Samia’s World is All Honey
The singer-songwriter and New York native chats about vulnerability, being labeled a Sad Girl Musician, and her new album, Honey.
When Shakespeare sat down centuries ago and penned the line, “though she be but little, she is fierce,” one can’t help but think he may have had Samia in mind. Within the bounds of her petite frame and elvish appearance, the LA born and New York raised singer-songwriter is an artistic force to be reckoned with. Since releasing her first singles (“Someone Tell the Boys”, “The Night Josh Tillman Listened to My Song”, and “Welcome to Eden”) in 2017, the current Nashville resident has amassed a dedicated following who flock to her astonishing vocals and radical vulnerability.
Thus far in her short career, Samia has created a deeply intimate and mythicaly intricate discography of music whose central themes are family, community, and reckoning with some of the more painful moments of life. With navigating pain and memory, sadness and grief often tag along, but Samia resents being written off as merely a “sad girl musician,” telling V, “I don’t care to be categorized. I truly understand (the Sad Girl Music trope), but I think that it’s generalizing and reducing. It’s just so much more complicated. And women are so much more complicated. Especially, in my particular case, my music is incredibly confessional and,” she concedes, “also very sad.”
Despite being born into the world of entertainment (both of her parents are actors – a fact she is not afraid to disclose despite the current “nepo baby” cultural discourse) and having dabbled in acting with a handful of appearances in independent films along with Netflix’s Along for the Ride, Samia Finnerty, known professionally as just Samia, has always been interested in writing above all else. “I just really loved poetry and I really loved lyrics,” she tells V, “And I became interested in music because I wanted to understand what they (songwriters) were talking about … I think my true passion where I really excavated myself was always writing, and it still is.” A true poet in her own right, she spoke fondly of her writing process, which often begins with a poem that she will try to “work into something worth singing.”
In the same way she is a poet, Samia is a storyteller. Most characters, aside from herself, are left anonymous; the artist citing the difficulty of navigating “the ethicality of sharing other people’s stories” as something she is always learning how to do, even two albums later. However, despite the relative anonymity of these stories, Samia is thoughtful and careful when tying the chapters of her stories together. When asked why “Kill Her Freak Out” (arguably one of the most gut-wrenching and heavy songs on the record) was selected as the first single, the singer confided that, “I sort of wrote (“Kill Her Freak Out”) during the time that I was finishing my first record. So it felt like a part of that story, and maybe a bookend. So I wanted to put it at the beginning of this, to contextualize everything else.” In her meticulous nature, Samia leaves nothing up for interpretation, everything she does with her music is intentional. Through the decision to release certain songs, such as “Pink Balloon” and “Sea Lions”, as singles, Samia’s knack for storytelling shines; the singer disclosing, “the decision making with the singles was really about keeping the stories together, because I think some of the songs on this record don’t don’t totally make sense by themselves, or you wouldn’t interpret them how I how I would want them to be interpreted.”
After three years of releasing singles and EPs, shaping her artistic identity on the public stage, a baby was born. Well, technically, The Baby was born. Samia’s debut full-length album, cleverly and cutely titled The Baby, was released in 2020, arguably the worst time to release any project. During her conversation with V, Samia reflected on the nerves and uncertainty that festered as a result of releasing an album so intimate in a time of such isolation and disconnection, and the hesitancy it birthed prior to embarking on tour for her second album, Honey, which was released in 2023, “Last time I put out a record, I had two years between when we released it and when we started touring,” she says, “And that was my only real context for putting out a record. So I didn’t know if anyone would know the songs (on Honey).”
With The Baby, Samia successfully cemented herself as an undeniable talent who can only get better from here. A subtly explosive, deeply vulnerable, and sonically transcending piece of music, The Baby constructed the foundation for the world Samia is building through her music. A world that Honey returns to and reimagines through a new perspective. Honey’s central theme can best be summarized by the lyric in the sweet, soft-sung track, “Nanana”, “did you know that Aspen Grove is forty thousand trees / with the same foundation?” The beating heart of all of Samia’s music, especially Honey, is the interconnectedness that comes with knowing and letting yourself be known by others. Through brutally honest and admirably raw lyrics and production, Samia seeks to honor that shared foundation.
Although they are not technically sister records, Honey feels like The Baby’s older step-sister who went on one of those long hiking trips that you have to plan out months in advance, and spent time alone and looked at the stars and reflecting on not only things that have happened to her, but also looking back upon her role in these transgressions. While she openly admits to being a “sad girl” – Honey finds Samia taking the Sad Girl and putting her in a locket on a necklace and carrying it with her while she explores what really matters to her, friendship, memories, community, and vulnerability.
Radical vulnerability is one of the largest pillars of Samia’s work. Every song, from a voicemail from her mother playing at the end of the single “As You Are” to a sound bite of her Sitto (grandmother) singing a lullaby in the opening of The Baby‘s “Pool” – drips with a palpable sense of openness. As anyone who considers themselves a writer in any capacity knows, writing openly and honestly about your life is an incredibly daunting thing to do. “I really try to just use empathy as a compass,” the artist mused while speaking on her experience navigating vulnerability, “And I tried to decide what’s important for me to hear from other people and what is maybe not necessary to hear from other people and use that as a map.”
With Honey garnering the largest amount of acclaim and attention thus far in her career, V were dying to know if and when there will be another album. The singer’s genuine love for writing and making music shone through as she answered, “I am gonna write another record. I’m so excited, I just have like a really random, well of inspiration that’s happening. And I’m gonna try to tap into it as soon as possible.” Along with plans for a new record, the artist just released two covers, “Maps” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs and “Country” by Porches, an artist name-dropped in Honey’s titular track.
To know Samia’s music is to know her, and to feel like she knows you right back. Although you were not in Minnesota or Tennessee or New York with her, nor was she with you when you were being hurt or hurting someone, you listen to her music and find that it acts as a key to unlocking how you felt about something that happened to you that you could never quite figure out how to express. In this way, Samia has mastered a skill that many artists are never able to: taking the personal and shaping and molding it into a universally relatable body of art. An act that she admits she has not quite mastered yet, telling V, “I grapple with it a lot, actually deciding which parts of my story are worth sharing. I think being able to have a connection with strangers over this stuff is like the greatest gift and makes it all worth that deliberation.” Honey is a lot of things: happy, sad, drunk, angry, reminiscent, grieving, fun, curious, joyous. But, above all else, it is about learning that some things are good, and some things are bad, and some things just are.
Samia embarks on the second leg of the Honey tour on Thursday, April 13th, in Charleston, South Carolina. You can find more tour dates on her website.