Sam Lachow - Interview
Seattle-based rapper Sam Lachow has been on the come up ever since Shankbone came into being at Washington Middle School in Seattle’s Central District. Since then, Sam has continued to make a large mark on Seattle’s music scene as a songwriter, producer, and videographer. In 2011, he released his debut album titled Brand New Bike. Following that he’s released a number of other projects and a full-length album. I had the opportunity to chat with Sam a couple weeks ago, read below on what he had to say about Seattle weather, Banana Goo Pie, the future, and more!
Sam Lachow will be making his debut in the Mitten State later this week as a supporter for Arizona-based rapper Futuristic on his “Watch Yo Mouth” Tour. We’re super excited for him to bring an awesome performance to Ann Arbor’s Blind Pig this Thursday (4/9) night. Special guests that will be joining him include Munch, Drew32, Kylmorr, and Sweens. Tix are cheap, and you can buy them here. It’s about to be hella fun.
MTTM: This will be your first time out in Ann Arbor and the state of Michigan, am I right? How pumped are you to play your music for a college crowd that isn’t all too familiar with all of your work?
This is, yes! Never been there. No idea what it’s like or anything about it, but I’m excited to find out! Yeah, I mean, I have no idea what my fan base is like there. I’ve been real pleasantly surprised so far this tour. I didn’t know I had people out in Montana, I’m at Hooters and I have a bunch of fans out there which is cool. And then, yeah, I mean college crowds are at places all the time, and they’re always the most fun. They’re always down to party afterwards and shit, definitely gonna be kickin’ it with everybody after.
How did your career as a musician start?
Kind of just came about it naturally. I started, like, rapping and making beats and videos and stuff when I was like, in the 5th grade, and I was just kind of doing it ‘cause it was fun, that’s what I’d do just everyday with my friends and shit. And it sort of turned into a career on it’s own. And it was only like, you know, maybe three or four years ago that I realized that I could turn it into a career. So it was always kind of a hobby, and then it turned itself into what I do now.
So, was it a hobby back when you did Shankbone, and now career as Sam Lachow? And were there any notable projects in-between the two?
So, I mean, it was a hobby but also it was more than that. We were selling a lot of CDs and having big concerts and shit, we kinda knew it was more than just a hobby but, you know, we didn’t really think of rap music as anything more at the time. We didn’t think it could be something you could make a career out of. And then, the move from Shankbone to Sam Lachow was pretty tough, because I like being a part of a group so much, and those are still all my best friends, but I was on my own and met a guy in New York who wanted to manage me, and he kind of recommended that I do my own thing, and it’s still working out.
You come from Seattle, home of Macklemore, Raz Simone, Grieves, Blue Scholars, Sol, The Physics, I could go on, Nirvana. How has Seattle shaped your music?
Well they’re all good friends of mine besides Nirvana *laughs*. It’s a really tight scene, like last night I was with Sol and Blue Scholars, and Hollis who is really dope. But just kind of everyone’s kickin’ it all the time, and we help each other. Like Sol, whenever I have a question about something, like you know on this tour and I gave him a call, he gave me personal advice ‘cause he’s been on a lot more tours than I have, about just kind of how to handle it. So yeah, everyone helps each other out and it’s more like a scene of supporters rather than competitors.
I dig Sol’s remix of “Action Figures”.
Oh yeah! We performed that in Portland.
Who are your biggest influences? Musicians? Poets? The overcast skies or the underrated hot summer days?
Damn, that’s why I like Seattle ‘cause I work really well in the shitty weather, it’s like an excuse to just stay inside and work. But then, also, when the sun comes out that’s where I get my inspiration. As far as the musician influences, I don’t really know, I’m kind of just influenced by everything.
Your videos are tight! Seattle always kills the music video game, each artist does it right in their own and unique fashion. How has good music videos shaped your persona as an artist? Is there a point that you are trying to convey through good music videos?
That’s a good question, but that’s tough. Videos for me are more just, it’s sometimes so much fun doing, I’ve always done videos myself, and my Dad did video and he taught me a bunch of stuff growing up. I don’t know, I always have a hard time with trying to convey what my image is, ‘cause I’m more just, kind of, I’m just myself, you know? Like everything I talk about is true. And video sort of helps show a scene where I can show my friends and, every video I make is pretty much a reflection of our daily lives, you know? And I just try to make it look good *laughs*, but I’ve still got a lot of work to do, I can get way better. I’m hoping to a get a lot better this year.
Speaking of good music videos, the overall consensus of my Michigan homies seem to be that they all love “Banana Goo Pie”. Will you define banana goo pie? What is your favorite pie?
Haha, so that song has a line that goes “dumb yellow mook”, which is about when you’re mookin’ your bong, it means like you’re kind of milkin’ it, and you get the smoke so thick that it gets this sort of yellow tint, so that’s the dumb yellow mook. And then the Banana Goo Pie , there’s a strain of weed that I really like called Banana Goo, so it’s like a hash oil, and we just thought maybe you could make a pie out of it *laughs*. So yeah, we just kind of liked how it sounded.
Where were you at when they legalized weed in Washington?
We went down to the Space Needle, or just near there, and I had to go to the studio that day so it was just a quick doobie, and then we went to the studio. It was epic though.
So, how does weed affect your music?
Um, it doesn’t really, it more just affects my day to day life. We kind of, you know, it’s just kinda something we do every day. But I make music just as well sober as I do when I’m high, so it’s not like a big creative fuel for me like it is for some people. I’m more of a Netflix stoner than a work stoner.
So we can tell that you’re all about collaboration, starting with Shankbone, that was just you and your homies making music together, and from there, you’ve worked with a ton of other local talent. If you could collaborate with anyone right now, who would it be and why?
Hmm, that’s a tough one. I hear that question a lot and never have a good answer for it. Collaborations for me, like, they kind of have to come naturally, so, it’s not really like I could make a dope song with someone I’ve never expected to work with, so that person I’d most want to collab with, I don’t know who they are yet, but it’ll happen when it happens. But collaboration is a huge part of my music, I’m a huge believer of “why do it yourself when you can have other creative minds do it with you?”
I 100% agree with that.
Yeah, it’s just more fun.
I love every track and project that you feature Raz Simone on and vice versa. How did you two meet? What was the first track that you worked on together?
I was shooting a video for one of his friends, who’s a rapper in the Central District. So I was directing a video for them, and we went to Raz’ house randomly, and Raz was playing some of his rap songs that he was working on. I didn’t know who he was, he was super, super underground, and I heard it and I was like “whoa, this guy is crazy good”, so I got his contact info. Then, we randomly ran into each other in New York City out of nowhere. On a rainy day, I was in Times Square and I heard someone call my name, and it was this dude Raz that i’d only met one time, so then we met up later in New York, and we ended up making this song called “The Best Part”, which was on my first solo album Brand New Bike. The song did well and I really liked how we sounded together, so then shortly after that we had a conversation on the phone, and we wanted to make a 5 song EP, and I was immediately just like super inspired and excited, and we made it pretty quick. It was a really natural thing.
What’s your songwriting process like?
For me, the beats always come first. I write the lyrics around the beats, and sometimes I’ll have a concept for a song, and I’ll kind of have some ideas of topics and like things to talk about and I’ll put them in my phone. But when it comes to actually forming a flow, forming the verse, or the hook, i just play the beat over and over, and sometimes I’ll just freestyle gibberish and record it, just what natural idea like automatically comes, and then I’ll listen to that gibberish recording. I don’t know it’s kind of weird but then I can see if I came up with any flows that I could use, then I put words into it. But yeah, I always try to think of my flow was sort of like a solo. Like a guitar solo or drum solo, and try to make it as unpredictable as possible. You know ‘cause, like, with a drum solo you want to surprise people, you don’t want them to expect the kind of drum rhythm or pattern that you’re gonna come up with, and that’s the same thing for rap flow, if that makes any sense.
Your homies are endless, but some that I think of right off the bat are Riley Mulherkar, Gifted Gab, Sky Blaow, Carl Majeau, Andrew Imanaka, Ariana DeBoo, Ryan Campbell etc. Damn those are a lot of Garfield High School names. How did attending Garfield play a role in who you are as a musician today?
Yeah, I was just kind of really lucky to go to an awesome school, with these musicians that were incredibly talented. When we left Garfield, me, Riley, and Carl all ended up in New York City at the same time, and we all just sort of started collaborating, and we’re all really good friends now that we’ve done so much together. Yeah, i was just lucky to go to a school with that amazing jazz program.
What makes your show so special? Why should all these peeps in random cities check out your show without having been fans for a while?
Well, first of all because we put on a really kick-ass show, and my singer, Ariana is gonna be with us and she just, has one of the most beautiful voices ever. So even if you hate me, it’s still gonna be great. And like with my shows, I just have fun, I’m completely myself and I’m more just hanging out, it’s a party you know!? Whether you don’t like rap, whether you don’t know who I am, it’ll be a good time.
On an ending note, with constant support from your ever-so growing fan base, and the recent release of Huckleberry, what can we expect from you in the future?
I guess, expect to be surprised. I’m gonna keep coming up with some weird shit, and I’m planning on… You know I have a bunch of ideas, I want to do something different, I’m planning on maybe forming another group, another band, planning on another album. I plan on switching up my style drastically for a project. Then I don’t know, maybe I’ll go back to kind of my original steez, but I plan on getting funky this year and seeing what we come up with. So yeah, expect to be surprised.
By Ben Schechter