26th July 2022
Interview: Sophie Todd
Dropping her debut album ' Days of E.N.D.'. We got to chat to Samanta Liza about creating her record, her inspiration behind it and dream artists that she would love to collaborate with.
Firstly congratulations on releasing your debut album. I absolutely love how it has such a unique feeling of being chilled yet energetic and indie as well as pop and reggae, if you had to sum up your own unique style in 3 words what would they be?
Thank you! It’s funny that you say reggae because I don’t think that this album has any reggae in it, but it’s entirely possible that reggae subconsciously influenced my sound. It has definitely influenced new music that I am not working on to be released in the future. My style is definitely genre fluid. It’s everything and nothing at the same time. Like it’s electronic dance music, but it’s also emotional and soft because of my vocals and instrumentation. This is a tough question…My style is inventive, (but also) familiar, and emotional.
Having used your own identity as your inspiration and taken influence from your mixed background of cultures, what was it like to translate this from your life into your music?
It was incredible. I mean I quite literally wrote and created the music as I felt and experienced it. The process differed from track to track. For example, Threads started as a poem, written by my friend. She shared it with me, and I then created the first draft of the melodic techno track. Pante and I then finalised the production together. One of her reactions was “Wow, it sounds so dark, I didn’t initially intend for it to sound this way.” To which I replied “You literally wrote about a figurative thread that choked you. How is that not dark?” I love bringing stories to life through music because people connect to stories. If you tell an interesting story, then people will listen. I would say that this is how I translated my life into my music. I tell stories (my own and other peoples’) through my music. These stories are about people who all felt something. Love, pain, happiness, sadness, insecurity, betrayal, honesty… I bring a variety of cultures into my music during my writing process, especially during sound selection and rhythm creation. .
Naturally the tracks are very personal but from both listening to the album privately and seeing how it's played live it's clear that the music comes alive when you as a musician can play along with the energy of your crowd. How does this affect the way you play?
I love nothing more than connecting with the crowd. A performance is nothing without a crowd. It doesn’t even have to be a crowd. I could be performing in front of 3 people and still find a way to connect with the energy in the room. At that moment, we are going on this musical journey together, and if I fail at bringing you along for the ride, then what’s the point? That’s kind of how I think about my performances. Each performance should be unique. No one audience is the same, so why should my performance be exactly the same? Doesn’t seem right. I love walking into the audience and being on the same level as the audience. There’s a really special energy when I take my djembe (drum) and walk out into a crowd and play and dance with them. We are all dancing together. Enjoying that moment to the max.
Whilst listening to all the tracks, it’s obvious that they’re such a blend of layers making up your own style of sound, how do you even begin when writing a new song?
I love writing new songs. I just wrote a new one a couple of days ago, and I’m already so excited about creating new music, even though the album just launched haha. For this song in particular, it started with a new bass line that I wrote while I was just jamming on my bass, practising. I found a loop that struck me as a really solid bass line. It had sass and groove. I knew something juicy was going to come out of it, but in the moment, I was very tired so I just saved the project as “new bass line 72 bpm” and came back to it later. I don’t think I have one particular way of starting a song. Sometimes it’s on the bass. Sometimes it’s with a drum groove. Other times, it’s with a guitar lead, i.e., I started writing I Don’t Regret You in the middle of the night because I suddenly heard that guitar melody that you hear in the intro. I had literally gone to bed and couldn’t fall asleep because I heard this melody. I got up and started recording guitars and then went to bed when I had the main guitar layers done. One thing I can say for certain is that I rarely - probably never - start with writing just the lyrics. I always start with some instrumentation, then I hear a melody, and then I write to that.
As a rule mothers never state who their favourite child is but as a musician do you have a favourite or standout song that feels particularly special to you or is your favourite to play?
This is an interesting question because I do think that my favourite song in general and my favourite song to play are different from this album. My favourite song in general, if I had to pick one, is We Are One. It’s just so soothing, calm, and honest. It’s just me and my bass chilling in my bedroom, singing. A year ago, I did not play the bass. I would have never identified as a bass player. But because someone had left their bass guitar in my apartment, I started to play with it and mess around, and suddenly I’m grooving. Tonal fundamental grooves. Wow. It was so satisfying. A few weeks later, I was in Colombia with my boyfriend and we walked into a music store after brunch and I left with a few hundred dollars less in my pocket and a new bass guitar. My favourite song to perform is We Are Not Friends. I love D minor, and the vocal melody sits so nicely where it’s easy and enjoyable to sing. The beat is fun, but the overall song has like rainy day vibes. It has that mix of ‘energetic but soft and emotional’.
This being your debut album you are obviously only at the beginning of your career, as an artist who would be your dream collaboration and what would be your dream gig?
Yes, and I am so excited to create and share more. My dream collaboration right now is to work with Tash Sultana. They are so amazing live. Just wow. The level of multitasking and the raw talent and passion that goes into their performance. It’s so impressive and amazing to watch and listen to. I love their music. Dream gig is a good question. I feel like the answer is obvious but who wouldn’t want their own world tour?! Aside from headlining my own show at MSG or Brooklyn Mirage, I’d love to tour with Red Hot Chilli Peppers or Arctic Monkeys. They are constant ongoing inspo artists.
You can download Samantha Liza's album here.