We had the good fortune of connecting with Samantha Aurelio and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Samantha, how do you think about risk?
Risk has always laid itself down as a fine line in my life. As a tightly wound Type-A personality, on paper one would think I would never make un-calculated plans. However, my whole life as I know it has been the product of a whim transforming into a collection of dominos falling. I said yes to a recording session, the recording session led me to The Grammys which put LA on the map for me, a failed audition led me to pull the trigger and move 3,000 miles from home without knowing anyone, moving in with virtually a stranger for whom I was the Maid of Honor in her wedding two years ago, to meeting my band, meeting my producer, releasing new music… all of it was the product of one closed-eye-yes at a time.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a musician, singer-songwriter – born and raised on the Jersey Shore, home to Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. Music always surrounded me. From staying up late on my parent’s front porch glued to Z100 Radio listening carefully and intently to every lyric sung to going off to college to study Jazz Vocal Performance in Philadelphia to moving across the country to live and perform in the city that started so many songwriters I admire, my journey has been twists and turns and highs and lows. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. By no means was this an easy path. By moving to Los Angeles I essentially cut ties with all friends, family, venues and bandmates I had on the East Coast. Los Angeles felt lonely and big and scary. I had no car so I biked everywhere (everywhere!) for 9 months. I only booked gigs that had pianos at the venue so I’d have less to schlep. I’ve had people tell me they think I’m going to be a star and that they’ll “help make me” only to have me play backup keys for artists and help them song write, demo vocals on tracks and then never hear from them again. I’ve also been told I’ll “only make it in this town if I remove the mole from my face” – which was super cool. But all these things made me dig my heels in. Lean on my people I trusted, work on my music, play the shows I booked for myself – all these lessons helped me truly believe in myself and my capabilities without the external gratifications of “the industry.” I learned about what success looks like and how YOU define it. How you are what you make of yourself — and I hope what people take away from my story is that you can do anything you put your mind to.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I love hosting, when people come out to LA I tell them to prepare because we’re going to be go go go. If it’s their very first time, I try to take them EVERYWHERE. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a great starting point – when I first moved here I lived right off Hollywood Blvd so it’s my go-to. Walk around Hollywood and Highland, go see a Jimmy Kimmel taping if we can snag tickets, show them Capitol Records and Amoeba Music, end the night at The Hotel Cafe for some live music. Driving around Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive is such a fun sight, again tied to my first job in Los Angeles which was a retail job on Beverly Drive. Have some lunch at Urth Cafe, show them the MGM building because they have the big MGM Lion plaque in the lobby, drive around to see some of the beautiful houses and then of course up and up in the hills of Beverly to see some incredible views. Another day spent in Santa Monica, take them to a SoulCycle class (another old job of mine…) afterwards stop at Michael’s Restaurant for their $1.79 cocktail (you heard me), drive up the PCH to Malibu to check out the sunset over the water – you can’t go wrong with a sunset. One day would be dedicated to the hike from Griffith Observatory to The Hollywood Sign – the route I take is ~3.5 hours — but it’s views on views and I love it. I’d also take them around Culver City (where I live now), show them the studios and where they shot movies like Gone With the Wind – Culver Hotel is a really cool spot with live music and great snacks, walk over to the Helms District of Culver to CoolHaus Ice Cream because clearly I tour food spots more than anything. I really love Los Angeles and when people come to visit I want to show them everything! Even when my dad came to visit, he plays guitars and follows a bunch of “guitar guys” and I took him to this guitar shop in the valley that Joe Bonamassa frequents and he was like a kid in a candy store. So far, my “reviews” are I’m a pretty good host/tour guide to my friends who have visited.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would be nothing without the people around me! First and foremost my dad has been an unwavering pillar in my journey into music, he’s supported me in-person at every show he could drive to, come to choir concerts in college, helped me rent cars and keyboards and dragged them to shows for me. He is my biggest cheerleader and I am so grateful! Also my incredible bandmates Alex Gonzalez and Key Kim have helped guide me through Los Angeles between booking shows, recording, rehearsals, musical arrangements, and MDing. My producer and friend Greg Cortez for opening up my creativity and pushing me to work harder. Some amazing friends who have supported me and helped me throughout the years – Jordan, Amanda, Ming, Apollonia, Hilary, Emily, Andre, Pete, Tom, Nicholas… and so so many more. I love you all! Lastly, my incredible partner-in-crime, Mark, who supports me through highs and lows. Listens to my dreams and my fears and has been my personal cheerleader for years. I feel very lucky to have so many people in my corner. I couldn’t do it without any of them.
Other: Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/79hDxqT2h562SdT0U60E0L
Katherine Copeland Anderson, MUSE TV