Interview: Sam Ophelia Endavour

On The Diversity of Classic Rock, we don’t just interview musicians, we also interview other types of creatives like writers and bloggers. So if you’re a vintage inspired creator: artist, writer, blogger, photographer, designer, whatever, please do get in contact if you’re interested in collaborating.

Today, we’re lucky to have a poet named Sam Ophelia Endavour with us today on the blog to talk about their writing and classic rock. In February, they released their second poetry book called Eyes of Disobedience. They are a very stylish person with great taste in music and you’ll want to follow them on Instagram (link at the bottom of the post) if you like dandy style and music of the 60s. If you want to learn more about them and their life as a poet and artist, keep on reading!

Angie Moon: How would you describe yourself in a nutshell?

Sam Ophelia Endavour: I’m first of all a poet. But I’m also a writer, songwriter, musician. I do the artwork for my books myself. I decided to take up analog photography as well. I want to incorporate that in my next book of poems. Maybe ‘artist’ is the right word to describe me. But I’m also an activist. Especially an intersectional human rights activist.

Angie: When did you start writing poetry?

Sam Ophelia Endavour: I was 18 when I discovered Rimbaud and Verlaine. I immediately became fascinated by their story and their oeuvre, although it took me a while to get into it since I had passionately loathed poetry until then. Their paths led me to several other poets. But it wasn’t until the end of my first year at university that I started to write myself. At that time I still had a very romantic view of being a poet and that’s why [I] spend more thought on being a poet than the writing itself. It wasn’t until discovering the second part of Heiner Carow’s Heimat trilogy (one of the most poetic cinematic experiences in my opinion) that I took writing much more serious than I had done before. I also started to question the possibilities of the Dutch language (my native tongue) and switched to writing in English because Dutch felt like a much too restricting language to me.

Angie: What inspires your poetry?

Sam Ophelia Endavour: Well, a combination of more introspective topics and the outer world. My own personal struggle as a human being, my own development is something that inspires me. But also how I face this world and this society, both as a non-binary/gender queer person and as an artist. Art is another topic that inspires me. I’ve mentioned several artists or artworks in my poetry. In my last book (‘Eyes of Disobedience’) I included two poems I wrote about and for Claude Cahun, to give you an example. Besides that society still inspires me to write. There is still so much injustice in this world. The struggle isn’t over yet. Injustice, sexism, racism, discrimination, xenophobia, transphobia, queerphobia,…it makes me very angry. Artists have a certain responsibility to speak up about those issues, they have to speak up for those who can’t. That’s something Albert Camus has said many decades ago, but it’s still true.

Angie: Who are your biggest writing inspirations?

Sam Ophelia Endavour: Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine, Patti Smith, Rainer Maria Rilke, Hermann Hesse, Paul Eluard, Clarice Lispector, Federico García Lorca, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Baudelaire, Cesar Vallejo, Mayakovsky, Simone de Beauvoir, Tarkovsky, Fernando Pessoa, Proust, Jean Genet, Picasso, Van Gogh, Claude Cahun, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Georges Roualt. Not all of them are writers, but they inspire me as a writer anyway.

Angie: How did you get into classic rock and vintage clothing?

Sam Ophelia Endavour: Those are two different questions for me personally, so I’ll try to give you two answers. Although there is a certain connection between them as well.

I stumbled upon the Beatles when I was 10, in 2005. They sounded quite interesting to me and I liked it from the start. I didn’t even know how they looked like when I first heard them. “Love Me Do” was the first song of theirs I heard. It was actually a live version they recorded for the BBC.  At the time I also regularly went to a public library not too far from the small village where I lived. They had a book about pop and rock music from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. That’s how I discovered a lot. But that was before I had access to the internet. There was a beautiful picture of Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett in that book and it would take me years before I would ever see it again. The Kinks, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Pink Floyd, The Byrds, The Band,…. they all looked so interesting. It’s as if they were from another world compared to the kind of small village world I was exposed to. They also had a lot of cd’s back then and I searched for cd’s of the bands and artists that were listed in that book or cd covers that looked interesting. When I was 12 I started to listen a lot to blues music. Almost exclusively actually. I didn’t gave up listening to the other kinds of music I liked but blues music was my main style back then. When I was 17 I stumbled upon a Swedish movie from 1970 called “En kärlekshistoria”. A part of the soundtrack was recorded by a Swedish psychedelic band called Atlantic Ocean. That’s how and when I really got into psychedelic music and freakbeat from the 60’s. My music taste is always expanding. I still try to discover new and new-to-me music. It’s quite eclectic. I listen to the styles I’ve mentioned before, but also to a lot of singer-songwriters, folk music, country music, avant-garde music, some classical music, punk, jazz,…

Like I’ve mentioned before there is a connection between music and my interest in vintage and vintage style clothing. Until I was 18 I didn’t spend much attention to my appearance. Almost none at all. I had one strict rule: I refused to look like the other people of my environment. I succeeded, but I wasn’t stylish. Rather boring. It’s because of my interest in merseybeat, freakbeat, American folk-rock, 60s garage music and psychedelic music that I got interested in fashion and especially 60s fashion. My first attempts were horrible. But I had to rely on H&M and Zara to find 60’s style clothes. I wasn’t able to order authentic reproductions from the UK online back then. I stumbled upon a pair of limited edition polka dot shirts by Ben Sherman which weren’t meant for the Belgian market. I had (and still have) a white one and a navy blue one. It’s the style of polka dot shirt John Lennon used to wear in 1964. I was obsessed by them. I wore them almost everyday. Since then I’ve bought many more polka dot shirts. I can still remember how proud I was of those. But it wasn’t until January 2019 that I was able to order things online from abroad. Since then I’ve bought so many more clothes.

Angie: You have a very distinctive 60s dandy dress sense. Who are your biggest style inspirations?

Sam Ophelia Endavour: The Beatles, Brian Jones, 1960’s Bob Dylan and Syd Barrett are my main inspirations style wise. But I take inspiration from many 60’s artists and bands. I also refuse to limit myself to male fashion. That would feel rather unnatural as a gender queer myself. Besides that I refuse to limit myself to 60s inspirations.

Angie: What makes the 60s so special to you?

Sam Ophelia Endavour: I’ve noticed that many people, especially many people in online communities related to all things vintage, have a very nostalgic idea of that decade. Not just nostalgic, but rather a perfect or ideal decade. But that’s not how I would describe it. When I think about the 1960’s there are some big events that come to my mind: the Stonewall riots, the CND marches, May 1968 in Paris and all over the world, the death of Martin Luther King,… Many of the movements and organisations that were started then would come to affect the world and society in a very important way. Things got shaken up completely, especially during the revolutionary year of 1968. That spirit was reflected in a lot of music and literature and art.

But besides that, look at the Beatles circa 1964 for example: longer hair than was tolerated, very slim fitting trousers, high heeled pointy boots. Their style was unique and revolutionary. Allen Ginsberg would later claim that the Beatles had brought a much more feminine and healthier kind of masculinity to America. But it’s not just the Beatles. Brian Jones, Bob Dylan, Francoise Hardy, Julie Driscoll,… they were unique and pure. They weren’t just acts but performers who really embodied their work. That was a very new approach for pop music.

There is a short documentary that was broadcasted on Swedish television in 1966(it used to be on YouTube, but had been removed a while ago). In one scene there was a couple, about 20 years old. Both of them, the boy and girl, looked very similar: longish Beatle haircuts, black roll-neck jumpers, black drainpipe trousers and beatle boots. They looked absolutely stunning. It was fascinating in every possible way. I really love how that decade tried to smash the existing conservative gender norms.

It was a revolutionary decade in almost every possible way and I believe we can still take a lot of inspiration from the 1960’s.

Angie: Who are your favourite 60s/70s musicians from Belgium?

Sam Ophelia Endavour: Tjens Couter, Adam’s Recital (their song “There’s No Place For Lonely People” is amazing), Patrick (a Belgian folk singer whose records I haven’t heard in years because they are so hard to find and expensive), Irish Coffee, and most of all: the great Ferre Grignard. His first two albums are essential.

Angie: Is classic rock popular where you are?

Sam Ophelia Endavour: I think it depends on what you call classic rock or popularity. I’ve heard several self-declared Beatle fans mention that ‘Imagine’ is by far the best song by the Beatles. I’ve seen many people wearing the Velvet Underground sweater H&M had for sale or their T-shirt of The Who, but I wouldn’t call that popularity. I wonder how many of them are really familiar with what’s on their t-shirt or sweater. Besides that the middle-of-the-road radio stations (all of them are middle-of-the-road over here) sometimes play what’s considered nowadays as classic rock. I actually never listen to the radio.

But to be honest, I don’t give much thought about classic rock as a style. I rather like to use the names of subgenres like freakbeat, psychedelic, British folk-rock, garage rock, proto-punk, Merseybeat, American folk-rock and so on. It’s more specific. When you tell people that you like classic rock they mostly assume that you adore Led Zeppelin. But I can’t stand that band in all honesty.

Although I admit that I listen to several artists and bands that are considered as classic rock.

Angie: What are your favourite albums you own on vinyl?

Sam Ophelia Endavour:

  • Mississippi Blues 1927-1941 (on yazoo records)
  • ‘Light of Day’ by Pat Kilroy
  • ‘John Hammond’ by John Hammond
  • ‘Pink Moon’ by Nick Drake
  • ‘Easter Everywhere’ by the 13th Floor Elevators
  • Anything by the Beatles and Bob Dylan
  • A bootleg recording of Patti Smith from 1978
  • A compilation record of The Poets (a Scottish beat group from the 60’s)
  • ‘Studio’ by Tages
  • ‘Joan Baez’ by Joan Baez
  • ‘Do I Know You?’ By Mike Cooper
  • ‘Tangerine Dream’ by Kaleidoscope
  • ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ by Pink Floyd
  • ‘Our music is red with purple flashes’ by the Creation
  • ‘Dock Boggs’ by Dock Boggs
  • ‘Lavender Country’ by Lavender Country
  • ‘Vol. 2’ by Memphis Minnie (on Blues Classics records)
  • ‘Underground’ by the Electric Prunes
  • ‘Love’ by Love
  • ‘Ballads’ by Hedy West
  • ‘Ask me no questions’ by Bridget St John
  • ‘Faintly Blowing’ by Kaleidoscope.
  • ‘String quartet n°2’ by Arnold Schönberg
  • ‘Structures pour deux pianos’ by Pierre Boulez

Angie: I saw that you write song lyrics and play guitar. Do you have any plans to record and release music?

Sam Ophelia Endavour: I used to have those plans in the past. I won’t say that I abandoned those plans but I feel that I’m more a poet than a musician. My voice is unusual and rather weak. But since the last few months I’ve been thinking about performing my poetry on stage. Not just reading them in front of an audience, but performing them with musical accompaniment. Like Patti Smith used to do in the early 70’s. But the musical accompaniment shouldn’t just be there in the background, it should be an essential part of the whole performance. The words and the music should be melted together. Listen to what Patti Smith and Kevin Shields did on “The Coral Sea”, isn’t that amazing? Although I would choose another direction musically.

Angie: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Sam Ophelia Endavour: Read, read, read. I believe reading is essential for your development as a poet, writer or artist in general. Not just poetry and novels, but also newspapers, magazines, books about art, memoirs and biographies, books about human rights and philosophy.

Don’t ever compromise yourself. Never give up. William Blake for example had almost no recognition during his lifetime but he never gave up. He kept writing and drawing because he believed in it. And he was right. I can’t imagine making a living with my art but I’m not going to change my art just to make a living out of it. I write like this because I truly believe in it.

You can follow Sam Ophelia Endavour on Instagram and on their poetry blog on Blogspot. You can order their poetry book, Eyes of Disobedience by contacting them on Instagram.

Shoutout to Patrick and Jeffrey from Maryland for supporting the blog!

Loved this blog post and want to support? If you cannot afford to donate to The Diversity of Classic Rock, there are many free ways to support the blog: Follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram, click the follow button on my website, leave a nice comment, send your music or classic rock related books for review, or donate your art and writing talents to the blog.

You can also download the Brave Browser and earn tokens that you can donate to your favourite creators (including me!), donate to charity, or you can keep them for yourself and redeem them for cash. The choice is yours! Thank you!