From fourth grade, Samantha Wallace glamorized the lights and flash of Sin City. She grew into networking her way up into a career of promotional advertisement. Her skills and interests in arts, and her serendipity pushed her toward the local punk/heavy metal scene.
She was exposed to the music scene since in high school, when she was passed fliers from people on the early-morning bus. Once she was able to drive and find a job, she began to promote local artists, starting with her friend’s bands. She eventually went to a meeting to work for Smash magazine, but instead met her promo agent. From then, she worked merchandise booths, handing out fliers and photography at shows. She retired her career after high school to move onto her newfound love for sociology.
Wallace is a sociology graduate working toward a Ph.D. in her field. She began college at 17 as a pre-med student, but soon switched after her introductory course in sociology. Since her music promo career, she has overlapped her interests to what she had observed growing up. Her research interests include: sexuality, gender/family, and deviance.
What was it like growing up?
You grew up in this environment where, from at a very young age, you are exposed to these things that you thought you’d never see or things that are in the movies. That kind of stuff. You live in Sin city—you know it—everyone says it. You grew up believing that you live in this bad-ass city, these x’s to mark off and the ability and network of people. So, I got involved in the music stuff because everything was so cool. I wanted to be cool. I was one of those weird kids in middle school that bounced back and forth between identities. Here, you’re always involved in the community—you have this access to the music and community, and you get sucked in really easily.
What do you mean sucked in?
So, I got my first car in high school, I lived right down the street from the venue, meeting all these people. So, that’s how I got sucked into that—really young, like going to shows in eighth grade. It was just so immersive it was impossible to not be a part of it. So, everyone you know is a little weirdo that goes to the same art high school, and you all have similar music tastes. There was always a thing to do. There was always people around you. That’s where they worked, that’s where people made their livelihoods, that’s where the entertainment was. We live in the entertainment world, so it’s natural that our hobbies gravitate toward each other’s.
How did you start your career?
This place I used to go to shows all the time called Balcony Lights, and this magazine that they were starting. They were looking for people to write for the magazine. It was called Smash Magazine; it was the one that came out of Vegas, and the one early on that was dedicated to music. My music was kind of alternative for at least the teen bands and stuff, so I wanted to work for that. And from there, I got my street-promotion job, and that’s when all the music promo stuff started.
What did you do at your job?
Some of the time, I’m working for a band and they drop off fliers, so we have teams of people to dispatch and hang out there and network for these bands. But we’d get signed up for tickets to go to those shows and pass out fliers. It was like the currency of the day because usually you get a discount with the flier—around 5 dollars per flier. We covered new metal, local punk, speed metal [shows], all that. Another thing we do in between concerts, like days that didn’t have a show, is go cover boxing matches. So the music promo did other things concurrently. It was all about getting the word out about these events.
How did this all come to be?
I put myself into situations. Serendipity did the rest. I grew around a town of flash, cash, and all those things. I wanted to be a part of that to be cool. I never considered myself one of the elites. I had to work hard to live in that scene. It was all hard work and being in the right spot. The music promo stuff and my teenage years defined who I am today. I’d be one hundred percent a different person if I didn’t have these experiences.
How did you get to where you are now?
I started college when I was 17—did terrible. At the same time, I had taken my first sociology course. Everything made sense to me; everything that I have ever thought of makes sense. I’ve always wanted to understand people. They’re so immeasurable. Just to know that everyone has this bag of whatever we’re dealing with, and we have to keep that inside, it makes you just think that everyone has such a unique story. But I’m one of those super obsessed weirdos that I’m getting my Ph.D..
If you could, would you ever go back to that career?
I wouldn’t go back to that life. I convinced myself when I was younger that music-promo was what I wanted to do with my life. But in reality, you’re really a side note, and I always wanted to do my own thing. I just never figured out what it was. It’s just not for me anymore. It’s a younger person’s game. I still do side gigs with them, but it’s not my main bread-and-butter like it was in high school.
How did your career affect who you are today?
There is so much that town does to you and changes you as a person. The worst part of living that, is that it comes to shape your idea of “normal.” My whole life I wanted to be straight-laced and normal. I thought all of the things that life told me to do were fact, but now I have justification in my career that lets me explore these things. Just someone that has interests that may not be mainstream or typical.
Do these serendipitous moments happen often?
All the time. It’s so random too. When I was little, I always believe now that if I put my wishes into the world, then it would happen. So when I was little, I would have never thought that I would be hanging out with bands or fighters, or having these moments that make life so interesting.
Wallace continues working toward her career and the research that follows. She continues to live through her serendipity, and through that, she perseveres through the obstacles of her career and her life.