Samia: Striking a Chord in the Indie Music Scene by Robby Wong
It’s late December in Los Angeles and it feels like it. Winter has felt colder than usual, but on this particular day, Samia served as a ray of sunshine. During the 5 hour photoshoot we had with her, she was as calm and cool as a cucumber, effortlessly transitioning through six different looks amidst the bustling and fashionable chaos of set changes. Besides looking stunning in every look we put in her, she also happens to be an extremely talented artist.
Amidst the cacophony of aspiring voices, the 27-year-old indie-pop sensation’s resonates with a distinct clarity. Her recent accolade, having ‘Charm You’ listed in Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Songs of 2023, is a testament to her growing influence in the music world.
“I was in a U-Haul with my boyfriend and our dog when I found out,” Samia recalls, her voice tinged with disbelief and gratitude. “I stared at my phone for a long time in disbelief.”
This reflective, introspective nature is a hallmark of Samia’s approach to music and life. From her early days, drawn to the emotive narratives of Sondheim, through her teenage years resonating with the raw energy of Nirvana, to her college days deconstructing Father John Misty’s lyrics, and now to her fondness for Mitski and Fiona Apple, Samia’s journey has been as eclectic as her musical taste.
Samia got into music at a young age, singing as soon as she had the ability to form words. “I learned to sing as a baby and did it constantly.” she laughs. As she got older, other influences helped to shape her passion for all things musical, in particular, a 6th grade teacher who nurtured her love for poetry and a cooler, older friend that helped to refine her music taste.
Her approach to songwriting is unique in the way she writes lyrics and melodies separately. “I write poems first and little melodies on piano and then I try and tetris them together,” she explains. This meticulous crafting is evident in her albums The Baby (2020) and Honey (2023), where each track unfolds like a carefully penned letter, personal and poignant.
Her most recent project, Honey, helped propel her into the upcoming stardom she is experiencing. Almost a year old, the album has aged as well as fine wine. And this is no surprise, as Samia spent over two years crafting and revising the project until it was perfect. “I spent a lot of time talking in the woods with my friend Caleb Wright who produced the album,” she explains. “I came in with a couple songs I’d been sitting on during the first year of the pandemic and we built from there. Most of the songs were birthed of conversations I had with people who ended up working on the project.” From conception to completion, “Honey” took almost 3 years and it was well worth the wait. There’s no question that the album was going to stand the test of time because some of the songs on it had already done that before the album was released. Being picky is often looked at as a negative trait, but in Samia’s and other songwriters’ case, the outcome is beautiful albums such as Honey.
To my surprise, Samia’s favorite song she’s ever made isn’t actually on Honey, but on her debut album The Baby. “I feel most proud of my song Winnebago,” she recalls. “It took a while to finish and finding the right words was a relief. I love singing the bridge.”
The conversation shifts towards performing live and why Samia loves it so much. “I love connecting with people I would’ve never otherwise met over something so personally meaningful,” she explains. “Any time I see someone crying it means the world to me because I know that feeling of release so well and it’s the greatest honor to share in it.”
Samia speaks for most artists that one of the most special things about performing live is the ability to witness firsthand the impact and connection an artist has with their fans. I imagine knowing that you have the ability to inflict so much emotion on an individual through your art is one of the most special and fulfilling feelings in the world.
Her live performances haven’t been limited to solo performances either. She reflects on the time she had the opportunity to perform with boygenius. “I still can’t believe we had the opportunity to do that,” she laughs, thinking back. “It was totally nerve racking and mind blowing. They’re as kind and accommodating as they are cool and perfect.”
Apart from her sense of style while performing, we discuss how she approaches her style during everyday life. Samia’s answer is simple, but says a lot. “Little pants, big shirt. Or big pants, little shirt. Sometimes big shirt, big pants. Rarely little shirt, little pants.” she laughs. In terms of particular pieces, a long faux leopard fur coat stands out right now. It’s evident that Samia’s sense of style, just like her music, is an expression of her multifaceted personality.
Looking forward, Samia’s aspirations remain grounded yet ambitious. “I’m just gonna keep making records with my friends for as long as they’ll do that,” she says, her eyes alight with passion and purpose. “I feel really lucky to have found my people so early in life and I’ll always cherish them.”
As our conversation winds down, it’s clear that Samia is not just creating music; she’s crafting a legacy – one verse, one melody, one heartfelt performance at a time. In the ever-evolving landscape of indie music, Samia is not just a participant but a trailblazer, charting a path that’s uniquely, authentically hers.