Before Annie Goodchild, there used to be Sam. After taking an Ancestry DNA test, the acclaimed singer, songwriter and recording artist learned that before being adopted, she used to be named Samantha.

This realisation marks the starting point for their new single, ‘Gentle’, out on the 20th of January. The track is the first single to be taken from her upcoming EP of the same name, an explorative new collection of cinematic, left-field pop, and Goodchild’s first release under their new creative moniker I Used To Be Sam. To accompany the release, Annie also shares a haunting music video, watch it here.

Raised in “a full-on Irish household” in the suburbs of Boston, Goodchild grew up listening to ‘90s hip-hop and R’nB and singing in gospel choirs – their heroes were “the great female vocalists” Ella Fitzgerald, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday and Janis Joplin. After taking an impulsive trip to Guatemala at the age of 18, Annie formed the band Melou with an eclectic and talented group of musicians who toured throughout Western Europe and the States for five years.

Goodchild then went on to see international success as a featured singer for Scott Bradlee’s musical collective Postmodern Jukebox, and launched their solo career six years ago with the twinkling vintage sounds of their debut EP ‘A Random Physical Sensation’.

On a gruelling five-day songwriting trip in Berlin - mostly run by white men - Annie met a producer who was a queer women of colour, and began to speak candidly about meeting her birth father for the first time, and the agony of trying to reconnect with her biological mother. Her attempts to reconnect with their birth mother were met by re-rejection, leaving Goodchild feeling like “I was her dirty secret and a mark of shame”. As the artist recounted her experiences, “I looked up and the producer was bawling,” she says. “At that moment the name I Used to Be Sam came to me. This is the music I need to be writing. I came home and everything shifted. I can’t make Annie Goodchild music anymore, because Annie was who I had to be to get to this point. Now I need to start making movement.”

Emboldened to dig deeper, Goodchild struck up conversations with other transracial adoptees (TRAs) and sharing overlapping experiences informed the incredibly personal nature of I Used To Be Sam’s debut EP. With this new music, she aims to use it as a vessel to bring people with shared experiences together, and open up the narrative around transracial adoption.

The release of the EP’s title track marks the first of many chapters for I Used To Be Sam, it’s the mark of the artist making the bravest, freest and most confronting music of their prolific career. The track soars and skitters with crisp beats, sampled bodily sounds retooled as percussion, and cyclical snippets of recorded vocals that bring a melodic pulse; Goodchild’s voice wavering and roaring with a rawness that comes straight from the pit of their stomach. The songwriting is every bit as experimental as the journey that its author went on while writing their most ambitious and honest release yet.

I Used To Be Sam online