Samiere is not your typical breakthrough artist. She’s definitely not your common singer/songwriter. Samiere plays by her own rules. And the rising star recently spoke with The G.O.O.D.S Magazine about what it means to break free. With roots in the church and the Bay Area, this 27-year-old is an artist to watch.
Samiere’s music has reminded some of artists like Drake and The Weeknd – but when you talk to Samiere and listen to her music it’s clear that her work is intensely unique. She explained, “I think it has a lot to do with my upbringing- I took my religious teachings of music and how the church sings and I transformed it into a universal sound … it’s not just soulful, it’s universal.”
Samiere is as cool over the phone as she is in her songs. When I reach her in February, she’s working on her debut EP and a 10-city tour, which will bring her across the United States. She chatted with me – about early male influences, learning to sing in her family’s a cappella group, and her favorite venue to play in LA.
Q: How did you get started in music?
Samiere: I’ve been singing since I was about 2 years old. My mom and dad started an a capella group with me and my siblings but I was really, really shy. I come from a religious background and I grew up singing in the church. By the time I reached my senior year in high school I was singing the national anthem at football and basketball games. From there, I kept coming more out of my shell and I auditioned for something called DV Idol at my high school — I went to Deer Valley High School in Antioch and I ended up winning the contest. That was the first real experience where I felt that maybe music is something that is just part of my life.
Q: What was your first gig?
Samiere: My first real gig was in college. Someone heard me sing and suggested I do a showcase. One of the judges of the showcase was Common. He made a comment to me after the show like, “I really love your voice and the song you did. I’m going to be singing the hook all the way home.” And that was like the start of what I do now. I’m actually an athlete by trade and I played basketball and ran track. I never thought I’d do music but it just kept being pushed into my life. I used to produce for artists and I used to write but never anything of my own. When I turned 18, I started doing a few mixtapes because people were like, “You’re pretty dope.” I initially started rapping and then I started getting into the singing element of it. Now, I do shows wherever I have the opportunity. I get to travel around the country doing what I love.
Q: Who are your main influences?
Samiere: Coming from a religious background I didn’t really get to listen to “the greats” growing up. We only listened to Christian music, so by the time I got to college people were telling me about different artists like Michael Jackson. I knew who Michael Jackson was but I never listened to his music in-depth. I started studying male artists because I think men have a format of singing that’s very different. It’s a challenge for them to sing like a woman but when they do, it can sound amazing. These are artists like El DeBarge, Sam Cooke and even James Brown — they all have such awesome tones. They know how to utilize their voices and not sound like the average male.
Q: How would you explain your style?
Samiere: I like very androgynous artists. Artists like Prince grab my attention because they don’t sound like everyone else. They have a different type of personality that comes with their art and on top of that, their style of dress is not what a male is “supposed to be” — so to speak. I like artists that go against the grain. I watched these people and I sort of emulated that style and look because people tend to hear and see women the way the world wants them to. For me, I like to break the barriers of what it means to be an artist. For me there are no lines that you have to stay inside or any box you have to fit in to be an artist. My style of singing – although anyone may hear it and say, “it reminds me of so and so,” you can’t call out a specific artist that I sound like. There may be a variety of different artists that you could say I sound like after listening to my work. Some people get what I’m trying to do and they tell me that my sound is really unique and that I don’t sound like anyone. I think it has a lot to do with my upbringing- I took my religious teachings of music and how the church sings and I transformed it into a universal sound … it’s not just soulful, it’s universal.
Q: Are you working on anything right now?
Samiere: I am, I was just signed to a label this past year called Global Music and they manage a lot of popular artists overseas. It was a great experience to be a part of them. While I was with them I was working on my EP and that’s what I’m actually about to release within the next month or two. I’m set to go on tour in May and I’m planning a 10 city tour. The EP is just a few songs –maybe 3-5 tracks that are a mix between dance R&B and pop.
Q: Is there one song that you feel encapsulates what you’re trying to do with your music as a whole?
Samiere: There is a song on my new EP that sounds like a love song. The chorus goes “I get lost/I get lost when you touch me baby” and in my mind I envision different types of people showing what it means to love. It’s not necessarily my love story – the song represents love around the world. It could be a mother touching her kids or a grandchild touching her grandparent or two men or two women touching. That to me is something that breaks the barriers and our notions of conventional love.
Q: Can you take me the process of creating your EP?
Samiere: Creating my EP… wow it was a lot of emotions. This past year I have undergone a lot of tests. There was a lot of trial and error and a lot of situations where I kind of had to remove my emotions from the picture. I put them into my songs — a lot of my songs talk about either my personal life or things that I’ve observed from a distance. To me, it allows whoever is listening to me just to see the real rawness of what it means not only to be an artist but to be a human being and everybody goes through this bullshit. [laughs] And so why not tell the world what really goes on? With my EP, I actually envision the different songs as different parts of a house. Breaking down the four walls of the house serve as the imagery behind my album and my campaign.
Q: It sounds like for you as an artist, it’s important for you to break barriers and redefine concepts like what is an artist what is love?
Samiere: I actually have a campaign that I’m starting called “Break Free.” Growing up I wasn’t allowed to be who I was and I kind of lost myself for a while. I was trying to be someone my parents or my church wanted to be. I’m not the normal woman who does a lot of the things that a woman is “supposed” to do in society and to me it doesn’t matter what you do and how you look or what you dress like. To me, what matters is that you’re happy doing what you love. A lot of people get lost and loose sight of their dreams in life because they’re trying to please others. The campaign is about bringing it back to the element of loving yourself and being yourself. People are going to love you for you. They’re not going to love you for the clothes that you wear or the makeup that you wear or how you act when you’re out clubbing with your friends in LA – who are just there because they feel like you have something to offer. People want to peel back those layers and see the real you. And if you’re comfortable being who you really are I feel like the world has so much more to offer you.
Q: How does living in LA influence your “Break Free” campaign?
Samiere: [Laughs] Coming from San Francisco and being in LA…wow what a big transition. It has been an awakening, so to speak, because in the Bay Area we don’t care what you wear or who you surround yourself with. In the Bay Area it’s all about, “oh okay you’re a cool person. I don’t care you who you hang out with, I love you let’s kick it.” I feel like LA has been the epitome of people loosing themselves. In LA there is a certain stigma and a certain person you have to be or a certain person you feel like you have to be when you get here. I used to feel like I was wearing a mask… but not anymore.
Q: How do you stay grounded?
Samiere: When I first got signed, like right after I first signed the contract they said to me, “okay put this on, put on this make up, this is what guys like to see…or do this to your hair.” I was just like…what? I didn’t sign to change. I signed because you guys saw who I was and you guys liked that. It was one of those things where I found myself getting caught up in being who they wanted me to be. Finally, I had to come back to terms with who I was as an artist. I was like, wait a lot of people have made it by performing in their raw, natural state. I think about A$AP Rocky and even new artists like Tory Lanez, Bryson Tiller and Alessia Cara — they’re not putting on an act or show. They are giving you themselves and I feel like that’s what it means to be an artist. An artist creates and an artist is themselves one hundred percent.
Q: What has been your favorite music venue to play?
Samiere: I love playing Bar Lubitsch in West Hollywood. The person who created it, Ian Webber, just moved to Tennessee. He took me under his wing and he loved my sound. The acoustics in there are amazing. It doesn’t matter what kind of music you do- it could be EDM or you can bring a guitar or piano and it will all sound like heaven.
**Photos courtesy of Samiere
Samiere’s official website: http://iamsamiere.com
You can find her music here: https://soundcloud.com/iamsamiere