"I don't try to let anything go to my head," says Sam Baker in an unassuming tone. Over the phone at least, the 23-year-old from Ann Arbor, MI sounds like a stoner kid who sits around all day surfing the internet and making hip-hop beats. Even his artist name, Samiyam, connotes pure slackerdom.
In reality, Samiyam is flying out to Los Angeles–where he will move a scant month after this interview–to hang out with his friend Flying Lotus. The Warp-affiliated beat composer is a mentor to Samiyam; in February, he took the young producer to Amsterdam. "It was the first show I've ever done and it was in Amsterdam. It was pretty wild, man," says Baker. The two perform together as FlyAmSam, a hard-hitting collaboration similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers in Predator. They dropped "Green Tea Power" on the recent Beat Dimensions Vol. 1 compilation, and may complete an album for release by the end of the year.
How does an anonymous bedroom producer without so much as an iTunes EP to his credit get jocked by the cream of L.A.'s underground producers? Samiyam met Flying Lotus through his MySpace page, right before the latter became a sensation with his 1983 debut last year. In fact, as of this writing, Samiyam's career is mostly confined to the World Wide Web. "It's cool," he says, laughing at the suggestion that he's a MySpace star. "It definitely helps motivate me a little bit to get messages from people saying how much they like the songs."
Samiyam pounds out his beats on the SP-303, creating instrumental tracks that click and stutter like scratchy vinyl at half speed. He even samples tracks from classic Nintendo videogames like Metroid, Spy Hunter, and Legend of Zelda, adding mono-synth melodies to his drunken-sounding beatscapes.
"A thrilling sound to break the sameness," raves Daedelus, via email, about Samiyam's emergence. "He's a new voice, thank goodness. So far, from the sounds I've heard, he has channeled a lot of the energy of classic electro, but with a deliberate slower pacing, which I believe is rare from a producer so young."
Baker's modest online beginning hasn't kept tastemaker DJs like Benji B and Andrew Meza from hitting him up for tracks, which he happily supplies. Despite the growing buzz, however, Samiyam remains noncommittal. He might compile a solo CD of instrumentals and unofficial remixes to sell on his MySpace page. He might pursue a full-fledged music career. But it's all up in the air.
"I'm not worried about signing deals or anything when I don't even have a record done," admits Samiyam. "At this point, I've just got a bunch of beats. I don't really have a project. It makes the most sense to worry about completing a project that I would like to see released."