INTERVIEW: Samia talks touring year round
I always appreciate it when I’m able to sit down with a fellow woman in an interview situation. In a sea of guys in skinny jeans and primped hair, it’s refreshing to see women onstage. In the past few weeks, there has been a steady stream of women who are the stars of the show; be it Scottish star Nina Nesbitt to the sultry smoky-voiced Machineheart to NYC’s Samia who initially caught my eye when out opening for fellow New Yorkers Active Bird Community when at the Great Scott in Allston.
This time around though, Samia was in the early stages of opening for Donna Missal, in a more stripped down set which Samia said just made it that more vulnerable. If she genuinely feels vulnerable on stage, it doesn’t show. From her electric cover of ‘My Sharona’ at the end of the set to her seemingly effortless conversation with the crowd in between songs, Samia is incredibly likable live and connected with the crowd. Considering she was opening for quite a spectacle of a show, she still made the room her own for that opening slot.
In our chat, we talked about mastering the art of being the opener as well as musically this new era to come for her.
You’re opening for Donna, a fellow woman on tour who’s also starting to get some traction. How have these first dates been?
It’s been good! I was really nervous at first because this is definitely the most professional, high stakes tour I’ve been part of. But it’s really exciting, and the bus is very cool. And Donna has been so patient and kind with us. Her show is very inspiring. It’s been great!
It must be nice to not be in a van for a tour, huh?
No it is, but it was fun in the van because we were with our friends (Active Bird Community, who Samia toured with previously). If it were any other band, it would have been stuffy and not as good as that was. But yeah it’s been definitely easier to travel.
Speaking of this tour, you did release the two song EP “Lasting Friend / Paris” but before that, there wasn’t too much of your music out. How have you been putting together these sets? I know it’s the opening spot, so you’re not going up there and playing twenty songs.
Yeah, we have thirty minutes. It’s a duo set which is different from what we’re used to which is a four-piece band. We tried to play with the band this run as much as we can, but it’s harder financially to get them all out here. So we’ve just been honestly experimenting with this duo thing, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Especially with Donna’s shows being such a big, incredible production. So we’ve been trying to balance the raw, intimate thing with that but the audiences have been so nice to us and receptive to that. I’ve definitely been playing ‘Lasting Friend’ every night and trying to gauge audience response to that.
And fans have been responsive?
Yeah! It’s fun for us to play. I’m glad it’s out.
Then when it comes to music, you’re still so young, but you’ve been so active lately. You had the tour with Active Bird Community; you have the tour with Hippo Campus coming up, you’re on this one with Donna. Must be exciting but I also feel like it must be nerve-wracking too, no?
It is, it is! Right now, we’re doing a particularly vulnerable thing up there with the sound, just the two guitars. It’s nerve-wracking and I never really know how it’s going to be perceived, but it’s been good so far. We get to go full band for Hippo Campus; I’m stoked, so excited.
Hippo Campus is still relatively young too. Speaking of that, you’re starting to see all these artists doing really well at such young ages. When did you get your start playing music?
I think when I was twelve I started taking it seriously. Which you know it’s kind of impossible to take anything seriously at twelve, but when I moved to New York, I was fifteen and started playing open mic nights and little shows whenever they would let me. I think that’s probably when I started to foresee myself doing this for a long time. And my family’s in entertainment too, so it was always a natural inclination. As long as I can remember I guess but I grew up around a lot of people who were doing it from a long age. I went to school in particular for kids who were doing it, so I think I always had this weird complex about having to have made it by some age — having some ridiculous expectation. It’s always good to remember that, that you have your whole life to do what you want to do.
Perfect, then in addition to the “Lasting Friend” release and other songs, I don’t believe that there has been a full album yet. So maybe with “Lasting Friend” in particular, was that an older song? What’s the story behind that song?
So I was trying to put together an EP, and I was still in a position where I was pulling from a bunch of different sources and working with different producers and trying to find my sound. Really the way I wanted to move forward. So, ‘Lasting Friend’, was a new song and ‘Paris’ was an old song. They were sort of the last two that I wanted to get out before I started working on this album. Like intentionally and with a thesis in mind. So now that those are out, we have one more older song coming out, and then I’m done with the old stuff. And hopefully, the album will be out by winter, if I can finish it by then. But that’s the plan!
Well, they say the first album takes years because you want to make sure everything’s perfect.
Exactly, no seriously.
Well then maybe for the writing process for you, do you feel it changes every time or do you kind of go in with a set process in mind?
It’s hard for me to sit down and write out of the blue. Sitting down to write because I want to write a song is a lot harder than being inspired and having to sit down and write a song. And so I don’t do very well co-writing, but I’m still trying. Most of this album, I’ll be writing myself because it’s the easiest way for me to do that. But I’m excited to work with other people. Just the prospect of that is always exciting.
Is there someone for you that may be would be a goal? Doesn’t have to be someone insanely famous or anything. Just maybe on a personal level, like a band you admire or another artist?
Father John Misty is my favorite songwriter of all time. That would be the best day of my life. Writing with him, it would be so cool. I don’t think I would do a good job though because I would be so nervous.
You still have quite aways to go on this tour; I think you’re only about seven or eight shows in. And you’re going out with Hippo Campus, so you’re going to have a hectic few months. You talked about the album, that’s a focus or a goal for you, but maybe just over these next few months focuses or goals? It’s probably not the easiest thing to write while you’re on tour and you have a lot of that coming up.
Yeah! I’ve been taking inspiration from little things, writing little things down which is going to be helpful for the writing process. When I have time to really get into it but I’m mostly just trying to figure out and navigate doing this every night. It’s difficult to be so vulnerable up there and trying to find a way to have a consistent routine and schedule. The process of touring is so daunting and tricky. So hopefully by the end of this, I’ll have mastered at least opening.
And that’s what you should focus on right now. Everyone was the opener at one point. You have to master the opening before you’re up there for a vulnerable ninety minutes.
Yeah, there for fans who have paid to see you. I’m sure it’s a lot of pressure.
Featured Image by Aria Herbst