Not bad, 15-year-old me

Samantha Savage Smith on new albums and good pizza

Heather Saitz

It’s been taking Calgary-born indie musician Samantha Savage Smith longer to write songs lately, which she doesn’t mind. It shouldn’t be easy. 

“The songs will change just as much as I do,” Smith says. “As I get older, the different phases of my life, as my taste in music changes, that will always come through in my songwriting.”

Smith notes she isn’t trying “to sound like Beyoncé.” She’s joking with that example, but also correct. Smith’s unique sound does not fit into some simple, store-bought category. She doesn’t sound like Beyoncé at all. She sounds like Samantha Savage Smith - soulful, upbeat, dreamlike and different.

“When I write, it just manifests itself in whatever way it does,” Smith says. “I’m not hell bent to sound like anything specific.”

Smith describes touring with her band as “dreamy.” The line-up includes guitarist Evan Van Reekum, drummer/Lab Coast bandmate Chris Dadge and bassist Eddie Dalrymple, who recently joined the group. Smith’s also a confirmed “pizza freak and addict” - her favourite spots for a bite include Manies Pizzaria and Inglewood Pizza and Pasta in Calgary. She also vouches for the ever-reliable national chain, Panago.

“There aren’t that many other foods that have the potential to include all the food groups simultaneously,” Smith says, admitting that “burgers and lasagna come close and are also fully boss.”

Local indie music fans should consider themselves blessed as the 27-year-old songstress is including Winnipeg on her current tour. For Smith, navigating the tour in her own Silver Bullet van means “days of driving and faster death rates for the vehicles.” Thankfully, the “nice-as-hell” scenery is worth the trip.

The tour will soon wrap up in Saskatoon, as Smith’s preparing for the release of her sophomore album, Fine Lines, via Winnipeg label Pipe & Hat in January 2015.

“I feel really close to this record,” Smith says. “I was involved in every aspect of it, so I knew it would come out sounding exactly like I wanted. Having that kind of creative control was a scary, but liberating experience. Fine Lines is my baby. Seriously.”

Smith feels that despite the subtle changes to her sound since 2011’s Arts + Crafts release, the critical hit Tough Cookie, fans have embraced her new side.

“It was a heavy moment,” Smith says. “I thought to myself: ‘This is okay. I can get used to this process.’” 

In 2013, Smith and filmmaker Samantha Larsen-Mellor were awarded funding for their haunting music video, Kids in the Basement from Public Records’ Summer Music Video Fund. In fact, she’s already envisioning “all the nutty things (she wants) to do for album number three.”

Smith, whose earliest musical purchases included Dance Mix ‘94 and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake feels a duality of mind when it comes to looking back at her past musical endeavors.

“It’s kind of like looking at old photographs of yourself,” Smith says. “It can either be mortifying or I’m like, ‘Not bad, 15-year-old me.’”

Published in Volume 69, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 19, 2014)

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