Samia: Virtual Session

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Samia joins The Current to play songs from her debut record, The Baby. (MPR)

SAMIA shares songs from her upcoming record, The Baby, and talks to Jade about recording in Minneapolis with members of Hippo Campus, getting over fears of being alone, and what it's like to release a debut record during a pandemic.


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

JADE: He it's Jade bringing you another one of The Current's virtual sessions and today we are joined by New York up and comer Samia. Samia thank you so much for making the time to come and chat with us. How are you doing today?

SAMIA: I'm doing well, thank you. Thanks for having me! I'm excited to be here.

Yeah, heck yeah. So we have some musical performances that you recorded earlier that we're going to be playing a little bit later, but you have this new album that's out it's called The Baby. You've released a couple of singles already prior to this album but I always feel like that debut album - it's a lot of pressure to show your entire self and who you are. How did you decide to approach this album - this collection of songs?

This is the first collection of songs or project that I've written with a thesis in mind. This is the first thing that I've written super intentionally for, and had an understanding of what I was trying to say. I think it's the most fun any writing process has been for me. I think before I started working on this album I was just like spewing content that I had been sitting on for a long time because I just wanted to get it out there and I wanted to have something to say for myself. Yeah, I think this is the only way I'm gonna want to do it from now on just because it was so fulfilling.

So what was the thesis that you were working on for this?

It started with just the general fear of being alone. And then I sort of learned with hindsight. Reflecting on what I had written it was more about accepting that I need people and that it's okay to not want to be alone. That there's less shame in that than maybe I thought. And there's something really beautiful about having a community of people who you can rely on.

Yeah the idea of being alone and loneliness - I think that's popped up a lot lately. Especially with the quarantine a lot of our connections are, you know, like this. As somebody who is, what you just said, being alone is kind of terrifying for you, how have you been doing with all of this?

Not super well emotionally.

Yeah.

I've learned so much about what I'm capable of. That I can survive being by myself. I just, I love my friends and I love the people that I, I just feel really lucky to have the people in my life that I do. It was certainly a painful adjustment to not have that community so accessible to me. It was nice to know that I wouldn't die if I didn't have access to it.

Facing your fears! That is pretty tough. Well, we're going to listen to some of your songs here and one of the first ones is a song that I relate to a lot because the album's titled The Baby - I'm the baby in my family. For me in my family I was the peacemaker and the "let's all get along" sort of person and I think that falls on to the longest a lot. I was wondering about this song, "Big Wheel", because it feels like it kind of deals with some of that just trying to keep the peace, not saying the things that maybe you should in the moment. Are you the baby, and do you feel that presence in the family lineup?

Yeah, The Baby came from never wanting my friends and family to leave a room so I would say, "Who's gonna watch the baby?" Every time they tried to leave the room, I was the baby in that context. That song came from my fear of confrontation and just always wanted everything to be ok and wanting to be able to enjoy every moment with people I love. Sacrificing a lot of the things that would probably be beneficial to say to those people for the sake of peace in that moment. That was the only way I could let those feelings out, was in the space of that song.

Well let's check it out. We'll chat some more in a moment but lets listen to "Big Wheel". This is from the new album The Baby, it's Samia with the virtual session here on The Current.

[Music: "Big Wheel" by Samia]

[Music: "Does Not Heal" by Samia]

That right there was "Does Not Heal" and this is a virtual session with Samia. Samia thank you so much for joining us. Do you feel, because so much of your music is very vulnerable, do you feel like there are any misconceptions that people have about you because of the songs that you've released?

Oh that's a really good question. I've gotten, "What you write is so empowering and so brave." I think people... I'm so grateful for that interpretation and that anyone resonates with the music in that way or feels empowered by what I'm saying. I just never feel, it never comes from a place of empowerment to me so I'm always kind of shocked hearing that, in a good way. I'm glad that it came across that way because it only ever comes from fear and desperation for me. That's a really positive misinterpretation of what I'm writing.

Yeah, I mean especially, like validation right? If you're writing songs where it's "these are my fears" and having people see it and get strength from that, what a wonderful thing.

Yeah, best case scenario.

Entirely. When you were growing up, I know you're in New York, you're surrounded by artists in your family and life in general. Was there an artist in particular that stands out that you saw performing live and you said, "That's what I should be doing"?

Yes. In high school, growing up I was obsessed with this Kitten and particularly their frontwoman Chloe Chaidez, who is a friend of mine now because I forced her to be, because I was obsessed with her. She's just the best, she's just the greatest performer still to this day that I've ever seen. It's because of how genuinely passionate she is and she's exciting to watch and she's all over the place because you can tell that she means it. She's so naturally and honestly expressing herself. The first time I saw them live I was like I will do anything I can to either know that person or do that thing. Either one will be fine.

This is kind of put up a hold on the live show experience, but do you enjoy bringing these songs to the live show? I know it can be kinda tricky when you have songs that are really personal and sharing them with a crowd. Is that part of the music making that you enjoy?

Yeah that's the best part of the whole thing for me. That's really why I wanted to start doing it and that was my first experience I had with music was just gigging as much as I could and trying to play in as many bands as I could. It's been difficult for me to find things within this career path that I enjoy as much as the performing aspect. It's been a good exercise in that kind of discovery but I really miss it so much.

If you could be back on any stage right now, which stage would it be? Is there a certain venue that kind of holds a certain special spot in your heart?

I think Rough Trade in Brooklyn was a really formative space for me. I would love to just be able to go back there and play one show. Or somewhere like Bowery Ballroom in New York, just places that I grew up going to that I was excited to play this album at but someday hopefully.

Someday soon! We'll keep our fingers crossed for that. I believe someday soon we'll be there again. And I have to do this because we're a radio station in Minnesota and we love a local angle on anything. You were on tour with Hippo Campus and on some of the songs, or perhaps all the songs, you have some production help from Jake and Nate from Hippo Campus so I want to say, have you ever been to Minnesota? What are your thoughts about Minnesota? And, let us know how you and the band got together, how they ended up being a part of your album.

Yeah I mean, I tracked the whole thing with them and they produced it. We met on tour. I opened for them on tour and we very quickly became close friends. It was just so easy to work with them and I felt so -- it was just a space that was conducive to honesty for me and creativity. They really helped me figure out what I wanted to say. I made the record in Minneapolis with them. So yeah, I've spent a lot of time in Minnesota.

Where were you in Minneapolis?!

Oh god, that's a hard question. Minneapolis. [laughs]

We can circle back to that later. Do you remember anything about Minneapolis? Any restaurants? Anything that sticks out?

So I'm trying to remember, the studio was here, and then there was a coffee shop and a pizza place across the street and that's it. That's the only thing that my mind can, yeah. I got nothing.

I know exactly where you're talking about. I picture it in my mind. Pizza place. Coffee shop. You guys know what she's talking about as well, don't lie. Well thank you so much for coming to Minnesota and I hope we can welcome you back sometime soon and we're gonna listen to one more song here, this one is called "Fit N Full", it's Samia for a live Current session.

[Music: "Fit N Full" by Samia]

And that one is called "Fit N Full," this is another one of our Current virtual sessions with Samia. Samia thank you so much for joining us and for bringing us these gorgeous renditions, live versions of your songs. And just out of curiosity where did you record these for us?

I recorded those at Red Convertible Studios in Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

The lighting is very moody. I loved it.

I love it there.

Yes, and thank you so much. Like I said, we are so happy to welcome you back any time when we can all travel freely and you can be in Minnesota again. We can all go to that pizza place next to the coffee shop and have a nice time. Thank you again and Samia has a new album, it's called The Baby. It is out now so you can pick it up if you are enjoying that. Thank you also to our technical producers Jesse and Derrick and thank you to our technical engineer Peter. And thank to you for watching and joining us for another Current virtual session and keep your eyes out for the next one at TheCurrent.org

SONGS PLAYED

05:00 Big Wheel
07:45 Does Not Heal
16:48 Fit N Full
All songs appear on Samia's debut 2020 record The Baby out now on Grand Jury.

CREDITS

Host: Jade
Producer: Jesse Wiza
Technical Director: Peter Ecklund

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