Introducing Samia's Debut Album 'The Baby'!
The last few years have been extremely busy for American indie songwriter Samia. From high profile festival slots to rave reviews, and her own sold out shows, it’s easy to see why she is taking the world by storm.
We caught up with Samia to chat about her debut album, producers and the advice she would give to her younger self. A collection of personal tracks written over the last two years The Baby features insightful wordplay which is equal parts self-reflection and a reflection of touring life on the road, all from an artist who effortlessly captures and conveys the modern condition.
The Creative Issue: Congratulations on the release of your debut album The Baby! How does it feel for the album to be out?
Samia Finnerty: It feels good. It’s a huge relief. I’ve been working on it for a long time. It’s the first project I’ve really written with a thesis in mind, so it’s nice to feel proud of it and I’m glad it’s out in the world. Finally [laughs].
TCI: Lyrically the album is very personal. Do you find it difficult to have such a big part of yourself in the public eye?
SF: I don’t really think about it until it’s out. I mean, it’s so cathartic for me in the writing process to be able to say, and be, so vulnerable and then I think I don’t really realise the consequences of that until it’s out in the world [laughs]. I think the upside is that there’s so many different interpretations and it can mean so many different things to so many different people and I love to see the way that people are resonating with it and relating to it. So it ends up being at lot less about me.
TCI: What does a typical writing session look like in Samia? Do you find music comes first, then lyrics and melodies, or does it come together at the same time?
SF: Usually it starts with poetry for me and then I will just try and whittle it down to something that’s worth singing about. But a lot of it is a combination of lots of different poems that I’ve written over time, usually about the same subjects.
TCI: So do you just have the poems and start writing the music to fit the mood?
SF: The melody usually just comes with the words for me, so i’ll just try and tetris and combine different lines that make sense together. It’s rare that I just sit down with a totally new idea and write a full song.
TCI: As well as amazing songs the production on this album is stellar. You worked with a group of different producers including members of Hippo Campus and also Lars Stalfors. How did these collaborations come together?
SF: I toured with Hippo Campus and we all got to be really close friends. Then I had this really long trial and error process of working with people, mostly in L.A, who I didn’t know. They were sessions that were setup by industry people and it just wasn’t really working and I didn’t feel like I could be honest. So my friends from Hippo called me and they were like “Let’s just try to do this ourselves, you can come and hang out in our studio in Minneapolis for a couple of months and we’ll see what we can do”. We did that and it was the most efficient and creative environment I’ve ever had. I just felt like I could be totally open and the writing process was really easy with them.
TCI: What did each of them bring to the table? Were Hippo Campus more for vibe and Lars more for engineering? Or did they all pitch in on every aspect?
SF: Well, Lars was a person I met in L.A, separately from the Hippo Campus guys, and we just really clicked right off the bat so I went and did pre-production with him in LA. Then I flew to Minnesota to work with Nathan (Stocker) and Jake (Luppen) from Hippo and our friend Caleb Hinz, who has his own project, and we basically tracked everything and they were the masterminds behind the sonic experience. Then we went back to back to Lars for mixing.
TCI: There are a few different styles on the album, but it flows so seamlessly. Did you find it difficult to get the final track list right?
SF: Ah, well if I had it my way I probably would have sequenced it in the order of events that occurred that the songs are written about [laughs]. Just because I knew my own experiences with those stories would influence it too heavily, so I just left it to Jake, Nathan and Caleb to sequence it in a way that was purely about the songs and less about my life [laughs] so that was all them.
TCI: When writing the album who were the artists that you had on high rotation? Also what are some of your all time musical heroes?
SF: So my friend Caleb who produced it has a band called The Happy Children and they put out an album last year called Same Diff and I listened to that the whole summer right up until we recorded the album. So it was crazy for me to be in a room with him, working on my songs, after I’d just been listening to him for so long, so that was a huge influence. The Muna record that came out last year, also hugely influenced me. I just liked their bravery and confessional storytelling and I haven’t heard that in a really long time. Also I was listening to a lot of Elliot Smith, which is probably one of my formative influences.
TCI: Your music videos are intriguing. From the animations in ‘Big Wheel’ to the marionette puppet in ‘Triptych’. Do you feel the music videos are an integral part of building the “bigger picture” of Samia?
SF: I do because I feel it’s an opportunity to involve my community that I’m so inspired by. I have so many friends who are prolific filmmakers and I love being able to hand over my songs to them. The only one I really had a hand in creatively was the ‘Is There Something In The Movies?’ music video. That’s the only one I co-directed. Most of them are really me just trusting my friends creatively and wanting to showcase the talents in my community, but for that one I could see that video while I was writing the song.
TCI: It’s a bit of a crazy time with all the COVID restrictions, but were there plans to visit Australia on the cards?
SF: We just started working with Dew Process and we were talking about coming over there for the last year. We were really hoping around December this year would’ve been a good time but it doesn’t seem like we will be able to travel for a while. Hopefully as soon the travel ban lifts we will be able to come over.
TCI: On the album cover you are holding a red phone, let’s just say it was a younger version of yourself on the other end. What advice would you give to your younger self?
SF: I think I would say that it’s okay sometimes if you have nothing to say [laughs]. I think that I used to come up with things to say that would be relevant conversationally, or think that I needed to have a voice in every room and every conversation. So I think that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learnt in the last couple of years, which is that it’s okay to just experience life and not have to contribute [laughs].