By: Amanda Sandström Beijer
Illustrations: Sam Madhu
Inspired by ancient culture and futurism. Sam’s vibe is modern, dark and deep. We got intrigued, looked closely until we fell into the hole, right into the dark depth of space where you hear industrial techno like an echo. That’s where these animations are being evolved and brought to life.
Welcome to Sam’s world.
”I’m very introspective, like, I talk a lot to myself and have debates going on in my head all the time. I think that makes me learn quickly and pushes my eagerness to evolve.”
Inspired by ancient culture, Sam used to illustrate Hindu gods and mix the way they’re normally represented, with her own imagination, futurism - even kink, something that made her become a target for the right wing in India.
”I used to get a lot of threats. Actually, I still do. There’s a lot of right-wing energies that are completely against what I’ve created, and against the freedom of expression”, she says and continues.
”It’s really complicated, because that’s how I got popular. I created modern illustrations of Hindu gods and goddesses, and no one had really seen that before.”
Sam has some days woken up to over 2000 hate messages on Instagram, mostly from fascists in India.
”Every time I’m creating something that’s controversial, I’m putting myself in danger. Although, most of the haters point to an artwork that I created five years ago. It’s causing a lot of stress, because I still want to create these goddesses, but I’m telling myself that I should create it in ways they cannot understand.”
”If they don’t know what I’m talking about, they cannot touch me. It’s come to a point where I put the right of expression against my safety and try my best to reach a land in-between what I want to do and what I can get away with. Although this hinders me from being free within my imagination and creation. It’s just sad because there’s so many young people that got very inspired by what I created, and felt it was very liberating. The things I drew weren’t disrespectful, they were just new.”
Judging from her past illustrations, you can see the similarities, but also the differences with the animations she’s creating today.
”Even within these series that I’ve created for Playful, they are reinterpretations of ancient culture. My cover person is still a goddess, but it’s so layered that I don’t think people will understand how they can criticize me. She’s very inspired by my view on Berlin and has Berlin-aesthetics with her shiny black latex skin.”
”I love the idea of digital skin, as you can create leopard skin or metallic skin. It’s so cool. The chains and piercings she’s wearing are also rooted in how I feel that many trends are using metal currently, maybe especially in Berlin and in the underground scene.”
Sam comes from the south of India, moved to New York as a 17-year-old for studies in design and technology, where she lived for almost seven years. A city that also inspired her within new media art and using 3D programs. But when her illustrations got big attention, she decided to pursue the artist dream in her native country.
”My work got popular in India, so I decided to quit my job in New York to live as an artist, so I moved to Bombay.”
Besides pursuing the independent lifestyle of an artist, Sam discovered the underground scene of the city and fell in love with it.
”I used to hate techno. I thought it was stupid and was really into hip-hop, but in Bombay everyone is listening to techno and going to raves, and finally I got into it. The first real big love I had was when DJ Volvox was playing. It was my awakening”, she laughs.
”When I was getting into techno, and started to listen aggressively to it, I was in a place in my life where I was going really fast and doing everything at a high speed without rest. I needed to get and feel everything at once and the techno I started consuming also shifted and got harder and more industrial to follow my life pace. It also inspires my visuals a great deal since I always listen to something while I’m creating.”
Sam was not only being inspired by black and silver chains when it came to her art, but also by the way she dressed herself.
”Walking around like that in India you just look insane, as everyone wears a lot of colors. My mom always questioned me and why I was so extra. Growing up I felt very different from everyone around me, but I found more similar minds online, and that’s why I used to hang out there. I made friends with a lot of artists there and started creating art myself when I was 12. Since then, I’ve always been very interested in creating things with technology.
Sam moved to Berlin amid the pandemic. and got intrigued by the city through many of the techno streams she used to follow during the lockdown.
”I enjoy going back to the darkness within, as I’m a pretty dark person and fuel that by digging my own hole of energy. Music makes me see movement – if I’m creating a building, I can see it rise through music. The dream is to bring my vision into reality, that’s what I want to do.”