Hi Samantha, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Thank you. I have been very busy and very excited about my upcoming EP Release, which will be my first album with full band arrangements of my songs.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Show Me Your Facebook”?
“Show Me Your Facebook” is a torch song for our time. It deals with the reductive quality of social media and the (probably almost universal) experience of scrolling through the newsfeed and comparing yourself to other people and thinking “show me how love is made,” or, basically, show me how it’s done, show me how to live my life, because I can definitely learn it from seeing everyone’s virtual reality and from comparing myself to everyone else. The music video is about something slightly different—it features me receiving gift boxes for my birthday with body organs inside of them, which is a metaphor TMI (too much information) and for people “spilling their guts” on social media and how ridiculous it can get sometimes.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
I had just gone through a serious bout of writer’s block and was feeling terrible about myself as a songwriter, and I felt like everyone else was being more productive than I was, and I compared this feeling to the feeling of being on Facebook and comparing everyone else’s apparent life to yours. I was feeling like life was a giant Facebook so I put it into the song like some sort of a microcosm to express the overall sense of inadequacy that I was felt. The tune kind of came to me out if this feeling of general frustration. And then I made it about love because of course that sells.
How was the film experience?
It was really fun. I worked with Fimmaker Amanda Rae Rosado and Cinematographer Nyv Mercado, and they were really nice. My favorite scene is the one where I am doing an erotic dance with a (prop) small intestine and using it like a boa. I also enjoyed making the fake blood. We made the fake blood by ourselves out of food coloring and corn starch and corn syrup and I was surprised by how sticky it was and I didn’t really want to ever eat sweets again afterwards, which is good.
The single comes off your new album Poison Skies – what’s the story behind the title?
“Poison Skies” is a reference to something one of my high school teachers told me once: that an especially beautiful sunset is the result of a high amount of pollution in the air. It’s a metaphor for the songwriting process—for the way beautiful lyrics and melodies can be inspired by painful experiences; so it’s sort of this meta thing that describes the songwriting process. It’s also a reference to my experience growing up in NYC, which is a beautiful and visually stunning but famously toxic place.
How was the recording and writing process?
I wrote a lot of the songs on the EP a few years ago, so it’s great to finally be able to get them out into the world. I have an internship with Funkadelic Studios, so it’s really nice to be allowed to record there in exchange for my work as a social media promoter there. I really enjoyed working with all the musicians on the album, whom I met via open mics in NYC and also the music community at Funkadelic Studios. Sound engineer Carlos Fonseca did the mixing and mastering, and I have known him a long time, and he also helped me with my demo before, so it was fun to work with him again.
What draw you into cabaret music?
Musical Theatre was my first love so it influences my songwriting and performance a lot. Cabaret music is closely related to musical theatre but it’s known for its cynical, confrontational quality, and its challenges to social norms, which are themes I feel I explore in my songwriting. I like it especially because it doesn’t require me to dance well. I can’t dance. Also, I discovered the music of the Composer Kurt Weill when I was a teenager and I always really loved his songs.
What role does NYC plays in your music?
I am a licensed subway performer with the Music Under New York Program so I would say it plays a pretty direct role in that sense. I have gotten a lot of great professional opportunities through subway performance. In terms of my songwriting, my lyrics deal with a variety of different issues but I also try to create a texture and a personality, and I feel that I’m kind of trying to evoke the Spirit of NYC, in a way.
What aspect of society and Halloween did you get to explore on this material?
The first song, which is called “Run to the City” and hasn’t been released yet, is literally about a ghost, and some of the lyrics actually came to me in a dream, so I think that’s pretty Halloween. But if you take it metaphorically, it can also be seen as being about ambition and getting burnt out, due to a lot of societal pressure, and subsequently feeling like a ghost. There’s also a song about Hamlet on the album, and it’s called The Slut of Denmark, and it’s sung from Ophelia’s point of view, and it’s in a minor key, so that song is also kind of an honorary Halloween song.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes. I went on my first tour of California at the beginning of September, and I plan to tour the U.K. By the end of next year.
What else is happening next in Samantha Echo’s world?
I want to make some more music videos—probably the next one will be for my song “The Slut of Denmark,” and/or “I Wanna Shake her Hand,” which is also on the Poison Skies EP.
How would you classify your music? What box does it go in? What shelf does …