By Vanessa Garcia
Born and bred in what he calls “Unincorporated Dade County” (meaning Kendall and Pinecrest), singer/songwriter Sam Friend is quickly making a name for his young self among Miami music junkies. He and his eponymous band, which also includes Emily Westman (keys, percussion, vocals), Ashley Miller (flute, vocals), Ben Lindell (bass), Josh Sheinman (guitar), released an EP titled Sam Friend in the summer of 2007. Recently, they just completed their first album (which Friend says isn’t really an “album,” but more on that later). During the day, the University of Miami School of Music grad (he studied jazz) teaches music to elementary school kids in Little Haiti, letting loose come sunset at consistent gigs around Miami. Friend, whose manner is a mix between The Little Prince and Art Garfunkel, has something to sing and say, and is slowly, surely coming into a voice of his own.
Miami.com: A lot of people consider you a folk musician, do you agree?
Sam Friend: I don’t think what I’m writing is focused enough to make me a “folk writer." Folk writers tell a story, mine aren’t actual stories but stories fabricated out of stories. Memory can transform an event and expand the limits of perspective. When I write, I have an idea in mind and then I circle around that main idea, but always, in my mind, I’m focusing on that idea.
My songs are about growing up in a world that honestly hasn’t been defined historically yet, but the songs are a reaction to it [anyway]. They’re also about a nostalgia for a time my generation didn’t get to experience [see lyrics to “Mr Huggins”: This place I’m in/ was built for other men/who’ve all grown old & I’m living in their shadows.]
Tell me about your new album.
It’s not really an “album.” It’s kind of like a self-sufficient work put together with the help of various engineers [laughs]. You don’t really need albums these days, anyone can download a song. It’s more about the shows now. Because sooner or later, kids figure out that with that [downloaded] song you can’t get that musical moment you get in live performance.
Okay, so what exactly is this self-sufficent-work-put-together-with-the-help-of-various-enginners?
It’s called Secure and Fastened for Daisy Buchanan.
Why Daisy Buchanan?
From The Great Gatsby. Daisy Buchanan is often seen as a negative character, but I don’t think she is. Everyone can identify with her sense of “chasing.” In a sense she’s an American ideal.
Live peformance-wise, what’s in the future for you?
The good and bad thing about Miami’s music scene is that although it’s growing useful and vibrant, it doesn’t feel like many people are watching, but this gives you room to grow and take risks. There’s this Leonard Cohen saying about making sure to make the wrong decisions, it’s like you have to take the wrong path even if it gets you to the right place, you have to define yourself before it gets defined for you, and music is my vehicle for that.
Sam Friend performs at his CD release party, 9 p.m., Feb. 15, at Sweat Records, 5505 NE 2nd Ave. (305-342-9053). Visit myspace.com/sam friend for more upcoming shows.
Sam Friend: Our new BFF.