Standard Sounds

Annie O Presents: Rising Brooklyn Local Sam Evian

We have a secret weapon at The Standard in the form of a French-Moroccan music maven named Annie O. After years in the music industry representing greats like Lou Reed, Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, and Peter Gabriel, we nabbed her to curate The Annie O Music Series, a regular concert series in the airy Penthouse of The Standard, East Village.

On Monday, June 20, the laid back local Sam Evian takes on The Penthouse. You may have heard his work in the Brooklyn band Celestial Shore as Sam Owens, but he's going solo with a fancier name. Annie connected with Sam while he was somewhere upstate surrounded by goats and llamas, in the midst of making some new recordings in a barn. 
Annie O Presents: Sam Evian
Monday, June 20th, 7-9pm
The Standard, East Village Penthouse
Free with an RSVP to

How's upstate New York?

It’s amazing. You get on the train, all of the concrete is replaced with trees in an hour and a half, and you've only spent $20.

What’s the balance between being a solo artist and part of a band? Are there different inspirations for each? 
The band experience is really democratic. The healthiest way to be in a band is to release your expectations and be open to whatever results you’re going to get from a certain combination of people. That’s really the coolest thing—that you don't know what to expect. The problem is when people don’t open themselves to that.

Going solo was more a move of convenience. Everyone in New York is so very busy, and sometimes it’s more efficient to work alone and do stuff on your own time. There is also something to be said for seeing your own decisions through to the end. Sometimes when you're with a group, you don't get to do that.

Were your influences more musical or a state of mind?
I think it's a healthy mix of both. I'm just through a Tom Petty phase. Actually, I don’t think I ever left it. I'm also always really reflecting on George Harrison's music. Those are in my head instrumentally. All the songs popped out pretty easily. "Sleep Easy" is a response to my domestic life. It’s pretty emotionally honest music I think.

Do you write songs for other artists?
I have written with other people in the past and I’d love to start writing for other people more. It’s something that I’d love to get into this upcoming year. Recently, my network in New York has blossomed in a really wonderful way, so the next step for me is to have some other people in the studio. I'm mostly interested in producing and recording wood instruments for people (guitars, drum, and bass).

If Sam Evian had a superpower, what would it be?
Providing clean drinking water for everybody. It’s very important to stay hydrated.

"Sleep Easy" has a relaxed, comfortable feel. Is that like you? Was the recording process easy and relaxed?
The recording of this whole album was pretty easy-going and laid back. I’m not your traditional bedroom recordist—I work in a recording studio—so I brought people into the studio and let them do what they wanted to do. When you trust people, you can let whatever happens happen. I’d usually bring people in after work, we’d hang out, they’d go home, and then I’d stay and work on what we did. I think the stress of studio time is something that holds a lot of artists back, so I’m very fortunate to work in a recording studio where I don’t have to worry about that. I think I'm pretty relaxed. My favorite hobby is sleeping, and my favorite pastime is driving cars and listening to music. I’m pretty low key.

Who is the one artist that you would love to collaborate with?
Ringo Starr. He's still out there and I'm coming for him. I follow his Twitter and it’s so obvious that he's the one doing it. Sometimes it will be just be a hundred emojis in a brick. He's a genius. He really is. I have so much respect for him.

What can we expect from your upcoming show at The Standard, East Village?
You can expect a lot of smiles, some nice people, and easy listening.

Who will be playing with you? Have you played with them for a long time?
The guys who are on the record with me are Dan lead on pedal steel, Brian Betancourt on bass, Austin Vaughn on drums (we went to high school together), and my studio mate, Michael Coleman, but we call him “Rocketship.”

You’re also a producer and engineer. How does that inform your process? Is it more or less difficult to record yourself?
In terms of process, it has all kind of merged into one circular event: make the demo, take it to the studio, record, bring people in. I use the studio as an instrument like some of my favorite producers, Brian Eno and George Martin. I’m a subscriber to that school. It’s also very expensive to pay someone to record you, so it evolved out of necessity originally, but now I just really enjoy it. It’s now built into the writing process.

As for the difficulty of recording myself, I think it’s difficult to be honest with yourself—that ‘maybe this isn’t as bad as I think it is’ moment. It’s about finding that balance. When I was mixing the record, I spent a week mixing by myself in a room. It becomes a total vortex, and you get to a point where you don't know what this sounds like anymore. It can be difficult, but it’s a good time. I think it’s the responsibility of artists to learn as much as they can about their trade. It’s really empowering.

You have a very mysterious quality. What are you hiding?
I don’t think I’m hiding anything. I think I’m just having fun. I make pretty honest music, but I think the whole presentation part is a place to have fun, keep it light, and not be overly serious. It tickles me to poke fun at things and have a good time with what I’m doing. I'm also kind of challenging the capitalist perspective of what an artist should be—not that I don't fit into it all, but again, it's all fun. It's mostly just about the laugh.

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