photography by Jerry Maestas
The new single “Unwind” by Sam Valdez is seriously addictive. With her appealing soft voice she brings an ambivalent and mystical atmosphere to the song and it sends every inch of your body in overdrive. “The songwriting became a way to escape from the darker headspace I was in while writing it.” We wanted to know more about the Los Angelese based artist and talked to her about the accompanied video, the meaning of success and why she loves to be on stage.
Sam, you started playing the violin when you were about 6 years old, and later the guitar. Learning a musical instrument teaches you, among other things, determination and perseverance. Are these abilities that you value in yourself?
Yeah, definitely. I think it’s stabilizing to have something, especially when you’re a kid to keep growing with and working at daily. Now that Im older, it’s a reminder that music is a process with a lot of parts and isn’t always gratifying but you can create art that is a form of yourself, that you’re proud of, and people can relate to.
While we’re on the topic, talent alone is often not enough for success. What else do you think constitutes success and what does it take? And how important is success to you and how do you measure it?
Success means something different to everyone, for me its knowing what you want but not getting too comfortable with any one single idea or sound. I want to stay open and write whatever feels real to me at that time and not be put into any boxes. I want to continue to evolve, collaborate and tour with people who I look up to, that is most meaningful to me right now.
“Unwind” is about intimacy and about being alone sometimes. Are you comfortable being alone?
Unwind is a lighter kind of sarcastic song about dating when you’re introverted. It’s like trying to convince yourself you want to be with someone and become close but you’re always fighting the urge to be alone.
Yeah, I’m really comfortable alone, mainly because I do most of my writing on my own so that time is crucial for me. I love being with people Im close to, but I do get anxiety if I go out when there is something I want to work on but haven’t gotten to yet, or when I’m with bigger groups of people.
The video for “Unwind”, like the single, is awesome and unlike your other videos, it’s really cinematic. How did you put together the team for it?
Thanks (smiles) I worked on the video with Will Brunker who directed it. He wrote to me before the pandemic wanting to make something together and then we came together again for this single. We went back and forth for a few weeks creating a concept and then he brought in people to help. We wanted it to have a darker vibe and show how much distance a relationship can have even when you’re spending every minute together throughout the span of a day.
“Playing live has always been the best part for me because outside of music I have trouble being open and vulnerable with people so getting to do that on stage is crazy.”
Your forthcoming EP is in the wings. What can the listener expect?
Each song has its own thing, nothing feels too similar. These songs gave me relief, they are straightforward and felt freeing to write without trying to be like my past releases. Luca was super inspiring to work with and our collaboration came really naturally, so that made me want to take more risks which I think comes across in the ep.
You were on North America tour earlier this summer opening for Giant Rooks. What memories do you take with you and how much do you enjoy the moments on stage?
It was a beautiful tour. The two musicians that played with me are the sweetest people and so skilled, I love them. Everyone in Giant Rooks is also really kind and down to earth so there was good energy. These shows were some of my favorites yet because they were the first since the pandemic and the connection with the crowd felt really pure in a new way. Playing live has always been the best part for me because outside of music I have trouble being open and vulnerable with people so getting to do that on stage is crazy. People hear your most personal thoughts and memories and feel it all with you, it’s surreal.
“Success means something different to everyone, for me its knowing what you want.”
What has the highest priority in your life?
Making music, the people I love and my pug Basil.
You have already given many interviews. What question have you never been asked, but you would like to answer?
Honestly, none! I never even consider some of the questions Im asked until I’m asked them.
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