DCMD INTERVIEW: SAMANTHA CRAIN
By: Rachel Rohinsky | DC Music Download | June 24th, 2016
There are some artists who have disposable voices—ones that cannot be distinguished from others and as such, are easily forgettable. On the other hand, there are those whose voices are so unique they instantaneously carve a sonic imprint into your memory.
Samantha Crain is in the latter camp. At 29-years-old her smoky, reverberating sound seems as if it should belong to a more storied musician. Upon first listen, you will not forget her mature croons that lay in the savory territory osculating between folk and country music.
Her instrumentals—guitar in particular—are delicate, pastoral, and at times even haunting. The culmination of these characteristics is songs enjoyable en masse. D.C. Music Download had the chance to catch up with Samantha before her upcoming show at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian on June 24.
How do your Oklahoma roots affect your musical style?
Samantha Crain: I don’t feel like they do in any tremendous way. I have a very complicated relationship with Oklahoma in that it is where I am from and, in a way, it is my home, because it is where I live, but I also feel very separate from the culture and lifestyles that surround me. I have traveled extensively for the majority of my adult life, so I do not see any particular place influencing my art any more than any other place.
Were you raised on folk and country music?
SC: Yes and no. My dad was into ’60s and ’70s songwriters like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon, so I listened to that a lot. But then I was very into the pop and R&B music of the ’80s and ’90s as well, so mainly I was just into a good song, it didn’t really matter what instrumentation or genre it was.
At what point did you realize you wanted to pursue music professionally?
SC: I’m still just flying by the seat of my pants, trying to make art, and pay my bills. I never look at this as a business fully, and I constantly have to have other jobs to make ends meet, so I guess I’m still waiting for the day that I feel fully like a professional anything.
Nature is a dominant theme throughout your songs. Is there any particular activity you do or process you have to get inspired by the natural world?
SC: Absolutely not. Nature is inspiring enough on its own. It needs no introduction, explanation or preparation.
You’ve made political statements in both your lyrics and actions. Do you feel as though people in the public eye have an obligation to shed light on issues they feel passionate about?
SC: I go through phases on my thoughts on this. I think everybody has their own threshold for what amount of criticism they can take. I am a thick-skinned person, so it makes sense for me to talk about certain issues that are important to me because I can take the hate that will be flung back in my direction. However, some people are quieter because they know they can not deflect the same push back as easily. I think that is reasonable and we should be understanding of peoples’ decisions to be outspoken or not.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far as a singer-songwriter?
SC: Paying bills, obtaining respect.
What do you do to remedy writer’s block?
SC: Work through it. write badly and often until your break through the wall.
If you could do album collaboration with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?
SC: Patti Smith