Sam Himself, Switzerland’s ‘King of Tears’ and New York’s leading Fondue Western™ baritone, shares Never Let Me Go, the first single of his upcoming second album (due in 2023). The lovelorn stomper, a full-body split between brazen intimacy and anthemic pop, marks the Big Bang of a new era for Sam Himself, the solo project of Swiss-born, Brooklyn-based artist Sam Koechlin: Never Let Me Go is the soundtrack of risking another shot at hope – and dancing your heart out in the process.
It’s been less than a year since his debut LP Power Ballads (a “well-crafted set of atmospheric post-punk” – KEXP) broke Sam Himself onto the international stage. He could be forgiven for taking a quick siesta on his laurels, which include his first national chart entry, radio airplay across Europe and in the U.S. (as recently as May 2022, KCRW declared one of Sam’s songs Today’s Top Tune) and two Swiss Music Award-nominations.
Wasting time, however, isn’t a skill you’ll find in the repertoire of the songwriter, performer and multi-instrumentalist. Sam’s prolific output speaks for itself: prior to Power Ballads, he was making a name for his “smokey baritone vocals” ( – Under The Radar) with Slow Drugs (2020), the EP he released shortly after the outbreak of COVID-19. Sam was touring in Europe when the pandemic pulled the plug on live music and Sam’s return to New York City, his chosen home of the previous decade. The shock, grief and solitude of that experience went on to shape Sam’s first album.
Never Let Me Go, by contrast, was inspired by new beginnings.
“The last couple of years took their toll on me like they did on all of us, but they also gave me a lot to be thankful for. It still feels like a small miracle that anyone cared about my music while we were all going through this pretty bleak time,” Sam says with a touch of Swiss understatement.
When his music started to make waves, Sam was stranded in Switzerland for the first time since his teens. Still, he didn’t hesitate to meet the moment, and so began a period of professional recognition and personal upheaval or, in Sam’s own words: “I didn’t sleep for a year.” Then came the biggest plot twist of the whole dizzying series, according to Sam: he fell in love.
“You couldn’t make this sh*t up,” he chuckles, describing the experience as seeing “actual light” again at the end of the proverbial tunnel for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic. “When it became clear that I wouldn’t be going back to New York anytime soon, my whole world felt like it was going to end. It didn’t, fortunately. It just started over. And it’s been getting bigger ever since.” The flying sparks ignited Sam’s creative engine, too, and before long, he had an LP’s worth of new songs on his hands, each in its own way inspired by the fragile promise of having something to lose again – or someone.
To record his new material, Sam Himself rejoined forces with his longtime creative partner and ‘Second Beatle,’ New York City-based producer and engineer Daniel Schlett (Iggy Pop; The War on Drugs). The pair managed to record most of Power Ballads remotely, exchanging home recordings while Sam was stuck in exile.
Fast forward to early 2022 and Sam is back at Strange Weather, Schlett’s Brooklyn studio and the artist’s creative homebase. Now, the two are joined by Sam’s close friend and live band bassist, Josh Werner (CoCo Rosie; Ghostface Killah) and, for the first time, drummer Chris Egan (Blood Orange; Solange) in a full-throttle celebration of what’s possible when, at long last, musicians get to play music together again in one room. Producer Schlett’s category-defying mixes were mastered by Greg Calbi (David Bowie; Bruce Springsteen), the legendary engineer Sam has been lucky enough to work with for a number of years as well.
The music video for Never Let Me Go dials up the beautifully weird aesthetic that has become a hallmark of Sam’s visuals. True to the song’s incorrigibly romantic spirit, Sam joined his go-to videographer, Stefan Tschumi in Iceland on a whim during a short break between tour dates. Over the course of two frantic days and nights, drunk on the ethereal beauty of the locale and fueled by the promise of finally being able to travel again, they captured Sam throwing his limbs across the otherworldly Icelandic landscape in bursts of raw, uncompromising exultation.
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 fascination for the city isn't exactly requited in the beginning as Sam embarks on a number of musical adventures, attends college and works odd jobs 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 half of a short-lived musical duo 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.
As of 2022, Sam splits his time between Brooklyn and Basel. Looking ahead, Sam is set to play a series of showcases through 2022 – including his second collaboration with the Basel Symphony Orchestra in October – before embarking on a major tour of Germany, Switzerland, Austria and elsewhere in Europe (TBA) in support of his second album next year. Additionally, a number of North American dates later in the spring are in planning. Stay up to date with Sam's live dates here.