Interview with Sam Sklover & Friends & Family & More
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I was surrounded by a family with great taste in music, though none of them to this day realize how good their taste is. From there I became a sponge and it was, and continues to be, nearly all I think about. I make music on the side, my day job is as a music publisher, so there are few things that come to mind as alternatives. But if put on the spot? Forest ranger.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Talking with friends. Just kibbitzing. As much as possible. That's where the good stuff happens, and you learn about things, and hear about things, and laugh and cry and feel things.
How long has your band been around?
We've been playing together, under various names, since we were about 13 years old or so!
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We're all in the NYC area, which is a huge advantage - this is where the best of the best are. The tiny show at the corner bar often features world-class, touring musicians. So if you're like me and hold yourself to impossibly-high standards, it's a great place to get motivated simply by walking around.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Since I work in business AND play in business, I had to create a separation in my mind for this passion project, which breaks all the rules of typical promotion. So to poke a little fun at that, we called this absolutely-bad-for-business album a very business-y name. Kept me grounded during the process, a reminder that, unlike my day job, this is just for fun.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Easy. Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen every second saturday of New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at the Maple Leaf Bar. I have flown down to NOLA for 32 hours simply so I could catch this one show. The air is so thick, the crowd is so packed, and the music is just so jubilant and in-your-face funky that it's become a bit of a spiritual home for me. Went to something like seven straight of those.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Brooklyn Bowl! Grew up sneaking in there, and then working there. Easily my most attended venue, the best one in NYC. And we were fortunate enough to play there on May 25th. Now if the booker for the Maple Leaf Bar is interested, please give him my number...
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I like my band :)
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Fun! Seek out fun. Impressing people is for squares! Have fun, and you'll attract others like a magnet.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
C'mon Sam, can't you practice just a little bit more? Just a tiny bit?!
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
They all mean a ton. They're the only ones I've got! At the moment "In the Pocket of Big Funk" is the one on my mind the most, but that's only because there's something else brewing with that one...
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
We don't play live anymore (when we do it's under the name Smilen) so keep your requests for Smilen's songs please!
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I sit at an instrument that I don't really know how to play (usually the piano) and I hit notes and chords until it matches whatever melody is floating around my head. This way I'm not stuck in familiar patterns on the instruments I'm more comfortable on. A very personal process that then gets brought to the rest of the band for finessing and the huge additions they bring.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Joy. I don't write lyrics (or rarely) but I want people to feel exuberant when they listen.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
We've been friends now for nearly two decades, so nothing could really get in the way of that many years of friendship.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Top secret! But if you liked this music, please keep your eyes on my Instagram (@halfsoursklover) to stay updated. Lots of hints and snippets being dropped.