We had the good fortune of connecting with Sammy Plotkin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sammy, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
I’ve asked myself this question my whole life, and it’s most often based in my fear of how others perceive creativity. If I am able to support myself while I make art, then there is really nothing to give up. The recent success I’ve had is a result of creating freely despite the constant presence of fear in my life. My process for writing songs is often digging into what is very personal for me. I feel a constant pressure to make something that I’ll be able to monetize immediately, and that’s what makes me want to give up the most. Striving to mimic the success of others is the death of creativity and imagination. I made a conscious choice to do art first and foremost for myself, which is why I don’t think failure will ever deter me from living a creative life.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Like many artists, my songwriting started as a way to cope with my depression and anxiety. However, my experience performing from a young age made me associate my art with a way to get approval from society. While this recognition had very positive attributes, I found myself conditioned to make people feel comfortable, even if it was at the expense of my own comfort. For example, I haven’t always been truthful in my music. I would avoid some of my own heartache to avoid being seen for who I really am. I avoided talking about my sexuality, anger, and sadness, all of which could have made great songs. When I moved to LA, I had recently come out of the closet and felt more determined to get to the truth in my music. This was a pivotal moment for me, though I didn’t know it at the time. I was working temp jobs, producing an EP in my free time, and looking for collaborators. Within two years I got a publishing deal at Defend Music through my constant outreach and creative output. This led me to finding a community of artists, producers, and songwriters who encouraged my growth and aspirations. I started out pitching my music to other artists, as I didn’t see the value in releasing my own music. I felt as though I needed permission from someone else to do this. Having released music as early as 12 years old, one wouldn’t think I’d have any reservations about releasing music in my twenties. But I was terrified. Though as I continued to do it, I realized that honest story telling is my way of life, and it’s something that I want to share, no matter the outcome.
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.
Pre-covid of course – Rooftop on Shangri La for drinks and food, A show at The Ace Hotel or somewhere in downtown LA, Nights out at the Virgil or Harvard and Stone, A trip to the Getty Museum, Beach hangs in Malibu – Point Dume or Lechuza
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?
My frequent collaborators: Stephen Rivera, Dia Morgan, Teddy Roxpin, Mishka Bier, Griffith Frank, and Jordan Higgins Books: “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert and “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield My mother and father for supporting the arts my whole life.
Image taken by Josh Alon