Well, I would like to begin by saying, “Welcome Back!!! – It’s an honor talking to you today. How have you been?”
I’ve been great! Its been a longggg time!!
There is no question that anyone who considers themselves a “fan” of freestyle and a devout listener knows who Samantha Gervasio is and what her role was in the industry. But for those who still may not know, tell us who you are and where did you hail from?
I am originally from South New Jersey. Born and raised in beautiful Medford till I was 15, where I went to St.Mary of the Lakes Grammar School and Shawnee high for a short time. My original name is Samantha Hamilton, but when I was on the label I used Samantha Gervasio (to honor my grandparents on my moms side, who greatly supported my musical talents growing up). Samantha White was a name made up by Hott Records , when they were distributing us..long story! lol
So, it’s our understanding that you started at a very young age singing. What/who inspired you to be an artist?
Ive been singing since I was a toddler. I was always attracted to music and grew up singing all the main parts in plays and winning talent shows. I never did it for anyone other than myself. Its just something that gave me satisfaction. I never looked for anyone to be impressed by me, I never did it to show off….singing took me away from everything, took my mind off everything; it was like meditation for me. I just loved it. My mom always built up my self asteem and pushed me to sing more, and also My religion/math teacher from St.Marys. Her name is Mrs. Hee. She saw I had talent and she probably is the biggest inspiration in my life, and she doesnt even know it. She pulled me through a difficult time, growing up, and kept me busy singing in shows/musicals/ and church. She is the person who taught me to keep going.
Was freestyle always your choice of music or was it a calling that found you?
I know people are not going to like this answer,,but anyone that knows me, knows I say it like it is…no freestyle was not my choice of music. Although I listened to it, I also listened to many other types of music. I got into freestyle because of Bobby Delante. He heard I was a good singer, and after hearing me sing – he wrote, “Be Sure” and asked me to sing it. I put my style to it, and I sung it with high, strong notes. Originally, it was not to be sung like that. Dont get me wrong, I love freestyle music, but the honest reason why I got into it, was because Bobby got me a foot in the door by showing Taz “Be Sure”, they loved it, and signed me..therefor i took it at a very young age…because it came quite easily, and I hoped for it to get me into the direction I wouldve like to have gone in..after time, I realized I did have a good voice for freestyle,,,I had a strong voice, which was good for freestyle..but in my heart I always saw myself going into a different direction – alternative or pop.
So, what led you to be signed at the age of 16 with the legendary Tazmania label? How did that come about?
Bobby Delante heard through a friend, that I had a good voice/look for the music industry. He got in touch with me, and asked me to do an audition for him. I wasnt even looking at the time, being that I was in high school, and it wasnt even a thought in my head. He really liked my voice, and wrote “Be Sure” for me, and he did all the production. Hes great..hes so talented, people dont even know how really talented he is….anyway, Taz liked “Be Sure”, they signed it and released it on Taz 3..and people loved it..thats how I got started. I really had no experience in the industry, not singing wise or dancing..I am and definately was, a white girl! lol. (My dancers can back me up on that one!lol)
Give us a brief description of the life of a Tazmania artist. How was road life and hanging with all of your fellow label mates? According to your myspace, it was a very special time in your life. Please do share.
Being an artist, was of course, exciting..come on, I was 16 years old and was doing very well in the industry, so fast. Getting dance routines down was difficult for me , because as I said,, I was definately a white girl lol. Doing shows was a lot of fun, but it came with a lot of frustrating practices and hard work,..my dancers are and were the best. They made up all the dance routines and taught the moves to me. Traveling and meeting new people/ and fans and seeing new places was great. My favorite shows were the ones I did with my label mates. – Being there, with us all sharing the very same moment and memory, experiencing that new way of life and going through it together was really comforting, and we were all a very close family. Including the producers of taz, like , Anthony Ponzio and Mike Ferullo.Many people in the industry became good friends of mine, and alot of them were fake also…But the really good ones, I still talk to.
You are known as one of Taz’s recognizable artists with hits like “Time,” “Be Sure,” “Take Me,” “My Baby,” and the list goes on and on. Out of all of your tracks, what specific one stands out as one your favorites or that at least has a special meaning to you?
Hmmm, thats a hard one. I have to admit that my favorite one to sing is “Take Me”..I just really enjoy the high strong notes, and although Hector from Pain, and Soniya wrote it,..I felt what they were saying in the song..and I really tried to get that expression out, the way they would have wanted it to be, and the way I felt it to be. “Be Sure” I’ll always love because it got me started and It was the first song, in that point of time to come out with the saxaphone sound..after that everyone started biting off of the sound..lol! “Time” was written for an ex boyfriend , that had to go away to Hong Kong, for a very long time. I missed him and it was a difficult time waiting for him for so long. I wrote that song out of love and frustration. “Reflections” was a difficult song for me to sing. I wrote that song about my uncle that had just passed away , that was like a father to me. That song is completely inspired by him. At the time I had also broken up with my long time boyfriend, Mykl Astorga, from Pure Pleazure; so I was very depressed …. a very small part of “Reflections” was inspired by him. I’d have to say “Reflections” marked an end of a chapter in my life, it was a farewell to my lovely Uncle, and to Mykl, in a very loving/devoted and sad way. I also did 3 duets on Tazmania. All of them are my favorite songs to sing, also, because I just love the “in love” feeling that they bring. Everyone loves to hear a song that shows two people, deeply in love with one another, and what better way to express it, than in a song , singing to one another!
You made some duets during your stint at Tazmania. Please share with us those tracks and the artists you worked with. How was to work with them?
Working with all of them was great! and easy! They are all so loving and easy going, that they made it a wonderful experience! I have a deep love for all of them! Well Im not sure if most people know this, but me and Joe Zangie have a great chemistry together! Joe is so sweet and loving! He is just a happy person to be around..so when he asked me to sing “My Baby”, which he wrote, of course I was going to say, Hell yea! What better way to let everyone know how close we are, than with a song titled “MY BABY”! Me and Joe are super close, and always will be! I also did a song “I’ll Remember You” , with Taz artist Justin Vincent. We put this song out before Joe and I’s song. I always loved Atlantic Star, so I asked Justin to remake that song with me , because he also loved that song. We worked well together and Justin and I were really great friends at the time..I loved that song!! Bobby Delante started the group “Blue Diamond” and asked me to sing a remake of the song”I know you Love me”..so of course I did! I loved his remixes of the song..love everything about Bobby and how he produces..I would never turn down work for Bobby. Like I mentioned before..no one really knows how much talent that guy really has! He is AWESOME!
A few have argued that the labels of the “new” school movement like Tazmania, Gecko, Luna, Metropolitan and a few others where “cookie” cutter labels that just arranged quick beats with an “average” individual singing over them for the sake of putting out compilations on a monthly basis. How much is that true in your opinion?
Once again, Im gonna be honest. A LOT of it is true..on our part..not on the artists part, but on people such as Pete Cerone..owner of Tazmania..who in my opinion caused it to go bankrupt. We were putting out GREAT ARTISTS AND GREAT SONGS for a long time..but he got greedy..and started putting out too much, too soon..not allowing some of the great artists, that were on the break of really making it, develope. No offense against some of these artists, but at the end, they found some really horrible artists on our label, I really dont care if they like this or not but some of them really sucked and could not sing..the production went down as well. It seemed at one point they were just putting out anybody, with any song..and the label got sloppy. I think it was at that point that the good artists got frustrated. At the end, I was glad to get off of Taz. It lost its place in the industry, and in my opinion, it had no business being in the industry anymore. My mother always says “Haste Makes Waste”..and thats what happened. Tazmania should have focused more on its great artists, and put the time and investments into them – but instead they caused their own demise.
Did you take part in any of the writing process of your songs and how much input did you have in them?
Time was completely written by ME, why they put Mykl Astorga as a writer of it, I have no idea…he only had to do with the production, NOT the writing, which pissed me off. I also wrote Reflections, as I mentioned earlier. There may be more, but there are so many songs, to be honest, I can’t remember which others I may have written a small part of. But I definately was the sole write of “Time” and “Reflections”.
On your MySpace you make mention of 2 individuals that at least to me were very influential figures of the “New” school movement. You credit Rob Federicci and Mykl Astorga of Pure Pleazure for inspiring and leading you in the right direction. It’s rare to find the producers and artists that truly made a difference to others. Please share your thoughts on them.
Rob Federicci, owner of the Polygon recording studio, is just an all around AWESOME guy! He is talented in every which way, you name it, he can do it. Hes a fantastic producer/ co-producer! Robs a hard working dude. He was always up at all hours, doing so many different types of projects with so many different kinds of artists back then..I dont know how he handled it all! But he always did it was a smile..that guy was never moody..he was always a pleasure to be around. Mykl Astorga is great to work with because he is also so talented. That kid puts so much HEART into his music, and thats what makes him great! He doesnt write to make other people happy..he writes after experience and whats in his heart. Thats what drives him, and thats what inspired me! He is a beautiful person with a deep heart.
There was also another label mate that appears to have a special place in your heart. Tell us about Joe Zangie?
Joe Zangie continued to be a great friend of mine, from Taz. Joe was always fun to be with. He took his shows seriously and was/is a hard worker, in the industry! Hes always smiling, laughing and joking! He has a huge heart and I love everything about him! Hes very talented and he has grown into a very intelligent, beautiful artist and person. I love Joe!! He’ll always be “My Baby”!!!!
Will you guys ever team up for another go around and give the freestyle community a long awaited treat? (Joe is listening!! – I will make sure of it)
That could certainly be possible..anythings possible! If Joe asked me, of course I’d have to!
I have asked this from some of my past interviewees who came from the Tazmania camp and other labels who came out real strong and went real quick in the industry. What in your opinion was the demise of Tazmania? Some have speculated that the artists walked out because of bad business dealings and some say that its time had just simply passed by. What is your take?
It was a combination of both. Tazmania should have put more focus on the great artists, that were taking off. Instead, they got greedy and wanted to keep pumping out artists,,but in the end Taz sounded unprofessional and sloppy. I, and others were disgusted by it. Not only that, but they went bankrupt and screwed over all the artists , which was a real shame, and slap in the face,,,,I mainly point the finger at Pete Cerone – not Anthony Ponzio or Mike Ferullo..they were the good guys. ..Sorry to say it Pete. Taz had a real chance to make it big in the industry, but they pushed the “TALENTED” artists to the side..and ruined it for the artists and themselves.
During your years at Tazmania, how many total tracks did you put out?
10 that I can think of..there may be more…Be Sure, Time, Open Up Your Heart, Since Your Gone, Reflections, Take Me, Show Me the Way, I Know You Love Me, My Baby, I’ll Remember You.
Why didn’t your label push for a “debut” album from Samantha G? To me at least, it was apparent that you had enough songs to do one. Was it more political or was it just not the right time for you?
I dont know why they didnt. Like I mentioned before, instead of concentrating on the good artists, they were putting their time and money into other things. There were a few others on the label that also deserved albums, but they did not get one either.
So after Tazmania, what did you do? Did you change careers and settle down with a family life? Give us the 411.
After Tazmania, I wanted a break. With the way things ended on Taz, I was frustrated. I found there to be a lot of fake people in the industry and a lot of cut throat people. The people I mentioned on my myspace are all the people I LOVE from the industry..but to be honest…its not the lifestyle for me, not anymore. I love the fans, I love the friends I made…but my biggest fan is my daughter…the biggest fans you’ll ever have , are the ones that live under your roof, and in your family tree…and that “COMPLETES” me. I dont want to be famous, I dont want to fly all over, no offense to all the fans..I dont want to go all over the world looking for people to like me, when i can come home from a regular job i have, that i love, to a HOME, where my family loves me. Thats enough for me. I dont care about the money, I dont care about fame,,,I’ve never been that person. Im laid back and family oriented. When I hear what all these famous girls go through in the industry, I’m glad to be where Im at in my life..to be honest..doing shows on stage, I always felt like it was fake..I felt like an “act”…I felt like fans looked at me like I was this “Great, Special” person..I wasnt…I was and am, just like them! …I’ve been married and with the same person for 10 years. We have a 4 year old daughter, Alana. My husband owns a few Surf Shops here, in Florida and I am in Radiology. We are a laid back family, and mostly what we do is surf together, and take our daughter skateboarding. I love my family and wouldnt exchange it for anything! lol
It seems that recently in the past 3 years or so, there has been a huge resurgence of freestyle venues all over the US. The old school artists are more in demand than ever and many of the new school artists are coming back with new music. Miguel Reyes , Pain, and Joe Zangie all have new released material. I was taking to Jose of Pure Pleazure and heard new tracks that he has been working on…so the demand is coming back and the want of artists is back as well. What can we expect from Samantha G? Do you have any desire for a “full” return?
I do not have any plans in the future for a full return. I may put out a song or two, here or there, but my dedication, lies with my family.
Do you ever catch freestyle shows in the Florida area?
I havnet seen a freestyle show in a very long time…I live very far away from any kind of venue and I am very busy with my career and family. But I do plan of visiting the freestyle music awards this year to see some shows and catch up with old friends!
Do you listen to the Old School Freestyle or are you into more the newer freestyle?
I mainly listen to the old school freestyle.
Looking back throughout your career, is there one thing you have taken out of the freestyle industry?
Know the industry. Be smart and watch your back
Where can your fans find you or contact you? Do you have a myspace, email or website you would like to share?
Yes. Listed as either Samantha Gervasio or Samantha White..You can find me on myspace at: http://www.myspace.com/quotsamanthagervasioquot
Samantha, it was a true pleasure in talking with you today, is there something you would like to share that we didn’t cover or a message you would like to share with your fans?
I would love to thank all of the fans, for making us who we were and are! I send my love to everyone!!!
Well, on behalf of myself and my partner in crime, Mario, we want to thank you for your time and sharing with the Freestyle Nation a little bit of history. We hope to see you out there performing and singing again. Whatever you do in your career, FreestyleMania is here to help promote and shout to the world that Samantha Gervasio is back full in affect!!! Until then, we wish you well with our family and much luv…PEACE