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Sammy Legs took an unconventional approach to where he is today. He discovered his penchant for music while studying computer science in California, though most of that time was spent DJing college parties and local clubs. The more he delved into the nightlife scene and the underground, the more he realized he was destined for a different sound than he could pursue in his current scene. So he took a 7-month hiatus and found himself in Berlin with a small studio and a laundry list of inspiration to pull from the nooks and crannies of its world-renowned nightlife scene.
After returning from Berlin he finished up his degree at Cal and turned to Los Angeles for the next chapter of his musical career – studying at Icon Music Collective. Sammy Legs is not confined by a specific genre. He weaves elements of house, breakbeat, and halftime throughout his arrangements, peppering rhythmic switch-ups in every pocket. His textured grooves and unconventional turns offer an element of surprise to those who listen. He wants you to mingle with the brilliantly bizarre and, after listening, you do too.
We caught up with Sammy Legs to talk about his recent ‘Crafty Charachters’ EP, the inspiration behind the release, studio tips, and what’s in store for the future.
EG: Hi Sammy. Welcome to EG! How have things been going this year?
Sammy Legs: Going well all things considered. I’ve been working at a cool music tech startup that’s kept me occupied as things move back to some semblance of normal. I’m really proud of the music I’ve put out this year and have a ton more to share. Creatively speaking, I’ve been venturing into some completely new styles to bring back to my sound and it’s been a fun exploration.
EG: How did you get started with dance music? Djing? And Producing?
Sammy Legs: I was actually DJing in my bedroom as a freshman in college and started playing frat parties at game days at UCB (go bears!) I started messing around with production within a year of DJing but didn’t really dive in headfirst until studying abroad in Berlin towards the end of college.
EG: Do you recall which track or moment that became the base for your musical career?
Sammy Legs: There have been many tunes from all sorts of genres that have taken me down different rabbit holes, but I’ll always remember the first time I heard Âme’s remix of Howling. I discovered it after mostly being exposed to EDM and it made me appreciate the depth of electronic music in all of its interpretations. It was humbling and began a decade of crate-digging paired with me snatching my favorite bits to throw into my own creations (though not always successfully)
EG: You are based in Seattle right? How’s the scene over there? And how has it handled these crazy pandemic times we’re living in?
Sammy Legs: Yeah, I’m from here and have been home for the last year and a half. Seattle was pretty late to opening things up again but they’ve been doing some pretty cool shows as of late. I think the city is so conscientious about being respectful to everyone/everything that we’ve been hesitant to jump the gun on anything covid-related which, while it comes from a good place, has contributed to music’s slow recovery. One that’s been pretty rough on a lot of people in this industry, myself included. I’ve been really impressed with some shows I went to in the last 6 months, mainly because of all of the new genres and underground/international artists that have been coming through. Perhaps it’s always been here and I just wasn’t aware when I used to come home to visit but it does make me hopeful that this scene is coming into its own.
“I’ve been venturing into some completely new styles to bring back to my sound and it’s been a fun exploration”
EG: Congratulations on your latest release ‘Crafty Characters’. How has the reception been so far?
Sammy Legs: Thanks! I’m really proud of it. It actually was the #1 release on Beatport for nearly a week! I was shocked.. I’ve seen the tunes get played out all over the states and some international gigs as well. Hopefully I can get out there and play for those scenes soon!
EG: What can you tell us about the production process and inspiration behind the release? What was the motivation behind this one?
Sammy Legs: These songs all feature distinct sections/tones and I spent a lot of time nurturing those energy shifts to feel like a narrative as the tunes progress. I’ve been fusing my love for house, psytech, techno, and older minimal music for a couple of years now and this exemplifies a little bit of all of those inspirations, with each track focusing more heavily on one of those (maybe you can guess which goes with which).
I’ve started shaping my music to have such specific personalities and quirks that I’m embracing them now as characters in some wacky cartoon that ‘want’ to sound/behave a certain way. I always try and shake things up somehow in approaching the writing process and this has been a fun new perspective.
Also, my releases have slowly begun to represent the sound I’m at today and I think this one is closest to where I’m at live these days (which is often moving somewhere new by the time the music surfaces). It’s been hard finding labels that fit the music I’ve been writing as it dips into a lot of different styles so I’m super grateful to work with the team at Trippy Ass Technologies.
EG: Do you have a personal favorite from the EP? Why?
Sammy Legs: Probably ‘Zig or Zag’. It has some moments that are pretty priceless on a dancefloor. The name and meaning behind it also is an inside joke with myself which is great. Sometimes I’ll spend absurd hours on tiny details knowing very well that only the occasional re-listener will pick up on it and this tune is jam-packed with those moments. I live for stuff like that because I’ll always remember the moments on a dance floor (or in headphones with a track I found) that are so absurd that I can’t tell if I’m just hearing things. It’s exciting to be at a point where I can actually create that kind of surprise for other people and watch it play out for them during sets.
EG: Can you mention a personal studio trick that makes your life easier? Do you have a blueprint you follow for certain activities, like mixdowns?
Sammy Legs: Do your stereo imaging as early as possible in the track. If you want real-sounding spatial audio, it’s a heck of a lot easier to do that as you add in sounds as opposed to trying to figure out all that mess at the end. For mixdowns, I do a good bit as I go but I handle a lot of the end process by grouping like-sounds and similar frequency ranges together (often in 2-4 levels of nested groups) and does most of the process at a group level at that point. That way, all the changes at the end are more-or-less squashing separate ideas together into single elements and making your overall track sound like there are fewer elements. It’s hard to reconcile a love for musical complexity with the idea that simple = better, but you can find a happy medium by grouping a large range of ideas down into 6-8 groups/ideas and treating them as such both creatively and with your mixdowns.
“It’s exciting to be at a point where I can actually create that kind of surprise for other people and watch it play out for them during sets”
EG: Let’s dig into your music collection? What are some of your favorite tunes on rotation (2) and what makes them special?
Sammy Legs: It’s not so new to me now but Actually by Dan Kye has been on rotation since I discovered it around a year ago. It’s just timeless, start to finish. I’ve always been fascinated when music can give you ambiguous nostalgia almost instantly. Also – Nvivo by Skee Mask is amazing (and great for getting work done). It has such a velvety sonic texture to it and the groove is infectious. I’m a huge fan of uptempo music and, for whatever reason, that’s often equated to higher energy music. And yet this feels like a mellow, rainy Sunday afternoon.
EG: What else can we expect from Sammy Legs in the future? What new milestones are you looking forward to in the coming months?
Sammy Legs: I have a bunch of tunes ready to go! Also, I’m supporting Peggy Gou in San Francisco for NYE and will be headlining in Reno on January 22nd.
EG: Thank you for your time Sammy! We wish you all the best for the future!
Sammy Legs: No problem! Thanks for giving musicians a platform to express ourselves :)
Sammy Legs’ ‘Crafty Characthers’ is now available via Trippy Ass Technologies. Stream and buy here.