Live dancing excerpt

Future Islands

Images and Interview by Shaughn Crawford


“What do you think is the meaning of the name Future Islands?”

Ryan C“You're lost and looking for a new place to call home.” — Ryan C

Shaughn Crawford
Born in Oregon, Shaughn Crawford is a LA-based photographer who studied at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Shaughn’s work can be seen in several notable publications including Rolling Stone, GQ, and SF Magazine. He maintains his work in advertisements, album artwork, music videos, editorials and documentary projects – explore it here.

Future Islands
Formed in 2006 in Greenville, NC, Future Islands is a three-piece synthpop group now based in Baltimore, Maryland. The band is comprised of Gerrot Welmers, William Cashion, and Samuel Herring, and has released four albums as well as numerous EP’s and singles. Their most recent album, Singles (2014) found them catapulted to fame after an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman – an ensuing viral video featured lead singer Sam Haskell’s impressive dance moves and has received over two million views.

Each year a group of friends and I retreat to Indio, CA for Coachella. While perusing the merchandise, my buddy bought a Future Islands t-shirt despite not having heard any of their music. The following day, he dragged us across the hot desert field, “I bought the shirt so we have to go see them.” As we entered the pitch-black tent, a raspy-voiced Sam Herring strutted, shimmied and got down all across the stage, looking almost possessed by the music. I couldn’t tear my eyes away.

Future Islands is a synth pop band from Baltimore, MD. They have been making music together for about 11 years, but only recently began creeping into the mainstream with their new album Singles. While fans love the band for their nostalgic sounds and all-too-relatable stories, it is lead singer Sam who garnered all the buzz. Sam’s dance moves catapulted FI to the next level when they performed on David Letterman – the video has received over two million views to date.

You have to see Sam dance to understand the hypnotic magic it had on me that Coachella day, and now on the internet at large. I recently got a couple minutes to take the band’s photos before their set at LA’s FYF. But instead of interviewing Future Islands, I decided to interview their fans. I wanted to try to understand – between Sam’s captivating presence, his strange soulful delivery, and the band’s textured, honest pop – what it is that makes them so enigmatic. The crowd did not disappoint.

Who would win in a dance contest? Sam or Justin Timberlake?

26 of 30: Sam Herring

If Sam Herring wasn’t the lead signer of Future Islands what would you see him doing?

The majority of fans said he would be a dancer or performer.
Darren N: He would be the guy singing “Monster Mash.”
Rachel Y: Something physical, like a logger chopping down trees.

What is your favorite Future Islands song and why?

Jackie S: “Heart Grows Old” – because it’s an old song and the first one that I fell in love with.
Michelle K: “Tin Man” – I like to get weird to that song.

What’s your favorite thing to do when listening to Future Islands?

Most like to sing their hearts out and dance.
Lisa W said she likes to paint.

If there was a movie about Future Islands who would play Sam Herring, the lead singer.

Ryatt C: Matt Damon
Rachel Y: A young Marlon Brando
Saira C: Kevin Spacey

Who would you like to see FI collaborate with as a side project?

Ethan: I just like them doing their own thing.
Michael: Talking Heads

If you could ask FI any question what would it be?

Emily: I would ask Sam why he is so obsessed with the moon.
Aaron S: How would they define their style of music.

What do you think is the meaning of the name Future Islands?

James: It’s deep… we all try to relate to others, but at the end of the day we are all really alone.
Ryatt C: You’re lost and looking for a new place to call home.

Do you secretly practice Sam’s dance moves in your living room?

30 out of 30: YES!!!
Carly N: added that she likes to dance in less clothes than she would like to admit.

“I want Sam to
read me a
bedtime story.”
— Ethan

Do you remember what you were doing when you first heard FI?

Michael: I was at work when someone sent me the David Letterman video. I immediately downloaded it and watched it over and over again.
Carly N: I was in therapy… My therapist and I talked a lot about music and he introduced me to “Tin Man” which really spoke to me.

In one word, describe how FI makes you feel.

Emily: Effervescent
Lisa: Sexy
Jeremy: Eclectic

Do you have a FI fantasy – what is it?

Jackie S: To play a show at my birthday party.
Ethan: I would want Sam to read me a bedtime story.

Where would be the ultimate place to see a Future Islands concert?

Several people: Red Rocks.
Christian R: In my living room
James: at the top of Mount Baldy
Michael: The moon

What brand do you think should associate with Future Islands?

A large majority of people were adamant that Future Islands should not work with any brand, but one person had an idea…
Christian R: Sam should remake those old Apple commercials with the colorful silhouettes dancing.

Can you name all three members of the band?

30 of 30: could not.

In a hypothetical world, if two people had Sam Herring as a baby who would these two people be? (Doesn’t have to be guy and girl)

Most popular: Morrisey and someone else – including Iggy Pop, John C Riley, Henry Rollins and the Hamburglar.
Coco: Marlon Brando and Christopher Walken
Lisa: James Hetfield and Dave Mathews
Darren N: Elvis and Johnny Cash

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