In just two short years, the Samsara Family Collective has completely changed the playing field for electronic artists working and creating here in West Michigan.
Going beyond the world of DJ gigs and nightclub shows, the team of seven artists and entrepreneurs has become the first production-based group of its kind in Grand Rapids’ growing electronic scene.
“I had the idea to put it together with some choice artists in the area just for fun,” said Grand Rapids DJ producer Nick Rowland, a.k.a. Super Future. “All I wanted to do was collaborate and create something rooted in experimentation.”
Founding the Samsara Family Collective alongside DJ/producer Sukhman Sidhu — a.k.a. Dead Language — Rowland launched the group in early 2017 with an inaugural live showcase and debut mixtape, featuring original electronic tracks by fellow Samsara Family members Justin Wolbrink (a.k.a. Sandose), Devante Barnes (a.k.a. G-Bread) and Mitch Driesenga (a.k.a. Dreezstring).
“Samsara Family is literally as it sounds,” Driesenga said. “We are all such good friends with each other, we talk about so many things outside of music; it’s like having another family within this dog-eat-dog industry.”
The group’s initial mission was centered on the word Samsara, an Ancient Hindu and Buddhist term that refers to the concept of the cycles of change within existence, where the soul continues to learn until finally achieving the insight necessary to progress onto Nirvana.
“We don’t try and take it to a spiritual place necessarily, but we do appreciate the value in what it stands for,” Rowland said. “We as a group focus on the portion of continuous learning, because it signifies hard work and humility of the learning process within whatever your journey is. Getting along with that central idea is crucial when deciding who will join.
“I sought out people who tried to be different from what was popular, but showed humility and prowess within their art.”
The Samsara Family Collective currently has a core group of seven members, with a close outer circle of ambassadors who help cover groundwork with different projects.
“We have incorporated a few new members over the past two years,” said Christian Hoffer, a.k.a. CHOFF. “We recognized their passion and dedication to the scene, which has allowed us to view them as outliers, and thus possessing great potential to push our mission of creativity forward.”
“I would say that the mission has not changed so far,” Rowland added. “We still create for the sake of creation and are lifelong learners. We hold that standard pretty highly for all of our current and future artists. Yes, we want to grow, but we focus way more energy on writing than expanding, and fortunately people like what they hear enough to follow the music.”
Neither a record label nor a strict business venture, Samsara eludes those practical pitfalls and the pressures that come along with them by avoiding genre classification or artistic limitation.
“Samsara is truly a boundless melting pot of styles and flavors which will be ever-changing as the group evolves,” Hoffer said. “A lot of the issue with the current oversaturation of the music scene stems from compromising creativity, largely due to the wide range of available, prepackaged sounds the World Wide Web has to offer. The individualistic styles and preferences within Samsara Family are always transforming and incorporating elements from a boundless plethora of musical styles.”
The Samsara Family has released four collective mixtapes so far, and plans to drop its fifth this month alongside its third annual showcase at The Intersection.
“Showcase 3 will feature a dual-room, mini festival vibe with sets packed with new music from the collective, as well as fully custom lighting and visual displays in both rooms,” Hoffer said. “Samsara has always focused heavily on the importance of community, and we will be incorporating art and merchandise from some of our great friends and partners within the local creative realm.”
The lineup will include Samsara’s core family of artists performing inside The Intersection’s front room, a.k.a. The Stache. A night of house music, presented by some of the group’s newest members and friends, will also take place simultaneously inside The Intersection’s VIP room, The Mint.
“We will be showcasing some new side projects from members, as well as offering a refreshing dose of material from our artists that the community has grown to love,” Hoffer said. “It will be a massive step up from our last showcase, while not biting more off than we can chew.
“(We’re about) quality over quantity, and there will be no shortage of quality in this year’s showcase.”
Samsara Showcase III
feat. Super Future, G-Bread, Sandose, Choff, Dreezstring, Kar Pow, Hizen, Ghost Toast
The Stache & The Mint (inside The Intersection)
133 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
Jan. 19, 8 p.m., $15
sectionlive.com, (616) 451-8232