With his latest EP, From My Sleeve To The World, having been streamed 2.5 million times in the first three weeks, and his current tour selling out dates all over the country, Sam Tompkins is in the ascendency.

When we speak the 22-year-old musician and Brighton resident is heading from London to Manchester on the way to his sold-out show but it’s clear he can’t wait to return South for his appearance at Brighton Patterns.

“I was born in Brighton, grew up in Eastbourne, and then I’ve ventured back to living in Brighton,” he says.

“I much prefer it to anywhere else.”

It is on the streets of Brighton that Sam’s talents first became apparent, as crowds of increasing size were drawn to hear him play all over the city. Sam remembers the time fondly.

“I used to busk on Bond Street and Ship Street with my pal Ren.

“I grew up busking in the lanes, opposite Komedia, outside the Vegetarian Shoe Shop. And now I’ve somehow made it to touring around the country in an overpriced van,” he laughs.

This tour has been to promote Sam’s new EP, From My Sleeve To The World, which was released in October of this year on new label, Island Records.

“I’ve always been the kind of person who wears their heart on their sleeve,” says Sam.

“I think the idea is to take your heart from your sleeve and give it to the world.

“That’s what music is like – cutting a little portion of yourself off and giving it to someone.”

Sam was scheduled to follow his own tour by supporting British musician Maverick Sabre on the British leg of his international tour but has been forced to pull out due to ill health.

He tweeted his apologies, saying that his voice “just isn’t up to scratch” at the moment, he was “really struggling on the final leg of [his] own tour” and he “didn’t want to give people a poor show.”

This is further evidence of Sam’s close relationship with his fans, many of who have supported him since those early days when busking and uploading covers of famous songs were the most exposure the young musician had.

In January 2017, 19-year-old Sam Tompkins won MTV’s Cover of the Month competition with his version of the song I Got You by American songwriter Bebe Rexha.

Rexha praised him for “singing the song his own way” and “putting his own stamp on it.”

In July 2019, Sam stepped in when a couple’s wedding band were late to turn up to a reception at Fabrica Gallery on Duke Street.

Sam was busking outside the gallery at the time and told the couple that he had a song called You’re The Love Of My Life, which he had always wanted to play at a wedding.

The couple had their first dance in Bond Street while Sam sang.

It is clear that growing up and remaining in Brighton has been a significant influence on his work.

“When I think of Brighton I think of place that is completely comfortable in itself, and everyone in it is equally open about how they feel,” he says enthusiastically.

“That’s how I want to portray myself as an artist, someone that talks about what really matters.”

Specifically, Sam may be referring to mental health.

The theme runs through his recent work, which deals with suicide, online bullying and failed relationships.

The music video for Faded, Sam’s latest single which features British rapper Jaykae, shows Sam hallucinating in a corner shop and having to overcome a number of amusing situations while making his way around the shop.

The song has gained Sam support from BBC Radio 1Xtra and has seen him featured on Apple’s New Artist of the Week – a sign he is making progress in bringing the issue into the wider public eye.

Sam says that writing about mental health and singing about it every night had been “emotionally exhausting” but that this is a small price to pay to shed a light on the issue that is now the biggest killer of men in the UK under 45.

“I’ve spoken to people after shows and stuff, especially this week, and they’ve said ‘your music has saved my life’.

“I think the very idea that music can do that for a person is pretty powerful, I think I just want to continue doing that on the off chance that it makes someone’s day a little more worthwhile.”

But what effect has speaking so openly about such a significant issue had on Sam’s own mental health?

“I’ve found writing and singing about it so much has been quite strenuous, emotionally exhausting, but I do think it’s worth it and I think it’s just one of those things that I’ve got to acclimatise myself to,” he says.

Prominent musicians such as James Blake and Mac Demarco have spoken recently about the negative impact that touring can have on the mental health of musicians.

Sam acknowledges this, but it’s clear he still views the whole experience positively.

A tweet from the young musician following his Brighton show read: “Even if my life crumbles after this and my career never fully takes off, just know this week was more than enough,”

“Touring is such an experience,” he says now. It’s shown me how much I just really love performing. That’s probably my favourite element of what I do, performing.

“That and sharing conversation with new people after the show.”

It seems that he is particularly looking forward to performing in his own home city.

“I love playing in Brighton, the people are just a different calibre of person to anywhere else in the country,” he says.

“You couldn’t find a Brightonian anywhere else.

“The people of Brighton are the innovators in my opinion. They’re forward thinking, they think for 20 years on, not just right now.”

As a Brighton man himself, Sam Tompkins must be looking forward then. What’s next for the young star? Can we expect to see a full-length album soon?

“Next year I’m going to write a bunch of stuff and hopefully get a couple of projects out,” he says.

“I’m not sure I’m ready for an album yet. We’ll see.

“I’ve got enough music for an album but I’m not sure whether I’m ready to release that music yet. It’s hard to say.

“I think I’ll know when I’m in album mode, and right now I’m not in album mode.”