Little gestures go a long way. Finding people who believe in you should be cherished especially in the music industry. There are countless of other dreamers out there that don’t get the same opportunities so make sure you cherish when others help you move forward and remind them that they are appreciated. Send handwritten cards, send them small thank you gifts, whatever you can to return the love. It goes a very very long way!
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing singer-songwriter Sammy Arriaga. His new song “Something We Can Dance To” is available now! The upbeat track seamlessly blends Arriaga’s influences — a fusion of country, pop, Latin and rap. He has also joined forces with other rising Nashville influencers/musicians to form The 615 House, who chronicle their collaborations on Instagram and TikTok.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born in the city of Hialeah in South FL. Being an only child growing up, I lived with both my grandma and my mom. My dad would pick me up and spend time with me every weekend. Although I really loved music as a kid, I actually didn’t play or write much music myself. I was really into sports, I played baseball and basketball. It wasn’t until middle school that I really discovered my voice and my passion for lyric writing.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
My true love for music really ignited in middle school. I used to write rap and different kinds of poetry. In 8th grade I picked up the guitar and for the first time and taught myself by watching YouTube videos and practicing everyday. I won’t lie, I had a small crush in middle school that also motivated me to learn her favorite Spanish ballad, which I sang to her nervously in the lunchroom one spontaneous afternoon! According to my dad, my grandfather Renè Arriaga had the golden voice of the family before me. I get my voice from him and my love for singing. He was titled the king of karaoke back in Cuba!
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
One of my most interesting stories was when I moved to LA in 2017 and shortly after was invited to a private event in Malibu by my friend Perez. I was the brokest I had ever been. I didn’t even have enough to get groceries that day. But all that aside, I went and had the night of my life. I believe they only had 60 guests join and some of the guests included Neil Patrick Harris, Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian and even Ed Sheeran! No one there even knew what I was going through and everyone treated me as equal. It was an unreal feeling being able to relate with some of idols on such a personal level. It will forever serve as an inspiration to continue to work hard. The power of communication is everything!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Funniest mistake I made when I first started was during my first talent show and not making sure my wireless mic had fresh batteries. Mid performance, my mic completely shut off and no one around, even the stage crew, didn’t have any extra batteries. So I proceeded to sing to the audience in acapella. Be prepared kids and always bring extra strings, batteries, guitar picks, etc. You just never know!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m really excited to be working on so many cool new projects lately. I just released my new single “Something We Can Dance To” on August 28th. We also shot the official music video for it as well which I can’t wait for everyone to see. We shot it out in Ashland City, TN and my friends Dylan Rucker and Daniel Vortlet helped direct it with me. I had singers Charlotte Sands and Ollie Joseph, who are featured on the song, fly in to be in the video as well so that was really fun! Another cool project that my friend Ashley Cooke and Chris Ruediger started is called the 615 House. It’s an influencer-group put together here in Nashville, TN at the East Ivy Mansion. It’s almost like a reimagination of the Hype House in LA. We spend a week at this place making music, shooting videos for the socials and collab with other musicians around the world. The reaction on it has been mind blowing. I’m grateful to be a part of it!
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in music? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Having diversity represented music is very important to me especially since I’m a country artist of Hispanic descent. When I think of the term Country, I think of the US. When I think of the US, I think of diversity and opportunity for all. I believe music should appeal to all cultures and relate to everyone regardless of what they look like or where they’re from. When I play shows, my goal is to make every fan or listener happy. I strongly believe music helps us all come together. I’ve seen it for myself at music festivals. When everybody is simultaneously singing at the top of their lungs, there are no barriers. That’s important to me.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Be patient. The music industry is rarely an overnight thing. One must constantly practice their instrument, endlessly write, network like a mad man and be prepared for rejection. I moved to Nashville in 2011 and I didn’t start seeing any reaction from the industry itself until about 4–5 years in. A lot of it is about who you know and the vibe you put out to the town. You got to make people want to genuinely work with you based on your drive and your attitude. I personally have taken meetings with prominent figures at labels and publishing companies but I wasn’t prepared with the best songs I could’ve presented. I was in such a rush to win and move forward that I didn’t realize that the most important tool wasn’t a finished result yet. Stay patient until you know 100% in your heart that you got something that’s undeniable.
- Be prepared to sing for no one in the crowd. I once played a show in Pennsylvania with my band. I remember the sound engineer mentioning something about the State Fair happening that same weekend and that most people in the area may go there instead. Turns out, everyone went to the state fair and we ended up performing half of our set time to only the sound guy, the bartenders and a couple strangers. It was definitely disheartening but it also made for a good laugh with the band and a learning lesson to always perform at our A game no matter how many people show up. You just never know.
- Collaborate with as many other musicians as you can. The more connections you have and the more good impressions you leave to the community, the easier it’ll be to smoothly move forward and find success. People love working with other driven and talented people. So make sure to keep all your doors open and take every opportunity. I’ve written some of my favorite, strongest songs with other new writers I never thought I’d write well with. One doesn’t have to work with those with the most credits. Go with those that allow you to be YOU the most and that allow you to speak your mind without hesitation.
- Sleep a lot. Your body is your temple. Especially if you sing and perform often if you have to take self care seriously.
- Little gestures go a long way. Finding people who believe in you should be cherished especially in the music industry. There are countless of other dreamers out there that don’t get the same opportunities so make sure you cherish when others help you move forward and remind them that they are appreciated. Send handwritten cards, send them small thank you gifts, whatever you can to return the love. It goes a very very long way!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Some tips I recommend to my colleagues in this industry would be to never stop writing. Continue to find new paths that’ll allow you to hit new fan bases and expand your outreach but also don’t be afraid to take a break to refill the inspiration well. Some of us tend to overwork and overwrite, causing a lack of quality. Take a step back for a day or two, even a week if needed to come up with new sounds, titles, song ideas, etc. You’ll be glad you did and it will only make whatever you create sound better. Breaks also help you to have a calmer mind. You want to make sure you approach people in a good state of mind before anything. Always show up with your best game face, composed and ready to go.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could inspire any sort of movement, it would definitely be something related to music. I’ve noticed that music always breaks down so many barriers such as race, gender, and money. Everyone comes together as one in the moment. I’d love to host of a benefit concert one day very similar to the 1985 Live Aid — one of my favorite all-time shows and for such a good cause. With music being the language of the world, I feel like that kind of movement can reach the most amount of hearts out there, truly.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Someone who really helped me kick start my journey in Nashville was a man named Monty Powell. We actually met back in 2010 on Facebook. I knew I wanted to move to Nashville so I tried finding ways of connecting with locals there before I made the long trip. One trick I found was to dig through CD booklets and take everyone’s names in the music credits and type them into Facebook and if I found their profile, I would friend request them and send them a private message with a small description of myself along with a song. One of those people was Monty. Monty is a Grammy nominated songwriter best known for his successful songs with Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, etc. All artists that inspired me to chase my country music dream. He took the time to listen to what I sent him and luckily saw some potential. He encouraged me to take a trip to Nashville and told me he’d connect me with a few influential people to get the ball rolling. Since I’m one with the wind and was just starting university, I unenrolled myself shortly after, packed up my car and made the long trip with no idea where I was even sleeping. From that point on, Monty helped with writing sessions, meetings with labels and other companies, and so on. I truly owe that man so much. I don’t know how my journey would look today if it wasn’t for him giving me that initial catapult. A blessing indeed.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
A life lesson quote that I live by is “Walk Your Own Path.” We all have purpose on earth and we were all born with our own talents. That quote means so much to me especially since I’m pursuing a role of being a Hispanic in Country Music, which is not something you commonly see in the genre. Everyone sees success at different times and in different shapes and sizes. Never allow death by comparison to swoop in. Stay in your own lane and continue to work nonstop. Think about this — in the time you spend comparing yourself to others, those others are still continuing to win and you’re losing time leading to even more failure. Use that time and effort wisely and apply to what you’re working on. I promise you, it will pay off.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
If I were to have a private lunch with anyone, it would probably be Dwayne Johnson AKA The Rock! I’ve been a fan of his since back in his wrestling days and I’ve always admired him and his character. He’s one of my biggest inspirations and I also admire the father figure he is. Every time I see something of his come up on my feed, I always watch it. He never fails to spread motivation and to set a good example. I strive to be as well spoken as he is and to become as successful as him one day. I would love to pick his brain about so many things but he definitely is at the top of my list.
How can our readers follow you online?
If you’d like to find me online, you can visit my website www.sammyarriaga.com. I have all my information there including music, videos, socials, etc. I would love to meet you and answer any other questions you may have! Can’t wait to hear from you!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!