2013-02-27T23:12:09-05:00 2013-05-07T21:59:03-04:00

Earmilk Interview: Samo Sound Boy

Samo Sound Boy hails from Los Angeles and is one of two men (the other being Jerome LOL) behind rising label BODY HIGH. Sam Griesemer doesn't stop at running a label that's already hosted releases from the legendary Todd Edwards and bubbling-up stars like Jim E-StackMyrryrs, and DJ Sliink and printed the coolest t-shirts you could possibly be spotted in. He's also a regular on the DJ decks and makes his own music.

Catch him touring now with DaedelusSalvaTwo Fresh, and Ryan Hemsworth! You'll definitely find me at the Cambridge, MA edition this Friday.

We talked about what's happening with Sam and Body High this year, why he loves Los Angeles (and loft/warehouse parties that I found myself more and more envious of as he described them), what makes an event worth going to, and his musical inspirations. 

EARMILK: Before going too deeply into anything, what would you say you're primarily working on right now? Producer, DJ, label head, some mix of all of those?
Samo Sound Boy: I'm trying to balance them all. Working as label head takes up tons of time, and last year, when we were getting Body High off the ground and getting it started, I kind of concretely just gave all of my time over to that. The good thing is that now things run a little bit more smoothly and there are a lot of good people helping out too, so I have a little bit more time to focus on my own production.
I was always DJing a ton, even last year, but now, it feels good to have some more time to get back in the studio and work on my own stuff, which I've been doing a lot for the last month because I'm going on tour pretty soon and I'm finishing up another release before then. That's been cool, to get a chance to work on that a bunch.

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EM: And what kind of stuff is on that release?
SSB: It's going to be another release for Body High. It's some new stuff for me, I'm excited about it. It's kind of a bit different from some of my older stuff. It's a little hard to describe, but I'm excited for people to hear it, I think it's going to be cool.
EM: And what's going on with Body High at the moment? 
SSB: Lots of stuff! There's a ton of stuff lined up for this year, but the thing we just did was this all-originals mixtape from Floyd Campbell, who's a Body High artist, and he also lives out here in LA and is a good friend of mine. He just released VISIONS2, the second all-original mixtape that he's done, the second installment of this series. That's going to be followed up by an actual EP from him, which is going to be four new original tracks. And some of those were taken from bits and pieces of what's in VISIONS, so people will be able to see where it was coming from when it comes out.
That's the next thing, but we have a really busy year planned. After that, there's going to be about ten to twelve new Body High releases this year, including one or two full-length albums and a lot of repeat releases from people that released with us last year, and then a fair amount of new artists whose stuff we're really excited to debut.

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EM: How do you know that someone is a good fit for the label?
SSB: That's a really good question. I think a lot about that, it's hard to describe, I guess. We just kind of always want to work with people who are doing something different and who are doing stuff that I think is a little bit risky, for whatever reason. Floyd, for example, he's someone that had sent me demos even before Body High existed, and he just got my email from someone. I was just DJing and making mixes and stuff so I'm not even sure how he heard about me.
He sent me some stuff, and it was super, super rough and raw and pretty much unplayable. Just unfinished little things, but they had really, really crazy, unique elements, you know, in like, ten percent of them. And then the other 90% was kind of a total mess. But something like that really stuck out to me, and when we got the label going, I hit him back up and was like, do you want to work on doing something? Jerome and I helped him a lot with his production and stuff at the beginning, so he was able to get more of a grasp on it and really execute his ideas.
I guess that's a little off-topic, but we're always looking for stuff that's different and that's why I think the soundscape for Body High is going to grow and be more expansive. It's not always going to be one thing, but I think all the artists who are putting their stuff out on Body High kind of share a common thread of doing stuff that isn't just rehashed or part of a trend or the genre name of the moment. Everyone's doing their unique thing really well.

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EM: You actually already started to answer this, but I was also going to ask how much you feel like a label should be involved in helping artists produce work and to what extent that happens with you guys. 
SSB: That's another thing that I think about all the time and that I feel really strongly about. With Body High, I always want to make sure that we're involved as much as an artist wants or needs. I think a lot of times with labels, and especially labels that kind of do new dance music, so much of the business is done all online, people emailing tracks back and forth to each other, and they put them out or they don't, and it kind of becomes pretty impersonal. It makes everything a little bit more disposable.
With Body High, I really like the fact that everyone we've released, I actually know and know pretty well, and talk to a bunch, and we really try to make a big effort to make sure that we're not just the anonymous third party to get people's music out. You know that it's a real thing that actually exists in the world.
And I think that's why it really helps that I DJ so much and that Jerome also DJs a lot, and that we're not only are we just putting club music out, releasing it, but we're also out playing it and supporting it and pushing it in the real world, meeting people and getting to know other DJs all over the place and seeing what's going on and staying in the scene is really important for us, for the label.
EM: Having been to a ton of different events, what do you think are the most important elements that make a club event really good versus just average?
SSB: I think open-mindedness, both on the side of the performers and the crowd. You'll go to certain events where that's expected and that's kind of part of it, and you'll go to other events where no one has any patience and the DJs don't have any patience and they won't really try anything and they'll just try to appease the crowd whatever way.
A really great event is when people on both sides are committed to it being an interesting experience and not just some run-of-the-mill background DJ at a bar or something like that. We're trying to more and more Body High events, because that's how you can really get that and have a night that has a focus.
Stuff we're trying to do is have little Body High showcases wherever we go, so there are going to be four or five acts from Body High playing the whole night, going from 9 to 2 or 9 to 4 or wherever you are. It'll be a whole Body High experience, and people can come for however long they want for that, but the night will have a real correlation and a thread. That to me is really cool and exciting, and is something I really want to try and push more.
A lot of other labels do that and sometimes do it really well, and it's really cool, it's a different way to experience a show, rather than having an opening act and a headlining act and a closing act that are all kind of different. Sometimes that can be cool too, but a lot of times people just come for one and then leave, and we want to do something where it's not going to be the same thing all night but everything definitely has a common tie.
EM: That kind of cohesion is always nice. I feel like a lot of the best nights are the ones where all of the artists respect each other and have some idea of what the others are doing, so it's a bit more consistent, and people tend to stick around more.  
SSB: I like the idea of looking at a night the same way I look at a DJ set. You know, where it's like, there's a portion when things are getting warmed up, and then having stuff that's a little bit more challenging throughout, so when the real amazing party moments coming, people are really ready and excited for that. 

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EM: How did the Magical Properties tour with Daedelus come to fruition? That lineup, it's a lot of people from different segments, but it also seems like it'll all work great together. 
SSB: Yeah, I'm excited about that. That is kind of a different kind of lineup, but it's really it's all him, really. It's his tour and he asked Ryan Hemsworth and I to support him on that, so I thought that was really cool. It kind of shows you what he's valuing in his tours, just having interesting stuff from different worlds. I think he's somebody -- and I don't know him too well, yet -- but I think he's somebody who really values a no-boundaries, no-limit kind of aesthetic and approach to music. So I think for him to have different DJs and producers coming from different worlds but sharing the bill every night is really cool. We'll see how it goes, I think it'll be really cool. All the credit for the lineup is definitely to Daedelus.
EM: As someone has lived around different parts of the U.S. and been around the U.S. - this is sort of a vast question, so feel free to take it in whatever direction - what are your feelings on the dance music scene here right now and the direction that it's going in?
SSB: Honestly, I think L.A. is really exciting right now, and that's something that's been changing even in the last year, really. Because the clubs aren't really that great in L.A., and there's not a weekly night that's really amazing or anything like that, or a really forward, interesting thing, but there are these endless warehouse spaces and I've been seeing that get really utilized by people lately. There've been more warehouse events going on. Some are big and more official and people have obviously hired security and there's even a real bar and everything like that, and then some will just kind of be kids having a big house party in somebody's loft or something. But there are just endless spaces, all kind of south of downtown in L.A.
It's really cool, I think it's opened up and people have gotten more accustomed and comfortable with going down there to stuff. People are figuring out that there are all these venues that you can kind of do whatever you want with, and they don't have to go through Hollywood promoters or whatever to get some sort of deal to have a party. It's made it a lot more free, which makes it a lot more interesting. People are trying cool stuff that you'd never be able to pull off in a real club. L.A. is really awesome like that. For me, that's definitely one of the most exciting cities right now.
Where else? We're having a free Body High thing for SXSW, and Austin's really cool. It's a different kind of thing because it's so much smaller, but I really like when I do something down there or we do something for Body High, because I feel like it's kind of the opposite side of the spectrum from L.A. It's way small and I don't get the impression that there are tons and tons of available spaces for stuff, but the cool thing down there is just seeing how tight-knit the scene is. It just seems like a big group of friends that are always supporting the same kind of stuff and coming out and seeing people from out of town and stuff.

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EM: How did you first get involved with music?
SSB: Like a lot of kids my age in the states, when I was growing up in middle school and high school, I was listening to hip-hop all the time and didn't really know anything about dance music, but we were talking about this the other day, and I think the thing that was really the segway for me personally and definitely a lot of other people was finding out about Baltimore club stuff. I think that really joined the two, it kind of introduced me to so much more, because it kind of felt like it had this hip-hop mentality, I guess, when I first heard it. It was super simple, kind of raw and really high-energy, really appealing right off the bat.
Of course, you get into that, and then it kind of opens up this whole thing into house music and Chicago stuff and then stuff from all over the place. That was definitely the gateway for me. 
EM: Do you still listen to that kind of music?
SSB: Yeah, I love stuff from Baltimore, and we're working with some people down there on releases for the label this year. It's funny, six years ago or so the Baltimore club stuff was going through a period, the same way moombahton or trap or something is now, where every single person on the Internet is making a remix in that style. It's a little bit off the general radar right now, but there's still amazing stuff coming out of that city, and I really like all the classic stuff, to me that's still some of the best stuff ever. We've always been excited about that and we're looking forward to doing some stuff with that this year for sure.  
EM: And what else have you been listening to lately?
SSB: Just good, inspiring stuff? I like a lot of stuff from all over the place. I think that label Jack for Daze that's part of Clone puts out a lot of really good stuff. I like what the Fade to Mind crew does, I've always been inspired by what they're doing. A good friend of mine, Dubbel Dutch, his new record just came out on Mixpak, "Self Help Riddim", and that's really unbelievable, I've been loving that. That's all I can think of right now. I listen to tons of new rap and hip-hop and stuff all the time, so that's definitely outside of the Body High realm and stuff that I enjoy and am inspired by.

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EM: Any parting words?
I've always been really excited about L.A. It's just awesome right now, there are so many people doing cool stuff. Shout out to New Body Music, James Del Barco, and Delivery, all really awesome acts who are doing their thing in L.A. and have really awesome stuff coming out this year, so people should definitely check them out.
Dance · Interview · Main Stage


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