Previously known for her work as Annie Goodchild and as a featured singer in Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox, I Used To Be Sam steps into a complex journey of transracial adoption and self-discovery on their new EP ‘I Used to Be Sam’ - an explorative new collection of deeply personal, cinematic, left-field pop, all wrapped up in the singers distinctively illustrious voice.
After taking an Ancestry DNA test, I Used To Be Sam learned that before being adopted, she used to be named Samantha. After attempts to reconnect with her birth mother were met by re-rejection, I Used To Be Sam recounted this experience to a producer on a writing trip in Berlin. And from that moment, I Used To Be Sam was born.
This realization marks the starting point for their first single, ‘Gentle’, the first single to be taken from her upcoming EP of the same name, an explorative new collection of cinematic, left-field pop, and Goodchild’s first release under their new creative moniker I Used To Be Sam. To accompany the release, Annie also shares a haunting music video, watch it here:
The internationally acclaimed singer's second single release, Mountains, on the 18th of March is the latest installment taken from their upcoming debut EP, ‘I Used to Be Sam’, set for release this September.
Emboldened to dig deeper, including other transracial adoptees on this project became increasingly important to I Used To Be Sam the more they educated themself on the adoption narrative. She says, “Our voices, our stories, our trauma and our successes are ours to tell. So I knew early on that even though my platform wasn’t big, it was big enough to share with other transracial adoptees (TRAs).”
“One of the aspects to my journey and healing process through all this was allowing myself to get angry. We are taught by the act of abandonment that anyone, even those who are meant to love you unconditionally will leave you. So be malleable, be small, please the egos of those who chose you. Don’t be mad when they take your name from you to fit their idea of their own family. I was adopted into privilege - a middle class family who loves me. So to be told and shown by the wider TRA community that I’m allowed to be mad about my traumas, even though well intentioned, was truly a gift.” - I Used to Be Sam
Though ‘Mountains’ is rooted in the anger associated with these memories, it also centres hope in its spare and affecting melodies. When I Used To Be Sam disassociates now, “I imagine mountains, they’re free and strong and open” and also represent the sense of grounding and foundation they feel they lack as an adopted person.
On April 20, 2022 - I Used to Be Sam shared their most poignant single to date - Chapter III ‘Seamstress.' Speaking of the track, I Used To Be Sam says, “I knew going into this process that one of the songs on this initial EP would be about my birth mother. Although there is so much more I want to say to her, and so much more I need to explore for myself, this is the song that needed to come first. Like the rest of the EP, I wrote Seamstress in the small bedroom studio of Novaa, the producer I’ve collaborated with for this whole project. We sat on the floor and talked and laughed, and slowly and naturally I began to talk about this very specific hurt that has been my companion throughout life - the rejection and re-rejection of my birth mother.”
“I’ve spent my life wondering about so much. Does she think about me? Can she remember my face? Do I look like her? Does she want to see me and meet me as much as I want to meet her? I got my answer and although it’s not what I wanted, “at least now I know”. As I said those words out loud the lyrics to the chorus were born. I created the music video with Jyri Passanen in a forest outside of Basel. It was really important to me that the song itself be more present in some ways than the visual. I didn’t want to sing directly into the camera much or have a strong narrative; but rather wanted the video to have a vagueness that could compliment the energy of Seamstress.”
At the beginning of the sprawling and folk-influenced track (which also references Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story of shame and redemption (The Scarlet Letter) the voice that opens the song is Goodchild’s own daughter. “I wanted to physically put my body in the music, almost as proof of my existence that was being denied,” they say. “I wanted to have proof that I’m not repeating the pattern. It felt healing in some ways.”
The release of the EP’s singles Gentle, Mountains, and Seamstress are the first of many chapters for I Used To Be Sam, it’s the mark of the artist making the bravest, freest and most confronting music of their prolific career. It’s also a vessel and safe-space to bring people with shared experiences together, and open up the narrative around transracial adoption. Since the birth of the project, I Used To Be Sam has struck up conversations with countless other transracial adoptees (TRAs) and sharing overlapping experiences informed the incredibly personal nature of I Used To Be Sam’s debut EP.