This episode is about the importance of finding out who you are as a person, getting comfortable in your own skin, knowing what you like and don’t like, following your dreams and taking massive action to make it happen, and most importantly, doing all these for yourself because you love to do it. At the end of the day, that’s really all that matters. The most valuable gift you have to offer this world is yourself, being an authentic person.
Listen To The Episode Here:
Follow Your Dreams with Samantha Leah
Sam is one of the most authentic people I’ve ever met. Please welcome, Samantha. Sam, what’s your recording name?
Where are you from?
I’m from New Jersey. I was born in New York. I grew up in New Jersey.
How did you like growing up in New Jersey?
I liked it. It was a small town. I liked that vibe. I always had an infatuation with California so that led me to go to college out in California. But I enjoyed New Jersey while I was there.
Where did you go to school out in California?
UC, Santa Barbara.
Were you into music as a kid? Did you start at a young age?
Yes. My parents joke around and say that I was born singing before I talked. I’ve been singing since I was two years old. I’ve also been writing since I was very young, six, seven years old.
Did you know what you were doing though? Did you know, “I’m writing songs,” or you were just writing?
No, I just always liked to write. It wasn’t always songs either. It was a lot of music but it was just stories in general. I was always a creative writer. I always enjoyed writing.
Was it poetry or was it short stories or something?
A lot of short stories, a lot of poetry, and a lot of lyrics.
You grew up singing. Did you play any instruments?
I play the piano a little bit. That’s about it.
You said your dad was a pretty good bass player.
My father’s a bass player, so he was always playing music.
He must have been a huge influence on what you’re doing now then.
My father and I used to write music together. We made a song when we lived in our first house in New Jersey, 70 Gladiola Blues. It was a Blues song. We made that when I was seven. We had his own little studio in our basement back then. It was old school technology. It was really, really cool.
Is Marty featured in the new album or what?
Actually, he’s not. It’s not finished yet but I’ve done something that when I was living back in New Jersey, he actually connected his guitar and his bass and I wrote piano chords and a looping hook. It’s actually really good but it’s not finished yet.
Who were some of your main inspirations growing up musically?
That’s a hard question and I always wonder what I will say when I’m asked that question, because I have a lot of influences but no one specifically. My father listened to a lot of hard rock. Even though they influenced me to love music, I don’t do hard rock. I love jazz music. I grew up listening to hip-hop music. The funny thing is, that is what influences me the most. I’d say my first influence is Ludacris, that’s the funniest thing to say. But I swear to God when I was nine years old, I started listening to him and I just was obsessed with hip-hop music from then and on. I had a cousin who was listening to all that type of music and then I heard one of his songs, which now that I would think about the fact that I was listening to that at that age is hilarious, especially this song specifically. It started with Ludacris.
Were you making music in high school or were you just having fun with it? What were you doing?
I was doing a lot of acting stuff before high school. In high school, I was in a performing arts program and I did not enjoy it because it leaned more towards musical theater. I felt like I didn’t have any creative control over what I wanted to do because it was basically, you get a script or you get a Broadway tune, which is great, but for me, I like creating. It wasn’t me. I didn’t know it at the time, and it made me feel very, very bad.
What do you mean it made you feel bad?
I didn’t fit in. I felt disconnected from what everyone else liked to do. I didn’t know why. I was in a really bad place and I didn’t know if I should quit or not, because I felt bad quitting because I loved to sing and all that. It wasn’t what I wanted to do and I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I winded up quitting.
What year was this in high school?
Sophomore year was really, really bad downfall year. I was just not happy because I was in that program for two years at that point. I believe I quit the end of sophomore year. Junior year and senior year I wasn’t in it any longer.
Did you find something else you liked to do for those last two years or you just hung out and put your head down and got through high school?
I’d say I was lost throughout high school. I don’t think that that was shown on the outside. I got back into listening to music. Now that I think back on it, all that time listening to all that music in college even though that’s not what I was studying, I was studying music. Even though I wasn’t writing in college like I am now or just pursuing music in general, I was listening to music every second that I could possibly, because it’s what made me feel good. Now I look back on it, I’m like, “How did I come up with that?” I’m like, “Because I was studying it without realizing it.”
It just consumed you without knowing it did?
You didn’t really do music at all during college then either?
Not really. I started producing a little. I got Ableton when I was my third year or second year of college. I started producing a little bit but I couldn’t really get that into it. I would do it more on my breaks because it was very consuming and I didn’t know at the time that I wouldn’t wind up pursuing what I went to school for, because I was in that mindset of, “This is life. I go to school for something that I don’t know if I want to do but I’m still going to do it because that’s what you have to do.”
What did you go to school for?
Psychology, which of course helped me as well in what I’m doing now.
It’s funny because when I first met you, you didn’t even have all the equipment to produce a record. That was in September. I just remember you being in your room for ten hours, not even joking, maybe longer, and just singing. All the roommates in the house were like, “We haven’t seen Sam in two or three days. Where is she?” She’s just upstairs not taking any breaks, she’s just singing, just loving what you’re doing.
I’ve got to say, that was one of the most important, because I don’t have that time right now to do what I was doing then. The time will come where that happens again but it comes in waves of being able to do that, of having whatever time to spare to do that. That started when I moved to San Francisco in June. From then to living with you guys, that entire time, I see it as when people are younger and trying to pursue music and it’s a very slow-moving thing. That to me condensed years’ worth of realizing what I wanted, cultivating the bravery to do it, the passion to do it, because it was all there. Now that I’m older, I don’t need those, “I think.” No, I know.
Were you second-guessing yourself a lot through high school and college? Is that maybe why you didn’t want to jump into it? Or you really just weren’t thinking about it?
It was a suppressed thing. It always hurt to think about. I just suppressed it because I figured that’s not how life works because it’s hard to pursue art these days. It’s not looked upon fondly.
What happened? How did you find yourself? How did you get on this track and stay so motivated and clear, “This is what I want to do and nothing else matters.” What got you on the track?
Getting to a low point. You’ve read The Power of Now?
That book changed my life.
Eckhart talks about how suffering induces moments like this, realization. I was in a romantic relationship that ended. I moved back home from California where I was living for four years. I came back, living in New Jersey, had no idea what I was going to do. I just graduated college and I was in a really, really bad place. I read that book and it took a while for it to hit me, which I think that that type of book does sometimes, either you’re in the right place or you start reading and you’re like, “Hmm.”
Actually last April, I went to a workshop. It was a spiritual retreat workshop. That point, something hit me, something came over me and I was like, “What am I doing?” Then I uploaded a song of me singing a little really short clip on Facebook. I made the caption saying, “I think it’s time for me to stop pretending I’m not a singer.” I put that on Facebook and then I had a lot of feedback saying, “I had no idea. Oh my God. What? Why?” I connected with a few people, music producers. That catapulted me to make the decision to move to San Francisco. I was just only in San Francisco for two months. I’d been in California since June. It was that moment in April.
You get your beats from other people, right? You had to really put yourself out there. How did that process work?
That was always the part that I was like, “How does that work?” I’m still trying to figure it out.
Do you notice that things strangely start to fall in place? You have the overall vision, you don’t know how you’re going to do it, but even if you stay focused, things just keep falling into place. Is that how that happened?
Yes. You have to force yourself to believe. At first that’s hard because you’re going from a frequency of nonbelief to belief. You can’t do that in one step. You have to start coercing yourself into being, “I think that things are going to get better for me. Actually, I’m starting to actually feel better.” You have to be really aware of it. You have to also be accepting of not knowing how it’s going to happen, because I would’ve never known how can I connect with all these people. I’ve lived in LA for maybe two and a half months. Just the people that I’ve met so far, it’s insane. It’s just crossing paths with people and it’s happening because I know that it’s possible and I believe that it’s possible and I’m aware that it’s happening. Because it’s happening all the time to everyone.
People just dismiss it. How did you change your thinking to start believing? From going to such a dark place to reprogramming your mind to say, “I can do this.” What were some of the steps you took to do that?
I was very strict about it. I meditated every morning. At first, that’s not easy because you’re so used to thinking constantly. You’re just like, “I can’t do this, whatever.” But you have to stick through that part, that phase, because you can’t get past that phase if you don’t stick through it. I just started seeing myself from a witnessing perspective. You can’t just not feel those terrible feelings. You can’t feel it one day then not the next. You have to start witnessing yourself feeling them. I have a friend right now who I’m talking through this part because the first, most important part is getting to the point that you’ve had it. “I’m done. I want to change.” If you don’t get to that point, then it’s going to go and go. Once you get to that point, then you have to know that you can’t change the way your brain has been formed in this pattern. You can’t change that overnight. You have to start witnessing it happen by noticing. The most difficult part is the beginning. Now, I’m on a momentum where I know. I don’t want to say I don’t care because that’s not what it is, but things don’t faze me as much because I’m on this level of, “You can’t rake through it.” But that’s because it’s practiced.
I don’t think there’s anybody in this world that can get inside your head. I really don’t. For the most part, you are just unfazed by what people have to say. You’re just comfortable with yourself. You completely own it. You own exactly who you are with the way you sing, the way you dress. If somebody doesn’t like that, that’s on them, that’s not on you.
That’s a practice. That’s in one of my songs. It’s in the intro to what will be in the project. It talks about how people think that I was born like this. That’s a practice. People forget that I had been depressed in my life, that I had gone through periods of time where I didn’t leave my house because I was crying all day. That happened. Anyone can teach themselves to flow. It’s hard at first, I get it, but you have to trust before it happens.
It’s all momentum, too. You start with a little bit and then the ball just starts rolling and you just can’t stop it.
I’ve been to so many seminars where people would talk about how they feel how I feel now, which is they’re on this level where nothing can break them. I’d listen to them and I’d be like, “Really? How do you feel like that?” I get it. I’m a pretty happy person but how do you feel like nothing can stop you? You just have to practice.
That’s you investing in yourself too. You went to those seminars. You wanted to get better. You had enough.
It’s a choice.
It’s almost like you’ve got to burn all your bridges. There’s no plan B, because it takes away from plan A. You have to go all in. That’s what you did, which is pretty amazing. What kind of music are you into? If you had a genre for the album, what would you say it is?
This album, probably, I would branch it under R&B. It’s very new type, how these days people put different genres together. There’s a lot of hip-hop in it.
Would you categorize it as Bay Area music?
The song that I just released today, I think that that song will do best in the Bay Area because the producer is from the Bay Area and it has that type of sound. Everything else, I swear, it’s all different because the producers are all different. Actually, there are two people who are heavily in the electronic music scene. They have their little edge of electronic even though they’re writing for a singer. You can hear it. There’s a lot of 808s, a lot of bass.
How does it even work with putting on an album? Because you have so many people involved. How does that even work? Is it on iTunes? Is it just released to the public? What is it?
Right now, the single that I released today is on Sound Cloud and YouTube. It will be on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and all that. Just waiting for a few things to get passed. Within the next few weeks, that will be. The entire album will be distributed under all those platforms too, so long as they all pass the test of no samples or anything, which there aren’t. Undoubtedly, they will be on Sound Cloud and YouTube maybe before they’re on other platforms just because it takes some time for those to get licensed and all that. It’s going to be free on Sound Cloud and it’s going to be on Spotify and iTunes, 100%.
Do you have anybody featured on it or is it just you on the whole album? Besides the different producers.
From what I believe I’m going to put into it, it’s going to be just me.
I’m assuming, if you have all those different producers on it, every song must be unique in itself, right?
Every song is completely different. It’s crazy. One of them was produced by my friend. Her name is Jenny. Her production name is Strange Clouds. That song is completely so electronic. Do you know Alina Baraz?
No, I don’t.
It’s very electronic. Because a lot of the stuff I do is not low-key at all. My life is based around bass. That’s interesting, I just thought of my dad when I said that. That’s definitely why. Whether it’s an electronic musician who incorporates bass music and it turns into an electronic music sounding instrumental or just a regular hip-hop instrumental. I just posted something about how a grand piano and an 808 bass combination, nothing can come close to that, for me at least.
I know you love the music and everything, that’s probably your number one passion. I noticed a lot of people reach out to you just because of where you’ve been and where you’re at now. I’ve noticed you do counseling people just out of the goodness of your heart, not as a profession or anything. Have you still been doing that?
I open myself up for people to ask me questions. I don’t judge. I’m a very good listener. Sometimes, all people need is someone to listen to them. I love giving my perspective. But I think it’s more of just someone being there to listen, because not a lot of people are down to listen these days.
So many people just listen just to respond, like they already know what they’re going to say next. Everybody’s guilty of it. When you change your perspective, just listen to actually hear what the other person has to say. People can talk forever if you just nod, they’ll get it all out in 45 minutes and all you did was nod. That was a world of wonder to them.
It was. Because you need that. You need someone that actually has an open heart. When you’re listening from that point of view, that’s not you as a human listening, that’s you as like a soul listening.
I’ve been asked this question a couple of times. How do you find yourself? How do you do that? I don’t think there’s a great answer, but there’s not one answer where you can just tell somebody, “This is how you do it.” It’s only based on what your experience was. If someone did ask you that, what would be your best advice for them on how to get in touch with who you really are? It’s not an easy question.
It’s not an easy question because I believe that some people are so deeply ruled by their egos that they would hear the advice and it wouldn’t even click. If you’ve gotten past that stage of at least being able to know that there’s another way. I know a lot of people who know that there’s another way to be, but they don’t go with it. That’s a stage that you can find yourself from that point on. If you’ve not reached that point yet and you’re still in this flow of just being hit back and forth by whatever life gives you, not at all saying, “No, this is what I want from life.” That’s fine because you’re going to find yourself eventually. But you first have to get to the point of at least having some awareness.
I think from there, it’s going to change for each person, but you just have to, as often as you possibly can, keep tabs on how you react to things, on just trying to be aware as often as possible. Even I do this sometimes. When I was walking down the street, I would literally in my head, just follow the flow of my walking. I’m like walk, walk, walk, walk. Just so that I know that when I’m doing that, that means I’m aware of what I’m doing. Because you could easily, if you’re walking down a street, be lost in your mind. At that point when you’re lost in your mind, you’re not even alive. You’re just in a thinking mind. You’re not actually alive. Eckhart Tolle is everything to me. He’ll talk about things that we do and you might think that you’re so enlightened yet he’ll be like, “What about when you wake up in the morning, you’re brushing your teeth, are you thinking of other stuff or are you actually paying attention?”
Being present in everything that you do.
That to me is people trying to manifest things for themselves. That is really a great thing, of trying to manifest something for yourself by changing your thought process. That might be the stage that you’ll have to get through before you get to the point of wanting to be present. If you’re being fully present, then you’re not trying to manifest anything. You’re accepting life as it comes. You’re really becoming the open vessel for the universe to walk through you, rather than trying to make things happen. That is what changed my life, is making the decision to instead of trying to make things happen for me, I accepted that I was here for a reason. The more often I stay present, the more often the universe can instruct me and bring me to do what it has meant for me to do, rather than little me trying to force whatever I want to happen. I’m just open for whatever, as often as possible. That’s what makes things happen.
Your gut instinct, I feel like that really never shuts off. You could feel on a daily basis from right there if something’s right or something’s wrong. I feel like a lot of people talk themselves out of that. They can feel it, but they just shut it off and then things just get worst. I personally shut that feeling off for a while and I stop doing it. I tried to go with that feeling as often as I can. Even to this day, I’ll shut it off for a couple of days and I’ll just have a bad week because I know that’s not intuitively what I’m meant to do. It really messes up my whole week. I didn’t do that a couple of years ago. I just started recently doing that and a lot of problems might be solved from following that gut instinct alone.
I 100% agree. It’s one of those things where when you have society telling you or people around you telling you, “This is what you do, blah, blah, blah.” That interferes with your intuition. The entire process here is learning to trust your intuition and stop listening to whatever’s coming at you from the external. Because it’s not going to stop.
Where would you like this music to go for you? Where do you see it going for you? What would you like to accomplish?
That’s such a hard question to answer.
You just started on this great journey too.
First of all, I want to bring a feminine aspect to this scene.
I’d say the hip-hop, RNB music scene. It is dominated by the male, and it’s straying away from the feminine energy. I don’t have a problem at all obviously. But there needs to be a woman who is able to show that she is just as strong and is able to do that same type of music, but I’m a woman. That’s one of the things. I also want to talk about this type of stuff and have it on a larger and larger scale so that people know that they can make a change for themselves.
That was just a really bad question I just asked you because I personally think you’re not even worried about the big overall picture. You’re definitely just going with it, you’re enjoying it.
It’s hard because that’s a good question to ask someone. Most people have those aspirations. That’s fine. That’s a conditioning of society, is to have goals to reach for. I’m trying to un-condition myself as much as possible. Of course, I want people to hear my music and I want people to like it. I can’t not feel that way. I can’t not want to help people. I can’t not want to talk about this type of stuff and hope that people hear it and say, “Damn, she did that. I hope I can do that too. I know I can.” But at the same time, I try as often as possible, when I get to that point of being like, “Future?” I bring myself back and I’m like, “I’m here.”
I remember asking somebody a couple of years ago, “What do you want to do?” The kid literally told me, “I want to open up a gym and have 200 locations and have it across the whole country.” I’m like, “Do you know how to run one? I think you’re getting a little ahead of yourself.” Think big but start small. He was just way, way ahead of himself. But he was just being ambitious, he was just very excited about it. Some people might get a little too carried away with that end result when you’ve got to enjoy the process of just owning one, starting that, growing that, putting all your love and focus into that and then watch it grow, rather than being, “This is going to be the biggest thing ever.” Just let it grow.
That’s what life is. Once you get to where you want to be, it’s a never-ending thing. Enjoy where you are now and again and again and again. I promise, you’re going to get everything that you want if you can just keep yourself focused here.
Do you write things down?
I used to. I don’t anymore because I don’t really know what I want, honestly. I really don’t. I know what makes me feel good. I know that when I listen to music, nothing can compare to that feeling. But I don’t know what I want really.
At the same time, you don’t know what you want but you’re putting out an album, you’re doing all this good stuff. Where can people find this album?
If you went on Sound Cloud, you just type in Samantha Leah?
Samantha Leah, Consider This Over. It’s on there right now. It’s also on YouTube. The rest of the album will be out in, I’m hoping, a month. Definitely sometime in April. Can’t see it being any further from that. Everything’s done, it’s just being finished.
Congratulations. You worked so hard on that. I saw it firsthand. I’ve never seen anybody work so hard on one thing up-close like that. That was unreal.
It’s funny because when you say that, I’m like, “Really?” Because I didn’t look at it as that.
You don’t even realize it. You’re up in your room, having the time of your life for ten hours just singing. You don’t look at it as, “This is work. I need to be doing this.” You’re having fun with it. That’s why I think it’s going to be so good, because you put all the love into it and you just love what you’re doing.
Writing, to me, there’s nothing that can compare.
Thank you so much for coming on today, Sam.
I had a lot of fun.
You are more than welcome to come back anytime and we’ll talk about whatever.
I would love to.
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