past relationship. He questions whether the feelings are real, or whether they are just deceptions in the chorus, ‘Smoke in the mirror/clouds in my eyes/got me over here questioning why I couldn’t realize/that you are over me/you’ll never be mine/got these rose colored lenses jading my mind.’
Denton recorded this song with his friend Samiere. He said their shared experiences made them want to record a song together.
“We found out we both had similar experiences with an ex-love interest type of person in our lives … we could understand where each other was coming from,” Denton said. “We could both write something cohesive that wasn’t going to feel like it was two different stories.”
The second single from For Now, “I Just Might,” plays off similar themes of falling out of love. Denton is honest in the chorus, singing ‘I know that I won’t be forgetting you for a long time/but if you want me to/well, I just might.’ “I just might” deals with a sad subject, but the background music, filled with synth and soft guitar chords, makes the song seem less sad, and actually upbeat and hopeful.
“I want to be as authentic as possible in my music because that’s when people will be able to relate to it,” he said. “I’m trying to do something meaningful. I want to bring people together and make them feel like they’re not alone in the things that they’re feeling … to create music that is both catchy and songs that people will feel something real from.”
Denton’s work accomplishes this. His music is similar to artists like Lauv and Lany. They are all real in their lyrics and the pain behind them is evident. But the songs themselves make the subjects feel less full of pain, and more full of hope.
“I try to be really honest with where I’m at, addressing that,” Denton said. “I’ve tried to figure out how to process things and I still don’t really know, but I think writing music has been the one thing that has been really therapeutic for me.”
It’s July 27, and Denton is performing alongside two other artists, a local band and a singer from the East Coast, at a SoFar Sounds San Gabriel Valley concert.
SoFar promises intimate shows, and they delivered on that front. Some thirty people, mostly teenagers and twenty-somethings, cram into the back room of an office building in Glendora.
The cement floors and solid walls were obviously not designed with acoustics in mind, but the audience doesn’t care. They came to hear the artists sing. Many of them came just for Denton, who headlined.
When it’s his time, Denton walks on “stage” and introduces himself. He is vested in an oversized yellow button down, and has a red electric guitar slung over his shoulder. Denton’s slim figure looks like the textbook definition of a hipster, minus the glasses.
Denton opens with his most popular song, “Back to You.” His soft voice and guitar fill the room, as he sings about constantly wandering back to the same bad habits. He personified these habits as a person, but the song really just represents his struggles of being stuck in the same kind of patterns.
Denton sings two more originals before asking the crowd if they want to hear a cover.
“Do you guys like Daniel Cesar?” he asks.
The crowd responds with enthusiasm and Denton launches into his version of the Grammy winning single, “Best Part.” The song is already a masterpiece, but Denton somehow manages to put his own spin on it, and he pulls it off.
Denton is a natural on stage. He doesn’t move around much, but he doesn’t have to. He just strums his guitar and let’s loose into the microphone, capturing the audience with his voice. It’s a small stage, but he’ll see bigger ones soon.
Denton has known he has wanted to be a singer for a long time. He started writing his first songs in middle school. While Denton knew music was the career he wanted to go into, his family wasn’t always supportive of his dreams.
“My parents told me they loved me but they really encouraged me to do something else,” Denton said. “I wanted to be a music major when I got here. If my dad had it his way, I would have been a business major. I compromised and chose communications.”
Although he didn’t study music, Denton was able to refine his craft by joining Men’s Chorale. In the group, he met another musician named Nathan Bowman and the two became instant friends.
Bowman helps create the background music for all of Denton’s songs. After working with Bowman, Denton knew he needed to decide whether or not to commit to music.
“At a certain point in college, I just decided to go for it. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t try,” Denton said. “When I was wrestling with that decision, I was just really struggling with the idea of God’s will for my life. I second guessed myself so much. I feel like God has given me this and wants me to do something. This is the best way I can glorify him, so I’ve got to try and I know he’s going to be with me throughout the whole thing.”