Slidin’ Thru: Sammy Wilk

August 8, 2019

Read the full interview on YoungCalifornia.com!

Sammy Wilk is here to bless the music game with his soft buttery vocals, simultaneously shutting down stages all across the world. Hailing from Omaha, Nebraska, the singer-songwriter grew up an athlete, but it was senior year of high school when he realized he could write music. Arriving in sunny Los Angeles in 2015, he began to evolve not only as an artist, but as a human being. Read more..

In addition to the music, Sammy aims to use his platform for the greater good. The “Options” singer launched a streetwear-inspired capsule collection called Wilk clothing, which stands for “We Inspire the Lives of Kids.” 10% of proceeds went to various programs in Africa, even traveling to Sierra Leon to help build music and art programs. Having toured with the likes of Rae Sremmurd and Derek Luh, Sammy’s goal in life is to learn and love — while enjoying himself doing it. Most recently, he unleashed his new EP titled Keep it In The Middle.

How would you describe your sound?
My sound is ever-evolving. It started more reggae because I grew up listening to reggae music, but it’s evolving. Much more R&B, hip-hop, pop nowadays. I still have a lot of island roots I put into it, on the production end of things. It’s very authentic to who I am. All my music’s real experiences, real emotions, real shit I’ve gone through. It’s a very hip-hop, pop, and R&B realm of genres.

Being from Omaha, NE, how does that play into your life and career?
People from the Midwest, more importantly I notice everyone’s morals are very similar. People have very good manners. I feel like there’s a lot more fake out in LA, New York, etc. People from Omaha, it’s a lot of real and that really helps my everyday life. It helps me know who to trust and surround myself with people I know who have my best interest.

You came to LA in 2015. How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist? 
I mean, it’s a situational basis. If you have what you need wherever you’re from — if you have producers, you have a good studio, you don’t need to be out here. LA’s a shitshow, a lot of people can get lost out here. For me, I didn’t have a producer and the studio I needed out in Omaha. The people I needed were out in LA, so it helped my situation. I was on tours, did some LA stops.

Who were you on tour with?
I’ve done a few. A few by myself, I’ve done one with my boy Derek Luh towards the end of 2017. Did some shit with Jack & Jack. I did the Hollywood Bowl with Ky-Mani Marley. I’ve done some Sammy Adams. I did old Rae Sremmurd shit way back in the day. I haven’t toured since the end of 2017, so it’s about time for me back on the road.

Favorite part about the West Coast?
The weather. The easy living. I’m very laidback. I go to New York quite a bit because my team’s out there, but New York’s way too fast-paced for me.

I feel like LA’s pretty fast paced as well.
LA’s more laid back though. You can do things as you want. New York, everyone’s like ba-ba-ba! [claps hands] Especially in the city like Manhattan. LA’s easy living. It’s good weather, you can hit the beach. You can join a snowboarding team and drive the Big Bear. You get what you want out here.

You just released Keep It In The Middle. How has the fan reception been? 
They love it. The fans are ride or die’s. I’ve switched up my sound a little bit as the years have gone by, but they’ve always stuck on my side. I didn’t drop music for 2.5 years so the fact they’re still around and still giving a fuck about what I’m doing, it means a lot.

“Options” is a vibe. Bring us back to that studio session.
Thank you. I really, really enjoyed that song. I actually went into the studio that day just to fix the records I already had. If you really listen to the song, there’s real emotions in there. I found some shit out about, you know, a female. Had to get some shit off my chest and it happened. I wrote that song in 30 minutes. I found that when you have the real emotions, you can find that part of what you want to say and the song kind of writes itself. That was a very smooth session. Very emotional session, but it was good. I love the ending so…

Has she heard it?
Yes, she has. [laughs] She didn’t love it obviously. But girls like when you show emotion so at the end of the day, it’s fine.

I know artists tend to have their own favorites on that aren’t singles. What songs mean the most to you? 
Honestly, “Options” is one of my favorites. I love “Lift Off.” It’s hard for me because when I write each song, I’m in a different part of my life. I’m living through different experiences. I’m happy some days, I’m sad some days. When I find myself in those moods, those songs correspond to what I’m feeling. “Help Me” is very like a cry for help in a way, so when I’m feeling down. But when I’m tryna turn up, I’m going to “Lift Off,” “Options,” “Killer,” stuff like that. It’s tough.

What is it you want fans to get from your story?
I want to give them a little more than what they see on social media, a little depth into my actual emotions. Because social media only shows so much. I don’t like to post all emotional shit on social media or what I’m feeling. It lets them dive a little deeper into my story and what I’ve been doing or going through. Help them relate in whatever way they want to. That’s why some of the songs, you can take away what you take away from it. The lyrics aren’t straightforward, so whatever you feel when you listen to it is correct. There isn’t a wrong way to listen to my music. I want them to be able to dive a little deeper into how I’m living and what I’m experiencing.

Speaking of social media, I see you hit 1 million. How’d that happen?
It was so weird. My boys Jack & Jack, we went to high school together. They got big on Vine. Being with them, I developed my own fan base on Instagram. Right when I got 50K followers on Instagram, I was still in high school.

How old are you now? 
I’m 23 now, so this was 5 years ago. At the time, we didn’t understand how it was happening.

What were you posting? 
I was just being friends with Jacks. It all happened very organically. That’s when I started dropping music. Ever since then, I kept dropping, kept posting. Keeping content somewhat consistent.

You were doing music the whole time?
Yeah, once I had a few thousand followers. I was dropping singles at first, then I dropped an album in April 2016. By that point, I had a million followers. Over the past two years, I’ve been lingering around that point. But now that I’m dropping again, it’ll be good. I’m excited.

Did you celebrate your million follower reach?
I don’t think so. At the end of the day, it’s just a number. I really don’t give a shit about it. It’s good, I’m glad to have them, but it’s just a number.

What are some goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
Just continuing to evolve as an artist. Continue to find/navigate my sound, shed layers as a human. Become a better learner, lover, human, man, whatever. I want to continue to do it and to become a better person. Find my sound and sell out bigger shows and new shows each year and yeah. I just want to continue to stay happy and proud. 

Favorite person to follow on IG?
I enjoy Barstool Sports. I enjoy any funny videos, whoever posts funny videos. Right now, I’m loving all the NBA Draft stuff. @fun_bestvids is one of the ones I follow, just good funny shit.

What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
There’s not a lot of organization in my life so each day really changes. I wake up, gotta get my coffee, gotta get a little breakfast. If I really want to that day, I’ll get a workout in. Then I’ll usually book a studio session. If it’s a day session, I’ll do a 2pm or 3pm session and do that until 8pm or 9pm. Or if it’s a night session, I’ll start around 8pm or 9pm and go through the morning.

So music’s your life? 
Yeah, I don’t do anything else. I’m just writing. If I’m not writing, I’m with my family because I got 3 siblings out here. Or with my friends enjoying the beautiful summer days in LA.

3 things you need in the studio?
Corona, water, and some sort of food. Good snacks like Hot Cheetos. I need my beer, beer is #1.

Dream collab?
I gotta say Drake, because he doesn’t miss.

What advice do you have for an aspiring Sam Wilk?
Trust your gut. Don’t let outside influences — if you don’t know they have your best interests, don’t let their opinion sway you too hard left or right. Stay focused. If you come out to LA, don’t party too much. Trust your guts. Surround yourself with people you love. Keep it in the middle and you’ll be good!

Any closing remarks?
If you’re not listening to the project, go stream it! I appreciate the love.

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