On the heels of her third full-length album release (You Had Me At Goodbye, March 2017), Samantha Crain is on absolute fire. Her personality shines through in every aspect of her music, and even moreso when she speaks about her music. Luckily, we had a few moments to ask her some questions, and she came at us with full throttle honestly. Impose, enjoy your next few minutes with the darling Samantha Crain.
What was the first song or album you ever remember listening to?
Bookends by Simon and Garfunkel. I remember laying in bed one night, and hearing the songs through the wall as my dad listened to it. I don’t remember how old I was but I did remember asking him what it was the next day.
Do you think that original music has any bearing on who you are as an artist now?
Do you mean Simon and Garfunkel? Sure, I’m a huge Paul Simon fan. I think he’s one of the best melody writers and lyricists to ever have existed so, yes, as an artist who tries to study the best for ideas and inspiration, he’s has a lot of bearing on who I am as an artist.
You are from rural Oklahoma. Do you think being from there has changed your priorities or the way you make the music that you do?
Not really. I don’t really see Oklahoma values, concerns, and traditions having much authority over what I do. I’ve always existed on the fringes of society around here. I sort of just make up my own rules and go for it.
Your Choctaw lineage actually contributed directly to you writing “Red Sky, Blue Mountain”. What made you choose to write that song in particular?
It was inspired by my ache over my brothers and sisters who were standing strong at the Cannonball camp protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. I’d been starting to write quite a few songs in Choctaw but this one seemed important to finish and release as it speaks on the sacredness of the planet and ponders our lack of respect for the earth and each others own well being.
You Had Me At Goodbye just made its debut. What has the response been like for you?
I try not to think too much of the response. It is too much to handle emotionally to try and figure out what people think about the things to you put your whole being and spirit into, so I just try and release a records and once they are out, they no longer belong to me.
The album was recorded completely on analog, which is such an amazing and beautiful thing. Was that a big priority to you, or how was the idea of that avenue of production introduced to the project?
I’ve recorded the last 3 albums I’ve released as completely analog. That particular way of recording was introduced to me by my producer, John Vanderslice, who only records in this way. At first when I started working with him, back in 2012, recording analog wasn’t something that was entirely important to me, but the more I’ve learned about it from him, I’m really sold on the end product being entirely worth it. If I spend so much time and effort and emotion and money on writing an album, why wouldn’t I want the way it is delivered to the ears of listeners to be the best it can be?
A large portion of your songs have quirky titles. We really love “Antiseptic Greeting”, and were wondering where the idea for the song came from?
This song is, as you know, more or less about me being so oblivious to the world and people around me most of the time, that people think i’m a bitch or purposely being mean to them. When really i’m just not paying attention. I’m usually thinking about something else. the phenomenon of “resting bitch face” and assigning it to people, specifically women, is pretty telling of a society though, right? Really, I think it says most people are pretty ego-centric and think everyone should be thinking about them or paying attention to them at all times. It’s also a commentary on the idea that women should be thinking about being pleasing to everyone around them at all times–that pressure is put on them by men, but also by other women. I, personally, think and act in a way that says “I have ups and downs, and I want to live those through and be in the moment that I’m in and not stress myself to act in ways that I deem inappropriate for how i feel at the moment, and that includes sometimes being in a bad mood or quiet or withdrawn, but it also includes being kind and warm and generous too”
“Betty’s Eulogy” brings about a very melancholic feeling in instrumentals alone. What’s the story behind that song, and any interesting stories from its recording?
I wrote this song at the suggestion of my friend, Beau Jennings. He wrote that entire album of Will Rogers inspired songs to go along with the Verdigris documentary he did. At the release of that documentary and album, he had a few friends write their own Will Rogers inspired songs to sing at the release. After listening to his project and reviewing the basic biography of Will Rogers, I realized there were no songs about his wife, Betty, which seemed strange to me because she was seemingly the most important person in his life. She was his biggest support. She handled all the family finances, encouraged and helped will start on the lecture circuit, helped him pick out film scripts, and also took charge of his memorization after his death. They seemed so fit for each other, so connected. so I wanted to write a song that was more or less her eulogy and remembrance of him after his death.
Do you have any mantras or things you do to keep you grounded for your performances?
No, I’m more or less just a mess for the entirety of a tour. Is wine a mantra?
What do you think is the most important thing to remember when pursuing a career in the arts?
You are going to be poor. If you can’t handle that, you need to do something else.
What artist would you like to collaborate with, and how?
I’ve always thought it’d be really great to do a mellow folky album with Sam Amidon and call it “the Sams” or I’d love to work with Sufjan Stevens, having him arrange for songs or something.
What can we look forward to down the pipeline from you in 2017?
Not sure, just playing it by ear.
Keep up with Samantha here.