Born in Edmonton, Canada. Relocated to Oxford, England at the age of 5. Sam Vance-Law’s first musical experience came at the age of 10 where he sang as part of the New College Choir. Performing at five services a week, while also studying music theory, the influence of his early choirboy days is clear to hear on his debut album ‘Homotopia’.
At the age of 23 he returned to living in Europe. First settling in Paris, he soon after visited Berlin. Within 24 hours he had decided to he had to move there. And while in Berlin he heard a friend say the word ‘Homotopia’ seemingly at random during a conversation. Instantly he decided it would make a great name for a record. And with the album title ready he then began searching for musicians, studios and engineers to create ‘Homotopia’ with.
Fast forward 12 months and ‘Homotopia’ was recorded in Berlin with producer Konstantin Gropper (aka Get Well Soon).
And what an album he created. It flows from modernist classical to witty pop. From the choral to the orchestral. From Prophet ’08 to piano narrative. It’s a record filled with subtle hints to the music that influenced its style, yet remains utterly distinctive in its handsome, witty, lively delivery. From the chamber music of ‘Wanted To’ and the ornate balladry of ‘Stat, Rap.’ to the breathless indie of ‘Prettyboy’ and the charming ‘Gayby’, via the hallucinogenic sweep of ‘I Thing We Should Take It Fast’, the raging ‘Faggot’ and the satirical, sensitive ‘Narcissus 2.0’, ‘Homotopia’ demonstrates a combination of literate pop and classicist traditions. A collection of songs that could sit comfortably alongside the music of John Grant, The Magnetic Fields and Father John Misty.
Lyrically ‘Homotopia’ tells the story of a gay man’s world in the 21st century. It explores and exposes common homo-stereotypes. “I’d been frustrated by a few things, particularly the queer/gay music I’d been hearing,” he explains about the motivation behind the album. “It seemed to focus on two themes: victimhood and pride. I wanted to capture, through various narratives, some of the gay experience, as it is now, without judgement – so far as I was able – and perhaps to engender interest in those narratives and ways of being.”
In one moment guitar driven, the next riding an orchestral crescendo, and the next filled with piano introspection, ‘Homotopia’ is a gloriously kaleidoscopic, distinctive record. One that is impossible to pigeon hole. Sam Vance-Law is a modern pop star, challenging stereotypes and musical boundaries. If you wanted a comparison i’d go for what a George Martin and Leonard Cohen lovechild would have sounded like.
Charming. Insightful. Challenging. Exciting. You won’t hear another album like this in 2018. Just like its creator, ‘Homotopia’ is a one-off. It won’t appeal to everyone, but if you’ve ever found solace in the music of Rufus Wainwright or Sufjan Stevens, ‘Homotopia’ is a record you need to be discovering.