Thank you so much for having me! I’ve been busy but well. Along with gearing up for the release of this record that I’ve been working on for 9 months, I just gave birth to my second son in April! There are a lot of exciting things going on but it’s been hectic.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Burn”?
“Burn” is the title track for the record and probably one of my favorite songs I’ve written to date. When I wrote it, I was exploring the idea that we share the same motivations and inclinations as the people we find ourselves opposed to. We’re all human and we all generally operate the same way. The problems arise when we fail to take into account disparities and inequities in terms of power, influence, and access. Even if we’re all saying the same thing, an argument takes on a very diﬀerent tone and color given the context.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
How did you know? Haha. The US election in 2016 was earth-shaking for me, for a lot of people. As a person of color, I’ve been exposed to the disparity between our espoused principles and values as a country my entire life. Equality, justice… I see and experience the betrayal of these ideals every day. This moment was diﬀerent. This was a prideful, public display of a wholesale rejection of what America says she stands for. It was a match lit, not to give light, but to cause destruction. I wrote this song in response to that moment.
How was the filming process/experience behind the video?
It was a really great experience. Renee at Aenl Media, who directed the video is so talented; I actually worked with her on the second video for “No Room”, which will be out later this summer. I enlisted a lot of my family to help, too, which was wonderful because this song is really personal to me. My sister worked with me on the concept, my oldest son, husband and brother-in-law were all characters in the video and my mom was behind the scenes the day of, managing everything. Seeing how it all came together has been very fulfilling.
Why did you name the EP after this track in particular?
As soon as I wrote “Burn,” I knew it would be the cornerstone for this release. I’ve been writing and performing for a really long time but had stepped away from it for quite a few years. After my first son was born, I felt this burning need to get back to it. With “Burn,” there was a sense of urgency that became the catalyst for this record and really lit the fire under the whole process.
How was the recording and writing process?
It all happened really fast. I wrote the songs for the record one right after the other over a few weeks and immediately started reaching out to diﬀerent people to get it recorded. My husband suggested that I get in touch with Joel at Element Recording Studios; I had worked with him in the past on some material that was never released but I loved his work. He’s excellent. A few weeks later, he had a group of really talented musicians lined up, I flew to Kansas City and we recorded everything in 3 days. The record was originally 6 songs. I had written a song titled “Go Low” based on a quote by Michelle Obama but once we got into the mixing, I decided to cut it. That was a hard decision; lyrically, I love that song but I’m really proud of what we ended up with.
What role does the places you’ve lived play in your writing?
I think my experiences with living in so many diﬀerent places and being exposed to diﬀerent cultures has given me the ability to empathize with people easily. While I do envy people that can say that they’ve known their best friend since they were in kindergarten, I’ve found so much value in my ability to find community and commonality in so many diﬀerent places, among such diﬀerent people. And I think it comes through in my writing. Whether I’m playing at a restaurant in rural Oklahoma or a bar in downtown St. Louis, people seem to really connect with what I do, so I’m really grateful for those unique experiences.
What aspect of politics did you get to explore on this record?
This record was about giving a voice to the really complex emotions and reactions that have resulted from living through the current political and social climate. For the people that have become targets of the current rhetoric— minorities, LGBTQ individuals, women—it’s a depressing, disorienting and vexing time. It feels a lot like grieving. These five songs were the five steps to me.
Any plans to hit the road?
Absolutely; that’s the best part of a new record is getting to take it out on the road and share it with people. I do want to stay home with my new little guy for a bit but I’ll be visiting a few cities on a solo acoustic tour a little later this year. I’m also hoping to make it across the pond next year, too. I’m looking forward to that.
What else is happening next in Samantha Clemons’ world?
I’m actually in the process of putting together my next EP. I’ve written quite a bit of material for it, so now it’s just a matter of paring it down and fitting the pieces together before getting back in the studio this fall.