June 11th, 2008 | Interviews

Dan Monick

Samiyam “Wrap Up”


Samiyam “Carnival Food”


Samiyam came to Los Angeles from Ann Arbor and was mistaken for a Flying Lotus alter-ego at least twice. His Rap Beats Vol. 1 is out now. He speaks while driving around with Flying Lotus.

When you were cutting up porn mags for your Rap Beats Vol. 1 CD covers, were you using your own personal magazines?

No, actually—all my porn is digital.
Don’t you feel that lacks soul?
I think you get a thicker warmer image off the page. Please write that. But I went to the store and bought all those. I got some laundry detergent, a pack of Swishers and four porno mags—‘Getting ready to have a party, huh?’
Since each copy you make is different, are there any you’ve sold that you particularly miss?
There was one I think was kind of cool—the kid riding on the horse, with ‘Yaaah, bitch! Yaaah!’ The Soulja Boy quote in the bubble. I had fun making a lot of these. I developed little themes. Targets on peoples’ heads or chicks’ asses, Xes on peoples’ eyes, baseball caps on animals—I don’t feel like anybody’s missing out on any, but a few are pretty one-of-a-kind. I used to draw all the time. I’d spend hours a day doing that kind of stuff—draw silly little characters, or take my parents’ newspapers and magazines and draw mustaches on people. It’s not like I just started doing this.
When people send you back pictures of them with their copy, how likely is it that there will be some weed visible in the photo?
I’d say about a fifty percent chance. I’d like to increase that. I wanna see more burning blunts in the pictures. I don’t wanna think people are listening to the shit with just a small little bowl.
What would the Samiyam listening lounge look like?
Like an old Master P album cover. A platinum sofa with little diamond things on the cushions for extra comfort.
How did you use the movie Scanners as copyright protection?
I had that movie on VHS, and I was just like, ‘Alright, I’m about to start making these, and just in case a few people buy this, lemme put something over it.’ I liked Scanners and I had it sitting around, so I’d watch in like minute increments—record a minute over the beat and then cue up the next beat. There are a few right near the beginning—maybe tracks four, five or six—where the music is actually in key with the beat the whole time. Scanners didn’t play any wrong notes.
Have you ever sampled any movies like that for the actual music?
I’ve seen so much of the Lucio Fulci shit—all those corny old Italian movies. One time I was watchin Zombi and I used somebody’s head getting smashed as a clap or a snare drum. It was a nice wet sound. Almost too wet—but I liked it a little wet. It had good reverb on it. I’m pretty down with it. I’ll do it again—maybe smash a head myself. Some field recordings.
What’s the best record you picked up only by the cover?
I haven’t been doing as much record shopping since I moved out here to L.A. because I was broke as shit for most of the time.
What’s your best money-saving tip?
Roll real skinny blunts and don’t eat. I not only lost weight, but I saved money.
Has your lack of official releases until now helped you or hurt you?
It worked both ways. It’s been good and bad. At this point, there’s a lot more interest in this kind of collection of old tracks that I’m selling now. Some of that stuff I made since I moved out here eight or nine months ago—a couple of tracks are from two years ago. It is what I called it. Not all the stuff I make is eight bars of this and then a little hook. But this is Rap Beats Vol. 1. I was going through old tracks—‘I’m probably not gonna use this—put it in the Rap Beats file!’
What’s the last song you finished?
It was a couple days ago and my hard drive completely died. It was a new Mac, too—anybody who just got a new Mac, back that shit up! I don’t remember the name of it—the last song I made never existed. It’s all good, though. There weren’t any important not-finished projects on that. I have a PC too—the biggest piece of shit—super-slow and covered with viruses, but it never died.
Viruses from all your porno?
Yeah, yeah—but it never died.
Was your last job back in Ann Arbor as a janitor?
It was the best entry-level position I ever worked. I saw my supervisor for a grand total of five minutes. I’d go in and he’d tell me extra shit, and I’d do it. I had no co-workers and didn’t have to talk to people if I didn’t feel like it. I also figured out I could smoke weed in the janitor’s closet! I was all high walking around with the vacuum and listening to five or six albums in a night! But I don’t wanna give kids the idea they should all go be janitors. This was special because there was a dude who cleaned all the bathrooms so I didn’t have to do anything like that. I wanna be a good influence.
Did you ever fall asleep during any of those lectures at the Red Bull Music Academy?
Yes, but it had nothing to do with the lectures.
Was it from lack of Red Bull?
One way to put it—more like lack of sleep! I hate to put them out there like this, but I’d observe kids in lectures getting ready to fall asleep—they’d nod off and actually be sleeping, and then wake up and go to the Red Bull fridge, pop one, crack it, and then be sitting there with the platter eyes—the super-wide cartoon eyes. And you’d look back and they’d be passed out ten minutes later. But it was just because we’d go out and everyone would get to sleep at four-five-six in the morning, and there they are to wake you up at ten or eleven, and everybody wants to wake up and go start working on shit. And by the lecture, it’s like, ‘Ok, sit down on these comfortable couches—we got some pillows…’
Did you meet anyone you never thought you’d meet?
They had Nottz there. He talked about his history of making beats and the machine he used and his approach to beats—he’d play an original sample and then play the beat he made out of it. It was really cool. He played a lot of shit I hadn’t heard—really really crazy. Back when I was into his shit, I don’t think I knew who he was—like on a bunch of tracks, like Busta Rhymes shit—and it was crazy to see that guy standing there and how humble he was. He hardly wanted to talk—he was way more comfortable plaing shit. ‘Wow, he’s a regular dude like everybody else. Cool.’
Did people ever think you and Flying Lotus were actually the same person?
Not so much anymore, but they used to ask him, ‘So you’re Samiyam, right?’ The more shit I’ve done on my own, people are like, ‘Oh, wait a minute—this Sam guy is first of all white…’ We’re pretty easy to tell apart. He’s a six-foot-something black dude and I’m the five-foot-five white dude.
That’s the kind of hard facts we like to get.
Now that people have seen me, it’s hard for them to mistake us for the same person. Although I have done a couple of his shows in a giant animatronic Flying Lotus—I sit in a little cockpit inside with Ableton Live installed on it. We’re actually gonna sell it on the Brainfeeder website. Lots of kids are asking, ‘How can I be Flying Lotus?’ So we constructed an animatronic suit. It’s realistic. I had a conversation with his grandmother, and she thought I was him.