Beats by Dr. Dre’s latest video series, Beat x Beat, provides a look behind the studio door, revealing how some of the world’s most influential artists created their songs. Their latest episode is with Zambian-born and Melbourne-based artist—and recent ARIA award winner—Sampa the Great. Sampa and her producer Silent Jay break down how they created her recent hit track ‘Final Form’ and discuss its themes of identity and home. Catch the video below and subscribe to the Beats by Dre YouTube channel to check out more from the Beat x Beat series.
Talk us through the process of creating your Beat x Beat episode with Apple. Did deconstructing how ‘Final Form’ was made and the story behind it give you a new appreciation for the song?
The Beat x Beat episode came through quite naturally. It helped to be in the place where the majority of the ideas and foundations of the album were made and with the person they were made with—Silent J at his studio in his family home. The song ‘Final Form’ will always reveal and peel back layers of itself, but even more so after the Beat x Beat interview. So, I will always be re-inspired by it and have a new appreciation for it.
What does the phrase ‘final form’ mean to you? Do you think we ever reach our final form as humans, or are we constantly evolving and trying to reach our final form?
I do think we reach our final form as human beings, because we don’t remain human forever. I hope though to constantly grow into the greatest version of myself, which is my final form.
I’ve read that you were nervous to perform your new music to audiences in Africa earlier this year. How did you find the experience? Did audiences respond the way you anticipated?
I was nervous to perform and it’s a lot to do with the level of importance. The most important thing to me is my home, my people, and our stories. When things are of that level of importance it just means more to you and that’s where the nerves came from.
How did you and Silent Jay first meet?
We first officially met when I was introduced to him by our mutual friend Remi. But I had seen him perform a show in Sydney and had later supported the music group he was part of (Hiatus Kaiyote) and introduced myself then as well.
The concept of home is something you’ve explored a lot through your music, particularly on The Return. Do you think that home is more of a feeling than a geographical place? When do you feel most at home?
I definitely think home can be both and more! My aim was not to give the definition of home but rather—in retrospect—try to give the feeling of a lack of one. The importance of home and a sense of belonging for humans and how closely tied it is to our identities was what was explored. Most at home for me would be the place I do not have to fight to be myself in and that’s the place and space that I was raised in. Geographically speaking both Zambia and Botswana hold that space.
You’ve been heavy on the touring schedule lately. Is there a performance that stands out in recent memory as being particularly memorable?
Recently we did a Melbourne performance that involved basically my whole second family on this side of the world. I think it’s always a joy to see when your life has changed through your families eyes and also knowing you’re a part of a bigger picture and change happening in Australia.
You can show someone who’s never heard your music before only one song of your new album to give them a feel for what you’re about. Which song would you choose and why?
‘Don’t Give Up’. It’s the core of everything that makes up Sampa Tembo.