Artist Spotlight on Singer/Songwriter Samanta Liza
Written by: Vaughn Stewart
Photography by: CiNava Photography
Stylist: Ambika Sanjana
MUA: Athena Zhe
Hair: Mr. Bryan Cristo
Samanta Liza has a uniquely, soulful voice that one can definitely hear hitting the airwaves across the country, and around the world for that matter. The singer/songwriter has just completed an EP called Back to Earth, and in our opinion, it’s outstanding! Cool America Magazine sat down with the artist to find out a little bit about her, and her music.
Samanta, how did you get involved in singing?
- I’m pretty sure I started singing when I was 5 because my mom always played music around the house. In Sweden in middle school, all students are enrolled in music as a subject and I remember music being my favorite subject. It was the highlight of my week.
Do you write your own music?
- Yes! Been writing my own music since I was about 13 years old. Started out writing acoustic music: my voice and guitar and that was it. Now that I am writing and producing my own music, the world of music creation is so vast. This is just the beginning.
Who is your record label? How did they discover you?
- This summer, I have several releases coming up with different record labels: My “Back to Earth” EP features two tracks “Under Water” and “Dream of You” and is being released on Club Rapture, a Brooklyn-based record label owned by artists who discovered me through a mutual music livestream/dj group chat on WhatsApp!
- Other releases coming up this summer include another EP, called Alive, being released on a label based in Germany (Shiva Audio Records) with producer Steve Kay. This is a pretty amazing story. I’m not sure exactly how, but he discovered my music on SoundCloud and reached out to me on that platform. He asked if I could do vocals for his track “Summer is Over” (also being released later this year), and I gave it a listen and quickly agreed to collaborate. Not long after, I sent him some of my tracks that were in progress (this was before I started getting really into production) and he offered to produce one of my originals, and well here we are several months later releasing an EP together.
- I’m also releasing a single with my friend Pante on the Dutch label Armada Music. I’m really excited for this track to get out there. I wrote it when I was in a very dark place, but something beautiful came out of it. Armada discovered me through Pante, who I got introduced to by a good friend of mine. It was pretty serendipitous. I was asking my friend for feedback on a track and he forwarded it to Pante, who then came back and said he was interested in a collab. Pante is an incredible producer who just released his first track with Armada in May this year. I can’t wait to continue collaborating with him and to watch him grow as an artist.
What do you like more, singing or acting?
- Definitely singing. Acting is fun, but music is my love and passion.
“I’ve been writing my own music since I was thirteen.”
What singers are you currently listening to?
- I am very particular about the music I listen to depending on my mood and why I am listening in the first place. As a DJ, I’m constantly looking for new music that fits different vibes for the different kinds of sets. Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of my music from labels like Armada, All Day I Dream, Crosstown Rebels, and Do Not Sit, as well as from a ton of smaller, lesser-known labels that I discover on SoundCloud. I’ve really been enjoying Sebastien Leger, Roy Rosenfeld, and Double Touch. As a singer/songwriter, I listen to a completely different set of artists. Amy Winehouse and Snoh Aalegra are in constant rotation. I really love randomly switching between genres from day to day to keep things interesting. In addition to deep and organic house, at any given point in mine you might also catch me listening to 70s disco, 80s rock, or 90s trip hop. Listening to music is such an active experience for me, I honestly struggle to do anything else while listening to music. I’m constantly analyzing all the elements and layers, the way things are processed, panned, automated, etc.
What have you been streaming lately?
I have barely been streaming because I have been so busy with producing music and playing shows. The free time that I do have, I spend with friends. I did recently binge watch Ginny & Georgia on Netflix though in one night… LOVED that show.
What female singer would you like to do a duet with?
I’d say Amy Winehouse if she were alive…but – and this might be a surprise – but I think I’m gonna have to say Miley Cyrus. I love the range and rawness in her voice. She also seems like she’d be super fun to perform with. The variety in her music is truly amazing and she seems to have an awesome personality. She just doesn’t give a f*ck about some things, and I love that about her.
What male singer would you like to do a duet with.
I confess I used to be obsessed with Bruno Mars several years ago. I’ve seen him perform live a couple of times and his stage presence is absolutely amazing. He’s an incredibly talented songwriter and his voice is just ugh, so good. Thinking more specifically about my current genre though, I’d have to say Monolink. I’d LOVE to do a collaboration with Monolink, wow. His 2018 burning man set is incredible–if you haven’t yet, definitely catch it on YouTube.
“To be honest, music HAD taken a backseat in my life for several years.”
On another note, how has the Pandemic affected your life?
The pandemic has affected my life in so many ways. During the beginning of the pandemic, I decided to focus on fitness. I started a personal trainer course, led online group fitness classes via Zoom, and trained every day, sometimes twice a day. I got super into cycling, bought my first road bike, biked all over the city and Brooklyn. I loved it! Later, during the summer, I started venturing outside more and met more, new people. I connected with other musicians in the community and started rediscovering my passion for music. To be honest, music had taken a backseat in my life for several years. I wrote a lot of original music towards the end of high school and during college, but when I started working in the city, I was so focused on work, I kind of forgot about music. It wasn’t until last summer that I emerged out of that horrible writer’s block and reconnected with music again. … I caught covid in November and was bed ridden for about a week. I was lucky enough not to have to go into the hospital, but I had really bad body aches, fevers, migraines, loss of smell and taste, numbness, fatigue, brain fog. After a couple of weeks, most of the symptoms went away, though I experienced a tremendous amount of anxiety. I had never had anxiety before, so this was all new to me. It took a few months until I was able to get a grasp of it. I didn’t know how to deal with it at first and it was very scary. I had a few panic attacks, and during the first one I genuinely believed I was dying. I really truly feel for those who struggle with anxiety. It can be really terrifying.
What do you think you’ve learned during this time?
That being said, I’ve learned so many new things during this time. New instruments. Music production. I picked up Ableton in November last year, and now I’m releasing original mixes with labels. I was really consistent with spending at least 15-20 hours per week on recording and production. This meant staying up until 2am. Researching new plugins, new methods, getting tips and tricks from friends, asking for feedback constantly. I am absolutely obsessed with production now and never looking back.
I’ve also learned how to try and be more in tune with my body and mind. To really listen to when I need to pause and take a break. I’m always moving at 150%. And sometimes, I crash and it can be bad. So, I’ve learned the hard way to be more proactive about listening to my body and giving it the care and rest that it needs.
What do you like to do on your spare time?
What spare time? Haha. If I’m not working my day job (UX research at Equinox Media), I’m working my night job (music). On the occasion that I do neither of those, I’m usually enjoying other artists’ music with my friends. In general, I’d say it’s all about music and good company.
What’s something you like to do with friends?
Jam! Go to music festivals, concerts, parties. Travel (as soon as we can do that again). Eat. I do really enjoy quality food with my friends.
What’s something you love to do alone?
I actually really love running alone. I haven’t been running as much lately, but I used to go for long runs on the weekends, at one point I was training for a half marathon. I’d love to get back to that eventually.
“I’ve learned to be more in tune with my body and mind.”
How do you like to dress normally?
This is going to sound very unexciting, but I have to be honest. I love wearing athleisure. Lulu’s or Alo’s are my go-to. I’ve been wearing my Equinox Media hoodie a lot lately too. But this is all when at home, which is often now that I’m working from home and producing from home. When I go out, you can ask any of my friends, I have my go-to 2-piece: black top and black high waisted pants, sometimes paired with a kimono.
On the red carpet?
Honestly, I’d really just need to hire someone to style me…I’m admitting I’m a bit clueless in this department. In general, I love wearing backless pieces though. My back tattoos have really become part of my identity, so I’d probably want to show those.
Any favorite designers?
Love Carolina Herrera for her bags. They are gorgeous. Stuart Weitzman for shoes. I also really love The Frye Company. I do also have to give a shoutout to my friend Kimono Dave, he makes really awesome kimonos, and my friend Franscesca Inocentes who makes gorgeous swimwear.
We are called Cool America. What do you find cool about America?
America is cool because I really do believe that if you work hard, are consistent, and are resourceful, you will accomplish what you set out to do. Another really cool thing about America, or New York City rather, is the people you meet. I have been living in NY for about 6 years now, and my closest friends are from all over the world. The people you meet when you put yourself out there is just incredible. So many smart, talented people with such drive to just go out there and do whatever it is they wanna do. It’s amazing.
What do you find cool about yourself?
Probably the fact that I am half Swedish, half Indonesian Chinese, born in Hawaii but spent my entire life moving around from England, Sweden, Kuwait, Florida, Qatar, Shanghai, to New York. I’m not from anywhere, but rather a bunch of places. And, while it was a challenge to spend 7th grade in 3 different countries, I am so incredibly grateful for the way I was raised because it really contributed to who I am today, how I value different cultures and music, and my understanding of the world. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. (Thank you, mom & dad!)
To hear more from Samanta Liza check out her links below…