Mar. 07, 2012 - Issue #855: (Re) cycling
One Tough Cookie
Samantha Savage Smith discusses the creation of her debut album
Samantha Savage Smith's bluesy debut album Tough Cookie has landed on numerous critics' choice lists across the county, and launched a whirlwind of gigs and media appearances . Prior to a stop in Edmonton on her headlining Canadian tour, she took the time to answer a few questions about the making of the album.
Vue Weekly: How long did it take to make Tough Cookie from the initial songwriting through to the end of the recording?
Samantha Savage Smith: It probably took about a year and a half ... There were a couple of songs that were older but I probably made most of the songs within, including some of the songs we didn't use, within a six-month time frame before making the album. Even when we were in the studio I wrote a couple of the songs when we were in the middle of recording.
VW: When you were writing the songs, did you come at them a particular way? Lyrics first? Music first?
SSS: I typically do the music first and the lyrics come after. I think it depends on the person because some people are totally opposite. They come up with the melody first and then they write the music. I usually just play a riff over and over again and come up with lyrics. I typically don't even write anything down, I just play it over and over until it's stuck in my head.
VW: What were the recording sessions like for this album? Is this the kind of thing you recorded live or did you piece it together one track at a time? Why?
SSS: They were good. I was with Lorrie Matheson who produced and recorded it. I also had Chris Dadge, Dan Vacon, Brooker Buckingham and Scott Munro, all really good musicians and they play in my band now sometimes. It was pretty fun.
Most of it was just pieced together, like we'd do the drums and bass and so on and so forth. A couple of the songs all the instruments were live and the vocals were done after. It just ended up working out that way.
VW: Were there any other songs written that were left off the album?
SSS: There was. I did a lot of demos prior to recording the actual album, so we did cut songs, but when it came down to actually deciding which songs we were going to record on the album, everything ended up on there.
VW: How did you decide which songs to include on the album? Did you have an idea of what you wanted Tough Cookie to be when you started, or did the finished shape emerge as the writing and recording went along?
SSS: Everything just happens as we're going.
VW: You worked with Lorrie Matheson to produce the album. What drew you to him and what did he bring to the process?
SSS: He actually confronted me and offered to make the album, so that's how that happened. Lorrie's got a good ear for that kind of stuff and he's fun to work with and he's smart. He's a '90s rock dude. He was in a band called Fire Engine Red and they're super '90s, so just with his taste in music and my taste in music, it's cool to have two different ideas go behind it.
VW: If you were to trace a musical map that led you to Tough Cookie, what would it look like?
SSS: Oh man, I don't know, a lot of zig zags. Even just how it started when we released it and when Arts and Crafts picked it up for distribution and then released it nationally and internationally. At no point did I imagine that actually happening when we started making the album. It was just kind of like this is fun, but I wasn't thinking it would be heard at this scale. Even just with writing the songs before making the album, I just wrote them for fun, for my own personal enjoyment. I didn't play shows or anything. I just stayed at home and made it for myself and showed my friends.
Wed, Mar 14
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