Dinosaur tattoos are the new tramp stamp: Meet Sam Kehl

Intrepid reporter Justin Juul hits the streets each week for our Meet Your Neighbors series, interviewing the Bay Area folks you’d like to know most.

Sam Kehl is a singer/producer/DJ from Seattle who I randomly met on a camping trip in Morrow Bay. He was wearing a pink hat, a leather jacket, and really really cool sneakers, which was odd because all his friends were decked out in REI gear. Obviously the dude had never been camping before, and I don’t think he’ll ever go again. I mean, a man can drink whiskey and use his shoes for a pillow right here at home can’t he?

I’ve gotten to know Sam pretty well over the past few months and although he may suck at camping, I can say without a doubt that he rules at being weird. Oh and his music is really rad too. Check him out at The Eagle Tavern on August 7th at 10pm where he’ll be performing as both Samuelroy and Samnation. Listen to his tunes here. X-Ray Press and No New York will also be performing.

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SFBG: So what’s your deal?
Sam Kehl: Hi, my name is Samuel Kehl. It’s spelled K-E-H-L. So I’m not related to the face products, Kiehl’s, or whatever. Sometimes people put me on flyers and spell my name like the face product. I hate that. Kehl is a German name, but I’m from Seattle.

SFBG: Why did you move to San Francisco?
Kehl: Well, San Francisco has a particular history of being queer and open-minded and there’s always been a lot of electronic music here. Seattle just got boring and I had already lived in New York so I decided to check out SF, mostly for the music.

SFBG: Any bands in particular?
Kehl: Well, I know there’s a lot of really really early experimental stuff here and all those Drum-&-Base people like UFO and DJ Abstract. There are others too, but I can’t remember. And um, Safety Scissors, Eats Tapes. Tiger Beats records. OK, so, not all the people I like are from SF, but I had already done New York and Seattle and I’m petrified of LA, so, well, I came here to do my music.

SFBG: So what’s up with your music anyway? How’d you develop your sound?
Kehl: I’ve been doing music for a really long time and I’ve been deejaying for exactly ten years. I don’t have any musical training, but I had choir and I sang in college. Oh and I played cello too. So I had all these different musical interests and then bands like the Postal Service and The Blow came out and I was like oh God, why don’t I do that? Why don’t I sing and make electronic music? Most of the electronic music that had vocals at that time was really bad. I was more into bands like Plaid and Aphex Twin, and Boards of Canada, like Warp Records stuff, you know? It didn’t really have vocals, but then those other bands came out, and I was like, Oh of course. What the hell? I should do that.