Baked beans and Bieber dreams: an artist on artist interview with Sam McGovern & STUMPS you don’t want to miss

Sam McGovern and STUMPS delve into their artistic journeys, unraveling the intricacies that drive their creativity and passion.

The hugely successful Ones To Watch event is making a comeback with a killer show at the OAF next month. This Live Nation-supported showcase has become a staple for anyone who claims to be at the forefront of new talent in the Australian music industry.

The event serves as a platform to discover and celebrate emerging artists who are making waves with their unique sound and artistic vision. One artist in particular who has caught the attention of music enthusiasts is 22-year-old Sam McGovern.

Sam McGovern

With his dreamy and memorable writing style, Sam has been achieving remarkable success, garnering impressive numbers and captivating audiences with his music.

His vocals possess a captivating quality that sweeps listeners off their feet, accompanied by syrupy melodies that evoke a sense of nostalgia and romantic warmth reminiscent of Jason Mraz during his heyday.

Sam’s performances exude a confidence that can only come from years of honing his craft through busking. There is an ingrained sincerity in his music that draws the audience in, creating an intimate connection akin to a gentle dance between the performer and the listeners.

Who better to ask you about your project than a fellow creative from your field? We got to put our feet up for this one as Sam McGovern and powerhouse gang STUMPS took turns interviewing each other.

The introspective questions are a bit of a window into a personal exploration of the industry experience, and give us the perfect insight into the world behind the artistry.



STUMPS: How would you describe your style for someone who hasn’t listened to you before?

Sam: Imagine you kidnapped John Mayer, Leon Bridges, Norah Jones, Sade, Lewis Capaldi & Taylor Swift, chucked them all into the same room & made them blend their styles together to write a collection of songs for you before letting them go.

The product = Sam McGovern, just minus the stress factor of kidnapping… I find my music very contemplative, especially in the feels of love & heartbreak.

These artists have been extremely influential to my upcoming EP/collection of songs that I have been working on lately.

STUMPS: How do you find busking influences the refinement of your songs? I imagine it can be pretty informative to get a sense of which songs draw people in and connect with people who are listening for the first time

Sam: You are correct in some way, yes it is a great platform to test songs! But at the same time busking can be quite tricky initially – to capture a crowd & to make people stop what they are doing / where they are heading does take a lot these days.

Unless you’re playing “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran or a song along those lines of popularity. A song that someone is unfamiliar with has less likelihood to form a crowd. In saying this – Me & Ben Morgan (a best friend of mine & my Saxophone player / accompanying musician) have been busking together often, this has been a great opportunity to play my upcoming songs to crowds.

Our duo performance together is so fluid & engaging that a crowd usually forms without playing “Perfect” haha. All my new material has been extremely well received by not just the public but also the industry & I’ve never felt more proud & excited to release this record.

STUMPS: Obviously, you are a singer-songwriter first and foremost, but do you collaborate with many people in your songwriting process or do you like to create your songs by yourself?

Sam: Looking predominantly up to the likes of John Mayer, I have always admired those artists who really OWN their writing as a singular singer-songwriter. It is the purest & most vulnerable form of self-expression.

Although having a large songwriting team behind an artist is extremely beneficial & creates opportunity for those Justin Bieber-styled hit songs, I find myself without knowledge of how much of a role each writer played in the room at the time, therefore – how much of the artist’s song was their own self-expression?

Almost all songs I have written have been a result of my own writing, I am a strong believer that the more I work on my solo songwriting, the more I can bring to the table to a songwriting team. If I can write hit songs on my own – there is power in that, imagine the potential when eventually combined with a team.

In saying so – lately, I have been dabbling with co-writing – Go-Jo, Hein Cooper, Matt Gresham & Ben Morgan are a few close friends/artists I have written with lately.

I am proud to say, my favourite & most solid songs on my upcoming record / EP were self-written.

I guess in general, I am a sucker for lyrical authenticity from an artist when it comes to being able to relate to the expression of what they were going through.

STUMPS: You mentioned in your set that you have just moved to Sydney from Perth. How have you found settling into the music scene here, and were there any local Sydney artists that you knew of who you were really excited to play shows with?

Sam: Since moving to Sydney I have met so many like-minded Artists & musicians, all willing to put in the effort & work it takes to reach their goals. I believe that the people you surround yourself with really molds & creates a large impact on yourself as an individual.

So yes! The music side of moving across the country has been great, I’ve been spending a lot of time with close friends of mine who are also artists such as Go-Jo & Ben Morgan, we’ve been doing a lot of music things together & enjoying the process + struggle of being an emerging artist – baked bean styled dinners baby!

STUMPS: How has the move to Sydney been for you generally? I have only been to WA a couple of times, but I can see some similarities with the city and beach lifestyles being quite intertwined for many people. Well more so than in some other big cities anyway.

Sam: The move has been quite tough in all honesty! So much re-adjusting to new familiarities. I’d definitely have to argue against too many similarities to Sydney & Perth other than the coast!

Perth is a very unique little city I think – no tolls, less complicated street signs, no roads exceeding 4 lanes, even our car P plates are different, a lot less crowded & busy in general, It almost feels like another country to me haha!

Perth was very comfortable for me in all areas of my daily life & as an Artist, I had everything I needed to generate a stable income & to go about every day with a sense of comfort, but there is no growth in comfort, so making the move for me was the best decision I made.

I’m prepared to sacrifice anything for an opportunity & that is what awaited me in Sydney. Perth is a very laid-back city in comparison to the rest of Australia & holds a special little place in my heart, but there is so much going on outside of that & I needed to be a part of it, so here I am!

STUMPS: What is your favourite venue to play, here or in WA?

Sam: Since moving to Sydney, I’ve only played the Ones to Watch Live Nation event (Oxford Arts), that was definitely a highlight so far! My sold-out headline show at Mojo’s Fremantle (WA) was a real gem for me, so my heart lies in my hometown crowd / fans, yet hopeful for the crowds of Sydney.

Although I’ve played a fair share of shows around the country, all the venues I dream of playing are those that I haven’t played! Venues such as Madison Square Garden, Red Rocks Amphitheater, Time Square etc, gotta dream big!

STUMPS: What is next for you in terms of releases and shows?

Sam: Big plans… I’ve kept quiet on the release side of things since “Memory” in November 2022 & have been beating myself up about not releasing for so long, but the wait has been worth it. 

In all honesty – I had a recent farewell with someone who came in & out of my life so unexpectedly, yet so beautifully. This led to me writing & recording a whole record about the experience.

It embodies all emotions in pure lyrical vividness- the thrilling dopamine high’s, the uncertain & doubtful moments, the complications & all things in-between. Love & Heartbreak man… It’s crazy how people can change your life.

With this record in the near horizon & an Australian tour planned for the back end of the year – lately, when asked what I’m most proud of, my answer is “The work that is yet to be released”. I’m itching to get this new music out! The only option left for the people is to wait & wonder patiently.

SAM MCGOVERN TO STUMPS (answered by Merrick) 

Sam: As a band, how did you all meet? Was it a quick formation or did it take time to settle in together?

STUMPS: We all met growing up in the same area really, and were all mates well before the band formed. Kyle taught me how to play guitar in high school, because I was best mates with his younger brother Brae, and everyone was always around their house at the time. Jonny and I have been in bands together since high school too. So when Kyle wanted to start a band and have some people to jam with, we were all locked in and ready to go, both from a musical and friendship standpoint.

Sam: If you could only choose one country to tour for the rest of your life, where would it be and why?

STUMPS: Oof, that’s a huge question! We haven’t had the pleasure of playing in any countries outside Australia yet, so it is very hard to say. One place that we speak about going and playing a lot is the UK though.

I think so much of the music we grew up listening to is from the UK and we’re all really drawn to getting over there as STUMPS. Maybe not forever, but that is the closest answer I think we could give at this stage! 

Sam: I’m also interested in your creative process! Do you have one main individual who writes, or do you prefer to write altogether? What’s your process?

STUMPS: When the band started, it was very much Kyle driving the songwriting and he would bring songs to the rest of us, but over time it has evolved into a really collaborative process. On our newest releases, we are all writing parts on each others instruments, and jamming on ideas together from the start. We also write a lot with one of our best mates Fletcher Matthews, who produces all our records.

Sam: Where do you as a band derive most of your sonic inspiration from?

STUMPS: I think from a sonic perspective, we get inspiration from a lot of different worlds. We love the idea of making songs that have really bright tones, but want to make the production really punchy and driven. Contrast is something that we love to play around with and we love the challenge of pulling different worlds together.

Sam: What is a moment that you as a band would recognise as a “we’ve made it” moment, and why? How far do you see yourselves from that point & how do you strive to get there?

STUMPS: I think getting overseas and touring in places like the UK and North America would be that moment for us. We love touring Australia and have so many more places to hit up, and venues to play, but getting to play to audiences halfway across the world and sing our records with them would really make us pinch ourselves.

In terms of getting there, I think we just have to keep on playing as many gigs as we can and pick the right moment to start trying to get ourselves over there. Writing a few cracking records will help I am sure!

Sam: Name me: the most mischievous member of the band, the member who’s always late to rehearsals, the member who always pulls through with good show and rehearsal snacks & the member who last did something rogue on stage and what was it?

STUMPS: Mischievous goes to Jonny for sure, he is always findings ways to prank people. Doing fake count-ins at prac (and gigs sometimes too), hiding people’s keys, all the little classics.

He is always good for a snack though, so he redeems himself there. Late to prac is probably me. We prac so close to my house, so it’s always a classic case of “aah it’s just around the corner” and then I’m still the last one there. That leaves Kyle for the most rogue, which fits perfectly actually.

It’s never anything too hectic, but recently Kyle tried to do a punk jump on stage as a joke, completely messed it up and then couldn’t play the rest of the section because he was laughing so hard. 

Sam: Geek out — if all of you could walk into a music shop & get your dream gear for free, what items would you get?

STUMPS: Love this question! I think most of us are almost at the point where we have our dream rigs for tour and stuff, but to get our hands on some classic synths is something we would love to have on hand and play around with. A Rhodes, maybe a Juno, just a few of the classics.

Check out the Ones To Watch team, and get your tickets for the OAF show!

ones to watch sam