FEATURED FIND: SAMICA, THE R&B ARTIST WINNING HEARTS WITH PURE TALENT AND HONESTY
It all started with a Marshmello.
It's hard to conceptualize how much attention a Pop Star must get on social media. How many times a day must a major producer and DJ like Marshmello get tagged in one day? How does one manage to pick out any sort of signal from that sea of noise. You know a young and relatively unknown soul singer must have something to stand out against the throngs. Luckily, Marshmello proved his reputation as crate digger and tastemaker when he shared a cover of his single "Happier", (sung in Hindi, no less.)
Happier/Biba haven’t sang in Hindi in too long @marshmellomusic @JioSaavn #marshmello #Biba pic.twitter.com/htUOsYd9wp
— Samica. (@samicamusic) February 20, 2019
Samica's cover teases out some unsuspected heartfelt melancholy out of Marshmello's bombastic EDM, trading in the rave sirens and trap beats for an airy, low-key bossa nova acoustic soul. Although it's mostly comparing apples to oranges, a case could be made for Samica's cover being superior to the original, the music and heart and soul matching the ache and longing implied in Marshmello's dancefloor weeper.
Samica's music, as a whole, does something similar with modern/alt r&b. So far, Samica's racked up comparisons between future soul singers like Jhene Aiko to the slinky, seductive r&b of SZA, whose "20 Something" is Samica's favorite song, we found it. Samica doesn't just turn her sights to the last 10 years, either. Her debut EP Call Me (which is exceptional), is like a masterclass in all of r&b/soul's greatest moments, bringing to mind everyone from Dusty Springfield to Destiny's Child to Christina Aguilera.
SAMICA - “CALL ME”
Samica is a breath of fresh air in the music industry - someone getting fame and recognition and building a following based solely on talent, heart, and being a good person. Her music doesn't need gimmicks, no studio post-production airbrushing to hide and obfuscate. Instead, it's bright and clear and confident, largely built around just her and her acoustic guitar, just like her TikTok videos that helped catapult her into recognition. Still, Call Me hints at directions to come, fleshing out her productions with a battalion of synths, light airy beats, and psychedelic production.
As a first generation Indian-American, Samica grew up not seeing many people like herself on MTV and set out to remedy that. With a first release like Call Me, paired with a healthy online following, a good heart, and a killer style, it's hard to imagine that not happening if she keeps it up!
To help you to get to know Samica better, we sat down (virtually) to talk about music and art and COVID-19 and her creative process.
WE ARE: THE GUARD: Hey Samica! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions. How have you been lately? Has COVID-19 impacted your daily routine?
SAMICA: Hi! Thank you for having me. I'm so excited for this interview. But yes, what is this year?! It's been hectic, but also forced me to lock myself in my room and really create. I've been making nothing and everything at the same time. Since I haven't been able to meet with engineers, I had to teach myself how to record vocals- to the level that I was used to- and really understand the tech part of music. My latest release, "Payday", I wrote and recorded at home in my room over a YouTube beat. So, it's kind of crazy that you can still create music with people and never meet them or know who they are. I guess COVID has taught me how to be completely independent as an artist, which is something I always wanted to be.
SAMICA - “PAYDAY”
WE ARE: THE GUARD: What do you and your music stand for?
SAMICA: The music I make comes from the most honest and real part of me. I honestly don't know where all these melodies and words come from, but I just kind of let it happen. It definitely stands for the troubles in life that are kind of hard to say out loud. Sometimes, it's easier to write what you really want to say to someone in a song, than having the courage to say it to them. My music is that for me and my fans. It's the words you are thinking, but want to keep secret to yourself.
WATG: Is there something you're passionate about outside of music that people might not guess?
S: I love love love art. I could go to a cafe, have a cappuccino, and walk around in those random art galleries that you find in the city for hours. I love painting, and I think if I wasn't doing music, I would definitely be painting all day everyday. It's the thing that I turn to when songwriting is getting the best of me. Almost like a hard reset.
WATG: Who inspires you in life?
S: My biggest inspirations in life are other artists. I go down the YouTube wormhole on the daily just listening to interviews or watching live concerts of all my favorite artists that I respect, and would love to see myself be in that seat one day. All I think about is music- what I can write about, where I can perform, who is listening to my music etc. It's fun to dream sometimes, and YouTube makes that very easy!
WATG: Who inspires you in music?
S: My biggest inspiration in music will always be Amy Winehouse. Her music is something that I have to consciously stop listening to, so when I put it on again it feels like new. I love how she wrote all her own lyrics and was so open about her life. I definitely overthink when I write and I aspire to be just as honest as her. I think honesty translates so easily between people and art. It definitely makes her my biggest musical inspiration.
WATG: I love your EP Call Me, and the honesty and vulnerability you put into your songs. Could you speak to the creative process of making the EP?
S: Thank you! That's exactly what I was trying to translate. It makes me so happy that honesty came across. My EP Call Me is a collection of songs and stories that I have been writing for the past three years. Some songs like "Design" and "Call Me," I wrote on my bed in my little studio apartment in LA. Other songs like "Alright" and "Take Me Back," I got to write at my friends home studios. I'm so happy it's finally out and people are relating to my writing.
WATG: What’s one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you first started?
S: Trust the process! I've definitely learned how to be more patient and be aware when I'm overthinking things. I have a tendency to do that- especially when I'm writing. I watched this one Frank Ocean interview on YouTube where he said something like “the minute you start to overthink melodies, it's done.” Ever since I watched that interview I started to live my process that way.
Call Me is available on all streaming platforms.
J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.