New Face, Fresh Style: Sam DeRosa on Touring With Aaron Carter, Body Positivity and Being Bold

Sam DeRosa
Jared Rubin Photography

Sam DeRosa

Pop songstress Sam DeRosa is here to be your new best friend. After touring as an opening act for former Backstreet Boy brother Aaron Carter, and YouTube star Tyler Ward, the New York-native has followed her passion to Los Angeles, where she is continuing to collaborate with and write for some of music’s biggest names.

As she finishes up a limited term as a songwriting professor at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, Billboard Style had a chance to catch up with the bubbly singer and to chat all things style and find out how she takes her looks from the street to the stage.


add me on myspace. (PS: Pretty sure my homepage song is still Petey Pablo "Vibrate"). ----‍??

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How would you describe your personal style, and how does it relate to the music that you make?

Basically, I’m a hot mess but I have a plan. [Laughs.] Today, I wore ripped skinny jeans and a tie-dye tank top with a troll doll on it that said “Trippin’” on it -- actually. Last week, I was wearing tight bodycon dresses with a denim jacket, and this month I'm investing in a ton of two-piece floral crop top outfits. I tend to match the weather: tomorrow, the weather forecast says it’s going to rain and be cloudy, so I’ll probably wear a choker and something that makes me feel angsty.

Honestly, my style is ever-changing, very much like my sound and my personality are. That sounds so cliche, but being the middle sister in a big Italian family, I was always trying to find what what made me, me. So far, I’m learning that I will try anything once, and I am very easily inspired by everything and everyone around me. I make friends with strangers constantly and ask them where their [pieces] are from. I think it’s fun to compliment someone else's style. Let’s be real: it is so risky and vulnerable to step outside in something that’s different from what everyone else is wearing. I love seeing people smile from compliments, [and at the same time,] I’m also finding out about new stuff! It’s a win-win.

How does this style translate to what you wear onstage?

Onstage fashion to me is totally different [than what I wear everyday.] I personally believe that there’s a day look and night look, just as how there’s an onstage and an offstage persona. I feel super empowered and brave when I’m putting myself out there like that. Stepping onstage makes me feel like I’m literally stepping into the role of being a performer. People buy a ticket, so I’m going to put on a damn good show for them. I tend to go with sequins, leather, high-waisted [bottoms], and heels for sure. I also show my stomach a lot. I don’t know why -- maybe it’s because I have a belly ring and still think that’s cool? [Laughs.] I think this all goes back to [the way I feel] empowered when I’m onstage behind a microphone. People come to see me and I understand how important that is. I have a responsibility to show up, stand out, be bold, and take risks with what I wear just as much in what I write and perform.

What makes you feel the most confident, both on and off stage?

I feel the most confident when I am in leggings or jean shorts and a baggy v neck with no makeup. I love taking care of my skin and I feel really strong without makeup. I tend to go many days without it, just to remind myself that I don’t need to try and fit in. It’s hard being a girl! We judge each other and judge ourselves even harder. [Practicing] self-care and [wearing] comfy clothes is when I feel most confident.

What was it like opening for Aaron Carter and Tyler Ward?

There are times when it’s really vulnerable and you have to own who you are before you’re torn apart. When I opened for Aaron Carter and Tyler Ward, those fans didn’t really come to see me. That’s when it’s tough -- you have a bunch of young girls looking up at you on a stage and they don’t know how to feel. Should they judge you? Should they support you? So, I chose to own what I wear and really let my personality shine through when I spoke. I’ll always talk to the front row and say things like “If my bra shows, give me a wink, okay?” or “You’re on butt duty! Tell me if my skirt rides up!” I’m [being genuine] when I talk to them, and I think making friends with the female fans was my favorite part. I showed them vulnerability, and I hope that it brought a human quality to their first impression of me. From my end, I am always so nervous, and those front row fans always made me feel so comfortable!

You've been a huge social justice advocate, commenting on a variety of touchy subjects, including female empowerment, LGBTQ+ rights, and the current administration. How do you incorporate this messaging into your music and how do you explore these topics with your followers?

Honestly, I don’t feel that way at all, and I would really like to be more proactive.  As an artist, I feel that I have a responsibility to use my platform for things other than my own issues and creative accomplishments. I personally feel that I could be much more active, but for now, I’m doing the best I can. Musically, I try to make songs related to issues that I’ve lived and can understand. Every day I learn more about the world, the people in it, and I try to write about it as much as I can.

More than anything, I’m trying to bring a respectful approach to any controversial issue. I feel like that’s missing from [conversations I have with other people]. I ask questions, I try to make a statement, and I welcome anyone to talk about their own opinions with me. I think there’s always something to learn. I [song]write with other artists as well, and that really helps to keep me aware of everything happening around me. Sometimes my songs are fun, sometimes sad, sometimes angry. So long as I’m aware and honest, I think I’ll always be okay with whatever I’m making, and hopefully, my followers notice that too. I want them to feel like my friends -- not my fans -- and always feel like they have someone who understands them.

You also really make an effort to engage with your followers on social media. How have your fans inspired you to continue making music a career?

I started writing songs as a therapeutic method to cope with my own emotions and situations. After some good feedback from my friends and family, I started releasing music and performing live. The [positive] response has been overwhelming. So many people go through the same emotions but have no idea how to get through them. I found that music helped me. Now, hopefully my music helps them. My followers are truly what gets me going when I need inspiration and remind me that my music is helping people other than myself. I don’t take any opportunity or anyone’s support for granted. I always try to comment back and follow whoever I can. If I post photos, I thank them when [my followers] comment them, and I try to go and like their pictures too. I want them to feel like we are friends, because without them I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

You often talk about living a healthy lifestyle. What's your secret to being fit and happy and encouraging body positivity?

This topic is so important to me. I have always struggled with “skinny” versus “healthy.” I believe that being happy is the healthiest body type you can have, first off. Until I was able to stand in front of the mirror naked and tell myself I was beautiful, I didn’t allow myself to try and diet, exercise, or make any major lifestyle changes. If I could give any advice to someone struggling with their weight or simply wanting a healthier lifestyle, it’s to stop looking at other people for “thinspo.”

Every body is different. No matter how much you work out, diet, or change a million other things, your mental health is the most important part. Once I started [working out and eating healthily] for me and not for Instagram likes, I became obsessed with testing my limits physically. Also, I think that curves are sexy as hell and I have way more fun testing my abilities than avoiding foods that I love. It’s fun to challenge myself!

Anyone who follows you knows you always wear your heart on your sleeve. How do you hope to inspire young people and up-and-coming singers?

I hope young girls and boys find confidence and realize their worth. I hope that they feel safe around me and my music, but I know that it goes far beyond my powers as an artist. I wish every young person growing up in 2017 knew that every hard day or hard month is only going to get better, so long as they keep pushing through. I’m learning more from my bad days than I am from the good. Looking back on those bad days, I wouldn’t change a damn thing -- I needed them! For young artists, I want to be their fan! I want them to kick ass, be brave, break genre boxes, write songs that matter, and inspire people. We all start somewhere, so be honest and be yourself!