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WPGM Commentary: I Used To Be Sam Emerges Out Of The Fog On ‘Mountains’

I’m I Used To Be Sam. On the day I was adopted, my name was changed. Before becoming Annie Goodchild, I used to be Sam. Or Samantha. Every day since then, being adopted has been a huge part of my identity.

Which is why it was so strange to me that up until this very first EP, after a decade of writing and recording music, I had never even considered writing about my experience as a transracial adoptee. How, after taking deep dives into my life and mind for so long, had I gone without sharing my foundational truth?

I think it must have been some sort of emotional block. Having spent years in recording studios with people who didn’t relate or mirror me in any way, I was relieved to walk into the home studio of a queer female producer. I was tired, but she was present and she listened.

I told her about my experience taking a DNA test and matching with my first blood relative. I told her about what followed – some beautiful moments of reconnection, some long held questions answered, and also about one of my worst fears coming true, getting re-rejected by my birth mother. I spiralled. And I’m still spiralling – that might never stop. Talk to any adoptee, the “reunion” process is never an easy one, and never just one thing.

So as I sat in this studio sharing what that re-rejection had done to me, and how a wound that had always been there would in fact never heal, I looked up and saw that she was crying. At that moment, the name “I Used To Be Sam” came to me. I knew this was the music and art I needed to be making.

When I came home, I discovered an incredible community of TRAs (transracial adoptees) online. I began to educate myself on my own experience, and for the first time, saw some of my own life mirrored back to me by my peers. I’ve learned (and continue to learn) so much from them.

As I started coming out of the “fog”, I learned that I was in fact allowed to be angry. We [adoptees] are conditioned to think we need to be “grateful” all of the time. We are constantly told how “lucky” we are, how “happy we must be” in this “better” life… “you could have been aborted you know?

Mountains” is the second single off my upcoming EP, and the song that most represents these parts of my own anger. I wrote and recorded “Mountains” in a little bedroom studio in Berlin, with my incredible producer and collaborator, Novaa.

I think there’s something about being in a bedroom and sitting on the floor, in a none-male dominant space, that really helped me open up in ways I hadn’t been able to before. They were gentle and really held that space for me. I wanted to add my physical body into “Mountains” as much as possible, perhaps to prove my own existence that was being denied, so we used my skin, nails, and mouth clicks to create the song’s percussion.

When we were about halfway through writing the song, I realized I needed to add an element that represented a major trauma response of mine – disassociation. In this song, I wondered where my mind would go during those episodes: “I’ll go to the mountains / If only in my mind.

So I went to the mountains. “Mountains”, which are ever strong and rooted in their foundations.

When coming up with a visual for the video, I reached out to my good friend Casey Landerkin to animate it. I’ve wanted to collaborate with her for a long time. She is an incredible artist and person, and I knew she would bring this image I had in my mind out to the world. Her use of color and the lush worlds she creates are just delicious.

My foundation isn’t as steadfast as a mountain – not yet anyways. But for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m finally creating something that is coming from my own roots.

Listen to “Mountains” below!

Words by I Used To Be Sam // Follow her on Facebook + Instagram

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