Brit rocker used webcam to broadcast live shows

sony/bmg photo


Sandi Thom plays the El Mocambo Saturday.

If you see Sandi Thom tomorrow at the El Mocambo, don’t forget to wish her a happy birthday. She turns 25 today.

Despite her age, the young Aberdeeen, Scotland native is taking her quick superstardom “in stride.” After webcasting live performances of a three-week gig from the basement of her London flat, Thom pulled in international audiences of 70,000 (so her record company claims) and the attention of RCA Label Group in the U.K. She was quickly signed to a five-album record deal.

“When you do something like that you don’t expect to get that sort of attention,” Thom says. “I wanted to build up a fan base, but I didn’t have a lot of money to travel from gig to gig … To my shock and awe there were so many people watching it.”

Of course, if she was broke, how did she get the money to broadcast on the web internationally? The British press, most notably the Independent and the Guardian, picked up on the controversy, disputing the truth of audience numbers and whether the too-good-to-be-true webcam broadcasts and public signing came from the singer-songwriter at all or if it was a publicity stunt by her PR flunkies. Thom asserts that it was her idea all along.

“I was doing a webcast venue in Edinburgh, and my mum was in Panama watching the show,” she says. “And I got the idea to do the webcam gigs from my basement … It’s a phenomenal thing and a great way of promoting gigs globally.”

No one, however, can argue Thom’s recent chart success. Her re-released single I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair) off of her album Smile … It Confuses People gets its North American release Sept. 12. The nostalgic waxing of the anti-establishment, technology free attitude of ’60s hippies, ’70s punks and the sense of face-to-face community bonding that came with it, hit no. 1 on the U.K. Download Chart, U.K. Singles Chart and Irish Single Chart.

“An observation that I’ve made, and not to say in a morbid way, but people take actual human communication for granted nowadays,” she says. “Hippies were a great example of passion. People had to come together to enforce their beliefs.”

Ironic, given the circumstances of her success.