Alt. indie rocker Sam Himself shares La Paz, a melancholy reverie that subtly travels from minimalist intro to anthemic climax, covering almost as much ground as the road trip by which it was inspired. Sam’s latest release is the final single leading up to his debut album, Power Ballads, due out October 8th.
La Paz follows album singles Cry, Nothing Like the Night, and, most recently, What It’s Worth, which premiered via Under The Radar Magazine, was picked up by KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, KEXP’s The Morning Show and – as of this writing – remains on rotation on numerous national and regional stations in Germany, Switzerland and beyond.
The self-declared ‘Fondue Western’ baritone and Swiss Music Awards 2021-nominee was on tour in Europe last year when the pandemic broke out. Unable to return to New York City, his chosen home of the past decade, Sam set up shop in his native Basel, Switzerland, where he started writing the songs on his upcoming full-length debut. The artist’s exile-at-home lasted just shy of a year, a strange time marked by restless daydreams, according to Sam, including the escapist fantasy that inspired La Paz:
“During lockdown, my mind wandered a lot, looking for exits. I got really nostalgic for past travels and times when I could move freely wherever I wanted to go. Peru, for example. I took a road trip there a few years ago. One night, I was driving through the desert with about two fingers of water left in the car and the aftermath of some recent chemical calamity playing out in my bloodstream; I was exhausted but stopping by the side of the road didn’t really feel like an option, so I kept going. I’m pretty sure I was heading for the Bolivian border, and I remember staring at my GPS and thinking, if I can just get to La Paz – the Bolivian city – I’ll be ok. (I can be a little melodramatic when I’m hungover.) I never made it there but La Paz nevertheless became a sort of mantra on that trip, a name for the light at the end of the tunnel. Probably not the most laid back trip I ever took. Still, at the height of quarantine cabin fever last year, I would have given a lot to be back in that stuffy rental car in the desert, waiting for the sun to rise.”
Over the course of those months in limbo, Sam began recording the ten tracks on Power Ballads wherever he could: the distinct ‘lead bass’ on La Paz, for instance, Sam cut on a borrowed Hofner in the attic of his mom’s house in Basel. Despite the fact that she walked in on a number of takes (the two have since reconciled), Sam ended up using many of those demo recordings for the final version of his album. This DIY approach allowed the artist to focus on the final touches once he was able to return to New York in early 2021, where he completed his first LP together with his ‘Second Beatle’, producer and mixing engineer Daniel Schlett (Iggy Pop; The War on Drugs) at Strange Weather Studio in Brooklyn.
Schlett has been Sam Himself’s close creative partner on all his previous releases, including last year’s acclaimed EP Slow Drugs, which featured Parker Kindred (drums – Jeff Buckley; Elliott Smith) and Josh Werner (bass – Iggy Pop; Ghostface Killah) and earned the artist a Swiss Music Award nomination in his home country in early 2021, as well as international press and radio airplay, numerous DSP editorials, and critical praise for the accompanying music videos. All songs on Sam Himself’s upcoming debut album were mastered by Greg Calbi (David Bowie; Bruce Springsteen).
As featured by KEXP, Under The Radar, KCRW, Danger Mouse Jukebox, The Wild Honeypie, American Songwriter, The Philadelphia Globe, Consequence of Sound, Variance Magazine, Swiss National Radiotelevision SRF, DIFFUS Magazin (GE) and many more.