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Sam Tompkins

Sam Tompkins

Combining heart-on-sleeve lyrical immediacy with laid-back R&B pop stylings, East Sussex-born singer/songwriter Sam Tompkins spent his formative years busking before Island Records signed him in 2019. Often switching between a soulful falsetto and an earthier delivery of lines about day-to-day city life by switching accents, Tompkins' vocal style clearly displayed his southern English roots. After releasing his debut EP, Coloured Emotions, in 2017, he made his major-label debut with the EP From My Sleeve to the World in 2019. His 2021 cover of Bruno Mars' "Talking to the Moon" was sampled later the same year by Jnr Choi on the international hit "To the Moon," just a few months before Tompkins presented his fourth EP, 2022's Who Do You Pray To.

Tompkins was born in Brighton, with his family moving to the nearby coastal town of Eastbourne when he was just 11 months old. Growing up, his sister played Chris Brown and Justin Timberlake around the house, and it was his close mimicking of these artists that provided him with his earliest vocal training. Aged 11, he posted a video of himself singing online but quickly took it down following a less-than-supportive response from school friends. Four years later, he plucked up the courage not only to upload another video, but also to busk in both Eastbourne and Brighton. The first of Tompkins' compositions that he regarded as a strong piece was called "Supernova." It gave him the confidence to pursue a career in music, and essentially became his debut single in 2014.

Even at this early stage, mainstream artists such as Rizzle Kicks and Bastille championed his work, and in 2016 he made his film debut, playing the part of a busker in Brotherhood, the third part of Noel Clarke's Hood trilogy. From mid-2017 onward, he released a number of singles, ultimately building up to the release of his debut EP, Coloured Emotions, in December. Included was "Control," a collaboration with Dorset grime artist Isaiah Dreads, which heavily manipulated their vocals with vocoder and Auto-Tune effects. By mid-2018, Tompkins had enjoyed prestigious support slots with acts such as Jason Derulo and Krept & Konan. In addition, his video uploads began to reach hundreds of thousands of viewers, particularly those of him busking alongside his close collaborator Ren in front of crowds in central Brighton. Next, the video for "Follow Suit" -- his January 2019 single and raw tribute to a lost friend -- reached one million views in a week.

Island soon took notice and signed him ahead of August's "You Broke My Heart So Gently," during a year which also saw him perform at industry events such as Brighton's The Great Escape and Berlin Introducing. The aforementioned two singles both appeared on October's major-label debut EP, From My Sleeve to the World, alongside a guest spot from the Birmingham rapper and actor Jaykae on "Faded." Tompkins issued his Isolation Diaries EP in May 2020 while many countries were in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In November 2021, London-based rapper Jnr Choi released "To the Moon," a track that sampled Tompkins' cover of Bruno Mars' 2010 single "Talking to the Moon" from earlier in the year. Choi's release became a global hit, peaking at number 48 in the U.K. and cracking the Hot 100 in the U.S. while reaching the Top 40 in countries including Australia, Germany, and France. Tompkins' own seven-track EP Who Do You Pray To followed in March 2022. ~ James Wilkinson & Marcy Donelson

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