Samia: Honey Tour
with Tommy Lefroy and WHY NOT at First Avenue in Minneapolis on Saturday, Feb. 18.
Doors 6 p.m. | Show 6:45 p.m. | All Ages
There’s a line on Honey, the latest album from Nashville-via-NYC songwriter Samia, about Aspen Grove, a collection of 40,000 trees in the plains of North America, all connected by a single expansive root system. There’s no stronger metaphor for the audience the 25-year-old empathy engine has been generating since she began releasing music seven years ago. Her songs, her fans, her friends: one enormous, interconnected ecosystem.
Honey, comprised of eleven new moments of catharsis, is by and for that organism. Set for release on January 23, 2023 via Grand Jury Music, the album was recorded at North Carolina studio Betty’s – owned and operated by Sylvan Esso’s Nick Sandborn and Amelia Meath. It was produced by Caleb Wright, part of the team that helmed Samia’s breakthrough 2020 debut, The Baby, and a founding member of one of Samia’s favorite bands, The Happy Children. It features some of her nearest and dearest friends: Christian Lee Hutson, Briston Maroney, Jake Luppen, Raffaella. Its songs were surreptitiously road tested for her devotees while opening for Lucy Dacus, Courtney Barnett, and more.
The end result is what Samia calls simply “a real community record.”
“We tried to be as honest as possible and keep the songs as raw as possible,” Samia said. “We talked a lot about zooming out and zooming in, giving a lot of weight to the small moments and considering them as part of a big picture, how they factor into everything else that's happening in the world.”
Rebellious candour, existentialism, and friendship are at the crux of what drives and motivates songwriter, producer and artist duo Wynter Bethel and Tessa Mouzourakis. How the band came to be was a series of sliding doors moments and necessity, with both women 5000 miles apart during the pandemic and having their hearts broken, again and again. Bonding over literature and lyrical precision, the name Tommy Lefroy was born out of Jane Austen’s real life Mr Darcy - the original 19th-century fuckboy Thomas Langlois Lefroy - a man who broke the author's heart. The penny dropped when Tessa and Wynter thought: why can’t we be the strong female lead, and challenge literature’s traditional role of the male character: the heartbreaker? From meeting in Nashville in 2018 to continually crossing paths at house parties, when Tessa went to see Phoebe Bridgers’ supergroup Boy Genius play in her hometown Vancouver, she watched in awe and thought: “I want this, I can do this.” She posted a cover of their song “Ketchum, ID” on her Instagram story and Wynter responded: “Can we start a band?”. Both strong and “laughably existential” female characters in their own lives, and together, a musical powerhouse with an enduring soul connection, Tommy Lefroy moved to London and released their first single “Northern Towns” in 2021, followed by highly praised debut EP, Flight Risk.
Connecting with young female fans through perseverance, honesty, and lyrics that move you, make you cry and make you angry, the best friends have already won fans at NME, Apple, and now have over 1 Million monthly listeners on Spotify. But seeing the tangible effect their music has had on fans this summer at live shows has blown Wynter and Tessa away, for a project that started over Zoom in a dark time when collective effervescence was taken away. With queues around the block for their performance at The Great Escape, Tommy Lefroy played their second London headline to a sold-out Lexington last month, with fans singing back every lyric from Flight Risk, and are set to perform at U.K. festivals this summer, including Barn On The Farm, Kendal Calling and Secret Garden Party.
Built as an anchor to get them through the uncertainty of 2020, the project has felt like an act of rebellion, against the constraints and expectations they had of themselves, derived from societal expectations of what it means to be a woman, especially in music. Capturing care-not independence in their lyrics and a do-all approach to their creative process they find inspiration from unapologetic female storytellers like poet, Anne Carson, as well as Joni Mithcell, Patti Smith, and Phoebe Bridgers, and creative contemporaries Sharon Van Etten, Samia, and Haim. As multi-intrumentalists and producers, they excel in sonically experimenting with the details of the world around them - from samples of the tube in their new home city of London, to friends mid-laughter and clinking glasses around the kitchen table.
Uncompromising, beautifully honest, and refreshingly themselves, Tommy Lefroy is a perceptive voice for the malaise of modern living and an inspiration for the confident recklessness that comes with being a storyteller. The stories, written for each other, for their friends, and for the lovers who left, detail the storms of tearaway youth, stumbling in and out of love, and finding humour along the way.
WHY NOT is the Minneapolis trio's self-titled mission statement. Fueled by the tension and uncertainty of the time and the changes in the band's personal lives -- from graduating high school and moving out of their childhood homes to growing into and out of long-term relationships -- and colored by the joy of creating with each other and feeling inspiration in dark times.
Henry Breen, Isaac Dell, and Joshua MacGregor met playing in a middle school music class at Great River School in St. Paul, Minn. The trio formed WHY NOT in early 2016 as Breen and MacGregor enrolled in high school at nearby St Paul Conservatory of Performing Artists while Dell continued at Great River. Before any band member could drive, they had released their first album and booked their first tour — relying on Isaac's dad, Irve, for transportation to their shows.
Now based in Minneapolis, the band have pivoted from their math rock and punk beginnings, incorporating more of their wide variety of musical influences and showcasing their burgeoning songcraft. The result is an amalgamation of punching drums, intricate guitars, digital distortion, and whatever experimental recording technique the band uncovers all built around an incredibly memorable suite of songs.
WHY NOT was born on retreats to Dell's family farm in Viroqua, Wis. Holed up with no cell service, the band spent most of their days set up in the living room, demoing songs, reading books, and taking walks around the property. When an idea would hit, they would chase the initial feeling, sometimes going through dozens of evolutions, building the original core demos into the album in its final form over time.
The band enlisted Minneapolis producer and brother of MacGregor, Caleb Hinz (Hippo Campus, Samia, Miloe), to produce WHY NOT, booking their first session at Flowers studio in Minneapolis at the end of summer 2020. The group confesses they didn't end up recording much during those sessions, instead using their time together to reconnect and get the human connection they were all desperately searching for throughout that summer. After six months had passed, the group reconvened at Hippo Campus' recording studio and finished the tracking over the course of the next couple of weeks. The result is a virtuosic, genre-fluid statement from a young band just beginning to harness the heights of their craft.