Interview: Samantha J
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 11:44:51
Samantha J is about to turn up the heat for pop music. The Jamaican-born songstress stirs a musical cauldron of pop, reggae, and dancehall that practically bubbles over with effusive and enigmatic energy. Her single "Tight Skirt" hits a boiling point with its unshakable chorus and sexy swagger. It's the best way to meet Jamaica's hottest new export and the start to what's bound to be an astounding career worldwide.
If you're in New York, she'll be playing the Hot 976 "On Da Reggae Tip 2014" show Friday August 29, 2014 at 6pm [JBL Live At Pier 97 Hudson River Park @ W. 55th]! Make sure you hit up the show.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Samantha J talks "Tight Skirt" and so much more.
What's the story behind "Tight Skirt"?
When I was 16-years-old, I recorded "Tight Skirt" in Kingston, Jamaica at WashRoom Entertainment Studio. What happened was, we were listening to a track Red Rat released in the nineties that goes, "Hey you girl inna di tight up skirt". It's called "Tight Up Skirt". We decided to say, "Me a di girl inna di tight up skirt" [singing]. My song "Tight Skirt" is actually a response to Red Rat's hit single, "Tight Up Skirt". He was saying, "You girl". I'm responding.
When did you first hear Red Rat's "Tight Up Skirt"?
I grew up listening to it because it's such a classic. It was actually released before I was born. So, before I could talk, I would listen to that song [Laughs]. It's a part of me.
Is it important for you to incorporate Jamaican music in what you do?
My music is a mixture of dancehall, reggae, and pop music. Really, I'm not sure how I get it to sound like that. I be myself in the studio. It doesn't matter if the track is up-tempo or down-tempo, fast or slow, or reggae or pop. It's more how I deliver myself on the track. If I'm the studio and, even if I'm singing a track someone else wrote for me, I sing it in my way. I'm really making the song mine.
Where did the idea for the music video come from?
We all had input in the video, and we shot it in downtown Kingston, Jamaica. We felt like we had to do that real, raw Jamaican feel. When you watch, you get the actual experience of what Jamaica feels and looks like. It's got that dancehall.
Are songs predicated on storytelling for you?
Definitely! It has to make sense to me. Even if it's just a simple song about a vibe, the music still has to make sense. It still has to have meaning to it. "Tight Skirt" isn't just saying, "I'm a girl in a tight skirt". It says, "I'm really confident like a girl who has a tight skirt on". It's about confidence.
What artists shaped you?
I've always looked up to Rihanna. I love her drive. I feel like she's always in the studio because she releases album after album. I look up to her for her music and that passion. Another person is Justin Bieber. People are always surprised when I say that, but he inspires me on another level. Before he was really "Justin Bieber", I had been watching his little YouTube videos. I saw his movie. I've seen his whole journey, and I've seen him grow. I've learned so much from him.
Does "Tight Skirt" open the door to more music?
I'm promoting "Tight Skirt" now, but in between all of the performances, I'm doing so much recording in the studio. I'm in New York and Los Angeles working. I have an EP that will be out within the next couple of months. I want to release the album in the first quarter of 2015.
How much does the atmosphere affect recording? Is it really different in Los Angeles versus Kingston?
That's a really good question. I've been to L.A. twice. The vibe is so different than Jamaica. I like it because once I'm in the studio, it's literally my comfort zone. I feel like doing it. There's no difference in the way I sound in the studio. It still comes out in the studio. It gives me a different vibe.
Do you have one vision or vibe in mind for the EP?
The EP will have a bunch of different kinds of genres, but I'll still bring my Jamaican self out in parts of each song. There will be some down-tempos. There will be songs with swag. Then, there will be songs with big emotional meaning to them.
What's the one thing first-time visitors to Jamaica should definitely do?
Food! You need to come down here. Don't even go to the high class restaurants. Just walk along the side of the road, find a shop that sells food, and they'll have the best food ever. It's completely different from anything you'd get anywhere. It's amazing.
What's next for you?
I can't wait to hit the road and perform. I just want to get out there and keep working.
Have you heard Samantha J?