A Brooklyn Winter Day in the Life, With Indie Troubadour Sam Himself
Though there’s something just a bit Seussian about his nom de plume, Sam Himself is actually a very serious man. Indeed, his latest single “Out of Love” (quite a clever double entendre) sublimely showcases his intense, viscerally affective baritone and his Leonard Cohenesque way with resigned melancholy. Amidst the expressive guitars, and raw but opulent atmospherics, he laments, “What a strange dream / Today falls to the floor / We’re not like before.” A duet with fellow Brooklyn singer Denitia, their dark chemistry absolutely sizzles.
The haunting video for the song, which BlackBook premieres here – and which also features Ashley Robicheaux – is awash in Lynchian surrealism and desolation.
“I’m putting out an EP this year with a new sound,” he explains, “so I wanted to cap off last year’s release in style (and a suit). ‘Out of Love,’ the first time I was lucky enough to work with Denitia, has been an important song for me in many ways; and it feels good to mark the end of this chapter with a video I’m really proud of.”
His new EP will be released this March. In the meantime, we asked him to take us through a perfect winter day in Brooklyn, which the Swiss-born singer is content to call his home – and where he’ll be taking to the stage at new Bushwick venue Elsewhere Tuesday, January 9.
“I just went back home to Switzerland for the holidays,” he says, “and noticed once again that, somehow, leaving New York is always hard…no matter how soon you’ll be back. The city has a way of making you stay. After living here for several years I’m still figuring out why that is, which is part of the appeal for me. It probably has to do with the fact that most people come here for a reason, and that strange cocktail of intentions, aspirations and delusions makes for a special energy. Things happen to you here, whether you want them to or not.”
A Sam Himself Day in Brooklyn
New York winters can be infernal, so I try to keep it extremely local. This place is about 30 seconds from my house and serves the kind of old school American diner breakfast no hangover can survive.
The owner’s claim to fame is that he once chased an unhappy customer out the door with a live lobster. That hasn’t happened to me yet; I’ve never complained, because I’m a sucker for heavy French food. It’s great, seafood-focused (soupe de poisson, mussels Provencal, grilled mahi Nicoise) winter fare that you will want to take a nap after indulging.
I will bundle up and leave my neighborhood in the dead of winter to visit McNally Jackson downtown. They always host interesting readings and the staff are pretty cool about the fact that they’re infinitely more well read than you. You can while away gloomy afternoons at their café reading, writing subpar verse in your brand new Moleskine, playing Minecraft, whatever you want to do. (N.B. While the shop is located in Soho, a Williamsburg branch is opening soon.)
Ugly Baby is one of the best Thai places in the city. It’s pretty new and was recently featured in the NY Times, so the wait can be awhile, especially for dinner. It’s worth every second, though, for their Kah Moo Palo five spice pork leg stew, and their Gai Golae southern style chicken skewers – even in the bristling cold.
Two things I love about this neighborhood mainstay: it’s dark and it has alcohol. This time of year, the people who work there essentially turn into first responders for seasonal affective disorder, and they’re doing a heroic job at it.
I went to Elsewhere for their opening party on Halloween and lost my favorite wig, but that’s not the only reason I keep coming back. Even though Bushwick might be a bit of a trek from where I live, their shows are always worth it (upcoming: Warped Comedy, Body & Soul w/ Francois K, Derrick May). Did I mention that I’m playing there on Tuesday, January 9?