Calm, cool, and collected, Sam Quartin is ready to create. Whether that’s a new film, some new garage punk rock with her band, or a new needlepoint in her down time, she’s bursting with the raw talent and abilities to share her talents with the world.
We had the chance to chat with her by phone on a surprisingly warm day for winter in the Northeast, where we talked about her newest films, her band, and everything she does in-between.
You can see Sam Quartin in her two new films that released in February, Body Brokers and Tyger Tyger, and check out The Bobby Lees’ album before their next one drops!
Nerds and Beyond: So I watched Body Brokers, and that was a wild movie. I didn’t know anything about that whole situation [the plot involving trafficking drug addicts into rehab for money].
Sam Quartin: I didn’t either until I read the script.
Nerds and Beyond: Tina had a small role but the moments she was on-screen definitely packed a punch. Did you come up with a backstory for her to be able to play those moments with such impact?
Sam: I don’t have kids yet. I met up with a woman who was a young mom in early sobriety and had relapsed a bunch of times, and she was really nice and open and shared her story with me. We met at a coffee shop, and she just told me her whole story and started crying and told me what it was like — the guilt, death, feeling of wanting desperately to do the right thing — and still not being able to because you have a disease of addiction. So I tried to be of service to her story and other women like that. That was kind of the research I did going in to it.
Nerds and Beyond: Do you think that she was there as a part of the scam or was she trying to do the right thing?
Sam: When we meet her in the story this is her first time doing this for real. She had been to rehab where she got paid in the past, that’s why Sid was like can you believe this? And there was a quick throw away line where Tina says I’m not getting anything this time. Like she actually is there for the real reason, that’s why she’s in group and why the Sid character never goes to group cause he’s really just there for the hustle; just to get paid and then get out.
Nerds and Beyond: Tyger Tyger comes out tomorrow [Friday, February 26], what can you tell us about it? It seems like it’s an extremely interesting topic as a whole.
Sam: Yeah that film was best film experience I ever had. The writer, Kerry, wrote such a cool story. I’d never gotten the opportunity to play such a badass before. The kind of role, when I read Blake, it felt like she was a male character for most the scripts I read, and the fact that he chose to make her a woman … I was really excited to get to rob a pharmacy, kidnap a kid, fall in love, go to the desert, and I loved the noble aspect of it.
There’s freaky parallels to right now. We shot that before the pandemic and it’s just crazy, at the time I was supposed to wear a face mask in a few scenes and I was like, “This feels so odd,” I had no idea that would be our life fast forward a year or two. It’s really bizarre. Like looking back on the footage — I haven’t seen the final edit, so I’m excited to see it tomorrow — but when I saw clips of me with the mask I was like, “Wow, it’s weird, we’re there.”
Her main goal is to people in the film, there is this, it’s more of a mysterious sickness going on, there isn’t a name for it like COVID. It can be transmitted through the air, it could be transmitted sexually, he wanted it to have kind of the fear associated like the 80s AIDS crisis. But this concept of people are sick, they’re not getting the medication or the vaccine they need if no one’s gonna do it I guess I’m gonna go rob a place and give it to people that don’t have it. So, I was really excited to be a part of that.
Nerds and Beyond: So this question is just for fun, don’t overthink it, but if you could choose any adaptation or remake to star in what would it be and who would you play?
Sam: Thelma and Louise. I’d happily play either, I love that movie. Probably Thelma, with my personality, I’m a little intense sometimes. Or Louise, wait I’m mixing them up … who was Susan Sarandon? I’m mixing it up right now, I’ve seen this movie so many times. Do you remember?
You know I just took a class and we studied that script and I’m blanking on it! Here, I’m at a computer, I’ll look it up …
I think she’s Louise, Susan Sarandon.
Susan is Louise!
Okay yeah, that’s the part I’d wanna play. But I’d happily take either [laughs].
Nerds and Beyond: You’re also in a band. Can you tell us a little about the origins of The Bobby Lees, your band?
Sam: Yeah, I moved to Woodstock [New York] like four years ago now, and I had always wanted to put a band together. I had lived in Brooklyn and L.A., and I never aligned with the right people, and then as soon as I moved up here I just met the right people right away and we clicked.
We made a record that first year, and then we started touring in 2018 and met this guy Jon Spencer who’s known for his band Blues Explosion; they do that opening song in Baby Driver, that big montage of him driving. We met him, he asked us to open for him, and that opened a lot of doors. Then we got openings for some bigger artists, and he ended up making our second record with us which we put out last year during this time [the pandemic] which is a weird, shitty time to put a record out when you can’t play shows.
We ended up going with this label called Alive Naturalsound that does a lot of bands’ early records. They put out an early Black Keys record, an Iggy Pop, we loved the artists they had. So we put that out with them last year and this last year, since we had 80 dates booked, we had a European tour, we had a lot of stuff so all that got cancelled so in the meantime we wrote a new record and went down to Nashville this last October, a few months ago, and recorded a new record. So we’re hoping to put that out as soon as this shit goes away.
Nerds and Beyond: Does the new one have the same kind of sound as your first one? Or is there anything new?
Sam: There’s a few tracks that are standard garage rock punk songs, but there’s a few that are so different I’m really excited about. I’m told one sounds like a Billie Eilish song, which was not what I had intentionally planned on, but we worked with this producer named Vance Powell who does a lot of big artists. He mixed the Beyoncé Lemonade record, and he worked with Jack White on a lot of his bands and his work, he’s amazing, we got so lucky. I really think it was just because of the pandemic, people that normally wouldn’t have paid attention to us had more free time, so we were able to weasel our way in.
I’m really proud of that one, I’m excited to put that out. It’s definitely the first whole body of work that the band feels really excited about.
Nerds and Beyond: Can we expect you guys back on tour as soon as the world rights itself?
Sam: Yeah we’re technically booked in France and the UK and Germany and a couple other places this June. But I don’t know, can we even get in there by then? As soon as it’s open we will be playing, and we’ll get to tour the record we did with Jon Spencer for a few months before we put out some new stuff.
Nerds and Beyond: You also do some charity work with a local organization, FAMILY, what drew you to them? Especially because they’re kind of a smaller organization.
Sam: When I moved here they had a town meeting where people pitched all the different charities, I was looking for some volunteer work when I got here. When I lived in L.A. it was really overwhelming; like how do you be of service, how do you help? You drive past Skid Row and its like how do you possibly make a dent or do anything? I stood one day handing out sandwiches with my friend, we handed out hundreds of sandwiches, and I actually got a ticket from the cops in L.A. I do believe a random act of kindness is a beautiful thing.
Up here it’s been really cool because it is a smaller community, so when I got involved with FAMILY I got to see from the farm to the shelter or the food bank, how it works. So with them I’m on an email chain, and they just send out whenever they need volunteers. There’s been some stuff I’ve still been able to do COVID, like outdoor apple picking or going to a farm — the farms up here will donate a few rows to FAMILY — so we go pick the produce, and then they deliver it to the local food banks.
And the woman that runs it, Beth, is like an angel, a living, human, breathing angel. She’s amazing, and she runs it. She’s amazing. I don’t work with them full-time, whenever I’m home and free I volunteer with them.
Nerds and Beyond: So I read you’re a fan of sewing, and I am too! And you love needlepoint, which I still have a bag of supplies for that I haven’t touched yet … Do you have a favorite project you’ve ever done? This is probably like a self-serving question just because we share this [laughs].
Sam: There’s something about needlepoint specifically I just find very relaxing, it’s kind of monotonous a little, but I love it. I’ve tried to make my own clothes, I started with a pair of plaid pajama pants and for some reason I made them like, 4XL, but I followed a pattern! And one dress, I sewed a dress. I found this really cool fabric with all these fruits all over it, this linen fabric, I made like a summer dress where I sewed in some elastic in the top. So it was an easy, tube top dress. It’s nothing that could be sold in a store, they’re pretty rough around the edges, the stuff I’ve attempted to make.
Nerds and Beyond: Do you have a favorite needlepoint you’ve ever done?
Sam: Well, I’m working on one, it depends on what I’m doing. I’ve done weird flowers I like to do [laughs]. I like wool, if I can find older wool, I’m not into that new thread. I’ve done ones with the thread, but I love that old … it’s more expensive, I kinda save up for a needlepoint. Like on my birthday I buy myself a needlepoint [laughs] like new yarn and stuff. I don’t have a favorite, I’m not a professional by any means. It’s just a hobby.
Nerds and Beyond: Finally, we have a lot of dog lovers around the site, can you tell us about your two dogs, Dotty and Rusty James?
Sam: Well Dotty is four years old now. I got them both from the rescue up here, and they’re both mutt-mutts. I got a test back, they’re shepherd mixes. Dotty is shepherd mixed with Chow-Chow, I think that’s why she’s kind of bitch sometimes, she can have an attitude [laughs] and Rusty’s like … wild. That’s why I named him Rusty James because he reminded me of, I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Rumble Fish, the Francis Ford Coppola movie, and it’s Matt Dillon’s character, he’s just such a bad, badass guy. So I named Rusty after him because Rusty’s just crazy, he’s like a renegade. He’s just diving off everything, like I feel like he’s like a pro BMX rider in another life come into a dog body. He’s just really crazy.
He’s hardcore parkour in a dog.
Yeah! [laughs] He is pretty nuts. But those are my two pups.
Nerds and Beyond: What can we expect film or TV wise, is there anything lined up?
Sam: Yeah! Tyger Tyger comes out tomorrow (it’s out now!) and then I just got, this last month, two more films that, one’s shooting in May. I’m not allowed to talk about it, and same with the one in the fall, I’m not supposed to talk about yet. I think cause of COVID people, they’re a little cautious about announcing things, that kind of stuff.
But I have two films that are coming out and then a really cool musical project, like a film music project, that I’m also, they said don’t mention the name yet [laughs] but I’m excited. It’s got some people in it I’m excited about. So I should be shooting, if all things go well with COVID stuff, be shooting a few projects this year. And then my band, as soon as things are open, will be hopefully playing again.
Body Brokers and Tyger Tyger are available wherever you get your digital movies, and you can find The Bobby Lees on all major music streaming platforms.