Fondue Western, Basel-Stadt
– Switzerland’s very own Sam Himself -- New Yorker by choice, 'Fondue Western’ baritone by trade -- shares "La Paz", the new single off his upcoming...Read Biography
Switzerland’s very own Sam Himself -- New Yorker by choice, 'Fondue Western’ baritone by trade -- shares "La Paz", the new single off his upcoming debut album, "Power Ballads", due out October 10th. The indie rocker's latest release 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.
2020 proves to be Sam Himself's breakout year: the spring release of his EP "Slow Drugs" earns the Swiss National Broadcasting Service’s Best Talent award as well as international press, radio airplay and multiple DSP editorial features. In 2021, the vocalist and songwriter is nominated for a Swiss Music Award, the most prestigious national prize of its kind, and shares a virtual stage with the likes of Wilco and Phoebe Bridgers as part of the launch lineup of livestream platform Bandsintown PLUS, all the while completing his debut LP together with his longtime producer and ‘Second Beatle’ Daniel Schlett (Iggy Pop; The War on Drugs) as well as mastering engineer Greg Calbi (David Bowie; Bruce Springsteen).
That fateful year, 2020, also provides the inspiration for much of Sam’s first album. At the outbreak of the pandemic, the artist is back in Europe for his planned spring tour with singer Anna Rossinelli. Then COVID-19 strikes, the tour is cancelled and Sam finds himself stranded between his native Switzerland and New York City, his chosen home of the past decade, unsure when he’ll be able to return to the United States again. Phones ring; relationships end. Sam holes up in self-quarantine at an Airbnb in his hometown of Basel, Switzerland, and starts writing new material with the equipment he packed for the tour that never was.
Those songs, including "La Paz," become the framework of Sam Himself’s debut LP. The artist starts recording his new material in various locations across Switzerland -- among them his mother’s attic and Alterna Studios in Basel, the latter with engineer Philippe Laffer (CRIMER; Marius Bear). In January 2021, after almost a year abroad, Sam travels back to New York again, where he finishes his album at producer Schlett’s Strange Weather Studio in Brooklyn.
The artist’s exile-at-home ultimately lasts almost a year - a strange time marked by restless daydreams, according to Sam, like 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.”
Two members of Sam’s touring band -- Benjamin Noti (lead guitar - Steff la Cheffe; Noti Wümié) and Georg Dillier (bass - Anna Rossinelli) -- contribute to Sam’s upcoming debut LP; so do drummer Parker Kindred (Jeff Buckley; Elliott Smith) and bassist Josh Werner (Iggy Pop; Ghostface Killah), the studio veterans Sam already worked with on his previous three EPs, including "Slow Drugs."
Beyond that, Sam plays most of the instruments on his forthcoming full-length debut himself, with producer Schlett jumping into the booth here and there to add the occasional otherworldly sound. This intentional reduction in manpower reflects both the new practical realities of the pandemic and the general mood of the strange time during which Sam wrote and recorded his first LP: over the course of ten songs, by turns minimalist and grand, stripped-down and hard-hitting, programmed drums and synthesizers add new textures to Sam’s musical vocabulary and convey a sense of the isolation, self-reliance and artistic autonomy that define his upcoming album from start to finish. Through it all, Sam’s signature baritone reaches new heights and transcends expectations on the artist’s most intimate, vulnerable work to date.
Born in Basel, Switzerland, Sam Koechlin follows his favorite music to New York City in the early 2010s. In the wake of various bands and other musical adventures, he launches his solo project Sam Himself in 2016. The name is born at a Manhattan bar one night after Sam's then-bandmate fails to show up for a gig; the venue's promoter spontaneously announces Sam... Himself! -- mostly to his own amusement. The joke turns into a mission statement as Sam decides to go it alone, or start there at least; the loyal relationships he builds with his collaborators over the ensuing years now form the core of Sam Himself’s team on both sides of the Atlantic.
After returning to New York in January 2021, Sam currently splits his time between Brooklyn and Basel. This fall will see him doing a lot more traveling: more live dates are continually added to Sam's album release tour in Switzerland, Germany and beyond.
Sam Himself has been featured by SRF 3, RTS, RSI, KEXP; KCRW, Spin Magazine (10/1), Under The Radar Magazine, Consequence of Sound, American Songwriter, 20 Minuten, Basellandschaftliche Zeitung, WOZ - Die Wochenzeitung, SRF Glanz & Gloria, Telebasel, Tower Records, Atwood Magazine, Culture Collide, Variance Magazine, among many others.
Tag: power ballads, la paz, nothing like the night, fondue western, best talent, swiss music awards, cry, like a friend, slow drugs, sam himself