I can’t remember where I was when I first heard DJ Dodger Stadium’s triumphant, solitary house track “Love Songs,” but I do know it was lodged in my brain from that moment on. Tom named their debut record, Friend Of Mine, the Album Of The Week when it came out last summer, and “Love Songs” exemplified the record’s strengths. The track’s stuttering, metallic production and gospel vocal sample make it sound like someone is using a power drill to wrench the roof off a choir rave — it sounded futuristic and ancient at the same time. This is exactly the kind of unlikely and inventive juxtapositions that Body High label-head Sam Griesemer employs on his solo debut as Samo Sound Boy, Begging Please. It’s a dance music record modeled after Marvin Gaye’s boundless break-up classic Here, My Dear, an album that attempts to grapple with the full experience of falling in and out of love in a holistic sense without really using any lyrics to tell the story.
Griesemer crafted his new record without the other half of DJ Dodger Stadium, Jerome LOL, due in large part to how personal it is. From start to finish, Begging Please rolls through the ecstatic, child-like thrill of loving every bit of someone, plummets into the pit of a relationship unraveling, and chronicles the bitter, terrible process of disentangling your heart. Amid timeless soul samples, jittery beats, and vaporous synths, Griesemer has created an album that slowly turns on you, sucking you into his sense of loss like the inevitable pull of a whirlpool. To accompany the record, we’re premiering a trilogy of videos shot by Body High collaborator and friend Daniel Pappas. The first one was for “Baby Don’t Stop” and covers gushy relationship beginnings. Today, we’re premiering “You Come For Me,” a much more complicated look at mid-relationship tension and all that entails. I also spoke with Sam about the story behind his vulnerable, heartbreak of a record and the creative process behind these intimate videos. Watch the video and read our conversation below.
STEROGUM: I wanted to start with how your album is modeled after Marvin Gaye. From the first time you encountered Here, My Dear till now, how has your relationship with it changed? When did you reach the point where you thought you wanted to shape your own album after it?
SAM GRIESEMER: I first found out about it from a friend’s older brother about five years ago or so, but I’ve gone back to it a lot since. I think I had to get older to really appreciate it. Basically, [Gaye] was getting sued for not paying child support, and his ex-wife was going to get half the proceeds for his next album. So he was going to just phone it in and decided to write the entire album about her. But after he started making it, he couldn’t just phone it in. He said it was one of those things where he sang and sang until everything was off his chest and he made peace with it. Everyone says that it’s the most amazing breakup album of all time, and it’s definitely about them breaking up, but it starts with him meeting her and it’s the whole thing — not just the break up. That was something that I thought about with my album, that even though I wrote it after getting out of this relationship, it wasn’t just about that. It’s the whole thing. It’s all the feelings from the beginning to the end.
STEROGUM: It’s fascinating that you’re emulating a classic soul album using the genre of electronic music. But then again, there are tons of soul samples sprinkled in here. That’s what initially drew me to DJ Dodger Stadium, all the soul embedded in it, and there’s a lot of that on Begging Please, too. When did you start incorporating those sounds into your music?
SAM GRIESEMER: I’ve always been really interested in stuff that’s a little bit out of time. In stuff that’s hard to place, whether it’s brand new or coming from a long time ago. I just look for sounds and samples like that for the voices I use. I always want to make sure it’s a little difficult to pin down exactly where and when it’s coming from. I think the more subtle part of that is the synths and the drums and stuff — the stuff we use as DJ Dodger Stadium and the stuff I use isn’t really coming from a certain era.
STEROGUM: For your album, the title Begging Please suggests a different tone than Here, My Dear. Gaye’s title is resigned, but Begging Please suggests that you’re still in it, pleading for it. Why did you settle on that as the title?
SAM GRIESEMER: Because it’s not exactly about something ending, but about the whole thing. The album’s about love, and with love, if it’s the real thing — whether it’s coming and you’re falling in love or it’s leaving and you’re breaking it up — it’s too powerful to try to stop or get in the way of. You have to let it wash over you one way or another. I wanted the title to reflect that, the loss of control over what’s happening and what you’re feeling.
STEROGUM: When did you decide that you wanted to make it clear that it was a straightforward break-up album?
GRIESEMER: I just wanted to get it off my chest. A lot of electronic music can be more abstract in concept or referencing different eras and different ideas. It was really interesting for me to try to figure out how I could use my sound in the electronic world and do something that was very direct, straightforward, and honest. I wanted to figure out how to tell this story through my own sound. It’s different because it’s not actually me — there’s records like this but they usually involve someone singing.
STEREOGUM: There are usually lyrics.
GRIESEMER: Yeah, exactly. That’s not what I do, so I wanted to figure out how to do that in my own way. It’s funny, I thought about keeping it more under the radar, but it’s important to to keep everything on it really, really personal. A lot of that has to do with the fact I’m putting it out on Body High, which is my own label, and it all just kind of made sense to me. The entire thing is really direct and reflective of myself, and what I’ve been working on with my sound and with my label the last four years.
STEREOGUM: Since we’re premiering all the videos, let’s talk about those.
GRIESEMER: The videos were all done by a good friend of mine, this guy Daniel Pappas, who also directed the DJ Dodger Stadium ones. With both of these video projects, we wanted to do it ourselves, we wanted to reflect this stuff within our independent label budget and do something that could pick up a lot of real life and unscripted stuff. With these videos, we set them all in places that we’ve been, and Dan just shot them on an iPhone. The girl in the video is Natalie Love, and she’s his girlfriend, which was really cool because they could just go to these spots and he could just film her. Since it was just the two of them, it was very unobtrusive to whatever else was going on, so they pick up all of this natural life in the background. Then the fact that that’s his serious girlfriend, so they know each other really well, is what made it feel so natural.
STEREOGUM: This is really impactful to watch if you’ve ever broken up with someone. Watching her go through these emotions from the opposite perspective was really insane for me, I started crying watching it. I know how painful it is to be yourself in a failing relationship, or sensing that love is leaving, but because of the perspective of the video, I also realized how much it hurts to watch someone that you love also go through that pain. I hadn’t really been thinking about it in that way. But as a woman, watching the girl go through those emotions was almost like an out-of-body — this is what it’s like to be on the other side of this.
GRIESEMER: It’s funny that you say that, because when Dan and I were trying to come up with the concept he was somewhere with Natalie, and I think they were on a trip or something. They were in a hotel and he was listening to the songs on his laptop and she started crying a lot, and he told me that and I think that kind of helped guide what we actually did with the videos and stuff. So it’s all coming from real life.
STEROGUM: I don’t know if you even would’ve had say directly this is a breakup album about love and loss and how the whole experience. I almost don’t even need you to tell me that if I listen to it. It’s like, yeah, of course it is.
GRIESEMER: It’s funny that you say that too, because we thought about how explicit we were going to be presenting this to people. But for me it came down to the way that we have run the label and handled all the Body High stuff: we are trying to push the envelope, do new stuff that people haven’t seen and release music that doesn’t sound like anything anyone’s ever heard. But we’re always trying to be really conscious of the idea that it’s not exclusive. If someone asks what a track is that we’re playing on a radio show or something, we always tell them. There’s kind of been a vibe in DJ culture where you have to keep things secret and you have certain tracks that no one else knows. So I figured I could keep this more abstract but I think I wanted to be pretty direct with. One thing about Body High and our general attitude is if you’re interested in this and into it then we’re down to fill you in, show you what we’re doing, and have you be a part of it.
Begging Please is out 4/28 via Body High. Pre-order it here.