Early Talks w/ Samia

Samia’s latest release “Show Up” is the past year’s one last encore. Cathartic yet communal, it is a necessary sendoff for the emotional grapples that occupied our mental residence. Living in Samia’s season of change, hindsight and accountability find a romanticized harmony in her lyrics. 

During a time when our struggle felt collective and reflection went unaccompanied, “Show Up” makes a soft but grand entrance. It is a song that weighs more than just the face value of experiences. Gathered and somewhat grown, “Show Up” learns to cherish the unexpected and the lessons that come with life’s interruptions.

Read the full interview below where I sat down with Samia and discussed everything from moving to Nashville to the meaning behind “Show Up.” 

Lily: With music, did you always have an itch to create or was there an environment or part of your life that gave you subtle nods to keep going? 

Samia: Yeah I grew up around music and I grew up listening to musical theater with my parents. So I have that background and then I went to band camp one year and discovered Elliot Smith and Nirvana. I came back to school thinking I had this superior music taste. Then, I got into trying to listen to music that my classmates weren’t listening to and sort of begged everyone to let me be in their band anyway. So I was just trying to play as many shows a week which is easy to do in New York with open mic nights and stuff. As soon as I started doing it, I couldn’t get enough of it and I had always been around it. It felt natural. 

Lily: This feeling of music being natural to you, can you describe the certain emotion that comes to you?

Samia: I was pretty naturally shy and nervous to talk to people, especially people I looked up to and I think that sort of went away in a band context and being able to sing. Sharing songs was always easier for me to do. I think it helped me find identity and form meaningful relationships with new people probably more quickly than I would have otherwise. 

Lily: Even just being a fan, you can connect over listening to the same artist. It’s very interesting how music weaves its way into the social aspect of people. 

Samia: Totally and if you feel out of place or different or looked down upon by the people around you, it’s good to know everyone feels that way at some point. Even just going to high school, it’s an inevitable feeling but, it was a great way to find like-minded people. 

Lily: You’ve been in the Brooklyn scene, but how has Nashville’s music scene impacted you and your artistry? How has the environment shifted?

Samia: I moved here during COVID times so I didn’t get to go see a lot of shows until recently. It’s felt like I got to meet a lot of amazing people who play music and spend time with them on a personal level, but it has only been the last few weeks or months or so that I’ve been able to actually go to shows again. I feel like I’m seventeen all over again. I’m so nervous and excited to meet people. New York is definitely less friendly off the bat, but here there’s just a general kindness that people lead with alongside a welcoming energy that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. There’s so much of everything. There’s so many different kinds of people, especially in the music scene. It’s really important to me to have a sense of community in that way and I got introduced to it here really quickly, and was easily integrated. Everyone was so welcoming. 

Lily: You talk about feeling like you’re seventeen again and meeting new people. With your latest song “Show Up,” to me it felt like a communion of things. I wanted to dive into the song and its initial idea. What did those first moments of “Show Up” look like?

Samia: I really prioritize my friendships. There’s nothing I care about more than making connections with people I love and I think that was a huge struggle for me, as I’m sure it was for everyone, but it was really tough to be physically separated. I pathologically worry about not being there enough for my friends in general so to not be able to be physically anywhere near them was tough, and definitely something to grapple with. I would always just say if only this was happening, then we would feel closer. If only this was happening, I would be able to be there for the people that I want to be there for, and then I had to take a closer look at that thought and remember. I feel like hindsight glorifies everything and I was sort of making fun of myself. Would I actually have done all these things I’m saying I would have done if we were actually able to see these people? Would I really be going out of my way to do all of these things? I think I always make up stories about things that I could do if I didn’t have certain limitations and boundaries, but I never know if that’s actually accurate or not. 

Lily: I think, to a certain extent, we all do. It’s an interesting thing to measure, and I don’t even know if anyone else is measuring it for themselves, but it’s weird to have all this time to look back and now take a step forward. 

Samia: I feel like if you learned it, you learned it. I always have to tell myself that, because I always freak out that I’ll forget everything. I think subconsciously if it’s embedded in your psyche and your identity then it’ll manifest. Everything feels like progress but it’s so hard to accept that sometimes especially when things are changing. 

Lily: The timing of this release also feels very harmonious with the timing of our part of the world reopening. With the timeline of this song and when it was created, did you know you were going to release it at this tipping point where we’re back face to face? 

Samia: I had no idea. We were supposed to release it in April and the timeline kept changing but, just personally, it was perfect timing because it does feel like I’m sort of holding myself accountable saying this is what you wanted. Now you can do this. So, you either do it or don’t. You can’t romanticize any of these moments anymore. You have to totally be there again if you are claiming to be there. 

Lily: Now I’m learning and trying to remember the moment, however small or simple it is, to mentally make up for lost time in a way. 

Samia: Yeah, there’s a lot of pressure to have memorable moments now. I’m definitely having them. I’m also still a little bit in my head about getting to do all the things that I used to do, or how much of the things I used to do that I want to even do now, and if that makes me more introverted? I’m sure we’re all having a crisis about that. Like how did all this affect my identity and my choices and what I’m even interested in? And remembering those feelings but with the context now of having spent a year reflecting on our own selves in a social setting is so weird. 

Lily: With this theme of navigating our accountability as well as our emotions in “Show Up,” what do you want it to leave with people after they listen?

Samia: I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year, in that context, is to give yourself a break and let yourself believe that you’re doing your best, especially when it comes to being there for people. It’s become harder, in a million different ways, to hold yourself to a standard and meet your own expectations for yourself based on the person you were before this all happened, and the ways that we’ve changed, and these new people that we’re discovering as we work back into life happening and people being around us. You’ve got to forgive yourself I think. If I could leave anyone with anything that I’ve learned in the past year, I think it’s that. 

Lily: It’s almost like the lessons from this year make you feel wiser, but not older. It’s just a new context and perspective moving forward. 

Samia: Absolutely. It feels like it has to be a good thing, or at least we have to let it be a good thing. 

Lily: So, your EP Scout is coming out in July and you describe this body of work in relation to your past album The Baby as the “older sister” and I’m curious to know the significance of the familial tie between these two pieces.

Samia: I think the year of reflection helped. I always try to use hindsight as a tool, but I could more than ever this past year. I write pretty experientially and mostly in transition so I didn’t have any of that, and I had to sort of think back on things. The album I wrote to try and make sense of things that were happening in real time, and there’s a little bit of that in this EP too, but it mostly is reflection and trying to reframe or understand them in a new way; things that I’ve experienced over the past couple years now will all of this time to just be doing nothing but thinking. 

Lily: Looking back at your year, is there a moment or consistent theme that comes to surface for you?

Samia: I have spent a lot more time hiking and walking than I ever have this past year. My boyfriend likes to hike, so we’ve been hiking and that’s been a pretty obvious, but pretty on the nose way to spend time thinking, in a way that still feels artistic and inspiring in that particular context. I also noticed I’ve been going back and playing instruments that I hadn’t played since COVID. I went back to my friend’s house in LA and played her piano, and that’s the piano I wrote “Show Up” on and you’re immediately flooded with all these memories of times that you’ve sat there before and I had to write there before. It just forces you into grappling with everything that has happened between then and now, and what’s different in my life between now and the last time I sat at that piano. 

Lily: With your songwriting, do you find that you spend more time with lyrics or the track itself? Do you lean into one more than the other or are they pretty even?

Samia: I spend more time on lyrics than anything. I mostly write music as a vehicle to sing albums. I write the majority of the music for my songs, but a lot of the time I’ll just take a poem, try to sing it to something, sometimes the melody and the lyric come at the same time and then that’s when I solicit the help of my friends at that point. I can’t really make myself care as much about anything else as I do about the lyrics and the story. 

Lily: Did you always have that love for lyricism or was there a certain artist or person or influence that led you down that path?

Samia: I always loved writing and I always loved singing, and those are my two passions. I had a teacher in the fifth and sixth grade who decided to be really hard on me about poetry and spend a lot of time focusing on my specific interests in poetry. I knew that I loved it so much and I loved singing so much, and there seems to be an obvious way to marinate those two things. Definitely he was a huge influence on my life. If I hadn’t been in his poetry class, I would not be doing any of this. 

Watch the music video for Samia’s latest release below, and stay tuned for her upcoming EP Scout.

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