Samia’s debut folk rock record, ‘The Baby’, is a personal collection of songs that continually resonate, alleviating the fear of loneliness in those who listen.
Stream: “Big Wheel” – Samia
The fear of being alone is a widely relatable feeling; it’s also the feeling at the heart of NYC-based Samia Finnerty’s debut folk rock record, The Baby, has proven to be a collection of songs that continually resonate, gently alleviating that fear of loneliness in those who listen. Comprised of eleven tracks, The Baby (released August 28, 2020, via Grand Jury) is both intimate and fun. From a sound bite of Finnerty’s grandmother singing in Arabic in the opening of “Pool,” to the personal poetic honesty that permeates “Is There Something in the Movies?,” Finnerty’s songwriting seems to provide a window into her world, as well as and into the nuances of emotions we all experience.
Finnerty, who releases music under her first name, Samia, has grown up in and around the creative world. Through those years of experience and attentiveness, she’s developed a sure voice of her own, as well as an openness to collaborate with friends. Though The Baby is quite a personal record, Finnerty started an exciting project: The Baby Reimagined. Coming out January 15, 2021, The Baby Reimagined is a re-release of The Baby, with all of the songs reworked by some of her favorite friends and artists (Remo Drive, Briston Maroney, Anjimile, to name a few!)
Finnerty spoke to Atwood Magazine about the making of both versions of The Baby, her inspirations as of late, and her dream line-up for a show once we can safely gather together again. Read about it in our conversation below!
Stream: ‘The Baby’ – Samia
A CONVERSATION WITH SAMIA
Atwood Magazine: Hi, Samia! Firstly, how have you been doing during this weird almost-year of quarantine?
Samia: I’ve been doing alright! I’ve been fortunate enough to spend plenty of time with people I love and have been able to keep writing and recording a little bit. I’m really bummed we can’t tour, but I’m mostly just grateful that my friends and family are safe. Eating a lot of cauliflower and trying to spend time outside.
The Baby is such a beautiful record – one of my favorites from 2020. Being your debut LP, how long have these songs been in the making?
Samia: It took two years to write all the songs for the record. We got to play some of them on tour before we recorded any of them so it kind of felt like a really long workshopping process.
And you worked with friends (Jake Luppen, Nathan Stocker, Caleb Hinz) while recording. What was that experience like? And were you guys listening to anything in particular that influenced the album’s sound?
Samia: It was an incredible experience—the kind of collaboration that nurtured honesty and was actually conducive to creativity because I trusted them with the songs. I’d been listening to Caleb’s album Same Dif from his band The Happy Children that whole summer, so that definitely influenced my inclinations and made me super excited to work with him.
The lyricism throughout is so intricate and unique. At the moment, do you have a favorite line or verse from the record?
Samia: Thank you! The ones I felt most strongly about were, “chase it with what I was gonna say” from “Winnebago” and “I will stand in for an older me” from “Does Not Heal.”
I admittedly had to look up the meaning of the word “Triptych,” but that song really struck me in particular. What’s the story behind how “Triptych” came to life?
Samia: I’d just read the story of Francis Bacon and his lover/muse, George Dyer, whose chaotic lifestyle fueled Bacon’s artistic inspiration. George overdosed in the bathroom of Bacon’s hotel room, who famously painted a triptych of his lover’s final moments. I had just been through a pretty tough breakup and felt I might be purposefully getting myself into dicey situations to justify my big feelings and write about them. It was a pretty blatant cry for help and an opportunity to confess my fear of being misunderstood.
Each song on The Baby feels like a separate moment, yet it’s an extremely cohesive record. When you started writing this collection of songs, did you have a general theme in mind, or did that come along over time?
Samia: The general theme was a fear of being alone, and deciding that it’s okay to need people and lean on community!
Oftentimes, a piece of art one makes shifts in meaning when it’s shared with the world; now that The Baby has been released in full for a few months, have you experienced any of those shifts in how you view the album?
Samia: I definitely think that I already kind of had the answers to a lot of the questions I was asking. I also realized I sing the word “extraordinary” in a British accent and the word “gonna” in a southern accent for some reason!
You’ve said you often write songs by combining lines in poems you’ve written. How did that practice of turning poems into songs start? And are there any writers – music or poetry-wise – that you’ve been especially inspired by?
Samia: I write a lot of poems to try and make sense of my feelings and ideas as immediately as possible. I like to use hindsight to write songs with a thesis so poems are a great first step before I realize what I’m actually trying to say. My favorite poets are Mary Louise Parker, William Carlos Williams, Maya Angelou, and Anne Sexton.
Making and releasing music during a pandemic is obviously an unforeseen circumstance for everyone; how have you been finding inspiration to create during this time?
Samia: Listening to my friends’ music!
Speaking of friends’ music, what was the inspiration behind the idea to re-release The Baby with covers by other artists, and how did the list of artists involved come together?
Samia: We were talking about doing remixes and thought it would be exciting to ask some of my favorite artists to rework the songs however they want! It truly is the coolest thing I’ve been a part of; I never could’ve imagined getting to hear my songs covered by so many of the people who inspire me.
Lastly, once it’s safe to play shows (in front of people) again, where is the first place you hope to play these new songs, and what other bands/artists would you want to share the bill with?
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📸 © Jessica DiMento
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