When a young Samantha Duenas introduced herself to the entertainment industry as a professional dancer for Ashley Tisdale, Miley Cyrus, and Vanessa Hudgens, among other artists, she had an epiphany. The Economics degree she earned at the University of California, San Diego would never satisfy her hunger to express herself artistically. The Los Angeles native made the decision a couple years after college to pursue more creative outlets and purchased her first set of DJ equipment and established her stage name, SOSUPERSAM.
Fast forward ten years and you can catch a glowing SOSUPERSAM DJing her monthly R&B party in LA called 143 or giving recommendations as a fashion and music influencer, or traveling the world eating great food and Djing better parties. With pop-up events in major cities across the globe from New York City to Amsterdam, SOSUPERSAM has turned her passion to create into global success. Now entering her 10th year as a DJ, SOSUPERSAM looks to grow even further by taking a step back from DJ gigs to embark on another creative journey as a budding singer and songwriter.
SOSUPERSAM proved she had all the tools necessary to alternate playing fields when she released her debut EP GARDEN in 2016. The project highlighted her signature R&B vocal stylings reminiscent of the old-school R&B sound that saturated the airwaves in the '90s and early 2000s. With a sultry voice that's capable of confusing two strangers at the club into believing that they're star-crossed lovers, SOSUPERSAM's original music is a pleasant treat that plays perfectly into a passionate evening full of love, lust, and heartache.
A year and a half after GARDEN, the flowering songstress has finally released her long-awaited sophomore EP Priority. The trifecta of seductively buoyant tracks stays true to her roots as an R&B tastemaker. We managed to catch up with SOSUPERSAM for a Q&A exploring her transition into singing, her idea of art and music, and what she thinks is the craziest thing to happen at her monthly "143" party. Read our full interview below.
OTW: You've built quite the reputation as a DJ but do you feel that it ever gets in the way of your career as a singer? Are SOSUPERSAM the DJ and SOSUPERSAM the singer two different people?
SOSUPERSAM: Yes, I think one of my recent challenges has been distinguishing my artistry as a singer from my current career as a DJ. I think it just takes time to gradually open the idea that I want to broaden my body of work to include singing. For me, it’s about balancing the DJ gigs versus singing performances. This year, I've been lightening up on DJ gigs and pushing for singing performances.
What's running through your mind when you're on stage as a singer? How is it different from performing on stage as a DJ?
Moving around! When I'm on stage as a singer, I Iove that I can walk around the stage without being physically tethered to a table.
For the new fans: what made you pursue a career in singing?
In my mind, it’s less of a career move and more of an ardent rekindling of something I’ve been doing since I was a kid. I've always sung and written. I've been lucky to find the right people to have fun and create music with. I feel that the natural next step in creating is sharing. What happens next may be a career, but I'm trying not to overthink the strategic career part because it gives me anxiety haha.
I'm aware that you work with a few writing partners but can you explain how that process works?
I do work with writing partners but they're really my friends who all sing and write. We have fun and tell stories and turn our stories into songs. The creation process varies for the most part. We’re usually picking through track submissions and a track might remind me of a recent travel memory, or an ex-boyfriend, or how much I love my best friends. From there, we’ll start writing and bouncing melody and lyric ideas around. I journal daily and have doodles and voice memos everywhere, so there’s always a song concept at the forefront of my head.
You host a monthly party at the Echoplex called "143" and often travel out of state and overseas to DJ. What's the craziest thing that you've witnessed at one of your 143 parties?
We have crazy moments every month, but by far the craziest for me was having Chad Hugo DJ at 143 and watching him play all of The Neptunes hits. At one point, I asked him to play Britney Spears' “slave 4 you” and he was like “okay yeah.” Next thing I know, I'm doing all the music video choreography on stage next to him. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that.
Do you have any pre or post-show rituals?
We start every 143 with a team shot of tequila. Before I sing, I want it to be calm and quiet, and then I’ll spend 2 or 3 hours practicing, breathing, visualizing my set, and trying not to pee my pants.
Can you tell us one thing that people don't know about you?
I do the New York Times crossword puzzle almost every day.
The new wave of young SoundCloud rappers tends to catch a lot of heat from folks that prefer 90's Hip-Hop and R&B. What are your personal thoughts on the genre and subculture?
I do think R&B is back in a big way, which makes me happy, but overall good music is good music. Art is subjective. There are no wrong answers, only personal taste. Art and music are meant to make you feel something, so whatever gets you there, I’m for it.
What is one 90's R&B project that you think is slept on?
EOL (Elements of Life) and Divine. Those are two groups I really liked that didn’t blow up.
Who are some of your Ones to Watch?
Yaeji, Yeek and Van Jess!
If you haven't seen SOSUPERSAM live yet, your chance is coming up soon! She embarks on her first headlining singing tour next month. You can purchase your tickets to the Priority Tour here.