Mixing queues from the studio to the stage, SOSUPERSAM packs a pretty and powerful punch with her performances. The LA-based singer and DJ pieces takes the seams of hip-hop, R&B, and future bass and sows a patchwork as an ode to her love for music, and with the rest going on for her, she isn’t sitting on the sidelines anytime soon.
Cranking up the volume still with record label and collective Soulection, Samantha Duenas has a few more pops up her sleeve. Along with touring the world and bringing the 143 party to every corner, we sit down again and talk to Sam about the path that led her here, her fashion sense, food and fitness, and her inspirations.
What have you been up to this year since your EP release of Garden?
I’ve been on tour non-stop since my EP came out. Ironically, I’ve been on tour not for the EP, but I just have had a lot of DJ tours back to back. So I’ve been traveling a lot and doing a lot of shows through Asia, I was able to do Australia and New Zealand for the first time–that was incredible. I’ve been writing and touring a lot.
Is there any city where you love the party scene most?
I would say as a DJ, my favorite party scene is San Francisco. I just think everyone there has so much heart and enjoys the party from start ’til end. I think they have such a high appreciation for music, and I am fortunate to get to DJ there a lot. That’s easily just one of my favorite cities to play at. Either than that, I’d say London definitely. That scene is amazing, and I think one of my best shows was in London. Berlin is another top favorite.
You recently had an interview with Banana Magazine about how your background as a singer/dancer, ad executive, and fashion publicist all came together on your path as a DJ. What’s one takeaway from that whole journey that brought you to where you are now?
I just think that every sort of twist and turn in my professional journey has really informed one another and I try to have takeaways from every little experience that I have. From growing up as a dancer, that helped me with my stage presence. Working with ad and PR really gave me a marketing angle and a good lens which to be able to promote myself and understand an audience, and how to target. What else have I done? A lot of random stuff for sure [laughs]. Yeah, I think just a general love for music helped along way, too. Everything makes sense now. It didn’t at the time, but it’s starting too.
“I think social media takes away from that exclusivity and that special, unique timeframe you get…That sentiment, of “You had to be there” is gone.”
In the same interview, you also talk about Asian guilt. Have you overcome that riding guilt, and how does it feel whenever your back in the Philippines to your roots?
I would say that at the point where I had the interview was more of a retrospective look at something that I think I have conquered. Growing up in LA with immigrant parents, Asian guilt is my way of describing it, but I think it applies to any minority family who immigrated to the US. The values that your parents instill in you, a lot of it is triggered by their concerns and fears from being newbies in a new country. So my mom’s concern was always job security and finding a husband, and making sure all of her hard work paved the way for what she thought was a stable future for her kids. By textbook standards, that doesn’t really include fostering your child’s creativity to become a DJ [laughs].
I was definitely conflicted with my creative outlets and how to do right by my mom so that she wouldn’t be anxious or worry. That was really tough for me to understand, that I could maybe make a professional career out of a creative passion. I always kept the two separate. It took me a long time to realize I could merge the two. It took awhile. Now, my mom fully gets what I do. She’s very impressed by like free swag, open bars, and if I get to take a photo with a celebrity, that’s like a very big co-sign for her. It’s such a mom thing. But yeah, they’re fully supportive of what I do. They’ve evolved in their thinking.
You have such a cute and cool fashion sense. Could you describe your style for us? What are your favorite brands and staples?
Well, in the Philippines, my style is frizzy hair, humidity chic is what we’re calling it. I’m just elevating humidity to a new level, just owning it [laughs]. I think it’s lazy, that’s a great way to describe it. But to be serous, I think it’s more tomboyish, comfortable, and really easy. That’s just usually how I get dressed. Like what’s the easiest way to wear clothes without having to think too much? [Laughs] I’m very sophisticated.
Do you have any more plans getting involved in fashion? Do you see yourself getting into designing, styling, or doing collaborations?
I’m usually leaning towards Acne. I wear a lot of T-shirts, I like a good Bianca Chandôn T-shirt, a lot of Richardson Hardware, pretty much any record label or music collective, that’s kind how I like to express myself and support my friends. And then pair that with interesting trousers and a men’s jacket, or heels or something like that. Maybe. I like Prada a lot. I wear a lot of adidas sneakers. I’m incorporating a lot of color now, that’s the goal. Trying is the keyword.
[My goal in fashion is] mainly just trying to get more comfortable for photos. That’s a good first step [laughs]. I think 143 is really encouraging my fashion IQ and challenging my vision, because there are a lot of opportunities for me to design, art direct photo shoots, style myself, style other people, and come up with stories and different colorways. So I think that’s been such a fun exercise in fashion. I can’t imagine it not evolving from there, although I don’t have any concrete plans to do anything specific. But I’m having fun, you know? Just taking opportunities and absorbing what I can learn and apply it.
“That was really tough for me to understand, that I could maybe make a professional career out of a creative passion. It took me a long time to realize I could merge the two.”
It sounds like another plot twist in your career.
Yeah! Like I’ve been art directing photo shoots lately, and I’m like, “That’s not what I thought I would be doing as a DJ.” Creating moodboards and angles, finding models, and things like that. And it’s just like, what does this have to do with music? But let’s do it.
Aside from music and fashion, one other thing you’re passionate about is food and fitness. Working in such a high energy industry, late nights definitely take a toll on the body. How do you counter this and stay active?
I’d say now a days, less food and more fitness. More fitness as a means to survive, I think that especially in the last few months of traveling. International travel just does a lot of wear and tear on the body, and also working in nightlife. Those aren’t the best and most conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Certainly not consistent at all. It’s hard to maintain consistency. I’m really good at home–eating well, working out, going out on walks, getting enough sleep. I go from that extreme to not knowing what time or day it is, I wake up and eat airplane food, and I have no time to exercise, I stay up ’til 7 AM and then eat after. It’s just all messed up, and by the time I get home, I’m so drained physically and spiritually and mentally. It’s so extreme. So the last time I got home, I was bent on figuring this out. I wanted some sort of balance and way not to fully fall off the wagon, but also be able to have fun and explore the world.
So I hired a trainer, she’s been helping me find those small hacks that help me achieve some sort of consistency on the road so when I come home, I won’t feel depressed. And it won’t take me four weeks to recover and get back to normal. A lot of it is making decisions about your diet, and also squeezing in exercise. She’s been helping me, and this is the first international trip to see if I can really maintain all the things I’ve learned from her and seeing if I can apply it while on the road. I’m doing okay. I feel good! We’ll see.
“[My diet] shocks me everyday, but it just feels good. And that feeling of feeling good is addictive.”
What hacks do you do or try out?
We’re doing very little sugar, and no grains, no dairy. It’s really interesting though because I’m a huge food enthusiast by nature, and I love traveling. And one of the lenses I always felt to travel the world through is through food. And what it’s taught me is that food isn’t the only lens through which you can explore the world and enrich your experience. There’s so many other ways and avenues of culture to experience. And even if you don’t eat the local street food, 100% of the time, you’re still going to experience local authenticity. There’s a lot of ways to do it. It’s not just food, lunch, dinner, and drinks! It’s made me more open-minded to go to more museums and music shows. I go on a lot more coffee dates and find different ways to meet up with people. I’d say it’s become like a scavenger hunt when I eat, because I kind of dissect menus now and I’m like, “Okay, there’s definitely something I can eat here.” And that’s fun for me! It’s like a challenge instead of a restriction. I know I sound fucking bat shit crazy right now [laughs], but it’s actually working. It shocks me everyday, but it just feels good. And that feeling of feeling good is addictive. But yeah, I’ll let you know eight weeks from now when I’m shoving mashed potatoes in my face.
You’re very much part of the multi-slash generation. How does being part of a collective and constantly being surrounded by talented friends inspire you?
Absolutely. Every tour is an opportunity to learn from somebody. And you definitely learn so much from the people you tour with–the way they work, perform, prepare, and just their day-to-day. And that’s what’s so interesting, the things you don’t see from just saying hi to somebody at a show. When you’re on the road, you adopt their little habits and see which ones work for you, and that’s really inspiring. I try to tour with people who I think are my DJ heroes. I would say most recently, I got to tour with Jarreau Vandal whose one of my favorite DJs ever. So having to tour with him through seven shows on tour was heavily inspiring for me–how he sound checks, how he mixes sounds, and even things like, what does he eat for breakfast? How much sleep does he need? What kind of music does he listen to in between shows? Those types of details that you pick up. You also learn a lot of music on the road, because you want to know what everyone is listening to, and usually if there’s an album that comes out during our tour, that becomes like the signature album for the tour, and it’s easily just a good memory for all of us.
What’s next for you?
Spoiler alert! Definitely traveling more with 143, you’ll see us a lot in Asia this year. For me, I plan to be touring my EP too, later this year through North America. Hoping to finish two music videos this summer. Those are the big focuses. And put out some new music.
Interview by Janroe Cabiles
Photographed by Bryan Liu