Q&A: sami.the.great

Photo cred: NewReleasesNow.com

Photo cred: NewReleasesNow.com

Brooklyn-based musician sami.the.great (Sami Akbari) has already made her stop in Des Moines, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give her music a good hard listen. Slightly reminiscent of Eisley and Lilly Allen (in my non-professional opinion), Sam spent part of her life in Iran and part in Pennsylvania. Read on to see how her upbringing influences her music and find out which musician makes her cry every time.
Band Bombshell: Who are your musical muses/inspirations?
sami.the.great: The Beatles, The Supremes, The Shirelles, The Ronettes most girl groups of the 50’s/60’s especially those with a “The” at the beginning of them.
BB: Favorite concert moment?
STG: Too many to list! I predict seeing Paul McCartney for the first time ever this summer at Bonnaroo will top the list, though. Does a concert-movie moment count? Because when Janis Joplin performs “Cry Baby” in Festival Express, I cry every time. I wish I could have seen that for real.
BB: Tell me a little bit about your “a-ha” moment. When did you discover that you wanted to pursue music fulltime?
STG: I was in college doing hospitality for the bands that came to our school. I had been singing, writing and playing different instruments my whole life, but it wasn’t until I spent a day with a touring musician and seeing all the behind stuff that went on that it clicked and I realized that I was witnessing what I was meant to be doing. Still waiting on the tour bus though . . .
BB: Describe your sound in three words that begin with a “G.”
STG: Hard question! Damn, you! Ummm . . .
1. Genuine?
2. Gifted?
3. Gorgeous??
BB: How did growing up in Iran influence your music?
STG: I was actually born and mostly raised in the U.S., but I did spend a lot of time in Iran growing up, mostly in the summers and then we did also live there for a bit while I was in 5th grade. I think being half-Iranian and spending a lot of time there growing up influenced my music by way of simply molding me as a person that I have become. I would not be me without my upbringing and I am certain I would be creating different music (if I were making any music at all) if I were not me. It’s as basic as that!
BB: Have you gone back to Iran to play any shows?
STG: I have not! Hopefully one day!
BB: If there’s one thing you want listeners to know about you as a musician, what would it be?
STG: Hmm . . . I’m a pretty sensitive person, so don’t talk shit about my music and at least pretend to be listening when I’m playing it live in front of you 😉 Does that work?
BB: What were the obstacles you came across as someone stuck between two cultures trying to make it as a musician?
STG: I don’t think I necessarily came across any obstacles as a musician being stuck between two cultures, but it’s definitely been a part of my life in general. I never quite feel like I totally belong in any certain “ethnic group.” I’m clearly not your all-American, girl-next-door kinda lady, but I’m also not straight up middle-eastern Iranian. I think sometimes in our culture, it can be hard to feel like you fit in when you don’t fit into any one mold in particular which is interesting considering we are just one big meltiing pot. I will say, that it may just be me making myself feel that way. My sister is made up of the same material as I am, and I don’t think she has any feelings about it one way or the other. I should ask her and see!
BB: What was your local music scene like growing up?
STG: Pretty non-existent. I would mostly go see the bigger, national bands that played in Philly. I loved going to the Electric Factory and the TLA. I remember really liking this local band in high school called Jealousy Factor and I would also sometimes go see punk bands from my high school play in churches, which seems to be where a lot of punk bands play!
BB: If you could choose any musician to play with who would it be and why?
STG: Paul McCartney. Because it’s Paul McCartney.
BB: What advice do you have for local musicians trying to make it outside of their city limits?
STG: I would say it’s really scary putting yourself out there and taking the chance to just be pretty poor for a while, but personally, it’s all been worth it. I am happiest going to different places, and bringing my music to different people around the country. Hopefully one day the world! It’s certainly a risk to put everything on the line, but it’s worth it. I think, at least.

BB: Your music has some strong independent tones—take me through your songwriting process. How do you come up with new content and put it into words?
STG: Most of the time I will sit down at my keyboard or with my guitar and just start playing different chords and I’ll see where the music takes me lyrically and go with it. These days I’ve been coming up with ideas for songs while I’m on the road and holding them for safe keeping until I get a moment to sit down and develop them. Touring has been great because I’ve had a lot of time to think and also I get to meet new and inspiring people on a daily basis.

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