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To share time and space with Annie Sama is to feel love incarnate. Every notion thought, and emotion shared in her proximity is digested and cared for. She is adamant about how in order to truly progress as human beings, we must first take into account the perspectives, hopes, and dreams of our brothers and sisters and all those in between.

A belief not only spoken about in conversation but written about in her music and felt throughout her entire performance. When listening to Annie’s music, one could pull apart elements of MIA, Grimes, Fever Ray, Die Antwoord, and others who toe their way into the pop realm from the fringes of avant-garde and industrial jams. Without alienating listeners, she challenges by way of her traditional jazz education, often lending her songs a more complex structure than those afforded to most radio hits.

This isn’t to say that Annie doesn’t make pop or dance music. If you’ve ever danced, or even thought about dancing in your lifetime, her music will kick down that door for you. Annie appreciates everything about pop, and loves when the mainstream culture gets punctured by something a little unpredictable—from Tame Impala’s gorgeous rock n roll melodies to Miley Cyrus and Mark Ronson invoking some dark country roots into bangers.

“Since I studied Jazz, it’s very easy for me to do anything with a more standard rhythm. Avant-garde electro-pop gives me some range of creativity. Pop can be kind of easy, but I like to add a little twist to it.” Being around Annie, one can feel her pulling her daydreams into reality, stitching elements of her ideals and hopes into her regular daily existence. “You need to jump into your dreams. Every one of them is valid. I write down my dreams and sew them into my reality. You can decide how you want to channel them into your life.

Listen, sometimes dreams become ideas, and those ideas become a reality.” She speaks of filmmakers and storyteller whom she loves, and her vision becomes even more crystallized. Michel Gondry, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Salvador Dali, and Hiyao Miyazaki round out some of her favorites. This all makes sense when you see all of Annie come to life.

She doesn’t just write complex and dancy pop songs, she lives and loves unabashedly from her heart, finding ways through fashion and other mediums to push peoples’ expectations. Being of first-generation Congolese descent born into Quebec history, Annie has grown up breaking down barriers. Annie never let the biases or -isms of society burden her with negativity or cynicism. It’s quite the opposite actually. All of her experience has driven her to reach that much harder to those that may feel life pushing too hard on their shoulders.

In a world where exclusivity/exclusion rule headlines and steer ships, she wants everyone to feel embraced and heard. She casually throws out that every year she holds dinners for her birthday where she invites people who don’t know anyone another person there, but whom she believes would truly appreciate spending time around folks from very different backgrounds. People love Annie, and people trust Annie. The gift she gets on her birthday is seeing people expand their horizons and crumble barriers they may have built-in their own minds.

Growing up, Annie spent eras of her life with her grandparents, who lived and worked and danced on their own property. Leatherworkers, clothing designers, inventors, and ballroom dance enthusiasts, Annie’s grandparents tailored a community around dance, creation, life, and forging friendships out of strangers. Annie remembers the ballroom, which was in the downstairs of their home, could and would hold around 60 couples ballroom dancing around. Annie’s eyes shine when reminiscing of the waltz dresses that women would wear, and the atmosphere of love that her grandparents had created in their home. When her grandparents weren’t teaching chacha or Viennese waltz, Annie and her friends would put on vinyls, makeup, and do whatever they wanted in the ballroom.

“We had complete freedom to play and be children,” she said. It’s clear that this era in Annie’s life was forever impacted, and is an important piece in understanding how she is so full of love and care. Annie has taken the memory of her grandparent’s ballroom, and the freedom that the music and space gave to her, her family, and the entire community, and has expanded upon that notion to a global degree. Annie used to tell her family, “You can find me in the ballroom,” when she was about to disappear for some time.

By opening her heart and art up to the world as she is, in a way very uniquely Annie, she has created a ballroom of her own. One where dreams flow seamlessly from one being to another, and there are no walls to hold anyone out, but enough love to hold everyone together. Some of her greatest inspirations are magical realists, but a lot of their magic stopped at the real world. Which is where Annie pushes beyond that. Annie’s magic IS her reality, and her art is all about bringing magic into everyone’s reality as well.

When the world gets to a bit too much, just think about Annie, her music, breathe out and say: “You can find me in the ballroom.”

Annie Sama has multiple EPs and singles out in the world which can be found on all streaming platforms. Her first LP comes out in 2020.




Story + Photos / Ben Fee / @benfeever
Makeup / Alexandra French / @alexandraafrench
Costume Design / Odette Mattha / @odettewashere
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