tour diary

Indie Darling Samia Brings Her Whiskey Ritual to Outside Lands


Samia and bassist Ned Steves.

Samia Finnerty is having her roadie moment. After spending the first half of the year on the Honey tour, following her eponymous sophomore studio album, the indie-pop singer better known by her mononym is returning to the tour van with a crew of accompanying acts, including Boygenius and Venus and the Flytraps. In the same collaborative spirit, she released three reimagined covers earlier this summer from Honey, a vulnerable, critically acclaimed document of coming-of-age joys and traumas that sounds like a peek into the singer’s diary. As she ventures out once again, the 26-year-old NYC native called us up after a weekend at San Francisco’s Outside Lands Festival to talk about collaborating with her besties, her pre-show whiskey tradition, and her obsession with Father John Misty.


MEKALA RAJAGOPAL: Where are you at right now?

SAMIA: I’m in Asheville with my friends. We’re trying to make a new record, so we’re hanging out at this Airbnb. We made a little studio in the living room and we’ve been writing for the last couple days.

RAJAGOPAL: Okay. You just kicked off your tour for the next couple of months, how are you feeling about that?

SAMIA: I feel good. I have a couple weeks off. We start again at the end of August. We’re doing a couple dates here and then we go to the UK, which is always really intimidating. The time change really fucked me up last time. 

RAJAGOPAL: You’ve been all over this year. You had the Honey tour earlier this year, too. How do you keep it together when you’re always on the go?

SAMIA: I don’t. I think it’s all about the people that you’re traveling with. Everyone in my band is a close friend of mine. When you spend that much time with people, and experience such highs and lows and milestones and disappointments, you’ve got to trust those people. So I feel really lucky. 

RAJAGOPAL: Do you ever have a moment to venture out into whichever city you’re in?

SAMIA: We had a bus for the first time earlier this year, and that was great because you wake up there and you can actually explore for a couple hours before you have to start working. But we’re back in a van, so there’s going to be a lot less of that. We’ll roll up to the event, play the show, and leave, for the most part.


RAJAGOPAL: Take me through your day performing at Outside Lands.

SAMIA: We got there at around 11:30 and we were golf-carted to a little village of trailers. My friend Izzy Heltai, who lives in Nashville with me, was next door to our trailer, so that was adorable. We just got really excited about the day. We got to go see Ethel Cain, who’s one of my favorite songwriters right now. 

RAJAGOPAL: Love her.

SAMIA: Sobbed at that show. We did a couple little press things. I did some photos with Stereogum and I got to meet Pooneh Ghana, who’s one of my favorite music photographers. Then I panicked about the show for 45 minutes and hung out with my friend Britt in our trailer talking about other stuff to try to keep my mind off of it, and then went on stage. We could barely hear anything because Shaq was playing at the same time as us. But it ended up being hilarious and great, and the audience was really sweet and engaged.

RAJAGOPAL: That’s how festivals go. Do you ever get stage fright?

SAMIA: Not consistently, but sometimes I will, and it’s totally unpredictable. I think if there’s someone I know or really like in the crowd, then I’m super nervous.

RAJAGOPAL: That makes sense. What were you drinking?

SAMIA: We all take shots of Tennessee Honey Whiskey. I started doing it so long ago and I have superstitions about it now, it’s like a compulsion. I have to do it before every show.


RAJAGOPAL: What’s your glam routine like before the show?

SAMIA: I should have a better glam routine. I pick one hairstyle every year that I adhere to, and I do an eyeliner and red lipstick situation that I’ve also been doing since I was in middle school. I have a hard time with variations on a look. I was going to wear this Ethel Cain shirt I’m wearing now, but it was so cold that I just wore my Nashville Airport bookstore sweater.

RAJAGOPAL: How do you ready your vocals?

SAMIA: I warm up for 45 minutes. I’ve been doing this Wim Hof breathing exercise where you breathe in and out really ferociously a bunch of times and then hold it. It’s been helping a lot with my anxiety levels and my ability to focus on a task. But Outside Lands is by far my favorite festival. Just the most dramatic, beautiful, special place.

RAJAGOPAL: Had you been to Outside Lands before this?

SAMIA: No. Everyone was talking it up. But I got to see my two favorite artists—Lana Del Rey and Father John Misty—perform on the same day, which was unfathomable to me. 

RAJAGOPAL: So exciting. Where did you eat in San Francisco?

SAMIA: The next morning at Boogaloos in San Francisco, it was an adorable cafe. The best fried egg sandwich I’ve ever had. And we met some kids there who had been to the show the night before, which was really sweet.

RAJAGOPAL: Have you had any favorite tour moments so far in general?

SAMIA: Oh, man. Playing at the same festival as my favorite songwriter at Outside Lands was miraculous to me. I haven’t gotten to see Father John Misty many times, but he’s my absolute favorite. It was cool to be in the same spaces as the people who inspired me to write music.

RAJAGOPAL: Where are you most excited to go next?

SAMIA: We’re playing a show with Boygenius in Philly. I love Philly too, so it’s a double whammy that way. We opened for Lucy [Dacus] last year, but this is our first time playing with Boygenius.

RAJAGOPAL: What would be your dream show location and artist to play alongside?

SAMIA: That’s a really good question. I love playing in New York because I grew up there and it’s where I learned to be an artist. That’s where my well of inspiration comes from as a performer. Anytime I get to play there, especially around the people that I grew up with, it’s really special. So I would just like to keep going back there. And I hate to keep saying Father John Misty, but that is the truth. Brittany Howard is another huge hero of mine. I think I would be way too intimidated to sing with her, but being in her presence would be insane.

RAJAGOPAL: Love it. Have fun on tour.

SAMIA: Thank you so much.