Words courtesy of Martyn Pepperell
Photography by Theo Jemison

Samiyam Brainfeeder/Hyperdub (USA)

I could write an introductory paragraph here, but if you check this blog on a regular basis, you know who Samiyam is! Besides, with a bio like this, why fuck with magic.

"Since the year 2004, Sam has been the proud owner of two midi cables. They are currently in his closet under some other shit"

"sounds like: got a gun, screw driver, a knife and shank/ plus I break face bones with my platinum rings"

"Tools: Sam, the MPC 27000XXL, the Motif, the Triton, the Fantom, a crate of $1bin soul records and a platinum MIDI-toaster oven"

Cool. Good to finally talk to you man! I gotta let you know, some people out here are pretty excited about you passing through New Zealand and Australia!

Yeah man, I’m pretty happy with it. I’ve had a few people hitting me up about it online, like, I saw that you were coming to my city. Actually it’s probably the most for any tour or shows that I’ve done!

Heavy! So, let's get down to business. How long has music been part of your life for?

Always, always! For most of my life I have felt like music is the most important thing! I used to draw a lot, that used to be my main creative outlet, but still, I felt like music was the most important thing. I was always listening to music and it was always a big part of my life. If my parents ever needed to punish me, they would have to steal my boombox or something.

Word to that! So, can you remember when music first really captured you?

In what way, like an album or a song that was really special?

Yeah yeah, just a moment!

Honestly, [It was] Michael Jackson [man!] That was when I was first like, wow, this is the shit. I used to be in front of the mirror doing all the dance moves and I knew all the lyrics and everything! That was the first music I got lost in.

I’ll tell you what, now that is a universal experience people all over the world can relate to. How old were you then?

How old was I then? I guess I was like six or seven years old!

I hear that! So, when did the DJing and production buzz kick in for you?

Right at the end of high school! I had been interested for a few years in the production side of Hip-Hop. I went through a long time of, like years, when I was only listening to Rap, and I really got into DJ Premier and Alchemist and I really wanted to find out how dudes like that were making their stuff. At the end of high school I got an MPC and was trying to make some beats.

Word! How did it progress for you?

So I got the, what do you call it? The MPC and I just sat around looking at it for years. Nah, not really, I made a few beats on it, but it was a lot to start with, I just bought it because I was reading about it in all these interviews, but I was too young to come up with an idea like trying the machine before actually buying it. I just bought it because a bunch of my favourite guys were using it, and I tried to use it for a few years, then I switched over to the SP-303, and that was when I started really feeling like I was making the ideas that were in my head. It was easier for me to use that kind of simpler sequencer. This was in Ann Arbor, Michigan, right after high school.

What about DJing?

That came later, because I was pretty much the opposite of all those dudes whose interviews I was reading. Like DJ Premier was like, "yeah, I DJed for ten years and then I decided to make some beats!" For me I was making beats for five or six years and then I started letting people hear my music. Actually I started getting offers like people trying to book me and I wasn’t set up, so I had to figure out how I could play my music to people. So DJing and performing came after I’d been making music for ages.

So, having loved music from such a young age, is it safe to assume you grew up in a musical household?

My mum and dad always listened to different types of music! My dad was always listening to Jazz, so I was always hearing all kinds of Jazz, everything from Traditional to crazy Free Jazz. My mum used to call it noise music! She was like, "Why is this guy just banging on the piano like a madman?" My dad was just like, "because that is what he wants to do!" I think a bunch of the influence comes from listening to all the crazy Jazz stuff my dad was always playing, when we drove around and when he was hanging out at home, he would always have music playing on the stereo, neither one of them had played an instrument for years, but they always had good music playing on the stereo.

Cool, now, with your production, while you do the sample flip thing also, you're known for having a real digital sound. What do you think made you gravitate towards such synthetic music?

I only listened to Hip-Hop for years when I was growing up, and I just got really into the instrumental side of it. Also I used to listen to a lot of [soul, RnB and Funk], and I still do, but I say used to because I went through phases of only listening to one type of music. I would always listen to things like Soul records or Eighties RnB shit and just hear one four bar part that I just wished I could hear looping for three minutes or whatever. Anyway, I just started thinking like that, and I don’t know which came from which, whether that is what it was, just wanting to hear the dopest part of a record, according to some producers ears, looped up or if It was listening to that music, the old seventies, eighties, RnB, funk, whatever and, I dunno, I’m not sure which one came first, me wanting to hear little loops, or the fact that that could have just been from listening to so much Hip-Hop and it started making me think about things in those [sort of looped] terms.

Yeah yeah, I hear that, codified structures!

Yeah, [I think] that is pretty much where it came from, just listening to a bunch of Hip-Hop, [that is where I got] the interest in the Beat stuff, you know?

Cool! How did you connect with Flying Lotus and the rest of the Brainfeeder boys?

Actually, years ago, a friend of mine from back home convinced me to start a myspace page, which at the time I thought was just the silliest shit ever. He was showing it to me one day and he was like, "People listen to my music in fucking Switzerland and Bolivia and tell me how much they fucking like it." I was like, "Yeah, I guess that is kinda cool". So I started this page. I put up some beats at the time. I don’t remember exactly how we found each other, but [Flying] Lotus and I, we listened to each others music and got in contact, and you know, we decided to collaborate on some shit.

So you guys met on the internet?

Yeah yeah, that is basically it, we met on the internet. It was like, I like your beats. Dude, I like your beats. Let's make some fucking beats man. It was pretty much as simple as that.

That's a very modern way to form a friendship isn't it?

Yeah, basically, it was a friendship of the new millennium! What do you call it, after we had been collaborating on music for a while, just sending sounds back and forth; doing songs like that, then I came out to L.A. a few times. I came out twice before I moved here. I got to go to Low End Theory, I got to play at Low End Theory, which just blew my mind. I’d never been to any show like that. I met a bunch of these dudes here, like Willie [The Gaslamp Killer] and his roommate who I’m chilling with now. I met these guys when I first came out here and they’re good friends of mine now. I met a bunch of other people who were closely involved with the Low End Theory group and it just kind of went from there really. I really liked it out here and I felt like I could really get along with a lot of these people I was meeting. So I moved out here!

Mean. Now, one of your more notable releases is your Rap Beats Vol.1 CDR. How did your career and life change after you put that out?

It was really noticeable when I put it out, because I was broke and had just been fired from my job! I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I was skipping meals and shit, than I just decided to [put something together]. I had all those beats and at first, I put it together as a kind of thing to shop beats, but then I decided to let some people hear it. They were just like, "Dude, you should just sell that shit! Just put an album cover on it and sell it! Call it a compilation!" That is what it was really - a compilation of ideas in songs, and things really started picking up straight after that.

Samiyam will perform in Wellington on the 9th of September at Sandwiches Nightclub with support from Alphabethead, Sons Of Puha, Zacinfact + Amuse, Angus and The Audiowhore.

Tickets are available via / or Real Groovy & Samurai Store.

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