Makeup by Ali Scharf / Lighting by Danica Robinson

Samia On The Memories That Shape Us

A moment of reticence at a party prompts Samia to excavate the experiences that form her identity.

By Samia

Photos by Sarah Ritter


In the endless vortex of personas and melodies emerges singer-songwriter Samia. Hailing from New York City, her music serves as a sanctuary where vulnerability reigns supreme, a zoomed-out look into the most personal of thoughts. With lyrics that peel back the layers of being human and harmonies that linger long enough to play on mental repeat, fans are offered a glimpse into the incredibly complicated world of being a girl with feelings. And with a sold out tour under her belt, they relish it. Her impossibly personal lyrics feel like straddling between hearing everything you've ever felt and secretly reading the diary of your childhood next-door neighbor you always thought was cool. The intimate prose and dedicated fans earned an opener spot on Bleachers' North American Tour, starting in May; an appearance on NPR's Tiny Desk; performances at Outside Lands and All Things Go, and a spot on Rolling Stone's Future Of Music list.

Her second studio album, "Honey," released in 2023 to rave reviews, is a testament to her ability to weave personal narratives into universal truths. Songs like "Kill Her Freak Out" say the words we've all felt but were too scared to say out loud. From world-crushing heartbreak to the times at Baby's All Right, her life's memories and moments shape her songs. Below, she shares the ones that shaped her.

I’ve been invited to this party by my new friend, and I have nothing to say. My impression of Rob Durst reciting his famous line from The Jinx ultimately reconciles with my throat like a spider in the drain. “What the hell did I do? Kill them all, of course.” I have no other movie quotes memorized.

I do have a few dance moves that sometimes land; they’re only funny because they’re kind of good. Sometimes, after a show, people will tell me, “You’re a really great dancer,” which mortifies me.

My best friend, growing up, was an amazing singer and consequently the funniest person I knew. She used to sing at the top of her lungs, completely out of context. Her deep, rich voice could reach every inch of a room. There’s nothing funnier than someone doing something extremely well.

I can’t remember movie quotes, but I can remember stuff about historical muses. Almost every day, I think about this one poem Baudelaire wrote for Jeanne Duval, “Une Charogne,” in which he compares her naked body to roadkill. I also think about how Dante Rossetti decided to excavate the poems he had buried with his wife, Lizzie Sidal; when his friend exhumed her coffin, he found that she was “perfectly preserved,” with hair that had “grown to fill the coffin with a brilliant copper glow.” I won’t bring this up.

My new friend is showing me a music video she loves, and I find myself loving it, too. It makes me wonder if the people who incidentally gifted me my favorite movies and bands know that they did that. I think of them when I listen to or watch things like the video I’m watching right now of Volcano Choir performing my favorite song, “Comrade.” I pull it up every time I forget who I am… I pull it up to pull out the memories I didn’t know I needed to remember… like my little cousin in a life vest, treading water and singing Post Malone, or my three friends who silently held my hand in the car for an hour while I cried on the drive to Grand Rapids, or my maternal grandmother wearing makeup on a special occasion.

My Sittoo would spend three days making dinner for the holidays; she’d pick fresh mint and lemons from her backyard and listen to Josh Groban. We used to make her say “ka’ak” over and over again because it sounded like cock. She only hated three things: the first was cumin because of the taste. The second was nuns because once, one threatened to put labne on her ears and feed her to the rats. The third thing she hated was a family member whose name I won’t disclose. She hated them for absolutely no reason. When the family would throw parties she would leave this person off the invite list. She would say, “There’s no room for her.”

At the bottom of the ninth, I subtly introduce her into the conversation. When someone mentions Josh Groban, I seize the moment. I roll the tip of my head to the top of my tailbone and hope they don’t see the Cheshire grin where my eyes should be while my foot is shaking their hand. “You’re a really great dancer,” they say. My legs extend elegantly, forming a perfect V in the air as I sing in full voice, "I know that you love me, you are just lawless, son." Justin Vernon lowers his gaze. Then, in a moment of humiliation, I quote Robert Durst in an accent he does not have and with the audacity of a serial killer: “What the hell did I do? Kill them all, of course.” I have no other movie quotes memorized.

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