After falling for rock n roll, soul and the blues in his native Switzerland, Sam Himself followed the music. It took him to Brooklyn. “I love Switzerland, but it feels like there’s bit of a glass ceiling there culturally. New York is where you want to be for music. Or also Austin, as I’m discovering.”
This is Sam’s first time playing SXSW, we’re outside in the Texas sunshine at The Sidewinder off 6th Street. After attending the festival a few times as a fan, it seems Sam has a love affair with Austin, “I just love being around so many new musicians and discovering new shit that I didn’t expect to see.”
In close collaboration with producer Daniel Schlett (Bob Dylan, The War on Drugs), Sam has released his second EP “Nobody” and is working on his first full length album, due out later this year.
Written from personal experience, Sam explains that ‘Nobody’, the EP title track, explores “the pain, at first, of showing up somewhere new with all of this excitement, all of this ambition, and running into a lot of closed doors. But then starting to find your own way in, and relishing in the fact that you’re not really accountable to anyone because you don’t have a reputation. No one knows who you are and no one cares, so you can do what you want.”
Sam has a Swiss last name that no one can pronounce, hence the stage name. He also shares a funny story about his stage name, “I first played in bands in New York, and those bands kept getting smaller. At one point, I was in a duo and I was ready to go on stage but the other half of the duo hadn’t showed up yet. So the announcer of the show, in this weird bar in New York, he looked at me – I just shrugged, I didn’t know what to do, and so he announced me as ‘Sam Himself’. It kinda stuck.”
At SXSW there can be a certain pressure to find a manager, agent or impress A & Rs, but Sam doesn’t give in to those kind of pressures, and nor should he. His music speaks for itself. “I just feel pressured to play a good show. And write the best songs. I hope my music is something people can relate to – I hope it helps people enjoy who they truly are, no matter who that is.”