Based out of Calgary, Canada, musician and songwriter Samantha Savage Smith first emerged back in 2009 with her debut album, Tough Cookie. After following that album up with 2015’s well-received Fine Lines, Samantha took a break from her solo music, performing with the likes of Lab Coast and Crystal Eyes, and starting her own record label from scratch. The wait for Samantha’s return ends this Friday when she releases her third album, Fake Nice, which was co-produced by Chris Dadge, known for his work with Alvvays and Chad VanGaalen.
Samantha approached making Fake Nice with a deliberate attitude of, “not settling”, often recording versions of songs before scrapping them entirely and rebuilding them from the ground up in an attempt to ensure no idea on the record was wasted. The approach extends into the instrumental choices, while known for her guitar playing, Samantha set about embracing a wider sonic palette, both turning her own hand to a variety of instruments, as well as embracing the talents of the wider Calgary music scene to bring in everything from cello, to saxophone to drum machines. While a difficult record to pin down to a specific genre, Fake Nice is not a record that sounds incohesive, whether it’s the driving guitars of the title track or the summery electronics of Wholesomely Made, Samantha’s lightness of touch and airy vocals are calling cards entirely her own. Particularly wonderful is the recent single In it to Win, a delicious slice of mid-noughties influenced indie, reminiscent of the likes of Rilo Kiley or fellow Canadians Stars. A record that wears its pop sensibilities and subtle complexities with equal levels of pride, Samantha Savage Smith has made a record that can be admired and adored in equal measure, and one that deserves to take her music to an entirely new level of acclaim.
FTR: For those who don’t know who is Samantha Savage Smith?
Hmmm, GOOD question?! Existential, even, haha. I’m just a regular ol’ gal who hails from the foothills & rocky mountains of Alberta. Actually, maybe not regular – I might actually be more weird than anything…but that’s beside the point. I make up songs, I sing them, I help produce them in the studio, and then I boss around a few musicians in my live band to play the parts off the record. I’ve been making tunes for the better part of the last decade, and it truly is a labour of love. Sometimes even a love/hate relationship, but currently I’m quite smitten. I should probably mention I’m a proud bunny mama of two.. Chester & Dottie. They are my world! You can find some sneaky Chester nods all over the physical copy of the new record, and he even makes some darling cameos in my “In It To Win” music video. It just seemed too fitting not to mention.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
I think I was about 15, and at the time, Calgary had this epic DIY all-ages music scene. I went to this place called the “Multi” (multicultural arts centre) where there were shows happening all the time, and you could see some pretty killer bands, local or touring. I remember going to see a local band called Hot Little Rocket, and I was just awe-struck by this extremely cool community of young music lovers and show-goers. I felt cool just being there! But I knew it was a place I wanted to be forever, and over the years that followed, I kept going to these all ages shows, meeting friends I’m still friends with, and musicians I’d eventually play shows with! Those were extremely formative years for me, it definitely shaped my attitude towards the music community today, and I look back at it all quite fondly.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
When I was younger, I dabbled in everything – painting, photography, and theatre, as well as music. Music was the thing that stuck as I grew up, and honestly the quickest way to find self-gratification through the act of building my own song completely from scratch. And I suppose in some ways, the drama nerd in me still lives on when I take to the stage. I love performing live, I have yet to experience anything that not only fills my heart up but also gives me a crazy adrenaline rush. I don’t like heights, so skydiving was never an option.
FTR: What can people expect from the SSS live show?
Some pretty out-there banter, a stack of insanely talented musicians, and a lot of energy. I think we do a pretty bang up job, if I do say so myself. But I’ll let the show-goer decide.
FTR: What’s next for Samantha Savage Smith?
My new record is out on April 22,….finally! (It was put off for the usual COVID reasons.) We’ll be playing a run of dates in the UK, which will be our first romp through the motherland of delicious pints and pasties. More touring and festivals to follow in the summer, but I’m already plotting my return visit across the pond. You can only keep me away from those pies for so long…
They Listen To…
Ryan Bourne – Wasted World
Arthur Russell – A Little Lost
Cate Le Bon – Moderation
Chad VanGaalen – Plant Music
Karen Dalton – Something on Your Mind