Stories : Samuel J. Stephenson

Sam Stephenson x Bare Bones

Sam and I have known each other for nearly 16 years.  I met Sam through my girlfriend, at the time, and things worked out really well with Sam! (not so much with that girlfriend … )

Sam and I have played in bands together, toured Australia, visited innumerable amount of backwater pubs and recently he showed me around the US where he’s been living for the last 2 years.

You might have seen Sam on our instagram / website / newsletters.  Sam is pretty much the face of Bare Bones because he’s kindly stood anywhere I’ve told him to, with a wallet in hand and let me take photos.  He’s been paid in lunches, my company, and occasionally a playful cocktail.

Currently, Sam is living and working in Nashville as a singer / songwriter / touring musician who finds time for design as well.  I’ve been lucky enough to follow Sam’s journey and I wanted to share his adventure with you as it’s been an inspiration for me.


Tell us what you were doing 5 years ago and how it’s led you to where you are now.

5 years ago I was teaching high school music and visual arts. I always played music but it was never a full-time gig, more like a guilty passion or a one-sided love affair: I secretly thought about it all the time and wanted nothing more than to get all up on it but I had never really given it a crack. Anyway, life was very good, very comfortable but not exactly what you’d call exciting.

One day a student made some offhanded comment about how “music teachers only teach because they couldn’t be successful in the real world” and I was floored. Who knows if I could be successful outside of teaching? I certainly didn’t and I never would if I didn’t give it a shot. My partner, Lisa and I both felt like we both needed to shake things up so we packed up our belongs and moved to the US in search of something more. Which brings us to Nashville...

Why Nashville?

Nashville has always been on our radar. We’d been here a few times playing shows with my band Oxford & Co. and just to visit friends and we’ve always loved the vibe down here. People are friendly and there’s this amazing entrepreneurial buzz about the place. The nine-to-five isn’t as big a thing here yet people are all working super-hard on their passions: art, music, restaurants, bars, whatever it may be. The population has exploded over the last few years as people from all over world are moving here to be a part of things.

To us, the most important part was Nashville’s amazing music scene. It’s not just the home of country music in the States but it’s a cultural melting pot for all genres. The amount of talent and the calibre of musicianship in this town is insane and it would be completely intimidating if it weren’t for how exciting it is just to be amongst it. And I can’t tell ya what it’s like to stand in a studio or on the same stage where music royalty like Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Elvis, Dolly have once stood.

What challenges have you faced along the way?

The biggest hurdle for me has been being away from friends and family, and the ocean. It can be tough not getting in the water every day or seeing your best people as often as you’d like.

What’s been the most rewarding part of your journey?

I feel proud to say that I have had the opportunity to pursue my passion. It definitely hasn’t been easy and we’ve had to sacrifice a lot to get where we are now but we wouldn’t do anything differently. We’ve had so many great experiences and met so many great people and I feel like we’ve expanded our world in the process.

What does your creative process look like when you approach a new song?

It changes depending on the job! If I’m writing for myself, the process is long and drawn-out. So few songs ever see the light of day because I’m so particular about what I put out into the world and it can be kind of hard to let something go and let it be “finished”.

When I write for someone else or with other people, it happens a lot faster! It’s not hard for a song to be completed from beginning to end in the time it takes to drink a couple of cups of coffee. That’s when it’s super-fun and exciting.

If you were a takeaway meal, what would you be?

Tacos. Everyone loves a taco. But don’t eat them too often or you’ll get the runs.

When you’re not working, what’s good in Nashville?!

Hah, it’s all good!

From your old band, FisherKing (the four piece band we were in together), who was your favourite member?  Can’t be Luke.  I’ll accept Josh, but I won’t be happy about it.

The fans. The fans were the fifth, honorary members of Fisherking. Then probably you, mate. Close second.

Tell me about a recent adventure you had that has stuck with you ie, some ‘good times’.

There was this one time that some good buddies from OZ came for a visit and we spent a couple of weeks eating and drinking our weight in beer and tacos and travelling around the US, ending up in NYC. We got to fulfil a lifelong dream and eat tacos at the same time.

What does 2017 look like for you?

I’m excited to be releasing some new music with Oxford & Co. in the coming months and then there’ll be some touring around the US. A lot of the work that I do can be done on the road with a laptop and a microphone so there’s always a way to write, write, write!

Plus, I’m hoping that there’ll be some more Aussie visitors to make the trek and come hang out...

Who’s your favourite Batman?

Me. I’m the Batman.


 Follow Sam's journey :

Sam on Instagram ›
Oxford & Co on Spotify ›


Biggest thanks to Sam for supporting Bare Bones from day one.

Stay tuned for more Stories.


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