Discover more from Front Row & Backstage
Singer/Producer, SG Lewis, 28: Elton John, Dua Lipa, and Chic's Nile Rodgers are Paying Attention
Not yet 30, this ambitious Brit has crashed his share of house parties (armed only with a loaded USB), while attracting the attention of today's top hitmakers + a couple legends! Are YOU on SG Lewis?
An old soul. A throwback. A retro kingpin. I guess they all fit as names for a guy who entered the world as Samuel George Lewis. He’ll thank you, though, to call him SG Lewis.
Born in July 1994 in the Thames Valley burg of Reading, England, Lewis, according to Last.fm, “is an in-demand producer, songwriter, and DJ with an emotive, atmospheric approach to dance-oriented, electronic-based music.”
He also looks like the gregarious, aw-shucks frat house member of a midwest fraternity happy to welcome you in, or what Eminem might look like newly-showered and de-tatted as a Samsung middle-manager.
He’s also 28, good-looking with a closet full of Hawaiian shirts, and if teen magazines were still being published, he’d elbow Harry Styles off their covers.
The Skinny on SG
“Initially known for his remixes of artists like Jessie Ware, he released his debut EP, Shivers, in 2015. Collaborations with vocalists such as Gallant, Ray BLK, and Bishop Nehru followed, and Lewis released Dusk, the first EP in a three-part series dedicated to club culture, in 2018.” Dark and Dawn eventually followed.
“When imposter syndrome sets in, I do ask myself why artists want to work with me.”—A self-effacing SG Lewis to UK’s NME, December 2022
“Lewis first became interested in music in his teens, and played in several bands before he started experimenting with re-mixing tracks. Influenced by the introspective pop of Bon Iver and James Blake, as well as the club-ready hip-hop of artists like Common, Timbaland, and the Neptunes, Lewis began posting his own evocative, moody tracks online.”
The Word on the Street
Inasmuch as this writer has a good 40 years on Mr. Lewis, I enlisted the perspective and writing talents of fellow Substack music writer, the much younger Wing, for her take on SG Lewis:
Wing is a writer and multidisciplinary artist, hailing from Hong Kong, by way of London and New York. She currently is the lead writer and editor of FRESH by wing, a weekly newsletter publication exploring everything worth caring about in music, culture, lifestyle and wellness:
Wing lives and breathes electronic music, is an avid bird enthusiast, and enjoys inventing vegetarian recipes in her spare time. You can find Wing’s jewelry creations at her online shop bling by wing, and her writer face reveals on her personal Instagram.
The Lewis Discospective
Wing recalls her first SG impressions: If my memory serves me correctly, “All Night” was my very first introduction to SG Lewis’ music. This was back in early 2016, a year where indie electronic was flourishing and abundant all around, following the influential releases of ODESZA’s In Return, and Porter Robinson’s debut album Worlds, the year prior in 2014. SG offered his own unique chilled-out, singer-songwriter spin on the genre, which landed him a spot on my to-watch musical radar from then on.
From a flurry of singles, the Englishman progressed to create a trilogy of EPs, titled Dusk, Dark and Dawn, released over the span of two years from 2018 to 2019. As their titles suggest, each EP contains songs evoking the specific mood and time of day it is named after, creating a musical chronology detailing the emotional progression of a passionate and tumultuous romance - the journey of “making it through the night,” per se.
Lyrically, this series contains some of SG’s most poignant, poetic and cathartic songwriting; nowhere else in SG’s discography will you hear a line like, “Oh, I hear your name with the song of the fire / Where else would I be?”
I had the chance to see SG live for the first time in 2018, and hearing him play songs from this trilogy solidified them as some of my all-time favorite songs. Sunsets - Pt. 2 is always a special track to hear live, if you’re lucky enough to have SG put it in your show setlist!
Head to this Youtube playlist to listen to the trilogy in one go, in order.
“RUEL is insane,” Lewis crowed to TheNewNine in May 2019, after wowing the Coachella throng the month before. “He’s one of the most talented people that I’ve met. When I was his age, I just sat in my box, and to watch him is insane!”
The song titled “Flames” (above, featuring Ruel) was on the third installment of his three-piece project, Dawn. “I’m just so proud of it,” he continued. “I hope people love it as much as I do! When I created this series, I wasn’t completely done, but I knew I had to speak it into existence so I’d complete it. Otherwise it’d always just be a thought, not a project.”
Wing: Six years after his first EP release, SG finally revealed his long-awaited debut album, the 70’s disco culture-inspired times (displayed below). Arguably, it takes on a heavier pop-leaning sound than most of SG’s work prior, filled with catchy hooks and snappy choruses - fitting for an album about celebrating the dance floor.
The notable song exception is the album closer, Fall - a slow, emotionally-charged ballad that is perfectly crafted for swaying to with the one that got away, under the sparkly glints of the dance floor disco ball.
Dropping the Needle on “One More”
FR&B: You’ll notice the fourth track on times (“One More”) features Nile Rodgers, the hitmaking singer/songwriter/producer and 3-time Grammy winner who made his mark in the ‘70s with the disco sounds of Chic (“Le Freak,” et al). A recent Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Rodgers, 70, is a newly-minted SG Lewis convert:
“SG and I have been working together at my home away from home, Abbey Road [Studios, in London], for a couple of years now,” Rodgers told Pitchfork.com in February 2021. “I love how effortless and cool this song is. The awesome Julian Bunetta and John Ryan wrote on this with us and killed it!” Rodgers played guitar on the track, and co-produced with Lewis, who chimed in with this:
“‘One More’ was the first song I wrote for this record in L.A., and one that set me on the path to making this whole album. Working with Nile Rodgers was an experience which will stay with me for the rest of my life. To have someone who has influenced not only this album, but my entire career, play on this song is mind blowing!”
Rodgers has clearly zeroed in on today’s music-makers, especially ones who quite obviously exhibit a lean, a love, and a propensity for being not just a little anachronistic:
These “kids” can’t help it if they were born too late! However entrenched in the 21st century the likes of SG Lewis and Roosevelt (and The Midnight, for that matter) may be by birthright, their soulful and musical hearts are clearly and unabashedly stamped “1977”! Rodgers’ recent work with Roosevelt, for example, has been thoroughly chronicled in these pages:
SG-Whiz: Collabs, Remixes and Covers, Oh My!
Wing: SG is no stranger to perfecting a good remix for heavyweight artists on the scene - from Disclosure’s Magnets and Flume’s Say It, to Dua Lipa’s New Rules. After a few years of remix hiatus, SG recently took on duties remixing some classic 70’s hits, to fully get into the spirit of the times era. Dare I say, I am now more fond of SG’s version of “More Than A Woman” than the original Bee Gees version - which I still truly love to pieces!
“I wanted to take the love and euphoria of the original [“More Than a Woman”] and place it in the context of the dance floor whilst keeping the original very much intact,” Lewis said in a press release. “Making this [aptly-named “SG’s Paradise] Edit” made me dream of the post-pandemic dance floors that are within touching distance now.”
FR&B shimmied and dipped across the Bee Gees dance floor recently, with this peek at “Tragedy” and several of its covers:
SG’s ‘23: AudioLust & HigherLove
By the time February rolled around, Lewis’s second album, AudioLust & HigherLove did its thing, was dropped and streamed its way into the planet’s consciousness. A raucously ambitious project, it actually dares to draw on Daft Punk and (hold on to your Appletini!) yacht rock as key influences!
In fact, it’s been reported that Lewis discovered the wonders of yacht rock by stumbling onto Steely Dan and Hall & Oates during lockdown! Can a collab with Donald Fagan or a remix of “Kiss on My List” be far behind?
In a recent NME (New Musical Express)/UK cover story and interview, Lewis whets our appetite: “The whole process felt more song-focused than sound-focused,” he asserted. “The last record [times] was very much about studying a period in time and elements of that music, whereas this was very much focused on the songs.”
RELATED: It’s out, and the reviews are in (at least FR&B’s is!)…Selected tracks off the new album are dissected, here:
So, in two albums (and speaking quite broadly), SG Lewis, generally, has traversed the musical landscape from late-‘70s dance floor decadence to the smooth, classic rock sounds of mid-’70s AM hit radio!
The dance floor rumbles, the phonograph skips, and the mind boggles!
Front Row & Backstage is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber!