Though SOSUPERSAM, real name Samantha Duenas, hails from Los Angeles, her career as a DJ and singer has taken her quite literally — and consistently — around the world. One week, she could be mixing dance tracks at a club in Amsterdam; the next, she's hosting her monthly 143 party, dedicated to old school R&B, in Los Angeles. Another week later, she's likely singing original songs from her debut EP "Garden," which was released last year, to fans in Honolulu. In fact, for the rest of 2017, Duenas is scheduled to go on tour in Asia, where she'll DJ in cities like Bangkok, Dehli, Mumbai and Jakarta, as well as switch gears to perform "Garden" in Manila.
"The day after I put out my EP, I went to go perform it during a DJ set and it felt so strange to step out in front of the turntables," says Duenas as she recalls her debut "Garden" performance in San Francisco. "I felt like no one has seen my legs before. I have a whole bottom torso and life and stuff. I think that's also been an interesting part of the process. The mild shock that most people have because they know me as a DJ. It's always a nice discovery or surprise."
What's not surprising is the fact that Duenas is an artist at her true core. (Growing up, she was trained in singing, dance, piano and musical theatre.) It's only natural that she explores her creativity in variety of mediums, from making a zine on 143 ("It was probably my favorite thing I've done all year.") to designing exclusive merch and, most recently, pushing her boundaries in music.
"The vocation to actually write spurred from being bored DJing because you're playing other people's music, so a lot of times I would kind of zone out," says Duenas. "I want to make something. That longing led back into singing and songwriting, which is something that I had been doing for a while but had been dormant for several years."
Now, Duenas has taken on a brand new medium that requires her to express "Garden" visually: the music video. Released on Monday morning, "A Little Wrong" follows Duenas in an LA apartment during an all-too-familiar "getting ready to go out but you have all day to get ready" situation. "We've all been there, it's kind of like doing all of your solo quirky behaviors," she says, noting "trying on all of my clothes ever" as an example.
While that part of the "A Little Wrong" storyline is all good and fun, the video also emerges with a voyeuristic, borderline-creepy theme as the song explores troubled love. "In the beginning of the video, I'm in a conflict in my relationship," says Duenas. "With that in mind, I think the lingering question is like, 'Who's watching me?' Who am I going out with? I'm on the phone with my boyfriend, but am I getting ready to go out with another guy? Who's watching me, my boyfriend or another guy?"
During a recent visit to New York City, we caught up with Duenas to learn more about her upcoming music project for next year, the difference between performing (and dressing) as a DJ and singer, what she just bought and her short stint as a fashion blogger.
Tell us about the fashion in the "A Little Wrong" video.
I worked with [stylist] Natalie Toren. We wanted the aspect of getting ready to be really dramatic and almost theatrical, a fashion montage. One of my favorite pieces was a Junya Watanabe plaid skirt that I don't know if I would ever wear. The other thing, too, was to put me in different, more exaggerated outfits, so we went for a mod look and there's definitely a wig involved, which was so fun. The look that [most] resembles my actual style is a Richardson sweater, a Junya trench, a Pari Desai belt-bag, Nanushka leather shorts and Balenciaga boots. More tomboy-ish.
Is that how you usually dress?
I switch it up. I think my style has always been a bit "streetwear tomboy." I wear a lot of classic things and I wear a lot of black. I'm usually wearing some Dickie's and Chucks, or right now I'm wearing Docs with a hoodie. I dress a lot for comfort because I travel so much.
What's your go-to travel outfit?
I have these really comfortable silk satin overalls from The Great Eros. It's a lingerie brand but they make this jumpsuit ... you wear a turtleneck underneath and it's basically like wearing pajamas. That's my new plane outfit.
Since you travel so much, what's your favorite city when it comes to style?
Always Tokyo. Always. Tokyo has been my favorite city since the dawn of time and it still is. I think it will always be. They're so avant-garde and expressive and also very understated about it. People carry themselves really well even though they are wearing the loudest things or strangest ensembles. There is a humility that's carried with it. I'd say after that, New York. Every time I'm in New York, there's such a functioning personal style about it. Whereas in LA, everything is so forced. Last week I was in New York to DJ the store opening for AsicsTiger. It was really good for an in-store and just the way that people dress — for function but it's so stylish — was such a breath of fresh air.
What's the last thing you bought?
I just bought Margiela Tabi boots in black patent leather. I'm really excited about those. I went H.A.M. on The RealReal last night. I got a red plaid tartan Yohji Yamamoto bomber jacket. It's like a bomber and moto put together. And then I got an Issey Miyake Pleats Please skirt in black with black polka dots and an Acne dress. The RealReal is so addicting.
I remember reading that your stage name came from a fashion blog you had.
Yeah! Like during the early Fashionista.com days. I've always kind of had, not heavy interest, but fashion has always been something that I cared about. When I had my fashion blog, I used to write about the Olsen twins, what they were wearing, their cool Balenciaga City bags and all that stuff.
Right? Was that not the Golden Era? Maybe I've outgrown it, but has anyone replaced them? I remember it was them, particularly Ashley Olsen. I was really into Alexa Chung. Zoe Kravitz still. Her fucking Saint Laurent ads. Her anything.
It's been really interesting because when I had a fashion blog, I wasn't working in fashion but it was during a time of big fashion sites back then, like The Fashion Spot forums, Fashionista, FabSugar had forums that Fashion Toast was on before she started Fashion Toast.
How do you differentiate DJing and performing as a singer?
I've been learning to approach them differently. What made me so nervous in the beginning when I was singing was I'm used to quick transitions — making sure the energy is up, up, up as a DJ. So that's what I was expecting for myself as a singer. I got really hung up on the idea of 'We're going to sing this slow song and people have to listen to me for three minutes. This is going to be such a drain and party killer.'
But then I had to sort of flip my mindset because I go to a lot of shows, too, and when I go see a singer, I completely change my brain. I'm here to enjoy this person singing. It's going to be drawn out. I want to hear their voice and they don't need to be doing so much. I want to enjoy their presence, and so I had to kind of reframe everything in that way. I enjoy just watching someone sing and no one will get bored of me if I was doing it, too. You have to treat it differently and it took me a minute to get there and not freak out.
Do you get dressed differently for both, too?
For DJing, shoes are the most important because you don't want your feet to be hurting while you're DJing. There's definitely a lot of female DJs who just DJ fashion things, but I could DJ a fashion thing one day and then DJ in like an old meatpacking shop in Norway in some fucking grimey-ass basement. So it depends on what it is but shoe choice is probably the most important. I DJ for Cushnie et Ochs a lot and I always have flats or slides with me even though I show up with heels or I'll wear a flat boot that's sick. Apart from that, you just want to make sure your sleeves are not too big so they don't fuck up with what you're doing.
So no Vetements hoodies.
Oh my gosh, dude, there's this Calvin Klein sweater with colorblock sleeves and the sleeves go all the way down here. I tried it on from Totokaelo and it is so sick but I will not be able to do literally anything. I can't do a big sleeve. No Vetements sleeves.
And then for singing, I think lately I've been wanting to have a big chunky heel, so I have a pair of my trusty Vetements boots. They're two years old and they're beaters and I fucking love them. They're comfortable and they make me feel tall and powerful, which I think is the feeling I want to have when I'm singing especially. And then I'll wear that with a white trouser and more of a minimal top. It's sort of masking the comfort and coziness with something that's also form-fitting and long. I'm about height all the time because I'm itty bitty.
Can you tell us about your upcoming music project for next year?
Yes, but I don't know what it is yet. I'm just feeling it out and writing. My plan is to write what's natural until the end of the year and see what songs I like together as a sequence. I have some concepts for a project. Usually if they're sitting somewhere in your subconscious, they will show up in your writing. So there's a couple of strong images and singles that I'm thinking about and working around. I'm hoping it manifests itself in the writing and it'll all tie in together. The artistic process is really interesting.