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Industry Insights

UM Issue 7: Alt-Rock Dreams


Sam Gaius is currently a VIU student studying for his Masters in Information Systems Management. He has performed at VIU Got Talent, VIU Idol, and other various events on and off-campus in the past and hopes to kick-start the VIU Music Club.

UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE: What first inspired you to start singing?
SAM GAIUS: Singing has been a personal interest of mine since childhood. We used to have a stereo in my house in India, and I used to play the cassettes over and over. I would rewind them in order to sing along and memorize the songs, so it just picked up from there. As I kept singing with these tapes, I realized you need to be able to play the instruments along with the songs as well, which eventually got me into playing guitar.

Do you play any other instruments in addition to the guitar?
Yes, I actually play the keyboard and drums as well.

You can play for a whole band! Do you have a specific genre that you listen to or play the most?
I am mostly interested in playing and listening to alternative rock music. Since I play the guitar, and a lot of alt-rock songs are guitar-heavy, it has inspired me in my own compositions. I don’t only listen to this genre though – I also enjoy listening to EDM (electronic dance music) and pop.

Do you have any favorite bands or artists that have heavily inspired you in the alternative rock realm?
I would say I am more influenced by specific artists like John Mayer, BB King, Myles Kennedy, and David Gilmour. These musicians have inspired me in my guitar playing, vocally, and lyrically. When it comes to influential bands though, I would say some of my favorites include Alter Bridge and Metallica.

What are your “go-to” songs to listen to or perform that inspire you the most from the alternative rock genre?
Well, good things come in threes and so I have three great songs that I would consider my “go-to” songs – "Neon" by John Mayer; "Brand New Start" by Alter Bridge; and "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison.

Do you write your own original songs?
I’m currently working on that. I usually perform covers at shows, but hopefully, I’ll be able to start singing my own songs someday soon. I usually like to freestyle and play whatever is in my head when I’m practicing so I would like that to turn into something as opposed to just practicing a cover. It makes it easier and makes it fun.

We’re looking forward to hearing some originals! Would you like to pursue a career in music?
As of right now, I am concentrating on my studies, receiving my diploma and finding a job. Music is obviously something I would love to do, and love doing, so I am always going to make time for it in between my coursework and take whatever chance to play.

Since you are concentrating on your master's, how do you have the time to balance music between school, work, family, and friends?
Because I’m so busy, these days I only have the time to play my music in my alone time, essentially as a hobby. This is okay with me, though, since it’s something I’m passionate about. Like I mentioned before though if the opportunity arises for me to be able to share my talent in music, I’ll always take it.

So one of those opportunities you mentioned was VIU Got Talent – we saw your performance and it was great. Congratulations on 3rd place! Were you nervous before the performance, or do you have any preshow rituals that eased your mind?
I was definitely a little nervous before the performance, but you just have to realize that it’s all for fun. You wouldn’t be doing it if you didn’t already love it, and I really do love music. It isn’t about winning or losing; it’s about sharing your talent and having fun. I don’t do anything to prepare before a show for good luck except practice, sleep, and pray. I just go for it.

Do you have any advice for people who are afraid or nervous to perform in front of an audience?
You should be playing, practicing, and performing for yourself – not for anyone else. If you are out there to have fun and enjoy your time, then you will be a lot less nervous.