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| 24 October 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “LA based, Dark Pop Rock artist SAMMI DOLL (IAMX, Kat Von D.) has released the official music video for her debut single, “AN OM IE.” Originally premiered with Alternative Press, “AN OM IE” is an amalgamation of pounding dance beats and industrial keyboard hooks that showcase Sammi’s vocal range and frontwoman persona. Inspired by her darkwave musical roots, Sammi began creating and mixing a myriad of influences from such bands as Metric, Stabbing Westward, and Grimes to create a sound reminiscent of 90’s electronica /trip-hop, with hard-hitting synthesizers encompassed with dark poetry. Upon teaming up with legendary producer Sean Beavan, (NIN, Manson, 3Teeth, Guns N’ Roses), Doll and Beavan wrote the debut single “AN OM IE”; the first release under her name.” We were able to grab some phone time with Sammi to discuss new music and more…

Toddstar: Thank you so much for taking time out today.

Sammi: Thank you so much for your interest. I really appreciate it.

Toddstar: Well every once in a while you get one of those “unknown artist” emails that slips into your mailbox, you click and click on the video, and you hear something that just turns you on. And next thing you know, you’re talking to Sammy Doll on the phone.

Sammi: Thank you very much. I appreciate that there’s still people out there that are interested in clicking on unknown links. You never know what you’re going to get. And I know there’s an over influx of information out there these days, some better than others. So I just appreciate that there’s that hunger for discovering new music.

Toddstar: Well that’s the thing right now. If it wasn’t for discovering new music, we’d all be kind of lost I think, without live music with everything going on in the world right now. So I want to talk about, I don’t know exactly how you say this, but I know in listening to it and reading it phonetically, “AN OM IE.”

Sammi: Yeah. That’s correct.

Toddstar: What can you tell about the single that people might not grab when they listen to or watch through the video the first or second time?

Sammi: First and foremost, I wrote the song “AN OM IE” with Sean and Juliette Bevin and they are sort of the King and Queen with euphemism and when I heard the first melody the first word that came to me from listening through to the music was enemy. So I thought perhaps would need to write a song about maybe the internal struggle of being an enemy, or maybe there’s somebody that’s wronged me, that was kind of where I started my focal point. That I did a bit more research and I then started to make the focus about the Anomie Theory. Which is what a French sociologist back in the late 1800s wrote this book called Suicide, he’s known as Émile Durkheim. And so the enemy theory is a social disintegration. It States that individuals in a society are in permanent competition with each other. They expect much of existence and demand much of it. They find themselves to perpetually haunted by the suffering that arises from a disproportion between their aspirations and I guess their satisfaction. And so what that meant to me is like we more than ever live within an anomic society and we are our own worst enemies in that.

Toddstar: That brings out a whole other discussion now. Especially as you know, we’ve got elections coming up, we’ve got the pandemic, we’ve had whole kinds of issues in last the summer, just crazy stuff. As we stated before I started recording the call shit happens.

Sammi: Yeah. Shit happens.

Toddstar: With “AN OM IE,” is this a precursor to what we can expect more from you on a solo level? I know you had experience and been part of bands in the past. Is this really kind of a dawning of a new era for you as a performer?

Sammi: I would say that I’m not reinventing the wheel by any means. I’m taking a lot of my influences from bands that I love, which just happen to be late ’90s industrial rock bands. I love Garbage, I loved Alanis Morissette, I loved obviously Nails (Nine Inch Nails) and Stabbing Westward and they’re all in homage in this. There isn’t anybody right now doing that kind of music on, I suppose, this level, and I am creating only what I would want to listen to. And because I’ve been a part of so many projects, with my experience as a performer with IAMX, and newly Kat Von D and, Bullet Heights which was the doom prog rock band that I was in previous to this, I just found at least that that’s as the best way to progress. And I stopped really thinking about what other people would want to hear and just started creating things that I would want to hear. And mostly things that I believe in and the hard-hitting sync driven sort of aspect of it, that’s always been in my blood. That’s always been something that has been present in my performance, regardless of what band I play with. But I would like to say that it will follow in the same vein. I take my homage to the ’90s pretty hard, and it’s very apparent. So again, working with Sean Bevin, he’s the guy for that.

Toddstar: He’s got his own influences he brings the table. I think he’s done some work with Nine Inch Nails, GNR. So how do you take something like that where it’s more of… to me, Nine Inch Nails has always been a little heavier industrial. You’ve got Guns N’ Roses, which they’ve been all over the board, Manson, 3Teeth, yet you toss kind of a, I don’t want to use the word pop in a negative connotation at all. But I think you’ve thrown kind of a pop sensibility into the industrial sound, which makes it a little more contagious, a little more catchy. How is it you kind of take that industrial driven sound, like you said, it’s kind of been part of what you’ve always done, but throw that pop sensibility on top and be comfortable in that skin?

Sammi: This is a good question. I feel that it took me a long time to kind of put a label on what I was doing. There, have been all signs kind of pointing to me when people hear it and like, “What’s type of genre do you think this is?” Because it is rock, but it does have a lot of pop elements to it, and it’s too puffy to find a home in industrial but there’s still a lot of those elements that are in it. A lot of people have labeled it as, I guess what they’re calling dark Pop. I’m okay with it, honestly, because a lot of the bands that I have played in in the past have been very niche and very specific. And I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with wanting to appeal to a different, more broad crowd of people, rather than a niche sort of crowd. I find anybody that’s willing to listen to what it is that I’m doing and they’re enjoying it no matter where they come from, whether they classify themselves as people that listen to pop or people that listen to goth or what have you, I’m just happy for the attention. So it’s never really been anything that has crossed my mind as far as like, “Oh, am I comfortable playing this?” Again it kind of all just comes back full circle to this is what I believe in, this is how I want to perform it. And the fact that people have responded so well to it, it’s just a plus.

Toddstar: You mentioned it you talked about rock and you talked about the different genres. How hard is it for you, as an artist, to accept when you get different, whether it be fans or writers and reviewers, when they all of a sudden want to pigeonhole you into some triple under the scene sub-genre? Because I personally, as a writer, hate to throw stuff into sub genres. To me, it’s rock, it’s pop it’s country, it’s metal, it’s not all this underlying crap. What’s it like for artists to have to deal with somebody calling you garage industrial pop metal rock?

Sammi: I think you’re being quite generous with those labels. I usually get pigeonholed just because of the way that I look, I usually get pigeonholed into goth or pigeonholed into rock. Again, I really don’t mind what people call me as long as they give the new music a chance, because I think the music will speak for itself. And if somebody feels more comfortable putting a label on it that works for them, then that’s their thing. Again, just kind of never thought about how I would label this as a genre because the next song that I’m doing, it’s not as hard hitting, it’s a little bit more on the electronic side, but it’s not a million miles away from it. So it’s going to be difficult for people to pigeon hole me as like, “Oh, she’s an industrial pop goth rock metal, blah, blah, blah,” when then they hear the next single because it will be a little bit different. So it’s going to kind of go across a broad range. I think people are always going to think whatever it is they’re going to think. And there’s nothing I can do about that. All I can do is just do what I do and hope for the best.

Toddstar: That’s all any of us can do really. That said, and again, we’ve thrown so many genre names up there, but what’s the one or two reviews, or pieces of feedback that you’ve received that really just kind of threw you for a loop? Or maybe even comparisons where you thought, “Did you really listen to what I just did here?”

Sammi: That’s a good question. Your questions are very good questions because these questions I haven’t been asked before, so I don’t have like the routine things to say. I don’t think that I’ve been compared to anybody in a negative fashion. I know people have compared me to the band Curve, which is a huge honor. I know people have to prepare it to me to Garbage, which is another huge honor. I think I definitely… I had somebody that I was going to work with a while ago say that I sound like a dark Emily Haines which… I love Metric by all means. I take a lot of influence from her. I don’t think there’s been anything negative as far as reviews that anybody has said, because I like to take everything that people say into consideration. It’s Like, “Oh, cool. What is it that, that you find about this artist that you see in me, and then I’ll do my reach on that.” Because it’s inspiring and I find it to be inspiring. I haven’t really seen anything negative because again, as we were talking about with new music, how hard it is for a relatively unknown artist to make any sort of wave when there’s so much information and so much material out there, just for anybody to actually click on the link and listen and make their own opinion and decision on it that’s really cool. And so for anybody that wants to write up about it, it’s never been anything negative. Not that I’ve seen them, not yet. You’re like, “Wait till we’re done with this interview.”

Toddstar: Trust me I get a lot of indie stuff across my inbox and, I hit Tom back and I said, “Finally, you hit something that really struck a chord in me.” So nothing negative coming here. I don’t know if you’ve heard this comparison yet, but sonically before the vocals kicked in, just the aesthetics of it, the promo photos, and then the music, the first thing that ran through my head, Genitorturers. It was just that aesthetic and that sound and I love what Jen has done for years and you kind of fit that niche for me in that it gave me something kind of cranked it from a visual standpoint, but also sonically. Who out there inspires you to do what you do? Again, you kind of pull from several pools and put the sound together, but who out there inspires you to do sonically what you do?

Sammi: That’s a good question. I mentioned Metric. They’re a mainstream indie band with synth and a girl singer, but I listened to a lot of their earlier stuff. I’m very, very inspired and influenced by some of her tracks and the way that she moves from minor to major. Her vocal range is something that I definitely take inspiration from. And you can hear it actually in “AN OM IE.” The bridge of “AN OM IE” is definitely tipping my hat to a lot of Metric songs. I think as far as music goes, I’m paying, I suppose homage, to any band that released a semi-industrial rock album between 1994 and 1998. I’ve said Stabbing Westward before because they were one of my favorite bands, and you can hear the influence that the pinch harmonic in the beginning of “AN OM IE.” That’s one of them. Obviously Nails, Manson… that shock rock sort of factor, I love that aesthetically and I kind of wanted to paint a picture with that in the video, but when it comes to putting it together, visually these are all things that I’ve just kind of picked up on that I knew how I meant to portray each character in the video. I never really go for anything like for the shock value of it, but it helps. The best feedback that I got about the video was, was how ’90s feeling it was. And I was like, “Yeah, everybody gets it. That’s my people.” Fiona Apple is another person, Alanis Morissette. But sonically or musically, it’s going to be more towards those heavy rock bands that I mentioned.

Toddstar: Who is your guilty pleasure, Sammi? If people who listened to your music found your iPhone or your iPod or whatever you were listening to music on at the moment, what would be the guilty pleasure that they would probably be the most shocked by?

Sammi: Shania Twain. I know most of her albums have a lot more of the older stuff than a lot of the newer stuff. But her recent new album, or I guess it’s the newest one that she has, love that. I don’t know why, because her writing style is so monumentally different from mine. And I feel like there’s something to be appreciated about every genre of music, and maybe the reason why her music is so big is perhaps the simplicity of it and the relatability. And maybe the stuff that I’m writing about is just for… People that can’t look past the hard hitting guitars or whatever, and then listen and read the content of what it actually is, maybe it’s a little too heavy for them subject wise. So I suppose Shania Twain is definitely a guilty pleasure of mine. I was quite upset, actually this year I was meant to go see her at her residency in Vegas, but obviously COVID. That’s, definitely something that… And she’s also my first karaoke choice as well.

Toddstar: What’s the song that you turn to?

Sammi: I’ll go with “That Don’t Impress Me Much.” That’s always a crowd pleaser. You don’t ever want to go for any of the deep cuts just because they won’t respond, And I’m a performer, you just got to play to the crowd. “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” is another one because that gets me on the top of my range, but I need to have a few gin and tonics before I can get that.

Toddstar: I think we all do. You’ve mentioned, playing to the audience and everything else and, and COVID really kind of screwed that up for everybody this year. What do you see as the next move for you as a performer Sammi? Is it putting together more of a full collection and doing album? You get somebody like me and I want that piece of plastic, I want to read liner notes. And so much of today’s listening crowd is more of, “give me a single; give me an EP.” Are you looking more to do an EP or an album? What are you looking to do as the next step before you’re able to bring this to the masses?

Sammi: So this to me is a two part question. The first part you asked, as a performer how am I going to tackle this? Last month we just did a live stream, it was full band livestream, it was filmed live at The Bourbon Room in Hollywood. And I spent three days pre-production, programming all the lights for the show, and they did it with a multi-cam full band live stream performance, which you can find on YouTube now. And that was the only stage… I think I played a show in February as a guest. But that was the only show that I played this year in 2020, was last month. And I got my band together and we played three new songs and four old ones from my previous projects, but we just kind of moved some of the music around to sonically make it fit with my new direction. And it was actually my first performance under my name with “AN OM IE” being the first song we opened with. And I think live streaming seems to be the safest voice at the moment while the world seems to be on a bit of a political collapse. And while science is taking its time to find the right vaccination for everybody and then making that available, I think that we’re just going to have to continue to come up with creative ways to entertain. So that was what I did and I got my fix to be on stage while doing that, and also was interviewed at the same time. So it was one of those weird… You do, two songs and then you’re super out of breath and you’re super sweaty, and then somebody is interviewing you and you’re like, “Oh.” And then go at it for so on. So, that’s the first part of the question. I think I would love to do more of that. I don’t know when this interview is going to come out, but this Saturday “AN OM IE” will be on the Gothicat Festival, the performance that we did were for The Bourbon Room. So that’s quite good, and that seems to be the way forward. People are putting virtual concerts together and collecting a bunch of artists, and that’s the best and safe way. I wish there were other ways of doing it now and, just to get that energy out. And so the next part of your question is, am I looking to release a CD or LP? No, my intention with this is to release a single every eight to 12 weeks. And that’s only because I feel like there’s so much of yourself that you give either so much blood, sweat, and tears, and so much time and energy that you put into writing a full album. And then there’s like one big PR push for everything. And there’s like one single. And then it’s out there in the world and you give so much of yourself away and people listen to maybe one or two tracks, they’ve, they’ve made up their mind. If they even listen to that, they’ve made up their mind. And then, the rest of the work goes relatively unnoticed with the exception of the people that you collect along the way. I find that in this day and age again, because there’s so much information going out right now, if I were to release… I have enough material that if I released it one by one every eight to 12 weeks, then I can do the same PR push that I would be doing for an album, but split it up. And then the name keeps current, I can do a video and it might reach and appeal to other people that perhaps “AN OM IE” didn’t. So that’s kind of my way of thinking, especially when nobody’s booking any tours or anything, not for the foreseeable future. So there’s no need to release everything all at once.

Toddstar: I like to listen to an album front to back because sometimes you’ll get an album and it tells a story, even if it’s not intentional. And it is a snapshot of that moment in time, but I totally get where you’re coming from as an artist in a very unique time in our lives.

Sammi: Yes. With Bullet Height we did a 180 gram green vinyl and I loved that. I still have about a million of them in my living room. But it’s one of those things where when I have enough of these songs out and, and there’s enough interest, I can probably do like a presale to see how it would do, and I could press a few. That’s definitely a future possibility. But everything I suppose is just contingent on the way the rest of the world is going to respond to the new normal for now. But just at the moment, I think that the way that I described earlier with the singles, every eight to 12 weeks, is the way forward. But I feel, you I love having that record on my record shelf it’s really cool, it’s a sense of accomplishment. For me I remember when the Bullet Height vinyl actually like got in and I held it in my hand and I was like, “I did this.” And there’s something romantic about that as well.

Toddstar: It takes me back to my youth when you would go to the record store and rip the plastic off and pull that out and throw it on and read the lyrics and read the liner notes. You knew who played what and where. I know you’re busy, so I’ve got one more for you. What’s the one album or song going back through the history of time that you wish you could have been a part of? Whether it was recording it, writing it, or just sitting there to be in the room while this piece of music was being created. What’s the one song that resonates with you that you wish you would have done?

Sammi: Can I say album? I would say Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key Of Life. I listened to that album recently front and back, just taking some time with myself, closing my eyes meditating and just listening to how much control and how much, like… Just the baseline on all of these songs, these are some hardcore musicians that are making this all very possible. And I started thinking about how does Stevie Wonder write his lyrics? How does he actually physically remember that? And I started just having a new appreciation for musicianship. What is it about that entire album? Even though some of the lyrics are quite dark they’re presented in a very optimistic way and some of them are quite heavy. It just gave me a new appreciation on how you can, how you can present things that might be dark or heavy, but still have that sort of optimistic twist to them. But man, the musicianship on that. That album is just incredible. I wish I would have been high on the wall watching it happen. And then just watching the Stevie, just kind of vibe out with it and be like, “Oh no, no, we’re not going to do that. We’re going to take the base for a walk here.” And then there’s songs that they just jam out on and I wonder if it was all calculated, or if it was just them all in the room feeling it out, and then just them letting the track go. There’s so many layers of different instruments and just the talent in the room together, you can feel that vibe. And I think it’s really important to listen to songs and albums that are totally out of your wheelhouse. And that really, really brings a new appreciation for music and what it can do to people. And when you can feel that sort of energy that was in the room when they were recording it so many years ago, and you can feel that so presently then, you know you have a killer album.

Toddstar: You’re preaching to the choir. As a rock and metal guy who’s born and raised in Detroit, I cut my teeth on Motown, I totally understand what you’re saying. Well, I really appreciate you taking time out for me today, Sammi. It’s been a true pleasure speaking with you and kind of getting some of the inside scoop on who you are, some of your background, and also kind of helping embrace “AN OM IE,” the latest single which I think came out October 2nd. So it’s been out there about three weeks now, and I look forward to the next five to nine weeks when we can get the next single from you.

Sammi: Yes. Thank you so much. Hopefully we’ll speak again. But again, thank you so much for taking the time out again just to listen and to discover new music, because without people like you, there wouldn’t be any room for people like me. So, thank you very much.

Toddstar: Well, we’ll talk to you soon and hopefully we’ll be able to push that next single or that EP when it comes time or the next live show, when you can make your way to Detroit.

Sammi: Absolutely. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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