Sam Da Silva ‘Shakes Up’ Bradford Music Scene

City of Culture could be the bus that West Yorkshire musicians need to catch
December 9, 2022

Have you ever woken up incredibly hungover from a night out with no idea how you even made it back to your bed? It is a struggle to navigate the empty takeaway boxes, makeup and the mountain of clothes made in a mad rush to get ready. Have you breathed a heavy sigh of relief that your phone, ID and credit card are still miraculously in your pocket?

Bradford-based artist Sam Da Silva, who goes by the stage name 'Red Shakes', captures this disorientating experience in his song 'Nothing in the Morning'. Nursing a hangover is slightly less painful when you cannot remember the embarrassing mistakes made after one too many shots of tequila. Sadly, you still have the "you up?" text you sent to your ex-boyfriend at 2 AM to bring those memories flooding back.

The line, "I wouldn't have it any different", reassures us it is coming-of-age experience, and if we are honest with ourselves, we will be doing it all over again the weekend after. As Sam sings, it is all part of being “young and reckless.”

'Sad Teenager Song' is perfect for when our life starts to read like a John Hughes movie, with the lyrics: "my life's a mess and it's ok, I'm getting fucked up every day. I wash my pills down with champagne while you watch me decay". At least a glass of champagne goes down better than the poisonous concoction Heather Chandler drank. Sam wears a stripy red and white shirt which would give the ‘80s shoulder pads and oversized blazers a run for their money.

His playful indie tunes have gained support from the likes of Radio X, Amazing Radio, RGM Magazine, This feeling and BBC Introducing. Sam made an appearance on ITV after Bradford won the UK City of Culture 2025 competition. He spoke about the importance of giving exposure to grassroots artists and how local people are vital to the burgeoning scene. He explained to me: “there is a guy called Tom O’Neill who started an open mic night. It happens every Wednesday in a bar called The Peacock on North Parade. All the Bradford musicians have really banded together and supported each other.”

It is hard to forget Red Shakes’ catchy refrains, upbeat melodies, and onstage antics. Unlike Sam, I could never crowd surf. I fear that the crowd would part like The Red Sea, and my memory loss would be from a concussion, not the alcohol. It reminds me of the scene in School of Rock where Dewey Finn tries to prove he is "hardcore" by leaping off the stage, and the only thing hard is the floor he hits. He fails to stick the landing, much less “stick it to the man.”

Red Shakes manage to maintain the same level of energy as Dewey’s band of hyperactive 13-year-olds. He is always ready to give you a sweaty hug when he leaves the stage. The irony is, Sam says: “I don’t have that much energy in my actual life. It’s just the thing I’m happiest doing and so I’m really excited and energetic every time I get on stage- the rest of the time, never.” Honestly, I get out of breath just watching him.

The adrenaline surprisingly does not come from liquid courage as Sam believes: “I can’t sing that well anyway so if I drank before a set, I would be like an embarrassing uncle doing karaoke at a wedding. I drink lots of water, panic for about two hours, then get into a huddle with my band mates and say let’s do it guys.”

The singer spoke about how his lively on-stage persona had his mum convinced he was living a less PG rock and roll lifestyle and was high on more than just life. Sam explained: “I came off stage and was excited to ask her what she thought of the performance, and she had a stern look on her face and asked if I was on drugs.”

Despite claiming to be unfit off stage, Sam has had his music played at half time at Valley Parade and received permission to film a music video on the grounds. He took the opportunity to write a song about being terrible at sports. A career change is unlikely any time soon. I am surprised he does not pull a muscle from infatuated fangirls pulling him in every direction.

Sam knows what his strengths and weaknesses are. His music takes from what he calls the “happy” music of the ‘60s from bands like The Beach Boys. His other influences are 00s indie-rock groups like The Kooks, The Wombats and The Libertines.

When asked what genre he would like to tap into next, he replied: “this is one I’d like to tap into but because I think I’d be good at it but because it’s fun. I should definitely never touch it, but I think a weird amalgamation of indie and rap. I can imagine it would be really fun to perform but I don’t have the right voice or vibe for it.” Rage Against the Machine can mix metal and hip hop, so I think Sam should give indie-rap a go.

Red Shakes continue to hone their sound and stage presence. They manage to make a small venue in Bradford feel like a sold-out concert at Wembley Stadium. The boys make me proud to say that I am from Bradford and that the music scene is on the up.