Sam Klass
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Sam Klass


Band Rock Funk


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"Musical Notes: Sam Klass"

Enjoy this installment of Musical Notes, with Angelo Noto Campanella as he reviews Sam Klass Master of the "LOOP"

When I think of a one man band I picture a man with cymbals between his knees, a bass drum strapped to his back, a head band with a harmonica hanging in front of his mouth and a banjo strapped around his neck. Fortunately, thanks to today's technological advancements, a one man band no longer requires strapping cymbals between the knees. Sam Klass uses these advancements to his creative advantage.

With the suport of his family, Sam developed diverse abilities in several forms of music. At 4 years old he played piano, and later sang in the choir. He played trombone and violin for his middle school band. Also having prior experience in classical guitar, he chose to pursue this instrument at the age of 15 years. Through the internet Sam taught himself to play the guitar and learned all about the new technologies and gear available to him. One of Sam's most significant influences of this musical artform has been Keller Williams of Virginia, U.S.A. "He was the first guy that I ever heard that was making a whole show of live looping".

We sit down at a booth at the Snooty Fox in Westdale and I pull out my analog Panasonic tape deck that I have been using for all my interviews. I'm sort of embarassed for my little cassette recorder sitting in front of a guy who probably see's it as an ancient relic, but I begin the interview anyways.

Q: Most bands have one or two or more members giving input to a song, so my question to you is: What is it like to have total control of your music, and realizing your vision as to how a song turns out?

Sam: It's a double edged sword. I was in a band before and found that the friction that comes from the band members comes from negotiating creative control, but at the same time that friction is what shapes it. On the one hand, it's good because I do have complete creative control but it doesn't have that same developmental ...basically there is no one around to tell me if something sucks that I don't catch, like noise in a recording or phase problems.

Q: Is it easier or harder doing it alone?

Sam: It's easier but slower.

Q: How do you keep track of the loops on your pedals? Are they colour coded or...?

Sam: It's been a long process. A slow development of upgrading pedals. I started with that Digi-tech pedal, which is a one track thing so you can only layer things on top of each other. Then I upgraded to a "Jam Man", which is another Digi-tech pedal that has an "overdub undo" function, so that allows you to layer things and then remove them. Then the "RC50" is the big thing. That's what I use now. That gives you different tracks. It gives you three separate phrases on the same pedal that sync with themselves automatically. I keep the rythm to one track and the bass on another and the guitar part on another and then it still has the overdub and undo function so I can add a phrase and do a harmony, and then quickly remove it and still have the three tracks to work with so it is not completely set. I don't have one track that's always rythm and always bass. It's different on each song and depends on which tehniques I'm using and the structure of the song too.

Q: What role has the City of Hamilton played in your musical career?

Sam: It's kept me humble. Thats it. I'm a huge fan of Nilla. Nilla is a hip hop artist from Hamilton and her debut album that she won her Hamilton Music Award for is called "From The Ground Up". I love that album and I listen to it a lot. I really like what Nilla is about. She personifies the idea that music making is really just, on the ground level, it's an interpersonal experience. It's not this thing that's so disconnected from peoples lives. It's reality music. Hamilton has put me on the ground level. This is a place where there is a great local comunity, a great local art scene and a lot of people that are really interested in checking out shows. They don't care who you've opened for. They don't care if your signed. It's just that person to person thing and that's the essence.

Q: What is it that makes your music so unique or stand out?

Sam: The obvious thing is the looping. I think because it's sort of new. It's been around for long enough but it's had a bit of an uprising recently. The techological aspect is one thing, also my musical influences are from a different place. I grew up in Pennsylvania and I was born in Winnipeg, so the music I've heard and the culture that I've been exposed to is different. It's new. It's not what people are used to. It's not Canadian indie rock. It's unique.

Q: What are your goals for your music? Where are you heading?

Sam: My first release was more of a studio production that I did while I was a student. It was called "The Last Names". It was released in 2009. Last year in the spring, I released a record of all live looping, start to finish. There were no over dubs, no multi tracking, no fancy editing tricks. Literally one line into the computer and me singing and playing and doing the looping. I kind of wanted to show people as clearly as possible, the capabilities of what I'm doing and the potential to make things happen live that would have never have been possible, and to show people the new techniques that I've created. It was called "One Track One Take" produced by Kevin Park and The New Deal. It's a full length album that you can down load for free on my website. The next project I'm working on combines the production skills I've learned from my first record in 2009 and the live capabilities that I've developed from the creation of "One Track One Take".

If you want to find out more about Sam Klass and see some of his fancy footwork and incredible techonological musical creativity, follow the website below.

Here are a few Hamilton dates to see Sam Klass:

March 31st at Corktown
April 13th at Artcrawl
Bookings: - The Hamiltonian

"Hamilton musician revamping one man band concept"

Sam Klass's latest album is called 'Fluid Identity'
By Adam Carter, CBC News Posted: Nov 5, 2012 7:18 AM

This is not your dad's one-man band.

Sam Klass's music is an off-kilter mash-up of genres.

With a barrage of beat boxing, overlapping delays, octave pedal depth and volume swells he creates, largely, improvisational funk/rock/jazz fusion tunes.

The whole thing seems tricky — Klass credits his move from Pennsylvania to Toronto at 15 as the catalyst that helped hone his chops.

“It gave me time to endlessly sit in my basement and play because I had no friends,” he laughed.

He started at McMaster's music school in 2005, but left after only one semester because he felt he was “ahead of the game” and didn't fit in with the student body.

“I felt like a classical cover artist.” He said.

Getting his first loop guitar pedal at 18 proved to be an integral part of creating his sound. Loop pedals let a guitarist play a riff, record it, then play it back endlessly.

“I just got hooked on it,” Klass said. Originally, he used it as a tool to practice. But then he started applying it to songs he was writing.

“It just became really integrated into how I was creating.”

As his live show is largely improvised, they're usually different every time.

“Because it's a one-man show it allows me to be really versatile,” he said, but adds that a drummer occasionally joins him onstage now too.

Klass generally feels out a crowd, tries to get an idea of what sort of thing they're into and goes from there.

“I try to keep every show different,” he said. That can mean some improvised 90s pop tunes, or something like “Heart of Glass” by Blondie.

It's not your usual rock show. But Klass is just fine with that.

“People are usually looking at me weird,” he said, “but they're doing it with a crooked smile."

You can listen to Sam Klass' latest record Fluid Identity on his website, here.

Catch him on Thursday, Nov. 8 at Club 77 with Gramatik, The Human Race, Defunk, and Hachey the Mouthpeace. - CBC


The Last Names (2009)
One Track One Take (2011)
Fluid Identity (2012)
Tightrope (2013 - In production)



Klass has spent the last 2 years developing a unique and innovative live performance of electric/organic live looping using guitar, voice, and beatboxing with analog and digital effects, in original songs. Recently his act has taken him across the continent, from a sold-out Opera House spotlight set for the New Deal's final hometown show, to a renegade campground stage at Bonnaroo, to Canada Day on the main stage of a downtown Victoria festival and over 50 shows in 2012 - all stemming from a single epic street performance at Nuit Blanche in Toronto that spontaneously drew a crowd of hundreds.

Sam's 3rd independent release, Fluid Identity, explores the possibilities of live looping in a multitrack environment, and is a free (no strings) download from Go get it now! And keep your ears perked for "Tightrope" in 2013.

Using the momentum of his well attended release party, hit performances at Harvest Festival and Come Together Music Festival, along with a long list of world class acts he has shared the bill with in the past while (including Kaki King, Gramatik, The New Deal, Marco Benevento, Charlie Hunter, Robert Babicz, Daniel Wesley, Killah Priest, Maylee Todd, Deep Dark Woods, The Reason, Rebel Emergency etc.) Sam is working with Mike Keire at Threshold Recording Studio on a new live-off-the-floor record/video release, and booking a bunch of new shows and festival spots!

"One of the best things about Nuit Blanche this year. His performance at Trinity Bellwoods Park was simply unbelievably good. His sound is hard to describe and basic in the best way with just an electric guitar, amp, and Sam singing and beatboxing into a mic." - Irving Shaw (Promise, Harvest Festival)

"Great, wonderful music last Friday at Absinthe. No, seriously, not just the electronics and the whole bare-foot thing, but the actual music. Like waves, soaring notes, reminding me of that rich Santana soulful guitar work. The ebb and flow of the energy, the building and the release. The energy and the spontaneity; All very cool. Now this is the kind of form and analysis I can get into." - Glen Brown (GHMusician)

Canada, UK: