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Backstage at BST: Sam Ryder on meeting Princess Kate, cracking America and his girlfriend Lois

The British star shot to fame on Eurovision and supported P!nk and Gwen Stefani at American Express presents British Summer Time Hyde Park

Sam Ryder performs at the Isle Of Wight Festival
Sophie Hamilton
Parenting Editor
28 June 2023
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Sam Ryder just radiates joy, so when HELLO! was offered the chance to chat to the star at American Express presents British Summer Time Hyde Park, it was a huge yes. Sam brings such happiness to the stage with his powerful voice and love of music.

So I was more than just a little excited to meet the guy who shot to fame on Eurovision 2022 with his epic hit Space Man and closed the BRITs belting out club classic Blue with David Guetta.

WATCH: P!nk's daughter Willow sings at BST Hyde Park in heartwarming moment

Meeting Sam Ryder at BST

"Sam's ready for you," says his rep and I'm led down various secret backstage pathways, through the VIP bar for artists and into the private trailer area. As I wait for Sam (who I'm told likes to wander off) in a seating area outside his trailer, his team come to say hello – and yes, they are just as nice as he is.

It's a boiling hot day in London and soon the man himself appears looking super chilled in his pink shades, a Birkenstock clog and sock combo that he totally pulled off, and that famous long blonde hair. It feels like I'm meeting a mate as he gives me a fist bump and hug.

Sam is supporting pop legends Gwen Stefani and P!nk and he can't wait. "It's going to be so cool," he tells me. "It just feels like a massive deal, you know. We've even got our own RV, so it definitely feels like we've made a step up in terms of the backstage adventures of this project."

Has he ever had an RV before? "Never. This is the first time. It’s air conditioned so it's ruining my voice but I'm still sitting in there and I'm absorbing it."

Sam Ryder by his dressing room at BST
Sam Ryder by his dressing room at BST

Supporting P!nk and Gwen Stefani

I ask if he's ever met Gwen or P!nk, to which he replies: "No. I don't know if I'll get to meet them. They're so busy backstage, their shows are so massive, the production of them. The zone and the mentality that they have to get into before the show… The last thing they want is people coming backstage and saying hi. Not that I'm too proud to try, so I'll let you know. I'd love to just say hello because P!nk's a big inspiration."

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Like us, Sam has watched P!nk perform since he was young and her longevity is something he aspires to.

"I remember when I was a kid seeing her doing an interview on The Box," he recalls. "It was her first single that was going big. She was doing an interview and the question was alluding she might just be here for the one song. She had great vigour and determination when she was saying, 'I'm going to be here for a long time, I'll be a career artist and you'll be hearing from me in years and years to come,' and she was right. I loved that strength of personality. I'd love to have a career that spans the level of P!nk. I find that inspiring."

He says it's all down to the fans: "If you do manage to do that, it will be down to the fans that have supported and have been there since the beginning. The whole thing is about serving them, whatever journey they're on and trying to connect – even though you don't know each other. That's the job of a musician."

MORE:  Pink's daughter Willow steals the show as she performs alongside famous mum - watch clip 

How Sam Ryder started in the music industry

Sam first gained notoriety during the COVID pandemic after posting music covers on TikTok. He came second in the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest (impressive given the UK's track record) and his song Space Man reached number two in the UK singles chart. His debut album There's Nothing but Space Man! topped the UK albums chart.

In June 2022 the singer wowed us all by performing the hit at the late Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee concert. Did he meet any of the royal family?

"Yes, I met [Princess] Kate and we were chatting about the diamonds on my suit. I say diamonds… plastic shards that were coming off and littering their lovely carpet. But they were wicked, really lovely people and just super encouraging and would give you the time of day."

Sam Ryder performs during the Platinum Party At The Palace at Buckingham Palace© WPA Pool
Sam Ryder performs during the Platinum Party At The Palace at Buckingham Palace

Did he ever envisage he would see the success he has now?

"Not at all," he admits. "I started off years ago. I was essentially 16 years old really when I started playing in gigs, at 14 even. I still had the same dream – I just never gave up. I was too stubborn! Like P!nk, just not successful at that time," he laughs.

"I think that's the spark you've got to have if you're doing this stuff. You can't entertain the notion of giving up, ever. You've got to keep on going."

Sam Ryder's career highlight

As to his career highlights so far, Sam reveals: "I think getting to honour the life of Taylor Hawkins alongside Queen was definitely up there. It was a big moment, people coming together through music.

"There aren't many people like Taylor out there, I don't think. Surely, we'll never see his like for a long time, but when we do it will be because of him – and isn't that cool. He was like an animal but in human form, just smiling and going nuts, and that’s what draws young kids into learning those instruments, seeing someone enjoy it."

That's exactly why we all love Sam; he looks like he's having the time of his life on stage. The joy just shines through him. Is he always so cheerful and positive?

eurovision sam ryder breaks silence after epic win© Photo: Getty Images
Sam Ryder was supporting P!nk and Gwen Stefani

Sam explains: "It's not necessarily positivity, it's more enthusiasm. I'm always enthusiastic; I'm definitely not always positive. There's always challenges. Even the other weekend, we played at the Isle of Wight Festival and everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

"But I remember standing on that stage, in that moment and seeing loads of people who'd come to see the show and given us their time, you have a choice: you either let it affect you and you kind of get grumpy or bolshy and angry at the situation, which is very easy to do when everything seems to be going against you.

"But then I had this thought… even with all these problems, I couldn't have dreamt of being here a couple of years ago, on this main stage with these people.

"There were 50,000 people. So, it's about being grateful. In my head I was thinking, 'Thank you thank you thank you', because every single thing that went wrong was an opportunity for us to just smash it to smithereens and just keep the show going. It is a choice. Positivity is a choice most of the time."

Sam Ryder's love life

In his personal life, Sam is in a long-term relationship with fellow creative Lois Gaskin-Barber, who he previously ran a juice bar with in Essex. The couple have been together for 12 years. I ask if Lois is here with him at BST?

Lois Gaskin-Barber and Sam Ryder attend the Warner Music and Ciroc Brit Awards Party © Getty
Sam Ryder and his girlfriend Lois Gaskin-Barber

"Yes, she's here today supporting. I don't feel like I could do it without that support."

He adds: "It's good to have someone with you because we both know how this started, and it was not this glitzy. It certainly was leagues below this situation that we find ourselves in now, so it's reminding yourself of that, coming back to gratitude.

"It's good to have a partner to do that with, to hold yourself accountable, with life rapidly changing and not getting swept up in changes."

His family must be proud of his achievements, too. "Yeah, they're stoked," he beams. "They're great as well. It's just lovely having that support and reminding yourself that it's through you, not of you. You don't take ownership of all these blessings that are coming – they're just something to be thankful for."

HELLO!'s Sophie Hamilton meets Sam Ryder
HELLO!'s Sophie Hamilton meets Sam Ryder

Future plans for Sam Ryder

Sam has recently duetted with Take That's Gary Barlow and actress and singer Rita Wilson (wife of Tom Hanks), so who is next on his wish list?

Of course, it's: "P!nk, and Gwen. I'd love to sing with them." How about Kylie? We'd love to see them bringing sunshine to the stage. "Yeah, that would be fun," he agrees.

Glastonbury 2024 is also on his radar: "Next year hopefully!" he reveals. "I'm going to keep my fingers crossed, keep doing the work… hopefully you build it, and they will come. I'd [also] love to do some voice acting in a movie. I'd love to do a Bond theme. There are so many things I'd love to achieve and experience."

Things are starting to take off for Sam in the US as well – he had his debut TV performance there in June on CBS. Can he see himself moving there?

Sam muses: "We're thankfully having a bit of a moment in the US at the moment – it's very difficult for that to happen – so fingers crossed that continues.

"I'm going to work incredibly hard to ensure it, and just go there and sing for the love of it. I just love coming home; I love the UK. I love dotting around, walking, and going surfing, but the UK is magic. It's where the whole thing started for me."

As we wrap up our interview, I ask Sam if he'll sign his autograph for my 10-year-old daughter who is a big fan. "Of course!" he enthuses. He really is the nicest person in showbiz.

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