By Jan Mercker
Osama Malik believes there’s a season for everything. And right now, it’s time to make lots of music.
The Lucketts-based singer/songwriter and father of five is shaking things up with a new band and a new pop-infused EP. After a few mellow years on Loudoun’s winery and brewery circuit as a solo singer/songwriter, Malik is shifting gears, launching The Band Sama in collaboration with fellow Loudoun musicians Steve Dalgetty and Luke Denton.
The five-song “I Want the World” EP is the band’s new calling card as they ramp things up for bigger shows. They’ll officially launch the record with release party at the iconic Northern Virginia venue Jammin’ Java early next year and will offer a preview to locals this month.
Malik, 37, has been playing music since his college days at James Madison University and has spent the past few years reworking his material for a new sound.
“For the last 17 years, I was definitely in that acoustic, singer/songwriter kind of organic mode,” Malik said.
The song “Are You Waiting” from the new EP, for example, was originally written on a mandolin but has gotten a complete makeover by the band.
“It had a very bluegrass sound, and now there’s not an acoustic instrument on the entire recording. It’s a very pop, synth and electric guitar-based song that we completely reimagined to make it more fun and more accessible,” Malik said.
For Malik, a chance to be part of the Los Angeles songwriting and music production scene in recent years has brought new energy and inspiration to his own career. Malik’s brother Ammar Malik is a well-known LA-based songwriter who has co-written hits for Maroon 5 and other big names. For Malik, opportunities to collaborate with his brother and other professional songwriters has changed how he looks at his own work.
“As I’ve been doing that, I’ve been revisiting my own approach to writing songs for myself and infusing all of these things I’ve been learning and practicing for other artists, applying that medicine on myself,” he said. “Some of the songs on the EP were originally written to pitch to other artists and I just fell in love with them to keep and hang onto.”
Another element of Malik’s creative burst comes from finding the right partners. Malik met bassist Steve Dalgetty when their wives set them up on a “man date.” He connected with Luke Denton, known to locals as part of the duo Sweetnova, when Denton was Malik’s daughter’s music teacher at Lucketts Elementary School a few years back. The Band Sama is rounded out by husband and wife team Abby Armbruster on violin and CJ Armbruster on percussion.
Both Malik and Dalgetty are Northern Virginia natives—Malik grew up in Herndon and Dalgetty hails from Vienna. Malik took up the saxophone in elementary school and played in jam bands at JMU.
“Being around that made me want to pick up a guitar,” Malik said.
When Malik moved back to Northern Virginia after college, he started a band with his brother and some other talented Northern Virginia musicians. But while his bandmates took offers to continue their careers in New York and LA, Malik had already embarked on marriage and parenthood in his 20s.
“I kind of stayed behind to focus on family but was still passionate about music,” Malik said.
Dalgetty, 36, who runs the wedding and family photography business An Endless Pursuit with his wife, Bernadette, was also a rocker in his teens and early 20s, playing in a “grungy garage band” in high school and a modern rock band while in college in Ohio. But when he returned to Northern Virginia and settled down, performing went by the wayside.
“I had sort of a music drought for awhile until I met Osama,” Dalgetty said. “We love writing and playing music, and we’re hoping this springboards us into doing a whole lot more of that.”
Now, the suburban dads are using the life experiences of their 30s as fodder for new songs about family and relationships. The EP’s title track, “I Want the World,” is a meditation on parenthood.
“Looking back, I wasn’t ready to do anything [in my 20s]. I wasn’t equipped to be successful at going after it then,” Malik said. “Everything happens for a reason. … I wouldn’t trade the place that we’re in and the balance that we get to have,” Malik said. “We get to have these great family experiences and still chase dreams and pursue music.”
The Band Sama plays an EP release party Saturday, Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Jammin’ Java in Vienna. The band offers Loudouners a preview with a full show Saturday, Nov. 23 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Vanish Brewery near Lucketts. For more information, go to thebandsama.com or facebook.com/thebandsama.