Amazing songstress Samantha Crain is gracing the Triangle with not one but two shows this week; she headlines the 506 with American Aquarium opening on Tuesday, February 7 (Doors 8:30, show 9PM, $10) and opens for AA and their live CD release show at the Pour House on Saturday, February 11 (Doors 8PM, show 10PM, $10). Behind the jump, she answered a few questions for me about songwriting, Oklahoma, and where she’s finding her inspiration these days.
Your songs are often very intimate subjects that are backed by big rock guitars; is this purposeful? How do you juxtapose the lyrics you write with the music that comes behind them? Are you a music or lyrics first sort of writer?
I am not really at a point right now where I overthink the songs I’m writing….Its very normal to get into that spot after some time of writing songs and I have been there in the past but in order to continue being productive I just have to create what comes naturally to me. I don’t have a method. Sometimes I write music first, sometimes the lyrics come first….I usually just keep ideas of lyrics in journals and then recordings of melody ideas on a recorder and then when I sit down to work, I start pairing things together to see if any of them work together….Other times, I’ll just sit down and a song, words and melody, will all come together really quickly.
You just put out a 7″ with two new songs, a follow-up to 2010’s You (Understood). Do you look at the new release as a transition between Y(U) and another full length? Does it stand on its own? Is there a specific genesis to the release?
Rather than being a follow up to “You (Understood)”, I think of the 7″ as more of a prequel to my next album…I’m feeling a return to simplistic, rural, stripped down ways I used to write songs and this 7″ I think is an bridge between the jangley indie rock songs on my last LP and what is to come on my next LP.
Historically, you’re a big proponent of collaboration between musicians. Are you working with anyone great right now? Any big plans in the works?
I’m not really writing songs with anyone right now but I consider, Anne Lillis and Penny Hill, my current band, huge influences on what I am currently writing…I put a lot of thought into how they play and sing when I’m thinking about the arrangement of a song….So they are my main collaborators right now…I also just finished recording vocals for a few songs on the new Murder By Death album that they are recording currently.
What are you most looking forward to in 2012?
I’m looking forward to recording a new album. [Ed. note: YAY!]
You grew up in Oklahoma. Do you still live there? Is your writing rooted in the place that you’re from? How much do you feel that all your touring has affected the way you see the world?
Yes I still live in Oklahoma. I come and go but really when I need to focus on writing, its best if I can find myself back in Oklahoma for that. Touring has immensely changed the way I view the world and the way I write….My subject matter has really reached beyond that of what I know in Oklahoma and I’m grateful for that. However, I still feel like I need to come back to Oklahoma a lot in order to really process what I’ve seen everywhere.
What are your three biggest vices? Three biggest indulgences? Are indulgences always vices?
My biggest vices probably don’t need to be shared with the world…Those close to me know my numerous imperfections and evils. I do chew my nails though. My biggest indulgences are sleep, alcohol, and watching full seasons of TV shows in one sitting….Indulgences aren’t always vices, if you love to indulge in things like kale and running….Which I enjoy my fair share of those things too…
What’s inspiring you lately — books, music, film? Any and all.
The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake, the poems of Ben Weaver, the band The Weather Station, animated films by Hayao Miyazaki, Django Reinhardt, The Sweet Tooth graphic novels by Jeff Lemire, the band BRONCHO, the music of Brine Webb
If you had a time machine and could use it to see one concert that you missed, what show would you go see?
“The Last Waltz”… The Band [Ed. note: Mine, too!]