Rebel with a cause

A Chat With Sandi Thom

By Clara Lock, photos courtesy of Timbre Group

Sandi Thom has always been, by her own admission, a bit of a maverick.

The erstwhile pop singer, best known for her single I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair, braved the transition into singing the blues three years ago after she grew disillusioned with former record label Sony.

“They wanted me to be the positive, upbeat girl next door. In all honesty, that’s not who I am,” she said.

So Thom funded and set up independent record label Guardian Angel Records, a project so personal she later had its logo tattooed on her back. Under the label, she crafted her 2010 release Merchants and Thieves. Lyrically, the album is her darkest offering yet, delving poignantly into her failed relationship with ex-fiance Jake Field, who also produced the album.

“It’s (like) knowing you’re losing something, and you can’t do anything about it,” says Thom about the break-up. “But everything is necessary, even if it’s hard or a struggle.”

Thom’s newfound artistic freedom also lets her explore her youthful misadventures, which involve stealing a car and setting fire to a field of straw. But the 29-year-old has no regrets about her rebellious streak.

“Growing up it got me into trouble, but now it creates opportunity to do things that people say I can’t do,” she said.

Thom is, for instance, one of the few female artistes in the male dominated blues music scene. The spunky lass mastered the harmonica to differentiate herself from the blokes, and makes commercial, rather than traditional music to appeal to a more modern audience.

Yet despite her success, Thom is no stranger to detractors. The Scottish singer shot to fame after hosting a series of gigs in her basement and streaming them online, but her success was polarizing. Fans loved the originality of the webcasts as Thom became the one of the music industry’s first internet stars, while critics questioned her staying power and her quick ascent to fame.

“I became the poster child for that movement and if people wanted to look badly upon it, they would use me as an example,” she said, “I became a pawn and it was unfortunate.”

But in the six years that followed, Thom proved herself: “I’m still here, I’m still making music, so it never really had an impact on my popularity,” she said.


Sandi Thom performs at Timbre @ The Substation on 26th February 2012 at 8pm. Admission is free.