The artist discusses what motivates the composer in him while in Thiruvananthapuram to play at the first International Indie Music Festival.
With Sami Chohfi, it would be difficult to distinguish between the traveller and the musician because each of his journeys to various parts of the world influences his music. His music videos, which are always unique, show that he appears to be continuously pulling inspiration from what he sees around him. During the musician’s previous trip to India, two of them happened to be captured on camera in the days before the outbreak.
Extraordinary World, his debut solo album, is a compilation of tales he collected while touring Brazil, Armenia, Cambodia, India, Japan, and the Philippines.
He spoke to The Hindu about the things that inspire the composer in him while he was in Thiruvananthapuram to play at the first edition of the International Indie Music Festival (IIMF) being organised by Lazie Indie at the Kerala Arts and Crafts Village near Kovalam.
“In the 1990s, when I was growing up, MTV was really popular. To listen to music for an hour before catching the school bus, I used to get up unusually early. In the past, bands like Metallica, Alice in Chains, SoundGarden, and Nirvana would frequently be played on the radio. I begged my mother to give me a guitar for my birthday after listening to Nirvana, and she complied. I then began to memorise each of their songs. I started taking voice lessons as a result of Chris Cornell’s singing. I learnt how to make songs and design structures since I had studied all these songs for such a long time. I’ve always been drawn to music with strong melodies and poignant lyrics, adds Sami.
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He relocated to Seattle in 2000, just as the grunge rock movement was starting to fade. With a few other musicians who shared his interests, he formed the band “Blue Helix,” but it was never sustained since many of the members could not keep up with the travelling demands. Nowadays, he writes all of the music by himself and relies on session players everywhere he performs.
He will play in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday alongside Bengaluru natives Shalini, a bassist, and percussionist Niveditha, both 16 years old.
“My American band was unable to travel frequently when I wanted to perform, and that devastated me. Playing with more musicians, in my opinion, is more interesting since you never know what type of brilliant musicians you’ll run into. In actuality, the best artists do not reside in the United States. He claims that they are in nations including the Philippines, India, Brazil, and Paris.
Many of his well-known songs exude a contagious optimism, but he is not afraid to discuss the problems in his community as well. Examples include The Awakening, which was influenced by the anti-racism demonstrations that erupted in the United States following the death of George Floyd, and Anti-social Butterfly, which is against bullying. His music was also affected by the loss of his mother as a result of COVID-19.