USTYLE: So, tell us a little bit about Samiah Perry.
SP: Well, I am a Berklee College of Music student in my sophomore year now, majoring in music business and songwriting – double major.
USTYLE: Are you from this area?
SP: I am actually. Born and raised in DC.
USTYLE: So, a question readers are curious to know: How did you get into playing rock?
SP: That’s so funny you ask that. It started when I was about 13 or 14. I had expressed an interest in B.B. King first and just listening to the blues. I had a mentor also at the time who said if you are interested in this, then maybe you should pluck the guitar. He showed me tapes of the old House of Blues where I could see Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton – just a lot of great, great people. Once I saw that, I was like, I really want to do this. I called my mom and she said, “Are you serious?” I said, “Yes.” She then went and bought me my first guitar and since then I have been in love with it.
USTYLE: Would you say B.B. King and Eric Clapton were your early influences?
SP: They did actually. I think that learning the blues was my intro to rock because it’s really the foundation. The blues was used to develop rock ‘n’ roll. It was how we got the Led Zeppelins and David Bowies of the world and great people like that. I would encourage anyone to go and listen to that stuff because it’s so important to everything we hear today.
USTYLE: Are you self-taught on the guitar?
SP: Yes, it wasn’t until later that I got classically trained on the guitar. I was not trained before I enrolled into Berklee; once I was enrolled I actually took lessons there and I also got my theory skills and everything involved on my guitar there, but prior to that, I am very much self-taught.
USTYLE: So what inspires your music?
SP: I think a little bit of life, and if I am going to be honest, I have to say a lot of me in general. The songs I write are from the point of view of the things I have felt and thought of in my life, including my current song titled “Forever.” Everyone has loved a person. I love love and all of it in general, and I think that with my upcoming that is a little ways down the road – I’m saving it for you guys – it’s called “Risen.” When I was thinking of a title, I thought what would I scream to someone if it was the only thing I could say about me and it was that: “Risen.” I used to be shy but I am not shy anymore, and it’s written from the point of view of that person you have become when you step out on stage; all of your doubts and fears disappear and it’s that person speaking to the old you, saying, it’s my time now. I enjoy that.
USTYLE: Tell us about your single “Forever.”
SP: This is the funniest story because it actually never happened. It was literally just an old voice note. My producer had joked around with me and I said I have a final project to do. I want to record you and you should have a band in place. I was like, okay, and like two days before the project was due she says, “Where is your band and where is your song?” I was like, “You were serious?” I had no idea that she was serious, so it was the funniest situation. I show this little voice note of “Forever.” She heard the melody and said, “Yeah, do it.” I came up with “Forever” in two days. I presented it to her and she was like, “That’s solid.”
USTYLE: What’s your favorite: writing or performing?
SP: I would say it is definitely a mixture of both. I have been performing on stage my entire life. I was a dancer for ten years before I started playing the guitar.
USTYLE: So you’ve always been a performer?
SP: Yes. I’ve always performed, so it’s going to be interesting to put the guitar and dance together. I’m looking forward to having a great live show.
USTYLE: So what is the anticipated release date for the “Risen” album?
SP: We do not have a definite release date yet, but 90% of it is pretty much recorded. We are saving some space for some really cool features, but other than that it is pretty much done. I am excited to share it with everybody. I think it will be a little different and hopefully the reaction to that will be more than I hope for.
USTYLE: Did you do a lot of writing on this album?
SP: Yes, pretty much everything. My producer is background vocal queen, so I’ll always have her to do my background vocals. Whenever I write a song I always turn to her and say, “What do you hear?” It’s cool to be able to bounce ideas off of her, because not everybody gets it. I think having that is important.
USTYLE: Will there be any guest appearances?
SP: Well, that’s what we are determining now, because I don’t really want it to be just me. We want to save room for other people’s gifts and talents to be featured as well.
USTYLE: Anyone in particular that you are looking for?
SP: Someone with the right spirit and skills that can contribute to our brand as well as us to theirs. One particular song we have we are looking for a rapper. Everyone we have played this song for has said it’s so upbeat it needs a rapper.
USTYLE: Within the next two years where do you see your career?
SP: That’s a good question. Within the next two years, first and foremost: GRADUATING! But even during that span I would love to be performing and making a trail up and down the East Coast, pop over to the West Coast and see what I can do in LA, then maybe after that move to the Midwest because I have this very cool vibe over there with the people and little bars where I can hear and play the blues.
USTYLE: How would you categorize the type of rock you play?
SP: I would say that the foundation of everything I have written has roots in classic rock and then there is little nuances and influences from other things such as metal and hard rock and some blues as well. You will hear mostly all of those things at some point – oh, and some pop, too. My vocals are more pop, but it’s mostly geared towards rock ‘n’ roll.
USTYLE: If you could change one thing within the music industry, what would that one thing be?
SP: Well, I have noticed that the shelf life does not have the same longevity for women that it has for men. I would like to change that. I look at artists who have constantly reinvented themselves year after year, like Beyoncé for example, and forcing themselves to make people recognize that they are still relevant. I think that needs to happen with women in rock ‘n’ roll because it seems like after a certain age they tend to fall off. Men can have a career up into their 70s. That is a little goal for myself that I want to be able to change, to push that envelope.
USTYLE: What advice would you give any aspiring artist?
SP: Something that is really near and dear to me, is be the best at being you. That is something I struggled with especially going to one of the best music schools in the world. It took my single “Forever” for me to realize it is okay to be different. I may not do a million gospel runs but I am good at this. I am good at being Samiah. That’s what I would say to any newcoming artist.
USTYLE: Do you think local radio stations could do more to promote new artists?
SP: Yes, I do think that they could do more to promote local artists because I know for me I usually only hear the Top 40s hits all the time. I am not entirely sure how I am going to branch out into that knowing that they have to play the same ten songs every hour. Whether national, local or even satellite radio should do more to promote local artists.
USTYLE: What would you say has been your biggest challenge so far?
SP: Trying to complete my schooling and doing my music has been a really big challenge because I just want to get out and perform on stage. With school I have to sit down and be composed. I am also a Visual Merchandiser, so I actually do wall setups and dressed the mannequins and things of that nature. I’ve been doing that for about three years now.
USTYLE: Do you like being a Visual Merchandiser?
SP: I like it a lot and with those three things together makes school a little harder, but I definitely think that the end result is more important. I have to finish school, and I will finish school because I want to have that moment where I walk across the stage and like they say that is something that no one can take from you.
USTYLE: So, if you were not doing your music, what would be the next best career you would choose?
SP: That’s a really good question because I have wanted to be so many things. For example, at one point I thought I would be an archaeologist because I love history and fossils and bones and stuff like that, or I probably would have pursued a career in fashion but higher up on a corporate level.
USTYLE: What do you like most about being in the music industry?
SP: I have to say creating, because it gets you to a place within yourself that is very raw. Whether it’s the lighter moments or the darker moments in life but when you pull it out and move past it, it is something that is really indescribable, because at that moment you can’t even believe that you’ve done it, especially when it comes to writing lyrics and composing. There are a lot of feelings that go into those things and it is never like a two-second thing. There is a lot of heart that I put into it and the things that I write all have some sort of message and a meaning. I also have a single called “Christina” where I actually dreamed the lyrics and melody, woke up and started playing the melody on the guitar and then I wrote the lyrics. I think that experience was moreso a foreshadowing of the music industry, warning myself that this can get hard and reminding myself that I have to stay true to who I am.
USTYLE: How can the readers purchase your music?
SP: They can purchase my music on www.samiahmusic.com, also from iTunes, Amazon and GooglePlay.