In the middle of Hollywood, across the street from the famous Capitol Records building and on the roof of the Avalon is Bardot. Dark and sexy, the back half of the makeshift venue offers seating on a long, plush couch where you can hear the music and the rattle of the crowd while you mull over your cocktail and chatter with your friend in seeming isolation. At the front of the room is a tiny stage, limited standing room and a VIP couch or two. With the shades pulled over the top and the lights down low, “intimate” doesn’t do the space justice. Bardot is the perfect place to escape the madness at the bottom of the steps and out on the street. And that’s exactly what SheKnows, a hundred other people and Harry Styles did one oh-so-perfect Monday night.
Being crammed onto the small, dimly lit floor of the Bardot with those dark red walls can feel a little like waiting inside your mother’s womb. It took an Indian girl from Norway to cut through the thick walls that we, as humans, put up around ourselves and the hefty, hypnotic beat of her drummer to help us further our escape from reality.
Samsaya’s music is as easy to sink into as the atmosphere at Bardot itself. Loud and fun, her brand of salty pop pushes even the tiredest, heaviest feet to march along. And that raw, unique voice begs to be worshipped, hands lifted in the air above your head.
“It’s such a reward to hear the crowd sing my songs back to me,” Samsaya gushes, still clearly fueled up from the energy of the crowd each night. “I love how they just catch the lyrics so fast. Music is pure communication to me, so when I feel that type of connection, it’s almost as if I’m having a conversation with each and every one in the crowd. I just feel ecstatic I get fueled, like that’s my spinach and I’m freaking Popeye and [Olive Oyl] is the world!”
It’s clear she’s ecstatic from the minute Samsaya sets foot on the stage. There are concerts — you know the ones — where all you want to do is dance, but you’re surrounded by unmoving people, their personal walls raised 10 feet high and 12 inches thick. As Samsaya bounces and kicks around the stage (an amazing feat considering the size of the stage at Bardot), she brings down all those walls. No one cares about hair tangled in strangers’ hands, elbows knocking into lower heads. At Bardot, you disappear from the street. With Samsaya flailing around in front, you disappear into yourself. No one cares what you’re doing beside them because they’re just as captivated by that wild girl on the stage, lost in the overflow of feeling she unleashes with each song.
Proof she can bring it onstage:
“Regarding the music I make, I don’t try to think about what it should be or how people perceive it. It’s mostly what makes me feel good,’ explains the singer/songwriter. “To me it’s a conversation with my emotions, so most of the time I’m just getting it all out. I don’t like to feel that I have to write it ever. I tap into the feeling I’m having and sometimes depending on what the producer and I feel in that creative moment is what comes out. I call it ‘magma pop’ to describe how the lyrics and melodies are built-up emotions that at some point demand release. It’s pop in that sense that it’s for people, from people.”
For the people, indeed. On the surface, Samsaya’s music is perfectly pop. But the heart of Samsaya, which she wears proudly not on her sleeve but on her face, makes her so much more than Miley, Ariana or Britney could ever be. Her heart, both the one in her chest and the one sweetly drawn around her eye, keep her focused on the people around her.
“I started painting my heart on my left eye for about four years ago,” Samsaya says of her choice in face makeup. “It was to remind myself why I started with music and what it means to me. There was a period in my career where I felt like I was a passenger on someone else’s ride. Music is very personal to me and it has always been there for me in my life. I don’t ever want to lose that relationship, and I also like how it visually symbolizes how I want to view the world. To see others with my heart, stereotype-free. It’s my heart vision!”
Lost in her music and enamored with her soul, we’re seeing Samsaya with all our heart and hoping that soon enough, the world will do the same. Her new, self-titled EP starts with those upbeat tribal drums, is filled with synth to lose yourself in and littered with lyrics to connect with. Don’t let her disappear into the shadows with the rest of the wannabes scrambling to make it to the top. As she says, “Bombay is calling” and you better f***ing answer.