If you ever doubted that a weekend hobby could become a full-time job (that still maintains all the excitement of a weekend hobby), you haven't met SOSUPERSAM.
The 32-year-old DJ/recording artist may be pint-sized, but her R&B based 143 party (the catchy name is a throwback to the '90s pager code for "I love you") is larger-than-life. With notable pasts guests including Sisqo, Ginuwine, A-trak, Quest Love, and Shlomo, the Los Angeles-born, slow jam-and-cult-fave-fueled rager has ignited sizzling dance parties from coast-to-coast, with devout SOSUPERFANS in Honolulu, San Francisco, New York, Miami, and more locations on the horizon.
In addition to founding and hosting the renowned 143, SOSUPERSAM (real name: Samantha Duenas) has opened for Erykah Badu and Little Dragon, served up photoshoot soundtracks for A-list photographers and actors such as Annie Leibowitz, George Clooney, and Channing Tatum, and regularly spins for coveted clients including Soho House, Lena Dunham, Adidas, ESPN, and Rodarte. And did we mention she got her start as a backup dancer for Miley Cyrus and Vanessa Hudgens? We’re out of breath just typing about it.
A typical week for the globally sought-after DJ can include gigs in Bangkok, Thailand and Houston, Texas, which is why you may be surprised to discover that she recently rabbit-out-of-a-hatted the time to drop her debut EP “Garden” featuring six original tracks. Yup, you heard correctly, the turntable virtuoso can also sing (incredibly soulfully, we should mention). “What keeps me going is the notion that I can keep trying new things and exploring new ideas within my profession,” explains the ever-evolving multi-hyphenate, who credits quitting her day-job to pursue music full-time as her greatest career decision yet. “It's an absolutely vulnerable space, this side of the music business is completely unchartered territory for me, but at the same time thrilling! It keeps my career feeling fresh and challenging and exciting. There are no boundaries."
As a rising female star in a male-dominated industry, Duenas is undeterred — even empowered — by her gender, despite the skeptical looks she frequently fields from employees of Guitar Center. “Every day I set out to be the best DJ I can possibly be, for a man or a woman. Not just “good enough for a girl.” The mini-mogul, who is a member of the global Soulection collective, hopes to use her platform and status to inspire and support more women in music. “One of the most exciting parts of my job is hearing from other young women and being able to help them take the leap to following their own passions,” says Duenas, who cites Nike Style Director Meg Cuna and Yard Bird Restaurant Founder Lindsay Jang as her personal mentors and inspirations. “They are both extremely smart, creative business women who are down to earth and so funny. I hope to be a fraction of the business leaders that they are.” The way things are going, it’s safe to say she’s on the right track (but, isn't that her speciality?).
So, with a freshman EP under her belt, a dizzying tour schedule, and a global music empire to grow and oversee, what keeps this entrepreneur stay sane and grounded? “I’ve become better at recognizing what’s right or wrong for me and saying no to the things that don’t feel authentic,” explains Duenas, who swears by a cup of coffee, making her bed every morning, and free-writing in her journal (as well as yoga, boxing, cooking, and the New York Times crossword puzzle, when she can squeeze it in). “As a freelancer, it’s easy to stay on the clock 24/7. Over the years, I’ve become a better boss to myself. I’m learning how to unplug, to give myself days off and a vacation.”