Get ready to go back to the heydays of late 80s and early 90s, Sam Huber is back with his new single “NY#1”, a very odd yet interesting track that pays tribute in a very 90s pop infused song that reminds us right away to acts such as Right Said Fred and C+C Music Factory.
The first time you experience Helsinki-born Sam Huber’s music, you hear nostalgic references to legends like Bowie and Prince mixed with the contemporary beats of hip-hop, soul and funk—it’s a modern urban hybrid that refuses to fit neatly into any box. Discovery has always been at the forefront of this singer-songwriter and bandleader’s genre-defying, fearlessly experimental musical approach. And it’s this same spirit of discovery that has finally led him to the U.S. to expand and redefine his sound.
“The elements have always been here,” Huber explains in flawless English that’s colored subtly by his Nordic lilt. “But it’s like the Legos I played with as a kid—the excitement is in finding new ways to combine those elements.”
From bringing in a banjo or vocally channeling Peter Gabriel in a funk context, Huber strives to create something fresh, to blaze his own path. The result is a fusion of R&B, rock, New Wave, hip-hop, soul and funk unafraid to turn its back on mainstream trends. Whether you call it Future Funk, Trap Funk or Electro Funk, just know that it’s always danceable.
As lead singer and keyboardist for his seven-piece funk collective the Eternal Erection, Huber’s soulful sound and explosive performances have helped make the band a Finnish institution for the last 20-plus years. His high-energy charisma makes audiences jump to their feet while his deep, dynamic voice radiates a vulnerability that is both engaging and electrifying.
Huber has toured all over the world, from Moscow to Havana, and has shared bills with the legendary George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. He’s played for crowds of 60,000-plus, and performed at the closing ceremony of the 2005 World Championship of Track & Field. And you can find a clip on YouTube of Conan O’Brien playfully bantering with Sam during a red-carpet gig welcoming the famed latenight host and comedian on his first visit to Finland.
This eclectic clash of experiences and influences is the backbone of Huber’s new solo project. His music channels American soul masters like Larry Graham and Al Green while paying homage to his European roots, New Wave and punk coalescing into a harmonious blend that evokes a raw and brutal energy. Working with True Groove Records founder and internationally renowned producer Tomás Doncker (who was credited by CNN with creating new genre global soul), Huber was constantly challenged as a musician, performer and artist.
The result is an authentic, spontaneous sound that is at once retro and contemporary. The first single, “Turn Around” (also the title track of Huber’s forthcoming True Groove EP), is an exploration of good vs. evil set to a heavy trap rhythm. Inspired by the 2016 American presidential election, Huber embodies an oppressive tyrant as he shouts, “I don’t care about the consequences / I’m the meanest SOB on the planet / It feels so good when I shake you down.” The ‘good’ is represented by a gospel refrain pleading that “we need to change.” JSwiss is featured along with a guitar solo from former Parliament Funkadelic guitarist Michael Hampton.
Huber also recorded a live version of “Turn Around” recently at famed live-session blog Daytrotter. The outlet’s off-the-cuff approach only allowed Huber one or two takes, which was just fine with him. “It’s like combining a live stage performance with making an album,” Huber explains. “Warts and all, it’s right there for people to hear.”
Huber’s aversion to confining himself to a static sound comes from his wide-ranging musical background. His mother was key in broadening his taste at an early age by exposing him to The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Miles Davis and many others. Huber also studied classical piano for nearly a decade and plays guitar, bass, drums, keys, harmonica and saxophone.
In addition to the Eternal Erection, Huber is also the founder of electro duo ELK and a frequent collaborator with jazz band Aulanko, rock band Cheese, and ethnic jazz band Pipoka, he’s been a composer for theater and television, and is also an accomplished actor, having won Finnish “Oscar,” the Jussi award.
Huber’s first visit to New York City was in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks. Somewhere in the midst of the country’s collective despair, he found a second home. Funk is a small subculture in Helsinki, but in New York the possibilities seemed endless. Huber began planning and dreaming, slowly gaining the momentum and courage to make his current the leap across the pond.
Huber is already putting his newfound energy to good use, and the Turn Around EP is just the beginning. He’s currently revving up to make a full-length with Doncker, has been shooting videos with director Dylan Mars Greenberg (of Troma Films) and will be heading playing live shows in the U.S. soon.
Whether in Helsinki, New York or Havana, Huber’s ambition and passion for music is undeniable, as is his devotion to a universal sound that transcends boundaries, boxes and genres.