The 2021 Swiss Music Awards nominee's synth-driven, anthemic new release grapples with ghosts from the past - loss, memory and the endless quest to accept what can't be changed. Sam Himself wrote his new song both in exile and at home: in early 2020, the indie rock baritone was on tour in his native Switzerland before the pandemic foiled his live plans. It also prevented Sam's return to Brooklyn, NY, his chosen home of the past decade, so he ended up staying in Europe for the better part of that year.
Stranded in limbo, the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist spent the lockdown writing and recording what would become his first LP, Power Ballads, wherever he could (including the attic of his mom’s house in Basel). Sam made it back to New York in early 2021 and went straight to the studio with his longtime producer Daniel Schlett (The War on Drugs; Iggy Pop; DIIV) to finalize the result, which was mastered by Greg Calbi (Bruce Springsteen; David Bowie).
What It's Worth follows album singles Nothing Like the Night and Cry, all on the heels of last year's EP Slow Drugs (May 2020), which features drummer Parker Kindred (Jeff Buckley; Elliott Smith), bassist Josh Werner (Iggy Pop; CocoRosie) and singer Denitia. The release earned the Swiss National Broadcasting Service’s Best Talent award as well as international press and radio airplay; in January 2021, Sam's nomination for a Swiss Music Award - the most prestigious national prize of its kind - capped his breakout year.
“His deep, rich vocals remind us of the beauty that exists even during the darkest times.”
Talking about his new single, Sam told Under The Radar Magazine:
“My own history caught up with me during my time back in Switzerland. That’s where I grew up, and living there again brought back a lot of memories; home doesn’t forget... One ghost I kept running into was an old relationship that fell apart after I lost my dad a few years ago. All of that happened in my hometown, his death and all its casualties, and What It’s Worth is about one of them.”
For the music video, Sam once again joins forces with trusted collaborator Stefan Tschumi, the "eyes to Sam's ears", director and editor of Like a Friend; Slow Drugs; Maybe Allison, Cry and, most recently, Nothing Like the Night, which perfected the beautifully weird aesthetic, over-the-top symbolism and absurdist humor that have become hallmarks of Sam’s music videos with a line of bespoke Sam Himself Swiss dairy products, Sam-brand clothes and no less than five poodles.
“Sam Himself uses his vocal power to sing songs of finding your place.”
It's love at first sight when Sam Koechlin moves to New York in the early 2010s with dreams of pursuing music -- and a few lessons to learn. His love for the city all but unrequited, Sam attends college, works odd jobs and embarks on a number of musical adventures before launching his solo project Sam Himself in 2016. The name is born out of necessity and a concert promoter's ill-timed sense of humor, one night in downtown Manhattan, when the other member of Sam's band at the time fails to show up for a gig. Soon after, Sam connects with producer and mixing engineer Daniel Schlett, whom the artist affectionately dubs his 'Second Beatle'; their creative partnership lasts to this day.