In February 2020, just before nightclubs across the world shuttered as the coronavirus pandemic hit, Eden Samara popped down to Studio 9294 in Hackney Wick. She’d caught wind of the line-up – a back-to-back feast featuring object blue B2B DJ Bus Replacement Service and a tumultuous B2B2B between Happa, 96 Back and Jabes – and having been blown away by an object blue mix she’d heard online, Eden decided that she had to go and see her play.
Eden had recently moved to London from Canada, and was hanging around backstage when she met object blue in a “typical green room meeting”, according to Eden. The pair got on well, so well in fact that Eden asked: “Do you want to hang out in the park sometime?”
They did, and they are now close friends. It’s a similar story to Eden’s meeting with Loraine James, having attended a production workshop in 2019 run by Hyperdub artists, where Loraine was tutoring. “We just got chatting, and then started hanging out,” says Loraine. “Many deep chats and all that jazz.”
Read this next: Eden Samara announces debut album ‘Rough Night’
object blue on the other hand, met Loraine back in 2018, having invited her to guest on her radio show. object says: “Loraine emailed me, and I was like ‘Oh my god, who is this absolute genius?’ and I invited her to play a live set on my Rinse show – since then we’ve just been friends.”
Eden Samara has just released her debut album, ‘Rough Night’, a storming debut featuring her impressive vocals across a series of productions that span a huge slice of the electronic music spectrum, ranging from ambient, alt-pop, house, footwork, experimental and even contemporary R&B. It also has an impressive cast of producers who have collaborated on the LP, with Shanti Celeste, Call Super, TSVI, Peach, Eden herself, her principal collaborator Ryan Pierre, and of course Loraine James, listed among the credits.
We caught up with Eden, Loraine and object blue the day after Eden’s first ever live concert – a small, 50-person private affair in East London’s favourite living room-slash-nightclub, The Pickle Factory, where according to object blue: “She killed it.”
What inspires you about each other, both as artists and people?
Eden Samara: The music both Loraine and object blue make is not something I’d been exposed to before. Maybe I’d heard Loraine’s music once or twice before I came to London, but since I feel like I’ve been immersing myself in experimental music in a way that I never did. It’s really been a huge influence not only on what I’m listening to – but the kind of music I’ve begun to make. But as much as I love the music that both of you make, I love you both as people – for me, liking someone’s art is equally as important as liking what they’re trying to say and what they stand for.
object blue: Yeah, that’s where you cross over from a fan to friend. When you like them as people too.
Loraine James: object blue excited me many moons ago, that’s why I messaged her – I really loved her work. And Eden, I didn’t really know what music she made at the time [when we met], but we just chatted and said to keep in touch.
So when did you first hear Eden’s music then?
ES: I wasn’t really making it when we met. But both of you have been so important to me in actually figuring out what kind of music I wanted to make. I guess in the same way that object – you grabbed Loraine and brought her up with you, both of you have been so important to me in my creative journey.
ob: I think you showed me your demos for the first time at my flat. Eden was showing my wife Natalia [Podgórska] – who made the video for ‘Rough Nights’, which is incredible by the way – and I was like: “Holy shit, this is good.” I don’t listen to new pop that often, but when I heard Eden’s demos I thought: “She’s going to have no problem putting this out – I’m definitely not going to be the last person to hear this.”
What specifically attracted you to her music?
ob: Well she can actually sing. I think this is an important distinction – Loraine, you and I can hold a pitch, but we are not singers. It’s important to respect someone who has singing down to a craft. But I think if you call Eden just a singer then you are not respecting the producer part of her – but if you just call her a producer, she’s better than us [because] she also sings.
ES: That’s not true, but thank you.
Eden you’ve said before that you don’t want your music to sound too polished, how do you guys embrace the imperfections in your work?
ES: One of the reasons I think Loraine was helpful to my creative process is that it was simple. Neither of us have fancy shit, like our laptops are broken, we’re not using expensive mics, we didn’t go into the studio. I think now I see you go into the Warp studios to use their equipment.
LJ: I don’t even touch the stuff there, I just plug my laptop in. I don’t even really like it there – it just feels sterile. I like being on the couch or the settee with my legs crossed.
ob: I so agree with you Loraine, I’m always like: “Yeah I definitely need to book studio time,” and then I book it and I’m like: “Why am I lying to myself?”
ES: The point is to make music and express myself. Also, it’s not like I had money to rent a studio or pay an engineer. I didn’t have money to pay producers – I would just trade favours with friends, like: “I’ll sing for your album if you help me with my drums.” It’s this kind of community focused bartering system that I’ve set up for myself here. Which is lit. That’s how we should be supporting each other.
ob: You guys were making music that was not easy to find elsewhere. When I first heard Loraine’s music I was like: “I’ve never heard music like this before.” Electronic music has existed for over a century now, like I’ve heard a drum beat before, but not in the way you two combine it. I’ve listened to a lot of singing before but never heard this kind of melody, or combined with these kinds of sounds, or this kind of breakbeat.
ES: I think pop music can work very well – like hyperpop is very polished and that’s its charm. But that’s not what I do. I just wanted to mix the organic human voice and electronics, and I’m interested in what the juxtaposition between those two can look like.
LJ: Sometimes I think it’s long to make everything polished. You know demo versions of songs – I think I hold onto that dearly. And when things are pitchy, I’ll just leave it. Nine out of 10 times, I won’t shove an autotune on any vocals. If a recording picks up something in the background, I love that stuff.
ob: I think it adds space, it adds depth, because you hear that this was recorded in another audio space. And that’s nice, you know?
LJ: Yeah we’re not making clean, Top 40 music.
ES: I didn’t EQ my vocals, because I wanted it to sound like me. It’s about expressing a feeling – we don’t always express ourselves perfectly in real life, so why does my production need to be perfect? It just needs to be honest.
ob: There are these myths in the production world where people pretend there are these unbreakable rules. We should break this dogma that there is a correct way to produce – and only if you have the correct amount of equipment, only if you talk to the right people at the networking party you shall be allowed into this correct way of production.
ES: If that was the case no women would be making music. No queer women would be making music – the barrier to entry would be so high, and also I feel like you get more interesting shit when you don’t follow the rules.
There are points on the album that get quite personal, what is the relationship between the music you make and your personal lives?
ES: I don’t necessarily need to come out to my family, but I can come out in a song – I just find that easier. I haven’t had those conversations with my family, but somehow I don’t mind putting it in a song that millions of strangers will hear. It’s just how I express myself.
LJ: I don’t really talk about my feelings that much, and like Eden was saying, putting it in my music is way easier for me.
How important is it to have friends like yourselves within the music industry, who you see out and about and get what it’s like for you?
LJ: I was definitely realising recently, that it’s important to see your friends outside the club. Hearing about what each other’s saying and talking about things that aren’t music – sometimes I realise that I talk about music too much and being outside is a bit of a reality check. It’s very important to check on your friends and grab some food somewhere and just generally chat some shit.
ES: I wanted to ask both of you, I was curious how both of you have been doing at taking care of yourselves? Being very busy with the post-COVID rush of shows and the expectation of output to make up for everything?
ob: I find the pressure hard. We are all people who just want to make music. I’m someone who loves to think about making music but not how to look after my career, which is why I have a manager. And I do find it difficult that we live in an unprecedented speed of mass information. Like when we were kids if our favourite artist released an album once every three years, we’d be like: “Wow, that’s so frequent.”
Now I feel this pressure with [people in the industry saying]: “Come on, you need to stay in the limelight, you have to have people talking about you.” And I’m like: “Do you want me to write a good fucking album or what?” But every job has a difficult part, everybody has something that they are not a natural at, and I feel incredibly lucky to make a living off of my life’s one true joy.
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LJ: I’m not really a social person really, so I don’t really go out that much.
ob: Eden it’s a testament to your social skills that you are friends with the two of us.
LJ: Things are definitely moving triple the speed compared to pre-pandemic. It feels long when you haven’t released a record, and people start basically begging for it.
ob: Loraine and I are good girls, we don’t drink that much, we don’t do drugs and that’s how we survive. I honestly don’t know how some people party hard every weekend and survive.
LJ: True that. Honestly it’s cool.
Eden, are you planning on touring the album?
ES: I mean I don’t even have an agent, I’m a little baby – I’m just starting out in the industry. I have a few shows planned for next year.
ob: It’s not something to rush into so don’t worry about it.
ES: Yeah, I feel very good about letting things unfold naturally. I will definitely play a bunch of shows next year for sure. But I feel like having both of you as friends helps me plan for this chapter, because I know it will happen – I will be going on tour. Once I move into that stage of my life I will be ready for it. I ask both of you for advice on those things all the time. If I was going on my first tour in my early 20s it would be a shit show.
I learn so much from you guys about how I want to participate in this industry, like what feels healthy. If I am going to participate in the industry I’m going to do it in my way, in a way that feels authentic.
‘Rough Night’ by Eden Samara is out now via Local Action, get it here
Isaac Muk is Mixmag’s Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter
Written by: Tim Hopkins