Heroine x SOSUPERSAM: Get to Know Your Favorite LA-Based DJ
From dancing alongside 2000s-era rising stars to heading her own international tours, dancer, singer and DJ Samantha Duenas—aka SOSUPERSAM—has seen her professional career come full circle. She's had a passion for dancing and singing since the age of three, but was positioned to land in an economics career straight out of college. With the help and encouragement of Childish Gambino, she landed a gig as opening DJ on his tour where she sharpened her skills and realized she could make a living out of this passion. Today, Sam works for herself leading her own international tours, releasing EP's on her own schedule, and hosting a permanently-recurring DJ party known as 143 at Echoplex. We spent the afternoon with Sam in her Los Angeles home to meet her dog Pickles and talk about music and style.
Photography by Jeremy Jude Lee.
For those unfamiliar, tell us a bit about where you’re from, where you’re based now, and what you do.
I'm originally from LA and live here in LA now. I'm a singer/songwriter and DJ.
Before you were making music you were a dancer. Tell us about your dancing career and how you transitioned into making music. Was your interest initially in singing?
Right out of college I was positioned to go into finance. I had an economics degree and a great internship at Morgan Stanley, but dancing and singing and music was a part of my life since I was 3-years-old and I felt a nagging ache in my stomach to pursue dance even for a little bit. As soon as I snatched my diploma I quickly changed direction, auditioned for a dance agency and I started auditioning for backup dancing jobs. That summer out of college was incredible. Before I knew it I was dancing on national TV, then on a tour bus for a couple of months all backup dancing for a young Vanessa Hudgens. From there my professional journey has taken a few turns—advertising, fashion PR, DJing, and back to singing and dancing which were my original creative roots.
At what point did you realize you could turn DJ’ing into a career? Was your family receptive to this?
It was actually Childish Gambino who made me realize I could DJ full time. After a couple of years of DJ'ing as a hobby, I remember in 2011 I was mid-move to New York to find a better fashion PR job and he suggested I tour with him as opening DJ before finding another full-time PR job. If it wasn't for his encouragement I might have never made the push for myself. My family wasn't into this idea at all, but they've since warmed up and are my biggest supporters.
What impact do your Asian American roots have on your career?
I think its more about what impact does my career have on my Asian American roots. At every step of my journey, I meet lots of young Asian American women and men who tell me they didn't know a creative career was possible for us. As children of immigrant parents, we're often conditioned to believe that a traditional education and a medical or law profession is our only option. Our parents just want to give us the best chance at life, but there are other ways to make an honorable living and make our parents proud. I am happy if my story provides that sense of possibility.
You have two EP’s out—Garden and Priority. Tell us about your process in creating these two albums and what they signify for you personally.
Garden was a very introspective and experimental accident. I didn't set out to make an EP, I was just enjoying writing and realized I had a collection of material that had a narrative. It spoke to my dormant voice that was starting to bloom again in front my eyes. Priority has a bit more confidence and sass about it. Both projects I wrote with my writing partners Rose and Dana in Rose's basement.
Is it a different performance experience for you to sing vs. DJ’ing? Do you prefer one over the other?
Yes absolutely different. When I sing, I get to dance and make a closer connection with my audience. I love interacting, and there is no other feeling like singing a song you wrote and hearing the audience sing your lyrics with you.
Do you have any dressing rules for when you perform?
Comfort! Lately, it's tiny top and long baggy trousers with a comfortable sneaker. And if I want extra height, I have these chunky Vetements boots that are super comfortable to dance in.
What are your go-to spots in LA to shop or hangout?
I shop at Shop Super Street, Union, Stussy, I'm usually hanging out at these shops too with my dog. If I'm out, I'm at my R&B party, "143." Other than that I go to a lot of shows, or wherever my friends are throwing a party. There's usually something going on at Teddy's, the Cha Cha, Girl at the White Horse, or Gold Diggers. My go-to bars of all time are The Dime and The Prince.