Sam Fender: 'Don't Leave Your Self Esteem To Some P***k On Twitter'
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Sam Fender is a man who knows his own mind.
After a stratospheric last few years, the 27 year-old Tynesider seen as the great white hope for indie rock has had to get to grips with a lot of noise around his name.
"I used to get really upset at the bad stuff," he tells LADbible. "I'd take it very personally. But then I decided to put my phone down. They're not in my house. They're not in the room with me. So why should I care?"
Fender's achievements have stacked up since being nominated for the BBC's Sound of 2018.
He signed his record deal in the same year and released debut EP, Dead Boys. Since then, he's sold out arena tours and landed a number one album in Seventeen Going Under.
Not bad, given that he was gigging in pubs just five years ago. The more famous you get, however, the more people have an opinion. How does he deal with that?
"I used to react," he says. "But the only time I get drawn into it now if someone says something that's fraudulently incorrect about me. But even then, I shouldn't really engage.
"When I had problems with my voice, and I was told that if I sang I'd probably be out for six months and might have to have an operation. People saying I couldn't be arsed. Or I was hungover or a f***ing idiot. Sicknote and all that. It riles me up because there's f*** all I can do about it.
"I've got a health condition that I haven't disclosed to the public yet. Because I don't want to. I don't want to become a charity case. Because when people find out they'll be like [shocked].
"I have to look after my health and that comes first. So people saying I don't care, that pisses me off. Because I've put my life into this job."
Fender has had to learn to 'leave it alone' with online trolls. Writing about his struggles with mental health as a kid and young man gave the young songwriter a raft of material - but also a decent grounding on who to listen to and who to ignore.
"As long as the internet exists and as long as the human race exists, trolls will exist," he says. "It's out of our hands really.
"You could say: 'let's flood the internet with positivity. Let's put a nice comments under every bad comment.' But nice people aren't going to do that because they're not so f***ing boring that they're trawling round the internet.
"Good people don't do that. People who've got a life don't troll the internet.
"My advice to anyone putting music or anything else on the internet would be to only listen to the people you respect.
"Respect works both ways. If someone you don't know or respect says my music is s***, it doesn't mean anything. Similarly, don't listen to the excessive praise either. You're just feeding your ego and you can end up getting a bit lost and s*** if you lose that thing.
"Just ignore it all [laughs]."
Fender prefers to look for the positive impact his music - any music - can have on his fans. But he's stopped placing too much value on the opinions of strangers to make himself or his music feel valuable.
"I love it when I see fans engage and say that it's helped them in their life in some way," he says. "That doesn't feel like an ego stroke. That gives purpose to my job.
"The good thing about the internet is that it becomes a place where you can put your music and get found. The reason I made it was that someone who had already made it - Ben Howard (Fender's manager) - walked into a pub and saw me and thought 'right, I'm going to put all my money into him.' He took a shot on me. He literally put his house on the line for me. I was lucky."
So where are we headed? As social media grows and the noise increases, what are the next set of Sam Fenders going to have to worry about?
"I think we'll all end up getting chipped [laughs]. I'll just be silently deleting all my emails in my head.
"Sometimes I wish it was the 90s. Because my phone doesn't f***ing stop. I'd love it if someone had to go through someone else to get hold of me [laughs].
"We all get caught in our little echo chamber bubble a bit. But the internet has made everyone a celebrity, and everyone a politician, and a scientist and every f****ing thing else.
"Don't use your phone as a point of reference for your self esteem. It's not going to fix anything. I get my self esteem bolstered by my friends and family, by people I respect.
"Don't leave your self esteem in the hands of some f***jng prick on Twitter."