We had the good fortune of connecting with Samantha Schultz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Samantha, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I’m a proud Canadian girl born and raised in a city way up north called Edmonton, located deep in the prairies of Alberta. We’re a capital city, but there’s a small town feel that’s uniquely Canadian- bonded by the deep cold of winter contrasted by vibrant summer celebrations filled with art, theatre, music festivals, and more. Like many Canadian cities, Edmonton is a melting pot of backgrounds and stories from all over the world. My family embodies this with a mix of Germanic European lineage on my dad’s side and a direct connection to the Philippines, as my mom immigrated from the islands when she was a young girl. These aspects of my identity are something that have recently taken on new and profound meanings in my life in ways they didn’t in my youth. I’ve learned to be proud of my mixed heritage, celebrate its diverse history, and identify ways to help others do the same. I was so fortunate to be welcomed into the Edmonton Folk music community at such a young age and I learned so much from this extended group of people- songwriting, accompanying, sharing songs, and simply how to be a musician that values community, respect, and helping each other. This crash course as a teenager was further strengthened when I transferred to a high school called Victoria School for the Arts. My life flourished artistically and I was allowed to grow even further as a young musician, standing on the shoulders of incredible teachers and mentors. My parents were always super supportive of my desire to write songs and perform them and helped me achieve my goals as an aspiring artist in Edmonton.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and full-time working musician. My songwriting style is heavily influenced by folk artists like James Taylor, Amos Lee, and Joni Mitchell; but stylistically, my voice embodies soul and R&B influences like India.Arie, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder. I started playing acoustic guitar at the age of 11 and quickly went from local talent competitions, to performing at folk clubs and music venues around Edmonton. As I grew and began to perform at folk festivals and conferences across Canada, I released my first album at 16 years old. My second full-length release was during my time at Berklee College of Music when I was 21. After graduating in 2013, I moved to Los Angeles where I’ve been living and working ever since. Moving to LA has probably been the biggest challenge in my endeavours as a musician. Living in The States as a Canadian, I had to go through an immigration process and was fortunate to receive an O1 Artist Visa. However this limited me to only earning income via the skills I had as a musician and it forced me to put my own original music on the back burner just to survive by gigging, recording, teaching, and writing for others. It took a long time to reach a sense of financial stability and to get my name out in a city as saturated as Los Angeles. I’ve got my own version of a “I was down to my last $30” story before I was blessed with an opportunity to do a commercial with Covergirl that completely changed my life. In a way, only being able to use my musical skills to make an income was a blessing because I had to find a way to make it work. I’ve been making a stable, happy living as a full-time working musician ever since (with the exception of COVID blowing up this year). Although trying to survive potentially stunted the growth of my own original music career, I’m very grateful to have gone through what I did- there’s something to be said about adversity being a harsh, but important teacher. Along the way, I’ve come to cherish the incredible group of LA-based musicians, dear friends, and amazing opportunities this city provides. I’ve found my way back to writing original music that I love and am proud of and am looking forward to releasing more music in 2021. It’s honestly been a tricky thing for me to navigate this new day and age where branding and art go so hand in hand. I’m a bi-racial kid who grew up in Edmonton (one of Canada’s lesser-known cities), was raised by the folk community; moved to Boston to get a music degree; and now lives in Los Angeles as a full-time working musician. I feel that a big part of my identity exists in the crossroads of often opposite places or things. Whether it’s my genetic make up of Filipino and Germanic Europe, my Canadian and American experiences, or having roots in folk while being deeply in love with soul and R&B; or living in Boston just to move across the country to Los Angeles. On top of all of this I can be quite shy, but I love performing. I’m just a walking conundrum over here, folks! But what I do know is that music is at the core of it all. Sometimes it’s hard to nail down exactly what or who I am for a brand because I truly love to learn any and everything I can from the experiences I’m lucky enough to have. If anything, I’ve learned that in a social media world where everything can seem contrived, formulated, and edited, being authentic seems to be the greatest thing a musician or creative can do, in my opinion. I’m just trying my best after years of working behind the scenes to continue releasing music again and be as true to myself as I can be! It really sounds cheesy, but why pretend to be something you’re not?
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
What a great question! LA is a place where you can literally get anything you want to eat or drink, regardless of cuisine or culture. Some of my local favorites have to be the burger from Everson Royce Bar in DTLA; speakeasy cocktails at Tunnel Bar in Sherman Oaks; Sugarfish for mouth watering sushi; and Mendocino Farms for fresh, California-sourced eats; Right near my apartment is an amazing Filipino bakery called Crème Caramel LA that makes awesome pandesal buns. Not to mention being able to hit different local coffee shops or taco trucks every day (shoutout to The Joint on Ventura Blvd and El Primo in Van Nuys)! I’ve lived in The Valley the entire time I’ve been in LA and there are so many amazing spots I’ve had the pleasure of discovering over the years. It’s safe to say we would not be hungry or thirsty on your stay! Aside from the eats, LA’s arts and entertainment culture is obviously hard to beat. Home to some of the best musicians in the world, there’s literally music playing every night somewhere in town and it would be a necessary part of our itinerary. Just this year right before COVID hit, I had such incredible nights at a gorgeous Ray Charles tribute concert by Family Company Music at the Teragram Ballroom and seeing the yacht-rock cover band, Harbor Party, put on a killer show at The Lodge Room in Highland Park. I miss live music- we were on such a roll! Los Angeles is home to such an incredible outdoor, active culture as well. There’s so much near the city, whether it’s the beach in Santa Monica or hiking the trails around Griffith Observatory. I find it so cool that you can go from snowboarding to surfing all in one day! As much as there’s a ton of outdoorsy stuff to do around town, in my opinion, a trip to California requires hopping in a car and heading up the coast to Big Sur or over to one of the National Parks like Yosemite or Sequoia. My husband and I love to camp and my inner-Albertan can’t help but find a bit of home in the nature California has to offer. These trips into the Sierra Nevada mountains remind me of going with my family to the Canadian Rockies. So I hope you like sleeping on the ground for at least one night haha. There are so many other places to view the fabric that makes up Angelenos. Visiting places like the Melrose Trading Post, the exhibits at LACMA; events in historic Leimert Park; nights in West Hollywood, Cruise Night in Van Nuys, and experiencing true Venice culture at the boardwalk begins to peel back the curtain of what makes Los Angeles so special.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Where do I even start?! I mean, I have to go with my mom and dad. They were – and have always been – super supportive and encouraging of me pursuing my art. They never questioned my aspirations when it came to music and gave so much of themselves to allow me to try the things I wanted as a young musician. And I can’t mention my parents without talking about my little sister, Emily! She’s an amazing artist in her own right and was my first ever band mate! We might as well be twins because it feels like she’s had my back from the start- and I’ll tell you, there’s nothing better than harmonizing with your sister! Throughout my life I’ve had so many educators and examples of what it means to be a musician across many different fronts. From the classroom, to the studio, to the stage, and more, there has always been a teacher or mentor there to show me what it takes to be a successful, kind, and creative musician. Everyone at Victoria School of the Arts, Berklee College of Music, and the greater Edmonton Folk Music scene, has imprinted onto me the quality characteristics of what I believe makes up a well-rounded musician. And of course, I have to shout out my phenomenal husband, Trey. We met back in 2009 in college and very quickly became bandmates after bonding over our love of classic artists and family. All these years later, we still get to work together creatively with the added bonus of being each other’s adventure partner for life! I owe so much to him for always bringing beauty and light into my every single day. And forever and always, a big thank you to The Oristaglios, The Macias Family, The Doerings, The Mehrs, Gary Slaight & Family, and everyone else who has ever believed in and helped me along the way!
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