Jordy Sam avoids labels.
The Bremerton musician raps, sings, and engineers his own music. It’s difficult to pin down a single label to describe what he does.
“I like to just categorize myself as an artist,” he says. “I wouldn’t necessarily put myself in a box and say that I could be primarily one [genre] or the other. I just like to go with how I’m feeling.”
Sam grew up in a musical family; both his parents sang, and his dad was a musician, he says. Sam started playing drums at age 2, and a cousin showed him how to play piano at 7. By the time he was around 10, he started getting into the production side of music: songwriting, composition, recording.
I feel like we need to have more of a stage for people who are bringing original hip-hop content to the table, because there’s a lot of that that’s being slept on out here
Learning to record his own music at a young age made it easier to explore different genres without getting tied to a single musical style, he says.
“I started off making my music and beats and stuff in my kitchen, just at my computer,” he says. “I didn’t have to listen to anybody tell me how to do certain things. I was able to just go in, do how I was feeling and let that speak.”
It’s no surprise he eschews being boxed into a single genre considering the range of his musical influences. It’s difficult for him to narrow it down. There are Gospel artists: Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, and John P. Kee. Then there are classic R&B musicians, such as Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, and more recent acts, like Eric Bellinger and Chris Brown. And he looks to modern rappers such as Dom Kennedy, Nipsey Hustle, and Schoolboy Q.
There’s plenty of inspiration close to home as well. In an area better known as the birthplace of grunge and renowned for its rock and alternative scenes, the Pacific Northwest — and Kitsap County in particular — are a hidden trove of rap and hip-hop talent, Sam says.
“We don’t get the same attention as far as music,” he says. “I understand it with me being a musician — it’s different seeing music with people on stage playing instruments and such, or having a band behind them versus a DJ. I can understand it, but that doesn’t take away from that one person’s creative ability.”
Sam says he’d like to see more opportunities for rap and hip-hop artists to perform and get their names out there locally.
“I feel like we need to have more of a stage for people who are bringing original hip-hop content to the table, because there’s a lot of that that’s being slept on out here, I think,” he says.
Like other musical artists, COVID-19 restrictions forced Sam to find creative ways to exercise his musical muscles.
“The initial hit obviously stopped everything until people started figuring out certain ways to go about being able to still do things,” he says.
One way to keep the music going was by live-streaming performances on Facebook, he says. Shortly after things shut down, he performed an in-studio performance at Bremerton’s BoomHouse Studios. Shortly after that, he performed a musical contest with Seattle rapper Ellis Prescott.
“So there were still opportunities to do music and promote music and engage with fans,” he says. “It didn’t stop as far as that goes. But obviously with live shows, that was at a standstill.”
Post-COVID, Sam said there may be opportunities for hybrid shows, where people can attend performances in-person, but others can stream it online. “There’s an exclusiveness — people come there, but they can still view online as well,” he says.
One thing that won’t change, pandemic or no, is Sam’s commitment to continuing to grow as a musician and refine his sound. As an engineer, he says, “my ear’s getting more trained to the sound and as I’m getting around other engineers … I’m able to get their insight on what I’m doing and what I should work on.”
He researches techniques to practice or perfect online and then puts it into practice, he says.
“I’m always trying to apply that to what I’m working on currently, or even stuff that might not be out,” he says. “I’ll go back and redo what I just learned with something that might be old just to see the difference. I’ve definitely taken a lot of time and effort in getting the sound that I have currently.”
Check out Jordy Sam’s music
Jordy Sam performs 9 p.m. tonight, May 20, at The Crazy Otter, 141 Chimacum Road, Port Hadlock. Doors open at 8 p.m. 21+. Tickets are $25. VIP meet and greet tickets with exclusive poster are $35. Get them here.
For more info on Sam’s production work, find him on BeatStars.