Early on in her career, Samaria was constantly reminded by friends in the industry that honesty was the key to authentic R&B.
“They would tell me that they know I can sing but to try and approach my beats from more of a relaxed place instead of pushing everything out so heavily,” the singer recalls.
“‘Trippin’ and ‘5th floor’ were an attempt at doing that.” Both songs she mentioned are exactly that: sultry R&B jams that slink along unhurried. On “5th floor,” Samaria is heard gently coasting alongside the fluid instrumental, cooing in a serpentine hush. On “Trippin,” the feat is more braggadocios, with Samaria instead demonstrating her precision on the microphone as she bends and twists the beat to her melodic will.
Samaria has an uncanny ear for melody and has been hustling since she was fresh out of high school back in Oakland, California. After a quiet debut put her on the map, she soon collaborated with Kehlani and Rexx Life Rajj, building a natural buzz and momentum as a budding R&B starlet.
But 2020 soon derailed any sort of tour or promotional plans. But instead of getting discouraged, Samaria instead released a handful of singles (including a sensual Holiday record this past November) and overall tried to see the glass half full and use the year to reflect on progress made.
How have you spent your 2020? Tell me about a few things you’ve learned about yourself in these last few months.
I spent my 2020 forcing myself to unlearn a lot of bad habits. I felt it was an opportunity to give myself a lot of room to stop and breathe. I was feeling really blocked emotionally, which put a stump in my songwriting. I took advantage of open ears and hearts around me that have been extending themselves to me for a while now – it’s definitely helped.
Your songs have such a sexy swagger to them. How do you create tracks like “Trippin” and “5th Floor,” and how do you play with your voice in order to give it that distinct momentum?
Taking advice from friends who are also artists, they would tell me that they know I can sing but to try and approach my beats from more of a relaxed place instead of pushing everything out so heavily. “Trippin” and “5th floor” were an attempt at doing that. I realized I could relay the same message in a calmer tone; it’s actually pretty fun.
Samaria – 5th Floor (Official Music Video)
R&B in 2020 seems like such a crowded genre. Where do you think you fit in within the current R&B landscape? Where do you see R&B heading?
I don’t necessarily believe that R&B is a crowded genre right now. I think it’s right where it’s supposed to be.
I grew up on the ’90’s and early 2000 classics. I’ve been waiting for it to make a comeback in an original way, and I feel like it definitely has done just that. All of my favorite artists who are in their R&B pocket have managed to make a distinct sound for themselves, which is amazing and proves how progressive R&B can be.
The new music I’ve been working on is a testament to that. It’s a mixture of dark melodies and lyrics over brighter beats that I’m not used to writing to. I’m my toughest critic, and I’m able to hear the growth. I’m super proud of it.
What was it like working with Kehlani?
Working with Kehlani is always inspiring as hell. She’s an artist, through and through. The way she puts exactly what she’s going through into her art in a way where anyone can relate is a rare skill. I’m always a student first – I love to watch others do their thing and take notes. Maybe we’ll work together again soon!
What does 2021 hold for you?
2021 is going to be a fun year. My team and I have had a lot of time to sit and work through different ideas, and I think we’ve been really patient with it, which is why I’m more excited than I’ve ever been to release the new stuff. It takes a village, and I have a strong one.