Singer and songwriter Sam Dotia is an introspective soul with an emotive-invoking voice. His latest project, Home Is Where, is beautifully honest and personal, and we got the chance to talk about it all with him.
Nicole: Tell us who you are and what you do?
Sam Dotia: I’m Sam Dotia, and I’m a singer, songwriter, poet, and human being. I like to express my feelings through songs, rhymes, melodies, and chords.
Nicole: What made you want to get into music? Like, what started it off for you?
Sam Dotia: Funnily enough, I studied musical theatre at college, and I realised there that in terms of art, I thrived more in expressing myself as opposed to portraying other people’s feelings and emotions. Musical theatre was so much fun; I loved it, but I wasn’t necessarily the best dancer and actor. But with music, I can be myself and write a song, and hopefully, someone sees themselves in that song.
Nicole: How would you describe your music?
Sam Dotia: My music varies. A friend once described my music as a hug. I would describe my music as being a fly on the wall in someone else’s confessions. But like all of the very human things about me, I dress it up so that people might not necessarily know what I’m talking about.
Nicole: Okay, so we have to talk about your latest project, Home is Where. It’s really beautiful. When you were creating it, what type of headspace was you in?
Sam Dotia: It was a bit of a madness! I wrote that in and around 2021 and 2022, and I had just moved out of my family home. Around 2021, it was a case of finding my place because I’m often in pockets of spaces where I can see myself mirrored in those around me, like my friends, family, and whatever is going on. And then suddenly I was very much finding myself thrusted into adulthood, into places where there weren’t necessarily other reflections of myself. So, I had to be the reflection of myself that I wanted other people to see in themselves and for me to see in myself. It was very coming of age, but like an adult coming of age.
Nicole: What was the song process like?
Sam Dotia: Funnily enough, Home is Where is based on my room that I was living in, and each song is like a different wall in this room that I used to live in. It was in a houseshare, but my room was my place, and I would visualize it in my mind. So, when I moved homes, I started thinking about whether my neighbours knew each other. And if my house is the odd house, like are these all families? Because in my house previously, my family house, I knew my neighbours. Pauline, our next-door neighbour, was so lovely! She used to give me, and my little sister Christmas gifts, and she was genuinely really lovely. And when I moved out after uni, the community was gone, and that’s what ‘[TtBW]’ was about. For Lime+Magenta, I sat down, picked up my guitar, and ended up writing about my post-it notes. ‘Lost Sometimes’ was in this room where there were four different walls, but on one of those walls was a door, and I always used to wonder, what would be behind the hidden door. Like, where could you go? And then ‘Destination’ started from a window, and funnily enough, ‘Destination’ and ‘[TtBW]’ are somewhat linked. ‘Destination’ was me wondering what was outside the window, like the view of life, where to go, and where my next step was leading me.
Nicole: Were there any songs on the project that you were nervous for everyone to hear? Cause the project is very honest and personal, like you’re bringing us into the mind and heart of yourself.
Sam Dotia: ‘Destination’ if I’m being really honest. Yeah, ‘Destination’ was a bit nuts because I felt like I was writing to myself. It’s very voyeuristic, and it felt like, ‘Ah, oh no, you guys can see me talking to myself’. The song is somewhat like a pep talk to yourself. It’s one of them ones where I can imagine if someone heard me saying my lyrics to myself, it would be like “ahh ahh,” but then hearing someone say it to you, it can be somewhat comforting. It can be somewhat inspiring.
Nicole: How did you know when Home Is Where was complete and ready to be out there for the world to listen to? Did you have a moment where you looked at it and was just like, yeah, it’s time?
Sam Dotia: I don’t think it’s ever complete, and I personally, don’t think I’ve ever had a moment where I’m like, “Okay, cool, it’s complete.” There are still things that I hear now, and I’m like, “Oh, I could do this”, but could do doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it. So, you’re only ever done once you stop having good ideas or ideas that aren’t serving your expression.
Nicole: What did Home Is Where mean to you when you were creating it, and what does it mean to you now?
Sam Dotia: Nicole, there’s a whole larger story, so making it, I was definitely leaning more towards my sonic identity. I’ve usually leaned on the folk soul side of what I like and what I hear, and for Home is Where I had more of the production take centre stage, which I quite liked. Songwriting—I loved it! I was working with collaborators that would actually help me stand outside of just being a voice on a guitar. I wanted to make something a little bit more spiky—not overly spiky, but just like a little bit of fuzz. I was trying to attract people who wanted to find a different side of folk soul and this black musical experience. So Home Is Where, is home in terms of a roof; it’s home in terms of a friendly hug. It’s home in terms of tribe and like-minded people around you.
Now, funnily enough, I’ve moved twice, and when I moved into this place, the name Home Is Where was inspired by the phrase ‘Home is where the heart is’ and the neighbours downstairs had doormats saying ‘Home is where the heart is’ and I was like, naa, no way! But when I moved into this place, I wanted it to be more of a statement, which is why I didn’t add a question mark. I feel really settled here, though; this feels like my place.
Nicole: What was your favourite song to write on Home Is Where? Or is it kind of like the same for them?
Sam Dotia: The process was somewhat different for each of them, actually! ‘[TtBW]’ was a poem at first, and then I took that to a session, and we made an instrumental for it, and then it stayed in demo land for a minute. With Lime+Magenta, I had the most comfortable couch, and that song probably came out in like 20 minutes. When I write, the editing is often internal, so by the time I say something, that is what I want it to be. And ‘Destination’ I wrote with Frank Colucci and Laura Welsh. I love working with them two, they have a very special place in my heart. When I work with them, we end up talking about life, the universe, all that good stuff and just write crazy songs. I love it! Playing the bass for ‘Destination’ was so fun, because I got to put on my little bassist hat, and I was trying to be like funky, but folk. With ‘Lost Sometimes’ the guitar originally was with a steel string, and that’s what you can kind of hear. I really enjoyed myself making this project.
Nicole: What have you learnt about yourself, making this project, that you didn’t necessarily know before?
Sam Dotia: I’ve learned I’m always going to land, and maybe I should trust myself a bit more.
Nicole: What are you looking forward to doing in the next coming year?
Sam Dotia: So, I can say, Home is Where is part one of two. In terms of progression, I’m looking forward to live shows where maybe I could be playing with the band; maybe I can be doing more than I’m doing now.
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