Fondue Western, Basel-Stadt
– On the heels of his breakout year, Swiss indie rocker Sam Himself - New Yorker by choice, ‘Fondue Western’ baritone by trade - releases his debut...Read Biography
On the heels of his breakout year, Swiss indie rocker Sam Himself - New Yorker by choice, ‘Fondue Western’ baritone by trade - releases his debut album, "Power Ballads" (October 8th). The Brooklyn-based songwriter, performer and multi-instrumentalist has been sounding the bell for his first LP with a number of singles, most recently "La Paz" and "What It’s Worth", which premiered via Under The Radar Magazine and was picked up by KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, KEXP’s The Morning Show, among others: as of September 2021, three out of four album singles remain on public and commercial rotation in Germany, France, Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe & the US.
Sam Himself’s full-length debut follows last year’s acclaimed EP "Slow Drugs", the artist’s third, which - in addition to international press, radio airplay, numerous DSP editorial features and critical praise for the accompanying music videos - earned him the Swiss National Broadcasting Service’s Best Talent Award in 2020 and, in early 2021, a nomination for a Swiss Music Award, the most prestigious national prize of its kind in Sam’s home country.
"Power Ballads" marks the latest collaboration between Sam and his longtime producer, mixing engineer and ‘Second Beatle’ Daniel Schlett (The War On Drugs; Iggy Pop), as well as mastering legend Greg Calbi (Bruce Springsteen; David Bowie).
Early last year, “Switzerland’s King of Tears” Sam Himself was in Europe kicking off his spring tour, when the pandemic foiled all live music plans - and Sam’s planned return to Brooklyn, NY, his chosen home of the past decade. Dangerously low on socks, musical equipment and any real sense of when he'd be able to get back to the United States, Sam ended up staying in his native Switzerland for the remainder of 2020. The singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, exiled at home, spent those months in limbo writing and recording what would become his debut album, "Power Ballads", wherever he could (including the attic of his mom’s house). When he made it back to New York in early 2021, Sam (after a period of self-quarantine) went straight to producer Daniel Schlett's Strange Weather Studio in Brooklyn to finalize his new material, building on the recordings he had originally prepared as demos for his album.
Two songs on "Power Ballads" once again feature Sam’s "Slow Drugs" bandmates Josh Werner (bass - Ghostface Killah; CocoRosie) and Parker Kindred (drums - Jeff Buckley; Elliott Smith), among them the LP’s focus track "The Missing". The work of Benjamin Noti (guitar - Steff La Cheffe) and Georg Dillier (bass - Anna Rossinelli), both members of Sam’s touring band, can also be heard on several tracks.
Beyond their contributions, however, Sam plays most of the instruments on "Power Ballads" himself, with producer Schlett adding sounds, textures and of course his singular mixing style (as heard recently e.g. on Iggy Pop's cover of The Velvet Underground's "European Son"). This reduced lineup, a consequence of the new practical realities of the pandemic, imbues "Power Ballads" with a sense of intimacy and artistic autonomy. Synths and programmed drums form the core of most of the album’s by turns minimalist and grand arrangements, while Sam’s signature baritone voice quite literally reaches new heights. Over the course of ten tracks, the artist grapples with the sources and limits of personal power - how much of it is taken for granted; what remains once it’s stripped away - unflinchingly honest and defiantly optimistic on his most vulnerable, most confident work to date.
Sam Himself is set to tour in support of his debut album well into the spring of next year, with some 30+ European dates in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and beyond (US-dates in planning).
As featured by SRF 3, RTS, RSI, KEXP; KCRW, Spin Magazine, 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