Samia is a 21-year-old singer-songwriter based in New York City, currently on tour across the U.S. with Donna Missal. Her songs cross genres spanning from pop rock rants to somber, folk ballads. Her breakout song “Someone Tell the Boys” centers around all too self-important men, while her song “Welcome to Eden” focuses on the loss of a friend. Melisma had the opportunity to talk with Samia about pre-show rituals, poke bowls, and big shirts.
How has touring life been treating you?
It’s been really exciting and stressful. This is only my second time on a bus, so I’m still sort of getting used to it. Donna Missal has been amazing and so sweet and accommodating — it’s just [hard] trying to figure out how to sleep in the pods, but I’m getting there — and her fans are so sweet and welcoming. It’s been great.
What’s the most unexpected thing that’s happened to you since going on tour?
I did not expect to see people singing the words to my song. That’s been the most exciting thing, seeing people in the front row singing the words to my songs immediately makes me 50% less nervous.
Do you have any weird superstitions or things you do before going on stage?
Oh, absolutely. I’m not sure that any of them work, but I do high knees and butt-kicks — did you play soccer? — I just do a bunch of high knees, jumping jacks, and panic.
I feel like it works though, it gets the adrenaline pumping
Yeah! And I have a steamer for my voice. Every so often I hump the floor in my set, so I try to do that once before I get on stage.
Yeah, sometimes it comes out, sometimes it doesn’t, but I like to get one practice in.
During your downtime, what do you find yourself doing?
I stay in my little pod! The last tour I was on was all driving and in a van, so we were sleeping for most of the travel time. People are always like, “you must see such amazing things while on tour!” but I’m like, ha, I see gas stations, I see Walmart, I see the roof of my pod. But, the eating has been the best part, finding little cool spots to eat.
What made you want to start a solo career?
I’ve been writing songs since I was 12 or 13, and I moved to New York when I was 15 and started playing every open mic I could find with an acoustic guitar. Then I was in a bunch of bands, like six bands. I realized that I was most comfortable performing my own stuff. Then there have been many iterations of the band we have now, but I feel really lucky to have landed with these people. It definitely feels like the perfect fit now.
When it comes to fashion, what’s one or two words that you would use to describe your style?
I like big shirts?! And whatever’s clean, which is usually very few.
How do you even wash stuff on the road?
I’m really trying to figure that out. It’s like some venues have laundry…we’re finding washers and dryers wherever we can, and hoping for the best!
What is your song writing process like? Do you like to be alone with pen and paper or do you like to sit around with friends and bounce off ideas?
It depends! I’m more used to writing alone, and I’m used to writing after an idea comes to me, so it’s easier to just follow through with it and finish. But I’ve recently been working with my friends, and I’m just so fascinated with their ideas and intellect, so that’s been really inspiring.
You don’t seem to stick to one or two genres. What drives you to play with different sounds?
I definitely prioritize performance, and that’s the most fun part of this whole thing for me. I like to write songs that I enjoy singing live. I like for my shows to be as dynamic as possible, so I think that’s probably why the genres are all over the place, so I can do everything I envision myself doing live on stage. And I enjoy so many types of music, and that’s always just how I’ve written.
I’d rather have a song be good than consistent.
If you pulled up Spotify or Apple Music, what would be the first artist to pop up?
I’ll do that right now! Father John Misty is my favorite song writer, and Angel Olsen, and I really like Time Grove, but ah! It’s currently Nilufer Yanya. I think she’s my favorite new artist I’ve found in the last year.
It’s kind of jazzy, Amy-Whinehouse-y. It’s also a combination of a lot of genres, I think, but her voice is incredible!
If you had to describe your music, what would it taste like?
Have you ever had a poke bowl? Yeah, but just with two scoops of tofu and not any fish. Or like a croissant — actually, no, a poke bowl.
Do you have a favorite song of yours?
“Welcome to Eden” is my favorite song that I’ve written, but I really wanna rerecord it. It was the first thing I ever released, so I hadn’t figured out — ya know I was just working with my friend and putting out whatever we recorded that day. I’d like to remix or reproduce the whole thing.
You just came out with two new songs, Lasting Friend and Paris. Do you have any other projects in the works?
I have another single that’s done, and I’m releasing in the next couple of months. I’m working on my LP, so hopefully that’ll be out this year!
Where do you hope to see yourself by the end of 2019
I hope that my album’s out! And I love touring, so as long as I can be on the road as possible, that’s ideal. We’re out [touring] until May 10th, and then I’m not sure after that!
Catch Samia at her show in Cambridge this Friday, February 22nd at the Sinclair!