“Telling a story half-drunk and through song”: Sam Windley Is ‘Pink and Nervous’ on Her Dazzling Debut EP

Sam Windley © McLean Stephenson
Sam Windley © McLean Stephenson
She’s ‘Pink and Nervous,’ unafraid to speak her truths and be weird in song: Aussie singer/songwriter Sam Windley chats with Atwood Magazine about her dazzling debut EP, her instinctive aversion to pop music, and more!
for fans of Stella Donnelly, Julia Jacklin, Soccer Mommy
Stream: ‘Pink and Nervous’ – Sam Windley




I want to push the boundaries of what pop can be by drawing in a pop audience and slowly turning them weird.

Charming and cheeky, Sam Windley’s debut EP is easy to fall for and fun to love.

The 20-year-old singer/songwriter from New South Wales makes left-of-center “pop” music from a decidedly anti-pop perspective; she was never much one for choruses, always preferring a good, solid verse instead. Nevertheless, her songs are irresistibly catchy. She’s not into “fluff,” and would rather get straight to the point than dance circles around some indulgent musical drain. Still, her storytelling is vivid – her music layered with colorful nuance, provocative poetry, and emotional complexity.

Australian artists have a long history of breaking mainstream molds and reshaping what popular music looks, feels, and sounds like: Notable names include (but are certainly not limited to) The Bee Gees, Kevin Parker, Gotye, Tones and I, Ben Howard, and Sia – and, one day very soon, Sam Windley. The singer/songwriter takes listeners on a buoyant rollercoaster through the many stages of heartbreak on her refreshingly bold debut EP Pink and Nervous, an intimate, energetic, and exhilarating introduction.

Pink and Nervous - Sam Windley
Pink and Nervous – Sam Windley
I didn’t feel good after the party
I couldn’t stay but I didn’t wanna go home
I took my shoes off, ran to the bathroom
Looked at the mirror
F***, I’ve never been this stoned
Somebody hurry up and call me a taxi
I don’t know the number off by heart
and I’m too drunk to use my phone
I’ve cracked all my eggs
into one man’s basket

Showed him my marbles at Civic Park
and now he’s gone

And I could be crying
I could be crying
but I love myself, you know?
– “Marbles,” Sam Windley

Independently released October 20, 2023, Pink and Nervous is warm and wondrous, candid and contemplative, dramatic and invigorating: A smorgasbord of colorful sounds and even more colorful writing coalesce on a record set ten years in the future, as a 30-year-old Sam Windley reminisces on younger days of love and loss.

Sam Windley © McLean Stephenson
Sam Windley © McLean Stephenson



Despite those dark undertones, Pink and Nervous is more hopeful and empowering than it is achey and brooding – a raw reflection of its maker’s multifaceted identity, and her determination, conscious or not, to be the opposite of one-note.

“I like to use contrast and irony in my music, and ultimately people can take it as seriously or unseriously as they want,” Windley tells Atwood Magazine. “I don’t know if this is a pretentious thing to say, but I feel like my songs are a bit of a puzzle sometimes.”

“Hopefully [my EP] tickles some eardrums enough for people to be interested in what’s coming next,” she adds. “I want to push the boundaries of what pop can be by drawing in a pop audience and slowly turning them weird. These songs capture my sarcastic approach towards pop music.”

Windley has previously explained how she wrote the record’s first track as a preemptive breakup song two weeks before she and her first love split (“I saw it coming and knew I would need some musical consolation when the deed was done”), and rest of the EP tells the tale of what happened next.

Pink and Nervous is thereby conceptual in nature, in that its songs all revolve around a similar theme – but as everyone who’s been through heartbreak knows from experience, that sh*t lingers. These songs are therefore best appreciated as diary-like entries pulled from the artist’s inner sanctum: Anecdotes from her highs and lows whilst navigating life’s inevitable turbulence.

From the unflinching vulnerability of opener “Marbles” and the intimate inner heat (and compelling production) of “Lady Zombies” to the revelrous “Charismatic Laser Beam,” the brutally raw “Electric Box,” the playful “Mitsubishi Verada” and beyond, Pink and Nervous is a smile-inducing seduction through and through. Even the record’s finale, “Excited” – a full-on tragedy – manages to be somehow uplifting and inspiring, as Windley channels her biting sarcasm into an alluring sonic sweetness.




Sam Windley © McLean Stephenson
Sam Windley © McLean Stephenson



I’ve always been a verse fan. Choruses can be a bit sickly sometimes, and I try to avoid that while still having some kind of hook people can cling to.

Produced and mixed by Chris Collins (Matt Corby, Budjerah), Windley’s first multi-track project sees the artist finding her footing as a unique, fresh voice unafraid to speak her truths, be weird, and embrace all those eccentric, head-turning qualities that make her instantly and unapologetically stand out.

“These are all somewhat universal experiences, but I hope my songs can offer a unique little vignette for each phase of heartbreak,” Windley shares.

Of what’s coming next, she’s at once determined and giddy: “My biggest excitement is writing and releasing more music. I feel like I’ve learned so much about my own desires this year…. I’ll have more music out early this year, and I can’t wait to share it because I feel like it’s so much better than anything I’ve released before.”

Consider us sold, and eagerly awaiting all that’s to come.

Atwood Magazine caught up with the Australian artist to chat about her stunning debut EP, her instinctive aversion to pop music, the best ways to get over something (hint: put it in song!), and more: Read our full interview below, and get to know this exciting, fast-rising voice on the indie scene as she offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into her world!

Is my sarcastic point of view
Distracting me, confusing you?
Does it worry you too
How hard I try?
Que sera, sera
Does it pass you by?
Does it pass you by?
Tapped out on the couch, looking back at the view
Are you over me occupying your bedroom?
Is it wearing you out
How hard I try?
Que sera, sera
Does it pass you by?
Does it pass you by?
– “Excited,” Sam Windley

— —

:: stream/purchase Pink and Nervous here ::
:: connect with Sam Windley here ::
Stream: ‘Pink and Nervous’ – Sam Windley



Sam Windley © McLean Stephenson
Sam Windley © McLean Stephenson

A CONVERSATION WITH SAM WINDLEY

Pink and Nervous - Sam Windley

Atwood Magazine: Sam, it’s great to meet you - and hello from New York! For starters, do you mind sharing a bit about yourself and how you got into music?

Sam Windley: Hello from Sydney! The thing that got me into music was probably listening to “Kiss from a Rose” on repeat on my iPod when I was 8. A bit about myself is that I’m 20, Australian, and like playing guitar.

I know you started releasing songs in 2020, but Pink and Nervous really feels like your first bigger body of work. What is the story of this EP, for you?

Sam Windley: The story of the songs at the time they were written was very ‘finding myself through heartbreak,’ but when I decided to compile the EP, I set a scene – a high up apartment, gauzy curtains, grand piano, me sitting in the middle of a room of the party’s stragglers, telling a story half-drunk and through song. It’s set in the future, told about the past.

To that end, what does it mean to be “Pink and Nervous”? How does that phrase capture, for you, the songs housed within?

Sam Windley: Pink and Nervous was a way of comparing the person the EP is about to a baby animal – fresh out of the womb, hot pink, shivering from the sheer horror of having to be alive. I don’t think that sentiment houses the rest of the songs from the EP, but in choosing it as the title I transferred those words onto myself – I am pink and nervous – this is my EP, this big project I have poured myself into, and I’m quite afraid about it.

Sam Windley © McLean Stephenson
Sam Windley © McLean Stephenson



Sam Windley © McLean Stephenson
Sam Windley © McLean Stephenson

Musically, Pink and Nervous is absolutely thrilling. I’ve never really heard anything quite like it before - and that’s got me so excited. What was your vision for this record, and how did that change as you went from writing to recording the songs themselves?

Sam Windley: I always thought music production was a weird byproduct of a consumerist industry, something you have to do in order to publish your music. So I succumbed to that – I feel that I allowed the music to become pop music, but the fact that it was never written as such gives it a uniqueness that it never would’ve, had I left the songs raw.

One thing I love about your songwriting is your total rejection of the traditional verse-chorus style. What’s your approach to writing songs?

Sam Windley: I’ve always been a verse fan. Choruses can be a bit sickly sometimes, and I try to avoid that while still having some kind of hook people can cling to. Another one of my philosophies is cutting down on fluff. I don’t like to indulge musically with long rambling sections.

My songs are lyric and theme-driven, and all the other parts are written to honour that.

Sam Windley © McLean Stephenson
Sam Windley © McLean Stephenson

My songs are lyric and theme-driven, and all the other parts are written to honour that.

Who are some of your north stars, from a songwriting perspective, that you think about when making your own music?

Sam Windley: The list is so long – Laura Marling, Ben Howard, Adrianne Lenker, Cass McCombs, Elliott Smith, The Shins….

How do you feel this EP introduces you and captures your artistry?

Sam Windley: Hopefully it tickles some eardrums enough for people to be interested in what’s coming next. I want to push the boundaries of what pop can be by drawing in a pop audience and slowly turning them weird. These songs capture my sarcastic approach towards pop music.

You’ve spoken before about how “Marbles” tracks the dissolution of your first love, and “the rest of the EP tells the tale of what happened next.” Do you mind sharing a bit more about what that means - by that i mean, what was the aftermath like for you?

Sam Windley: “Marbles” is the beginning of the reminiscence – the heartbreak, “Lady Zombies” is the moving away to find new things, “Charismatic Laser Beam” is the ‘I feel awesome, I don’t need you,’ “Electric Box” is the second wave of suffering, “Mitsubishi Verada” is the last glimmer of hope, “Clay” is the self-annihilation and the ‘where did I go wrong,’ and “Excited” is the ‘were you cheating on me?’ These are all somewhat universal experiences, but I hope my songs can offer a unique little vignette for each phase of heartbreak.

I love the way you layered your voice in “Lady Zombies.” What inspired that approach, and why did you opt to do that with this song in particular?

Sam Windley: I made “Lady Zombies” by voice memo-ing a drum loop from my friend’s Casio keyboard with the ‘na-nas’ going over the top, then pitched it up slightly. I started mumbling some lyrics over the beat, and for lack of a better tool I used the microphone on my earphones to record with. It sounded awful so I just leaned into that. A double vocal with one super warm and fuzzy, and one high-passed and telephony is now my favourite way to process vocals, from what I learned in Garage Band that day.

I think “Charismatic Laser Beam” MIGHT be my favorite song off this collection! What is this song about, to you?

Sam Windley: “Charismatic Laser Beam” is about that stage in a relationship where things start to get domestic. You try to create this life and home together, ‘we sewed ourselves onto a pillowcase.’ But in the end that sense of domesticity is what can lead to downfall.

I love the closure you finally reach in “Excited.” There’s a refreshing sense of relief and release in this song. Did you write this song from that perspective, or did writing it actually help you to move on?

Sam Windley: I’m so glad you asked that question because it’s actually supposed to be sarcastic. In the song, ‘picturing the way her perfect face looks when she walks towards you… would you get excited?’ is like, ‘Do you love someone else?’ So it’s actually a tragic ending, but I positioned it as if it was myself being excited to move on, because irony, I guess.

Do you have any personal favorite moments or highlights off this EP?

Sam Windley: Probably all the clarinet bits. I tried to teach myself clarinet for the EP and even though I’m really bad and we had to edit the shit out of it I’m still quite proud because I never thought I’d be a woodwind player.

Likewise... as such a lyrically forward artist, do you have any favorite lyrics in these songs?

Sam Windley: ‘Yesterday in Battery City I scraped my knees on piles and piles of men in corners I’d watch your back loosen your grip honey if I were you I’d have been one of them’ is probably my favourite lyric of the EP, and if you think long and hard you might find a My Chemical Romance Easter egg in there somewhere.

What do you hope listeners take away from Pink and Nervous? What have you taken away from creating it and now putting it out?

Sam Windley: It’s funny because a lot of the more emotionally hard-hitting parts of the songs were kind of written as a joke, not because I don’t have feelings but because I tend to hide them in metaphors, which can be cryptic and hard to decipher. But it’s those twee uplifting that seem to hit home for people. I like to use contrast and irony in my music, and ultimately people can take it as seriously or unseriously as they want. I don’t know if this is a pretentious thing to say, but I feel like my songs are a bit of a puzzle sometimes.

Having seemingly tied up such a neat bow on this chapter in your life - finding some form of closure, and whatnot - what’s next for you and your music?

Sam Windley: The bow is tied, but it’s far from neat. I have so many loose thoughts I need to collect and string together. Another chapter gone is just another period of time I’ve had to accrue more questions, and I have so many new observations of living that I need to digest. I want to take things to a deeper level, to dig further down than my own personals and begin to analyse scenes from the world at large.

Sam Windley © McLean Stephenson
Sam Windley © McLean Stephenson

I want to take things to a deeper level, to dig further down than my own personals and begin to analyse scenes from the world at large.

What’s on the horizon for this year, what are you most excited about in 2024?

Sam Windley: My biggest excitement is writing and releasing more music. I feel like I’ve learned so much about my own desires this year. It can be hard to know what you want, especially in a landscape such as the music industry where you’re creating a product – something for others to want.

I’ll have more music out early this year, and I can’t wait to share it because I feel like it’s so much better than anything I’ve released before.

I love to leave all interviews by paying it forward; who are you listening to these days that you would recommend to our readers?

Sam Windley: Here are some amazing artists people might not have listened to before: CHAI, Alabaster DePlume, Augie March, GODTET, Kaki King, Pom Poko!

— —

:: stream/purchase Pink and Nervous here ::
:: connect with Sam Windley here ::



— — — —

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