PFAB: It is so wonderful to finally catch up with you. How was the Eurovision this year, for the participants?
Yes! It has been ages since we first spoke about doing this, right?
This Eurovision was the first iteration I experienced as a fan, as opposed to being on the inside as is usually the case. I quite enjoyed watching it from my living room couch, but honestly it can‘t compare with the greenroom couch 🙂
FAB: You were involved in Eurovision before you even participated in it. Can you give us some tips about the requirements one needs to be eligible to enter the Eurovision contest?
Every national broadcaster has their own procedure when it comes to deciding which song will represent their country. In Austria we have gone with an internal selection model in recent years. Theoretically, anyone can apply and send their song in to ORF to be listened to. However ORF additionally extends invitations to a small selection of artists, to specifically write an entry for Eurovision. If you live in Austria, you‘re theoretically eligible to represent Austria at Eurovision.
FAB: How would you describe your own music genre?
At the moment Pop x RnB x Blues/Folk all in all!
FAB: You have a very dynamic musical upbringing. Can you tell us a bit about it?
My mom is a pianist, composer and singer, so I was lucky to have a recording studio in the house very early on. I would go there and write and arrange my first songs, when she didn’t use it:)
FAB: You have a mixed cultural family background. How has it shaped your values?
I am certainly genetically mixed, very much so – Carribbean creole and various European countries on both sides. I wouldn’t say I am culturally mixed though. The Austrian culture is the only one I was exposed to. Neither my granddad on my mom’s side nor my dad brought much of their culture with them. I think that’s why they moved to Austria in the first place. I would say everything about myself that is un-Austrian probably comes from my individuality:)
FAB:Did you always know that you would end up in the music industry?
I was in it before I even realised it:)
FAB: Are you more of a solo artist or do you also collaborate with other musicians?
I am a solo artist, but I appreciate the collaborative process more than ever. I am not the type of guy who likes to be isolated when creating.
FAB: You compose, produce, and perform. Which aspect is your favourite?
Composition is the most joyful aspect of music making. Even though everything else is of course great too, but it’s like raising a baby versus making it. One is clearly more fun than the other:D
FAB: You do a lot to bring awareness towards supporting musicians and their work here in Austria. You took the initiative to help secure artist rights. Why is it important to you?
Once you represent your country internationally and do well, you find yourself in a situation of responsibility. You get asked a lot questions, and your answers are not always just your own anymore, you represent your peers to a certain degree as well. I was asked to join the lobbying efforts for the new copyright reform in Brussels. That demanded of me to embrace that responsibility, read up and educate myself, instead of going the easy way and go “no comment”. I am glad we could make meaningful strides and contribute to making this copyright initiative a success. Now that there will be a modern copyright law in Europe I can only hope that the law will be implemented in ways that won’t make yet another reform necessary 5 years down the line. Lawmaking is anything but straightforward and the fine print can make even the smartest of ideas all but completely ineffective.
FAB: You devote a lot of your time towards many causes, focused on social issues. What motivates you to do that?
I don’t think I do nearly enough, but I do as much as I can with the time I can spare. One day I will have the time to contribute much more closely and actively. I am not sure the meaning of life is one specific thing, but helping and protecting things that are worth protecting certainly is on the list.
FAB: Is there anything the general public can do to help?
We live in times where attention is a powerful currency, often just as much as donations. Speak out in favour of initiatives that move you, be vocal, repost, comment and take part in conversations.
They already know what products are valuable to you. Let them know what ideas are valuable to you as well.
FAB: The musical elements that make up your song, “Nobody but you” are composed of jazz and gospel. How challenging as a vocalist was it to maintain the bridge between the two throughout the song?
Merging styles is always a process that takes a lot of crafting and a lot of time. The vocal part is the easiest part of that though, because my voice naturally sits right in the sweet spot between these styles. Creating a perfect surrounding for that, therein lay the rub!
FAB: This song in particular speaks to my heart. The passion that I feel for it carries me through all situations. Has there been much feedback as to how others reacted to this song?
I have received many thousands of personal responses to this song, and still do all the time. It’s really quite amazing, when people all around the world feel compelled to express their impressions about a song of yours. It’s so awesome that I don’t think about it too much. Its a bit like letting go of your child when it grows up 🙂
FAB: I love the video to this song as well. What’s the story behind it?
It is mostly an attempt to add visualisation to the music itself, rather than re-enact the songs lyrics. The abstraction that naturally occurs when a filmmaker joins the project and adds his own impressions to the mix is often a breath of fresh air. As the composer you often you don’t have the distance need to do that.
FAB: The music industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. Do you see a light at the end of the tunnel?
Frankly, the music industry was already on the ropes before the pandemic hit, especially from the creators perspective. The pandemic was the final blow for many, that much I am certain of. And as always when the music industry suffers, creativity and diversity is the price we pay. We are not always aware of it, but as listeners we can’t survive culturally on mainstream pop alone, our soul needs the full spectrum of music. You don’t push creative boundaries when you are writing to survive.
FAB: You are a songwriter, producer, dancer and model. You were also a social worker and a fitness coach. How can one nurture all of these talents?
I wouldn’t call myself a dancer or a model. My girlfriend is a dancer and a model!:) I just like to dance and know my good angles:D
FAB: Speaking of talent… You recently appeared in an opera/corona relief fundraiser event, in front of Vienna’s most famous church, the St. Stephens Cathedral. Have you crossed over to classical music and how fun was it?
I love it, using my voice in different ways. It was so cool to be able to try my hand in that, without disapproving looks from the real classical crowd – at least as far as I know:D
FAB: How comfortable were the opera costumes and do you think they could make a modern-day fashion comeback?
The historical costumes were fun to wear, helps you to get into character! I don’t think we’ll be seeing galoshes at H&M anytime soon though:D
FAB: What do you do for leisure?
I play games! Chess, quizzes, but also computer games!
FAB: You’re good looking, fit and you’re a very disciplined person. What’s your secret?
My motivation is that I cannot live without it:) My quality of life is directly tied to me working out and eating clean. Its as simple as that:)
FAB: In your opinion, should recycling and conscious consumerism, become more widespread in the fashion industry? And if so, why?
It should be! I only buy vegan materials. I think we (the governments – most of all) should incentivise the use of sustainable materials, in fashion and everywhere else!
FAB: The effects of global warming have a large impact on our quality of life, worldwide; How do you think that slow food and slow fashion could be beneficial towards ending child- labour and poor working conditions in general?
I don’t know about slow food in particular, and I also don’t know if measures that strive to counter act global warming and measures that deal with child labour are automatically congruent. I think that there could be positive synergies though, or at least there should be. Ultimately, those are two different beasts to tackle. We won’t make progress at the rate needed, if we conflate everything that is necessary and good. When it comes to global warming and the environment it is time for incisive un-bureaucratic measures and bold reforms.
FAB: Can you give our aspiring artists any tips?
Make sure you know what your personal end game is. Know what makes you truly happy, and then go for it.
Do not be strategic creatively! Do not think of your likely hood for success.
You have chosen a high risk/high reward type profession. If you play it too safe, you might end up losing, even if you win.
It was a very enlightening interview, thank you so much – from the FAB team!
Credits “I am Cesár, Cesár Sampson”
Photographer: Marcel Gonzalez-Ortiz www.mgo-imaging.com
Styling: Alamande Belfor
Kleidung: STEFFL The Department Store EMIS Modegalerie
Shoes: STEFFL The Department Store
Make-Up/Hair: Britta Tess @brittatess
Executive Producer: Alamande Belfor @alamandebelfor,
Harriet Hala @Fablstyle @fab.harriet
Location 1: City of Vienna
Location 2: Villa Susanne Hoffmann
Location 3: Holmes Place VIC
Auto: MC LAREN P1 Hart+Hart Bauträger GmbH