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How Social Media has us under the influence – Red Hook Star-Revue


A few minutes into Sam Nitsch ’s album, Under the Influencer, I was sure I wanted to speak to the man behind the music. Though his sound is layered with pieces of 1960s pop and soul music, Sam’s musical origins turned out to be quite different from the pop-soul background I’d expected. Get to know Sam Nitsch. My interview with the talented musician below:   

Roderick Thomas: Sam, I’m glad to be speaking with you. How are you?

Sam Nitsch: I’m doing well, thank you.

 

RT: Let’s hop right in. Where are you from Sam?

Sam Nitsch: Rochester NY.

RT: What’s your musical origin story?

Sam Nitsch: My parents were classical musicians. My mom is a vocalist and my dad is a pianist. So, they exposed me and my siblings to all kinds of classical music. 

RT: When did you know you wanted to make music?

Sam Nitsch: Very early, as a kid. I was doing classical music all the way up till high school.

 

RT: What happened in high school?

Sam Nitsch: Well, classical music isn’t exactly top 40 radio music. Most kids my age couldn’t relate to it. Original classical music wasn’t their thing.

 

RT: You have such a soulful sound, did you have any other musical influences besides classical music?

Sam Nitsch: I did listen to the Beatles a lot, but that was about it mostly.

 

RT: Did you change your music to connect with kids your age?

Sam Nitsch: Yea, I realized I wanted people to listen to my music [laughs]. I started to experiment with more sounds. I later got into a 21 Pilots and Ed Sheeran.

 

RT: Is it true you sang backup for Josh Groban

Sam Nitsch: [laughs] It’s true, in high school I did. It was a last-minute thing, my dad made the connection for that. 

 

Sam Nitsch: Then I went to Berklee for music in Boston.

RT: What was that like?

Sam Nitsch: Very competitive, everyone wants to be seen. I get it, but at some point, it wasn’t for me. I left after two years. 

 

Sam Nitsch: There’s a saying about Berklee, you don’t make it if you stay long enough to graduate [laughs].

RT: What brought you back to NY?

Sam Nitsch: After the pandemic, I didn’t want to be in a small apartment anymore. You look around and start assessing what is most important. I wanted to be home, so I moved back upstate.

RT: What’s the concept of Under the Influencer?

Sam Nitsch: The album talks about how we’re consumed by social media, and the online world to the point that we struggle without it. 

RT: Let’s talk about your musical process, what was making Under the Influencer like?

Sam Nitsch: I wanted this to be natural sounding, I made sure there was no autotune or Melodyne.

RT: That’s different for today.

Sam Nitsch: When you listen to classic records by the Beatles or Stevie Wonder there is a natural quality to the recording. Autotune has a way of removing characteristics from a person’s voice.

RT: Smart choice there.

Sam Nitsch: I owe a lot to my engineer as well. Engineers, songwriters, composers, those people don’t get enough credit for helping to shape the final sound listeners will hear.

RT: What kind of music are you listening to now?

Sam Nitsch: It’s Pretty much oldies all day. I like artists like Lizzo and Dua Lipa too, but usually its Stevie Wonder, Beatles, all that.

RT: Top five musicians of all time?

Sam Nitsch: Ok, in no particular order: Beatles, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Beach Boys.

 

RT: What do you want people to take away from this album?

Sam Nitsch: I want people to notice our dependence on social media, and make our involvement with it more conscious and less compulsive.

Sam Nitsch: I mean, I do it too. I check my streams and other measurements of success, so I’m not condemning anyone. I just want us to be aware.

RT: What are your goals with music?

Sam Nitsch: I honestly don’t have lofty goals. I currently play 3-4 nights a week at local venues. Sometimes I think if I were doing tours singing the same songs all the time, I may not enjoy myself.

RT: You’re not alone. I’ve heard other artists like Adele, and Summer Walker talk about their anxiety around touring. 

Sam Nitsch: It’s the truth.

RT: Sam thank you so much for speaking with me.

Sam Nitsch: My pleasure, thank you.

Check out Under the Influencer now on streaming platforms, and keep up with Sam Nitsch at, @samnitschmusic.

 





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