I got a chance to chat with an up-and-coming rad singer/songwriter, Sam Himself. He’s an alternative roll n roller whose unique sound carries a vintage feel. His independent, quirky personality not only makes him stand out in the crowd from other artists in the industry, but his independent style shows in his lyrical tunes.
TYF: For our readers who haven’t listened to your music yet, how would you describe your sound?
Sam Himself: The sound of a non-American obsessed with American music. That’s what I came here for; that’s the description I feel most comfortable with. If that sounds broad – it is. I like to keep my options open. Case in point: listen to my new single and then put on my first EP.
TYF: What got you into music?
Sam: I don’t remember not being into music. I was a loud child, still am, never not making noise. The band that made me want to start my own was Nirvana. I was eleven years old and my older cousin showed me one of their videos. Then I got the live record, From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, and that was that.
TYF: In 2017, you released your debut EP titled “Songs in D.” How did you come up with the title of the EP and what was your writing process like when you were putting it together?
Sam: My voice is pretty low so I tend to tune my guitar a whole step down to D (standard tuning is in E). Most of the songs on my debut are written in that key, which also happens to be the first initial of the two people I wrote the record about. I lost them both and that wasn’t an easy time for me. Hence why those songs are so heavy and subdued. Writing them helped.
TYF: What inspired you to write “Nobody”?
Sam: Moving to New York and becoming part of the music community here. The Swiss scene I left was a pretty safe affair in comparison. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t exactly prepared for New York. Like, you’re a musician? Great, get in line.
TYF: I read that “Nobody” was heavily inspired by your move to New York City. Why did you decide to move to New York City?
Sam: I followed the music. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do what I wanted to do where I grew up. I wanted to be around people who’d inspire me and scare me out of my comfort zone and help me grow. Also, it’s New York City.
TYF: Have your feelings changed about the city since writing the song?
Sam: Yes and no. It can be hard to live here, and the day you think you figured it out is probably the day you should move to LA. But New York is my home now. I’ve never felt like I belonged somewhere as much as I do here.
TYF: Describe New York City’s music scene in 5 words.
Sam: Generally a pretty good time.
TYF: Let’s take a second to chat about the music video for the song. What was the creative thought process behind it?
Sam: The song is about trying to fit in and failing, so I wanted the video to get that idea across in a funny way that involved wigs. I had the basic plot down (I’m trying to join a band; the band is not into it), and my director Jonathan Frey helped me figure out the rest. I wanted the video to stay true to the general theme of the song and be as ridiculous as I could get away with.
TYF: What was it like getting to work with director Jonathan Frey on the music video?
Sam: Jonathan’s the best. He’s more than a director, he’s a DP, an ace with the camera, and a real asset in every part of the creative process. He’s also a recovering standup comedian, so he knows a thing or two about letting your pants down.
TYF: What would you say is the overall message that you want fans to take away after they listen to your track, “Nobody”?
Sam: Don’t wait for anyone’s approval or permission to create what you want. If you don’t believe in it first, no one else will. Accept and embrace being a nobody, it’s par for the course. That’s how this thing works: you’re a joke until you’re not.
TYF: I saw that you recently performed at SXSW. What was that experience like?
Sam: Very inspiring. Seeing 20 shows a day, cramming into this weird lovely town with a million other musicians, sleeping on a ratty air mattress for two hours and then diving back into the chaos – I loved every second of it.
TYF: Do you have, any past shows, in your mind that have been some of your favorites?
Sam: In Austin, I saw this British band Shame, and they blew me away. Their set was a slap in the face. No laptops, no backing tracks, just loud, dirty, and impossible to stand still to. The crowd was like, oh, right. A rock band. Also, Nick Cave on his most recent tour in New York. One the best shows I’ve seen in my life. No words.
TYF: In your opinion, what makes an awesome show/concert? Both in the perspective as the musical act and also as a concert goer.
Sam: As a performer, I’m a firm believer in earning your keep. You can’t take a single person in that room for granted. They’re there for you, so go out there and work for them. The last thing I want to see at a show is someone who’s too blasé to accept that basic contract with their audience. I get that it can be awkward and terrifying to go onstage, but unless you’re Lou Reed, you better humble yourself and whatever you do, just try.
TYF: What’s your favorite part about playing at a live show?
Sam: There are many things I love about playing live. You really get to know your own songs, what makes them work, which parts people respond to, I love getting that direct feedback. And connecting with a new audience, really being there with them without thinking about what you’re doing – that’s hard to describe without sounding tacky. It’s sort of like falling in love.
TYF: Lastly, have any upcoming shows or new singles we could look forward to?
Sam: I just put out a new single, “Heartphones.” It’s the second release off my upcoming EP, which we’re putting out on April 20th. Can’t wait!
To check out Sam’s music in-person, check out he has an upcoming show @ Elsewhere in Brooklyn on May 28. But if you can’t make the show, you can check out this press release on his rad music.