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Maya Hawke Covers Samia’s "Honey"

On “Honey,” the titular track of her sophomore album released via Grand Jury Music this past January, 26-year-old singer-songwriter Samia belts with pure intention her desire to die on the beach. “I’m not scared of sharks/I’m not scared to be naked/I’m not scared of anything,” she sings over an upbeat pop-synth beat, injecting a melancholy twang into otherwise Pollyanna lyrics. It’s exactly the sort of song that shows off the versatile voice and writing of the Los Angeles-born, New York native who decamped to Nashville, Tennessee in 2021 to join her boyfriend, fellow singer Briston Maroney, where she’s found a true sense of community.

It’s also the latest song to be covered by a string of buzzy artists for the Honey Reimagined series. First up was “Charm You,” covered by L.A. indie rocker Blondshell; for “Honey,” Samia called on Stranger Things’s Maya Hawke to put her own interpretation on the sweet song. Stripped of its bouncy guitar, Hawke’s version leans heavily on the haunting synth-organ sounds that are found elsewhere on the album, her voice crackling delicately on the catchy chorus.

“It’s an amazing thing when a favorite person writes a favorite song,” Hawke says of the cover. “I was honored to be asked to cover ‘Honey,’ and I wanted to bring out the sadness I felt behind the celebration.”

“When we were recording Honey for the album we added this ironic depth by turning what was originally a painful song into a kind of campfire sing-along—big, bouncy guitars; a happy melody; that endless refrain,” Samia says. “So I was eager to hear what Maya would do with it. Surprisingly, she stripped all of the campfire away. In her version, you can hear every bit of the desperation in the spare production.”

Hawke’s instinct to strip down “Honey” to its sparsest elements is proof of concept to Samia’s appeal. Her music is exactly the kind of song you find yourself humming on the train or singing with friends in the car, with the kind of confessional lyrics that are so specific in their grievances they end up being universal.

The daughter of two creatives—actor and singer Dan Finnerty and the legendary actress Kathy Najimy—Samia grew up ensconced in the performing arts. “I was raised around people in the entertainment industry almost exclusively, so I just thought that’s what people did,” Samia tells W. While both she and her parents loved listening to musical theater soundtracks, Samia fell in love with poetry early on in her childhood—and got into the transparent angst of artists like Nirvana, Daniel Johnston, and The National. “I had a love for singing and a real passion for poetry, and I had to find a way to marry those two things.”

On Honey as well as previous work—like the 2021 EP Scout—Samia flexes those writing skills. Her voice is rich, vibrant, and at times heartbreaking, but it’s her lyrics that find their way to the core. As she’s evolved as an artist, she’s moved toward writing with even more directness. “I have a tendency and an inclination to write in a poetic code, so I tried as an exercise to not do that with this record and see if it felt natural,” she says. Moving to Nashville, where there is a tradition of songwriters “speaking pretty literally and conversationally” with their fair share of punchlines, has led Samia to adopt that style of writing. As a result, she’s created songs like album opener “Kill Her Freak Out,” where Samia spells out with devastating clarity—and a bit of tongue-in-cheek hyperbole—the rite of passage of finding out an old ex has moved on.

With her debut album The Baby having dropped mid-pandemic, Samia is still getting to know her burgeoning bevy of fans in real time. Earlier this year, she supported Maggie Rogers on a slew of dates, and continues to perform solo shows live around the country. I remember seeing the artist perform at a Brooklyn Steel show in 2018—even then, the crowd knew every word to her songs.

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