Spirited and benevolent, Annie Sama creates music that couldn’t be more dystopian, and attuned to the current pessimism – this pre-apocalyptic period in which we’re all bogged down. No one comes out of her music unscathed – least of all President Trump.
Visually, her offering is highly avant-garde, closer to contemporary art than to the aesthetics of, say, Marie-Mai. Sama, a sometime designer, is as charismatic as a model in a perfume ad, and she creates a world where niche culture and pop melodies live side by side. And that world is set in a background where R&B is imbued with industrial sounds. Her music is a thermal shock.
Approaching her goals, the singer-songwriter oozes confidence, and seems fearless, as she dances and moves with poise and agility. She’s in full control, pulling all the strings of this marionette she’s created in her own image, a spectacular alter ego, Sama has a thousand skills, and could very well be the most intimidating of SOCAN’s entire membership. But on the phone, her voice drips like honey, and her words couldn’t be sweeter. She’s unbelievably affable, genuinely sweet. Is this still a good time for you? “Of course,” she says. “Gimme a minute, I’m just getting out of a cab and then I’m all yours… Thanks for this interview. I really appreciate it.”
We reach her in New York, her home away from home, a creative refuge where she frequently goes to find herself – the same way so many Montrealers rent a cabin in the countryside. Sama tackles the music industry from an international angle, unbound by the physical territory of La Belle Province. Think Grimes or Kaytranada. “Right now, I’m talking to you from the corner of 8th and 24th,” she says. “I’m back, and I have developments to work on, and a few meetings. There’s no doubt that it’s an interesting market, on so many levels, and so culturally rich.”
Backed by a management and PR team in Montréal, yet fully independent when it comes to her engagements in the U.S., she juggles music-making and marketing on a daily basis. “I won’t say I don’t get any help, but officially, I have no one working for me in the U.S.,” she says. “I’m not saying that won’t happen down the line… I just need to find the right people to be the wind beneath my wings.” Interested parties, take note.
Artistically, Sama finds strength in the people with whom she crosses paths. “Sure, I have a DIY approach, but I never work alone,” she says. “Teamwork is really important for me.”
Shortly after shedding her APigeon alias, the one she used until 2016, she was part of the duo Beat Market. They released Atlantis, a languid hotbed of ‘80s keyboards, with a sound located at the crossroads of their respective universes. In 2018, with Now Wow We, a track co-written with Anachnid, Annie Sama dabbled in the political realm – a minefield if ever there was one, tackling the migrant crisis and the fate of children caged at the U.S./Mexico border. A fiery manifesto that hit precisely where it hurts.
At the end of 2019, alongside Belgian producer Løyd, she produced the lyrics to “Cyborg,” a dubstep-influenced track that evokes post-modern solitude and sex robots, that might very well bring the makers of inflatable dolls to bankruptcy. “He asked me to do something akin to Black Mirror,” says Sama. “He sent me the music track, and I had a ton of ideas. It truly became a universe unto itself, and it’s become a character that lives inside of me, and will come back, I think, throughout various songs on my albums.”
And even though the future looks bleak, on a global scale, the coming months could become rosy for this truly unclassifiable artist. with huge potential, who’s already attracted the attention of the U.S. edition of Vogue magazine. “I have surprises coming for you guys, but I can’t say anything because there are no dates attached to them yet,” she says. “I’m giving myself time, because the next things I’ll drop will come with a stage show. it’s all going to happen in the next step.”