'I don't want a repeat of what happened five years ago'
H E is Nottingham born and bred and yet some in his home city think Sam Beeton is a US export. "It's true," laughs the 23-year-old, who grew up in Carlton. "Lots of people think I'm American. They stop me in the street and say: 'My God! What are you doing here?'"
Why would they think that?
"Probably because of the What You Look For video. You can tell it was filmed in the US."
The video, shot in Los Angeles, was for his debut single for SonyBMG, released four years ago. It was played on national radio and the video screened on all the key TV shows.
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But up until recently, it was all there was to see of Sam Beeton.
The single, described by The Guardian as "like You're Beautiful, only not nauseating," stalled outside the UK Top 40. The record label would never release another one of his songs.
He'd finished his debut album for them and promotional copies of No Definite Answer were sent out to reviewers. But it never made it into the shops. Sam was 18 at the time.
"I have ideas in my head of what a terrible time that was," he admits. "But I watched the video recently, for the first time in a year-and-a-half and I thought it was a perfectly good pop song."
He'd signed to the label a year earlier after being spotted by a local record producer playing at an open mike night at the Old Volunteer pub in Carlton. He recorded a few songs with Sam, which made their way to the ears of an A&R scout for SonyBMG, home to Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Mariah Carey and Beyonce.
Despite just one single release, he remained on the label for the next three years and toured with the likes of Sandi Thom, James Morrison, Scouting For Girls and Paolo Nutini. He also played a show with Katy Perry.
"It was in the gossip bit of the Daily Star about Katy Perry taking a shine to me," he chuckles.
While still with the label he racked up over 100 recordings. When none of them saw the light of day Sam broke free and set up his own label, Sweet Luigi. Through that he created the Record Club, a subscription service, where over 2,000 fans around the world receive a new EP every month.
He launched Record Club: Season Two earlier this month.
"It still takes me two weeks out of every month to package, sign and post the CDs. The only difference this time is that we're paying a company to print the sleeves."
Doing it his way has worked. Two of his songs, Under The Fence and The Storyteller, were played on Radio 2. And he performed the latter on BBC 2's The Review Show.
"They're not supposed to clap," he says. "It's supposed to end with silence, so that was a bit surreal. But they clapped. Eventually."
It wasn't his first time on TV. Back when What You Look For was released, he appeared on ITV's This Morning, then presented by Eamonn Holmes and wife Ruth Langsford.
"It's good to see how, over time, those videos of my early TV appearances are slowly fading away in terms of views on YouTube. And the views for the new videos are growing."
The new videos are self-made for his Record Club but they include a few filmed for Burberry, the fashion label he's modelled for.
The first photo session, seen in the likes of GQ, was shot by Mario Testino, A-list photographer famed for his pics of Princess Di.
"The guy in charge at Burberry had see the What You Look For video and wanted me to get involved in this campaign. And I thought 'why not?'"
He adds: "The guy who runs Burberry is a member of the Record Club and mentioned me in Rolling Stone in the US, saying that my song My Doll inspired him to create the latest collection. Which is just madness.
"I get invited to a lot of Burberry events and I go when I can. It's a red carpet job with the press taking your photo... the whole thing. At one I was sat between Paul Weller and Kanye West. It's a strange experience."
On the back of the Burberry shoots, Sam has had offers from other labels like Ralph Lauren. One jeans company in New York asked him to do a photo shoot with a topless Jade Jagger.
"I thought, 'well, that's nice' but it doesn't really fit in with the music. I've been offered a few things recently but they've been straight modelling and nothing to do with music. I'm lucky enough to be able to turn them down."
Sam recently toured the UK opening for Charlie Simpson, best known for being the frontman of boy band Busted, then rock band Fightstar. He's someone keen to forget his past.
"Oh man, he really does," says Sam.
"Someone came up to him with a Busted album and asked him to sign it and he said 'no'. And it wasn't for a joke, he was a genuine Busted fan."
He adds: "When we played Exeter, Joss Stone turned up and she invited us to her bar, Mama Stone's. And we had a little dance with her. No, not a cuddling dance."
In recent weeks he's been writing with Judie Tzuke, the Seventies singer behind the hit single Stay With Me Till Dawn and the Top 10 album Sportscar.
"She was signed to Elton John's own label and she's got some really interesting stories. She lives in this huge house in Surrey, where she has a studio. Paul Carrack was there to record a Beatles covers album. And Peter Cox from Go West turned up. It was a bit weird."
How did that happen?
"She got in touch with my producer because her daughter had seen one of my videos and told her that we should work together."
With all these connections and the exposure on TV and radio, isn't there another major label deal on the table?
"There has been interest. I've been for meetings. There's one label in particular that keeps getting in touch."
So what's the problem?
"I don't want a repeat of what happened five years ago. I don't want to fall into that trap of signing and then they don't do what was promised."
There's another reason many may not realise that Sam Beeton is a Nottingham musician and that's because he's not part of the local scene.
But he's making friends with his headline show at the Glee Club tomorrow, where he'll be joined by two well-known Notts artists.
"I've seen Kagoule a few times," he says of the young guitar band. "And I saw Nina Smith play at Rock City when we did Concert For Life for the Julie Cotton Foundation. Although that was a few years ago. She'll be doing her set with beatboxer Mota Mouf, who I've seen quite a few times at the Plainsman in Mapperley."
He adds: "I'm looking forward to it. I've not played a headline show in Nottingham for years. And I am from Nottingham, you know..."