My Weekend: If inspiration takes me I'll spend all of Sunday writing music

Cork musician Alex Sampson, involved in the Gym Jam fundraising event for the Palestine Community Gym project, on July 20, talks here about how he likes to spend his weekends.
My Weekend: If inspiration takes me I'll spend all of Sunday writing music
Alex Sampson

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

Hi, I’m Alex Sampson, I live here in the city but grew up in West Cork. I am a musician and play guitar and synth, and at the moment I am organising Gym Jam.

My involvement in Gym Jam came about through training at ACLAÍ, the gym that will host the event. One day, myself and Ainle (owner of ACLAÍ) were training when the topic of having a party in the gym came up and I looked around the room and was able to instantly visualise it. We decided it would be a great idea to have a party there as a fundraiser for anyone we knew who needed it and shortly after, one of the coaches at ACLAÍ ended up qualifying for the Wheelchair Rugby World Championships in Sydney and couldn’t get funding, so that was all we needed to get going. We put it all together and raised over €5,000 for him.

Alex Sampson
Alex Sampson

This year we are fundraising for the Palestine Community Gym project and have a goal of €30,000 to raise overall which we hope to make a sizeable dent in with the Gym Jam.

Ainle went to Palestine twice last year to run the half marathon and also to volunteer in the refugee camps in Bethlehem, mainly the Aida Refugee Camp. He forged some friendships with people in the camp and was shocked at the conditions that the residents there were subjected to due to the military occupation. They test new forms of tear gas in the refugee camp which obviously causes the residents great stress and health problems.

They are also stuck in a containment camp that was built in the 50s and has had little to no work done on it since so the facilities are inadequate in trying to achieve a standard level of health.

When he came back, he relayed what he had witnessed there and told me about a plan he had to build a gym in the small but vital community centre in the middle of the camp. I was inspired and we set about getting this project off the ground. For anyone interested, info on both the event and the project is on Facebook.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

Well as a musician I am always up for going to a show or some sort of entertainment, especially when I’m doing the entertaining. I am also more than happy to spend a night in with friends chatting and laughing. Friday usually involves some social activity as I love hanging out and meeting new people.

Lie ins or up with the lark... which is it for you?

Since being away a lot on tour and realising what a vital role sleep plays in life, I must say I am sleeping in a lot more these days and getting good rest. I am no stranger to early mornings either, but left to my own devices, I am definitely a snoozer.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

The weekend is when I work the most! It’s one of the few things that isn’t ideal about being a musician, but it does mean you get to go out almost every weekend.

If money was no object where would you go on a weekend city break? And who would you bring?

Hmmm... I’ve been fantasising about going to Havana, Cuba, for a while now, so I’m going to say there, with my beautiful girlfriend.

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

I love getting out of the city to West Cork. There are a few secret locations down there that are very therapeutic and great to unwind and reflect on life in peace and tranquility.

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

I do indeed. There’s a lot to be said for a few pints of Beamish with friends of a Saturday. It’s good for the soul.

Do you get to indulge in any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

I love to cook, and having worked away from home where there wasn’t the option to cook for quite a while, it is all the more satisfying to cook for myself and other people. I really enjoy experiencing different food from around the world and trying to recreate it. Other than that, I’m an avid MMA fan and enjoy keeping up to date with that sport.

Alex Sampson
Alex Sampson

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish?

Entertain! I am a bit of a show-off, so it’s in my nature to entertain people. Signature dish — I make a mean Thai red curry.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork — where are your go-to spots for coffee/ lunch/ special meal?

We are spoiled here in Cork! I spend a lot of time at SOMA on Tuckey St because I love their coffee and the vibe, but I love visiting all the speciality coffee bars in the city.

Rocketman and My Goodness get the lunch prize. I always feel amazing after I eat there and it’s down to their exceptional standards in sourcing quality local produce.

When I can, I’ll head to one of the farmers’ markets in the city and eat there as there are some incredible producers around the county.

For a special meal, I am huge fan of Iyers on Pope’s Quay. It’s humble, but for me, it’s just such a fantastic little hidden gem, and food you don’t find anywhere else. Everything is so fresh and flavourful and really well balanced. Fireworks for the palette!

Love me a Burnt pizza too! The chefs in there are unreal. There’s so many places to eat here, it’s great!

Sunday night comes around too fast... how do you normally spend it?

If the weekend’s going my way, usually recovering or watching a movie and trying not to do much. If inspiration takes me, I’ll spend all of Sunday writing music.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

Depending on my week, usually about 8.30 or 9am. This is rarely consistent though as my working week can fluctuate from being extremely busy to not at all.

ABOUT THE FUNDRAISER

In order to raise the much-needed funds for the Palestine Gym Project, Alex Sampson and Ainle Ó Cairealláin are hosting Gym Jam fundraiser, taking place from 2pm until late, Saturday, July 20, at ACLAÍ Gym, Crawford Business Park, Bishop Street, Cork city. There will be live music kicking off at 2pm from Moxie, Clare Sands, Elaine Malone, Nuadán, and very special secret guests, with DJs Stevie G and Lisa Oh spinning tunes in between.

As well as music, the event will also have activities for all ages until 7pm, including balloon shaping, tarot reading, and an indoor Palestinian pop-up market with beautiful goods imported directly from producers in the West Bank.

Tickets will also be available for the Gym Jam bumper raffle, the grand prize being a hand-made bike worth €700. Food and drinks will be available throughout the day. This is a family and pet-friendly event, all are welcome!

Day passes (€10) and night passes (€15) are available at uticket.ie, and also a limited number will be available on the door. For those unable to attend, you can support the cause on Gym Jam’s Gofundme page.

This event is family-friendly between 2pm and 7pm. Over 18s only after 8pm. All money raised will go directly to setting up the Palestine Community Gym at Aida Refugee Camp.

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