StreamLINE Artist Feature & Interview: SAMSARA
Hello everyone! StreamLINE is excited to present a new installment in our interview series. We had the opportunity to connect with multi-dimensional singer-songwriter Samsara and she provided tremendous insight into her inspirational path to music, latest projects and other interesting facts surrounding her life story. Read on to catch the entire interview below.
Hi Samsara, please tell us a bit about your background, where you’re from etc. What were your early music influences?
I was born in London, UK to Irish parents. When I was 11, my parents moved us to Ireland, where I went to high school and college. I moved to the US when I was 20 and have lived in Chicago, IL, Palm Beach FL and the Washington DC area.
My Dad was born in rural Ireland on a farm, but was a huge fan of American music, Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke, especially, but he adored jazz. He sang and played multiple instruments and his influences played a role in my musical tastes. When I was 15, my mother and I visited the US and I heard Steve Perry (Journey) for the first time. I immediately heard the Sam Cooke influences in his voice and was excited to share with Dad. Steve Perry has been my biggest influence.
I fronted my first rock band at 15. Dad passed away that year asking me promise to continue with music. After immigrating to the U.S., I became a jazz singer first, and will always think of jazz as my first love. Later, I toured as a backing vocalist for famous musicians before audiences of 30-50k. I wrote a few songs for independent movies and other musicians, but never performed my own songs. I left the road and fronted multiple bands, but didn’t make it as a solo artist.
During an abusive marriage, I quit music entirely for 13 years because he didn’t want me to sing. A few years after escaping my ex-husband, I found the courage to perform in cover bands again and started writing songs inspired by my life experiences. Finally, in 2022, I felt the need to release my own music. And here we are today!
What was the defining moment or time in your life when you decided to pursue music on a professional level?
The first time was when I was 22 after a near-death experience with a brain injury that put me in a coma for 3 weeks. I quit law school and decided to pursue music full-time. I didn’t make it as a solo artist then.
In 2016, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour and initially given a year to live. At the time, I was trying to recover from a broken heart. I wrote a plethora of songs and even recorded one in the studio. But then, I didn’t release them so only my friends heard them.
In 2021, I lost my day job during the COVID pandemic. Watching the struggles of many in the world, by March 2022, I had a burning desire to release my original songs feeling that if I didn’t share them, they would never be heard. I finally got the courage to release my first single and the positive response to that inspired me further. I wanted to create a legacy of my life and experiences in the hope that someone would relate and feel less alone in this world. I hear that my songs help people to smile, dance, cry their pain out, or fall asleep at night. That’s really all I ever wanted to do in life — help someone else. It’s quite an honour to hear that my songs do that.
How would you characterize your sound and what inspires your creativity? Is it sparked by actual life events/experiences or just a vibe that you get into?
I don’t have a specific genre and my music spans country, pop, rock, adult contemporary, jazz. My voice was recently described as being sweet like molasses with a chaser of bourbon. I think my voice is very expressive and affects listeners in different ways. I’m often told there’s just “something” about my voice that people can’t really describe.
My creativity is always inspired by my experiences in life. I’ve written songs about my broken heart, about being in love, and some were inspired by the incredible grief at the passing of my beloved cat, Socsana.
Congratulations on the new EP release! How was the recording process during the project? Did you have any collaborators in the making of the EP?
All the songs were written between May 20 and June 28, 2022. I recorded all the songs from home and learned how to produce and mix between June and August. The vocals were recorded in one take to give a “live” sound. It’s been quite the experience to learn how to do all that. The most difficult part was knowing that I’m recording my voice for me to listen to. I have no problem singing live for others, but knowing that the audience was going to be me, the recorded vocals was quite difficult. Like many singers, I’m my own worst critic. There were times I lay on the floor and cried that my voice wasn’t perfect enough. Ultimately, the process helped me to accept myself and even start to love myself and my own voice. It became easier as time went on.
For some songs, I hired musicians in other countries and learned how to work with them to produce the sound I wanted. A couple of friends on Twitter spaces gave me feedback on the drums and bass that were invaluable as those are instruments I’ve never played.
What’s the song that resonates the most with you personally from this project?
“Hard To Love” because I’ve always felt I was too hard to love, too needy. I don’t have any family and remember my ex-husband saying that to be my partner, someone had to be my lover, my best friend, and somewhat of a father figure, and it was too much for one person. I’m a very emotional person and always have been. I recently found a collection of poetry I wrote as a teenager and brought with me from Ireland and it revealed to me that I’ve never changed. I experience everything a little deeper than others — but that seems to be the way most artists experience life. After many years staying out of relationships entirely, I took a chance on love again — this time, long distance. On my birthday, when he told me I was a bit needy and it was harder than he expected it to be, I wrote this song. It’s a somewhat cheeky retort in that I’m telling him I think it’s just too hard for him to love me, not that I’m actually too hard to love.
Do you feel that the internet, social media and the dominance of streaming has benefited recording artists?
Streaming has hurt us all financially because we are paid almost nothing per stream. Friends have been shocked to hear how little artists get and that we have to pay to distribute our music. Listeners don’t even own the music they pay a hefty fee to stream. They’re essentially leasing music and if their credit card expires, they discover they own nothing.
Social media has created negative publicity and false hype for artists with every little bit of gossip being manufactured to create a buzz.
It seems the public is catching on and becoming tired of it all. I’m finally seeing a return to the public demanding quality in music and not wanting to know all the nitty gritty details about fake feuds between artists.
Twitter spaces and Discord servers emerged during the pandemic as a way for artists from all around the world to inspire and collaborate with one another. Listeners turned up to hear creative music being shared without even knowing what the artists look like. It’s like a return to the old days of listening to music on the radio and not knowing much about artists’ personal lives. However, it creates a way for artists to talk to our listeners directly.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given; either personally or professionally?
Always be kind and compassionate. You never know what another person is going through. The kind word you share with them today might be the only kind word they’ve heard all week, all month, all year. Being kind is free and it may change the trajectory of someone’s life.
What activities do you enjoy outside of your music and entertainment industry related endeavors?
Going for walks, laying in the sun, enjoying time with my cat, listening to other people’s music.
What’s next up musically for you in 2022 and beyond? Any projects, music videos, features or solo live shows on the horizon? What’s your goal for the Samsara brand?
I’m working on a few upcoming singles and an LP of music I’ve written over the past 7 years. I’m working with a nonprofit to raise money for charities I’m passionate about (pet and domestic violence related). I’ll be performing live in the Metaverse. I’m very involved in NFT music, have released a collection on OpenSea and hope to release more NFT songs. I see it as the evolution of music giving artists more control and allowing fans to support us directly, while investing in our future and their own.
StreamLINE Artist Feature & Interview: SAMSARA
August 28, 2022