Editor Maria Gironas’ CMJ 2014 was one to remember as she had the chance to sit down and talk with Australian visual DJ Sam Poggioli, better known as Sampology. It was refreshing to talk to someone with such a “matter-of-fact” attitude, and extremely humble at that. Enjoy the interview below and be sure to check out more about Sampology!
Maria Gironas: How was your trip from Brisbane, Australia?
Sampology: It’s inevitably long. Like 15 hours to LA and then another 7 to New York. I’ve been to New York like two or three times and LA a couple of times, and it’s always super fun.
MG: Do you like playing shows out of the country or do you like playing home shows a little more?
S: I mean, both are good, but one of the best parts of doing music is being able to travel and check out new places. Whenever I play a show in a city I’ve never been to, it’s always super special. Playing a show in New York is a little more special because it’s New York. But yeah, traveling and checking out new cities is awesome. But the positive of playing in Brisbane is that you look out into the crowd and you can see your friends there and they spread that party through the rest of the crowd.
MG: Are there any friends in New York right now that you brought with you?
S: Yeah there’s a bunch of friends that live here that are coming. The second show I’m playing tonight is like Australian bands in the lineup, and the way that the scene works in Australia, everyone pretty much knows each other, so everyone will be supporting everyone tonight for the second show I’m playing. It’ll be awesome.
MG: You just recently released Shine A Light and worked with Dan Mayweather. How was that?
S: It came out of DJing. I’d do this thing where at one point of the night I’d be playing a current dance music track that was released that year and I’d slip in a late 70’s –early 80’s Brazilian carnival kind of track. I liked how the two meshed together. There’s something specific about Brazilian rhythms that girls respond to really well to and it changes that dynamic of the party. So on Shine A Light, the bass of that track was combining those rhythms and current synths and that kind of stuff. But I wanted like a soul/gospel vocal over the top of it and Dan Mayweather, who’s originally from Melbourne, was one of the first people I thought of. We ended up recording in LA, even though I’m from Brisbane and he’s from Melbourne, because I was traveling and had three days off and he just happened to be there. We recorded at the Mad Decent studios in Burbank and it was super fun.
MG: Is that the way you find that most of your projects end up being, like “oh, I’d like to work with this person”?
S: The best ones work when you meet them in person or you get a friend of a friend. Sometimes it works if you just email them and have never met them before, but I find that the best things, looking back on everything I’ve worked on collaboration-wise, happen from when you’re at a music festival and you meet this person and you have a conversation and you stay in contact and then you end up doing something a little bit later. That’s the best way to do it, I think.
MG: You’ve played a lot of shows so far, especially starting at 15, are there any that have stuck with you?
S: Oh there are lots. The first time I actually played in a live music venue with a real sound system, outside of shitty speakers in my bedroom, it just flipped me out that I was playing music that I loved loudly and people were dancing to it. That concept hooked me straight away. So that was an early experience, but there’s been lots. Like I was saying before, traveling to new places and playing is always memorable. Like I played in India for the first time last year in December, and I think that out of anywhere, that was the most different place. You come from Australia to America and it’s different, but at the same time you drive down the street and you still see McDonalds and Subway. It’s different, but there’s a lot of similarities like that.
MG: I saw that one of your influences was the Beastie Boys. Where does that come in in your music?
S: I feel like one of the biggest influences I had growing up was working at a secondhand record store for four years. I can’t really compare the education I had from just being in the store all day, six days a week, just flipping through albums and listening to as much stuff as possible, to anything else. As far as Beastie Boys go, early on I was really into sample-based music, like The Avalanches, who were a big influence on me when I was starting out. An album like Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys is another good example of sample music. Not that that’s the definition of what I do, I don’t just specifically do sample music. But definitely early on that was a big influence on me musically.
MG: Are you still influenced by Bruce Willis?
S: That was just like one year. With the AV show, which is a previous thing I’ve done and am still doing a little bit, I went through a stage where I was doing themed shows. Like I was doing general audio-visual juxtaposition and remixing. And then one year I did a monster mash, which was like monster movies, and then I did the end of the world theme show, and Bruce Willis was kind of featured on that one. Last year I did a stimulation themed show, and tha was kind of raunchy content. And the current show that I’m touring now, with all original music, is kind of an extension of that. I felt like there was this pressure to come up with a strong visual component for my live show, which I’m playing tonight. So I spent a lot of time coming up with it. Each song has a visual behind it, and that was super fun because I worked with my mom, who’s an artist. She actually contributed to all the illustrations that are on the screen while I’m playing. So it’s cool to be representing my own music and when I look back, the person who contributed to the visuals is my mom.
MG: Is it a family affair?
S: Yeah my dad is a double-bass player in the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and my mom is an artist and an art teacher as well.
MG: Is that how you got your interest in music?
I don’t think so, but probably subconsciously. My dad is a classical musician, so it’s different. But also all my cousins, who were older than me, were in a live electronic outfit that was active from the early nineties to a couple years ago, and when you have those older cousins, they’re just cool. Especially when you’re 14 or 15. I used to go on tours with them up and down the coast and I was just that kid that didn’t say anything, I was just like a sponge. I just listened to everything and checked out their soundchecks and hung with them in the studio. I felt like I didn’t really say anything for two years, I just learned as much as possible. So yeah, there’s a lot of family stuff in there.
MG: You’ve been doing this from such a young age, and you’ve had so many influences on you, what kind of advice would you give a young musician or DJ?
S: People always offer cheesy advice in this situation, but one thing I’ve learned is that there are so many situations where there are those cheesy stereotypes you come across where it’s like “Ah, people say these expressions because it is like that”. And I guess the situations that I look back on and I’ve done something really true to me, they’re the ones that have been most fruitful for me. And don’t rush it. Find your own thing and your own voice. And do it for the right reasons.
MG: If you weren’t doing music right now, what would you be doing?
S: I have no idea. Probably working at the record store. I was really into animals when I was really young, like I wanted to be a vet but I realized you have to be really good at school. So if someone told me I couldn’t do music anymore, I’d be like “Shit” and I’d have to go back and spend lots of time studying and get smart and then work with animals in some way.
MG: I know you just released the new single, do you have any other music coming out or any updates that you want fans to know?
S: Yeah. So that’s the first musical insight into the album for next year. It’s not like a locked in date, but around June next year. But there will be a couple singles in between now and then. The sound of the album is definitely soulful and upbeat. I’ve been heavily influenced by tropical and carnival type of sounds, but a lot of the vocalists I’ve been working with are from the south side of Brisbane, where I live. And that’s come about kind of organically as well. It’s good to represent where you’re from, even if you’re influenced by stuff on the other side of the world. I’m happy with that combination.