Sam Ferry | Interview
A Rio de Janeiro native, Sam Ferry is one of Brazil’s electronic music scene’s biggest revelations. Armed with a degree in Music Production from the Academy of Electronic Music (AIMEC), Sam has released over 9 tracks in less than 3 years; she’s on the rise.
Sam has toured as a DJ all around Brazil, performing at renowned venues such as Rio Dream Weekend, Love Sessions, Block AME, and the Fresh Water Festival. She has shared the stage with industry giants and fellow Brazilians such as Felguk, Dubdogz, Bruno Furlan and Barja. She most recently toured Argentina for the 2020 Carnival.
Her repertoire moves effortlessly between deep and tech house and her natural charisma gets the dancefloor moving instantly. Have a listen HERE.
How did your music career get started?
My career has been a mixed bag: I ventured into IT for a while and was even an English teacher, but I’ve always been a musical person. Soon after I graduated, I met a DJ who offered to give me some classes. I was hooked from my very first session! I thought, ‘this is it, this is what I want to do’. My life since then has been all about music. I took music production courses – initially so I could get a solid background in the art – but now I think I’ll be a student of music forever. I just love learning new things as I go!
I listen to a wide range of genres and I feel they all speak to me. When I began my formal training in music, I started to understand the impact of different musical scales on emotions. My mom and dad were not musicians themselves, but I have vivid memories of waking up to Frank Sinatra playing. So often when I listen to certain songs, it takes me back to a place and memory.
This is perhaps why I don’t see music as a regional thing – I think music is universal.
How do you decide what comes next for your career?
Most people tend to be linear in their career, while I try to take on the twists and turns. I enjoy giving my audience an experience they weren’t expecting and seeing how they react. For instance, back when the House genre wasn’t huge in the Brazilian music scene, I started to add a bit of it to my sets to see how my audience reacted and saw that the energy that the beats gave out was instantly contagious.
There is a common misconception that DJing is simply whacking out a flash drive and playing music from it, but that’s far from the truth. You have to know what you’re doing, and really be able to read the crowd. Everything from the audience to the time of day can affect the set, so when I’m playing, I try and put myself among the crowd and gauge what they want to hear. Intuition and empathy are key. A lot of DJs look inward when they choose music but I think that’s missing the point – DJing is all about the audience.
My career in music has also been therapeutic for my personal life; I have an autoimmune disease. It’s something that I have learned to live with, but music has been vital in getting me through the tougher days.
I have been a professional DJ for about 3 years now, I’ve played all over Brazil and Argentina but I have listeners all over the world. Sometimes I sit back and wonder how I got here; there are people from across the world listening to my music and engaging with me!
How much preparation goes into each performance?
I select about 3-5 hours of tracks I want to play and from there, I pretty much make decisions on the go. I try to get to the venue a few hours earlier so I know what the DJs performing before me have been playing.
How did you build your fan base?
I started on Instagram. I would go live for like 3 hours every week, and that helped me a ton. I would call them ‘Ferry Fridays,’ and I’d be live starting at 9 pm. It coincided with when people were having a drink at home and getting ready to go out so my fan base completely blew up. I went from 5k to 20k followers in absolutely no time. One of my tracks was soon picked up for a popular Spotify playlist, which really helped as well.
I try to respond to every single person that reaches out to me. I have a WhatsApp group called the Sam Ferry Squad, and it’s like a big supportive family – they come to most of the gigs too! It’s hard for me to separate myself from the fans solely because I’m the artist. I’ve been where the fans are, and I know what I would have wanted then – so I try to tune into that.
I think staying humble and connected to the fans is crucial. I’m a fan myself – if I ever met my heroes, Cark Koks, Solomon or Nora, I would cry!
How do you use fan feedback in your creative process?
I release a lot of stuff on Soundcloud. I think it’s a really cool tool for DJs and musicians. It has been a game-changer in helping us be seen or heard. I also use social media for releases; I just finished a track yesterday, posted parts of it on all my social media to see how my audience reacted. I also sent the track to a bunch of producers because I value their feedback. Of course, I think you have to try and filter the feedback: take on the critique and change bits you feel are important but retain parts of your work that you believe in. Making sure my music remains authentic to me is essential.
I start the conversation about a track weeks before I release it. I get on Instagram and start talking about its various aspects, release pieces of the track, and focus on listening to what my fans think. I think this also makes for a really special experience for my fans.
What are the next challenges you’re facing?
Ever since I decided to pursue a career as a DJ, I’ve had this whole plan in mind. I want a company and a strong brand in its own right. I want to have a clothing line and merchandise – people love that kind of stuff, and I think there’s a lot of demand for it out there.
Marketing is tiresome. Sometimes you’re not having a good day or week but you have to post something. You need to get on all your platforms and post stories and spend time engaging with fans through social media.
Felguk (Brazilian music duo) plays all around the world; they live in different cities but remain a massively united brand. They’re a constant reference for me; I watch closely what they and brands like them do.
Lately, I’ve also learned to say no to opportunities or engagements that may be less valuable so I can focus on the bigger picture and make sure I’m building my brand in everything I do.
Covid has been tough; I don’t know what to expect from the future yet. I’ve been using this time to study and have been keeping in touch with my fans.
One of my goals is to perform in Europe, but likely this will have to be next year.
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