Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
Music has always been a thing for me, ever since I was little. Realizing it was the thing for me took me a moment, however. I was ten, maybe eleven years old, watching Nirvana videos in my teenage cousin’s cavernous bedroom, when the penny finally dropped. It didn’t feel like a decision so much, though; more like, yup, there I am, that’s me.
Introduce us to you and your musical history.
Howdy, I’m Sam Himself! I didn’t come up with that; a sarcastic concert promoter did, one night in Brooklyn after the other half of the duo I was in bailed on me last minute and I was called out onstage by myself. I’m originally Swiss but I’ve lived in New York for about 100 years, which is probably why my producer calls my sound ‘Fondue Western.’ You know, like Spaghetti Western but with more Swiss cheese. I just put out a new single, Mr. Rocknroll, which I highly recommend, and I’m about to release my second album in January. Plus we’re going on tour, me and my live band, starting in February. Would love to see you at a show sometime!
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?
I think I know what you mean, and I definitely appreciate the compassion! I’m reluctant to pad myself on the back, however, because it’s such an immense privilege to be making a living doing what I love. If that sounds cheesy, I refer you to the ‘Fondue’ section above…
How have your song writing skills developed over time?
I make the same mistakes I’ve always made, I just make em faster! Touring has been a blessing in that regard because it keeps me focused on the playability of something I’m working on – could I see myself performing this onstage – at the writing stage already?
I’m seeing a lot of debate about females not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?
That really sucks. Respectfully, I’d want to hear a representative voice answer that question before I do. My band and I have a zero tolerance policy for anyone being made to feel unsafe during, before or after our shows; the same goes for my whole team and should really go without saying. Sadly, I think there are cultural and systemic issues in the live music industry (and the industry at large) that we need to address before everyone can feel equally safe and welcome in a given concert crowd. Until then, we’re just fighting the symptoms but not their causes.
As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?
O the socials… I wish I had tips for you! That department is definitely still a work in progress for me. I’d say: treat social media as such (work, that is) and take time away from
it on a regular basis. Do it in a way you can live with and even have fun with, but do not let it eat away at your writing time, your playing time, or the stuff that actually matters. Easily said, I know… Also, please follow me on Insta, Facebook, Spotify, YouTube, etc.
Tell us a funny story from the road.
If you ever find yourself in the driver’s seat of your van after a show and a member of your band asks you to pull over because they have to use a bathroom because they had a few drinks because they weren’t the designated driver that night, do yourself a favor and pull over. For there are folks among us who will relieve themselves out of the open window of a moving car.
What’s your thought on Spotify’s monopoly on the music industry?
Wait I thought thinking wasn’t encouraged… did I miss an app update?!
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
See above. Just kidding, I don’t. Four chords and the truth, y’all.
Did you buy anything you don’t need during the pandemic?
I double-bought my favorite synthesizer, I have to confess. It was sitting in New York while I couldn’t return to the U.S. for a few months at the beginning of the pandemic and was starting work on my first album. It just couldn’t wait.
What was the worst experience on stage?
The stakes are always high onstage for me. I don’t know if other artists feel the same way, but the risks are about as great as the potential rewards. The only thing that’s worse than playing a bad show is playing a bad show for no reason, with no scapegoat, no alibi; some nights you just don’t get it, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it (except pray maybe).
Tell us something about you / each member that you think people would be surprised about.
Appearances notwithstanding, I am not in fact a natural blonde. Sorry I misled you.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
I try not to conceal my imperfections too much if I can help it; I’d rather get caught trying. All my favorite artists are, above all, graceful failures. I try to embrace that ethos and reconcile it with my ego, my perfectionism, all that fun stuff, and you can watch me do it in real-time if you’d like. Dunno if that counts as an answer…
I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.
I do! My second album, Never Let Me Go, is coming out on January 27th. I’m proud of it because it’s different from my debut, on which I recorded almost all the instruments myself at home during the lockdown. This time around, I was able to play with real people in
the same room again – Josh Werner on bass and Chris Egan on drums, killer cats! – and I think you can feel that energy on the album. Good soundtrack for the first day after the day you thought the world would end, I’d say.
Talk me through the thought process of the new tune/s.
Not to get all esoteric, but thinking usually gets in the way of the writing process for me, especially in the early stages of a new idea. I’m a big over-thinker, which hasn’t always made my hips move in the past. On this record, I’m trusting my hips and my heart, which is delighted about the world reopening and a little scared of everything precious being ripped away again without warning. I’m sure a lot of people carry those echoes of 2020 around with them. Hence, you know, Never Let Me Go!
What was the recording process like?
Incredibly inspiring and pretty exhausting. My producer, Daniel Schlett, always gets the best out of me. Anything short of that just won’t fly. So in every session, he challenges me to get better, play better, write better and reminds me that whatever I thought I knew about music I probably don’t have a clue about. Plus if you’re in a room with heavyweights like Josh and Chris, who’ve played with Iggy Pop and Solange, you really don’t want to waste anyone’s time.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
Being less precious about my lyrics. I still am, of course, lyrics are precious, period, but if a word doesn’t sound good, it’s gotta go, no matter how clever or meaningful you, as the author, might think it is. That’s a bullet I keep learning to bite.
Would you change anything now it’s finished
Hell no! Not a thing. Otherwise, I wouldn’t put it out. And all the many things I fucked up, I’ll fuck up a little better on my next record.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?