Interviews

Samantha Crain chats ‘A Small Death’, the album bringing her back from the brink

Some time after her 2017 album You Had Me At Goodbye, Samantha Crain was involved in a car accident, suffering injuries serious enough that she doubted her ability to ever hold an instrument again. Luckily she made a recovery and now, Crain has announced a new album named A Small Death.

Her first album single An Echo is a potent listen with this circumstance in mind, Crain describing it as a turning point for her reemergence. Since then we’ve also heard Garden Dove, another single heralding an excellent album to come. Ahead of A Small Death hitting shelves, we caught up with Crain for a chat.

samantha crain Joanna Grace Babb
Photo: Joanna Grace Babb

Find out how Oklahoma artist Samantha Crain returned from a live-changing injury and reemerged with her new album, A Small Death, in tow.

HAPPY: It’s been pretty crazy reading about your experiences with injury leading into this record. I’m really curious about that moment when you were first able to play music
again. Was there a specific instrument you immediately returned to?

SAMANTHA: Really I just went straight to my guitar. My main player guitar is a 00-15 Martin I’ve had for a while that I feel is like an extension of myself. It is literally another form of communication for me, playing that guitar. So when my hands started feeling better I went straight to pick that guitar up again and just feel it in my hands again.

HAPPY: Were you still thinking up new ideas for songs while you couldn’t play any instruments? If so, how many of these found their way onto the new record?

SAMANTHA: Yeah I think most of the new songs on this record were all stirring in my head and heart while I couldn’t play music. I’m a bit of a magpie in that I keep tons of ideas around all the time. I’m constantly making voice memos and scrawling things down on paper or talking ideas into my tape recorder. So all the feelings and parts of my life I was experiencing away from being able to play music, it [would] all still be recorded in one way or another and when I could play again, I just revisited all that to get it down into songs.

HAPPY: You’ve called this record your “second chance.” Do you have any specific examples of ways you’ve re-evaluated your artistic methods?

SAMANTHA: I think mainly it’s just about remembering why you do what you do, why you create art. When it is the way you pay your bills, it’s almost impossible not to get caught up in the stress and anxiety of the business of turning your record into a product, a form of commerce. But at the end of the day, I got into this because I love existing in a space with other people and sharing songs and stories, as long as I can keep focused on that, the inspiration doesn’t fall away, and it is beautiful.

HAPPY: I read that you’re quite a big reader… was there anything you were reading while writing pr recording this album that you feel influenced it at all?

SAMANTHA: I can’t think of anything specifically that influenced the record. This is a very personal record to me so it wasn’t really affected by many outside influences (as a record normally would be for me) but I can let you in on some awesome books I’ve loved recently… A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo, There There by Tommy Orange.

HAPPY: This album will be the first release on Lucy Rose’s new record label! How did you two first get in touch?

SAMANTHA: We met on a taping of a BBC 4 radio show called Loose Ends back in 2015. And then re-convened in 2018 when Lucy came to one of my gigs in London, this was right at the start of when I started being able to play shows again. She then asked me to support her on her 2019 tour and then we got closer from there and I shared my record that I was just finishing up with her and she really connected with it.

HAPPY: I’m really in love with the new album’s cover art. Could you tell us a bit about that artwork? Who’s responsible for it, how do you feel it ties into the album?

SAMANTHA: My friend Amanada Maciel Antunes, who is a brilliant Brazilian visual and performing artist, made the pieces for all the artwork tied to the record. We spoke about the songs and she wanted to create pieces that reflect our notions of being in a state of transition. The paintings help visualise the state of one body morphing into another, the impermanence of our current state, the urgency I felt in getting the songs out of me. We spoke a lot about the colours feeling specific to how I feel softer after having gone through this tumult as well.

HAPPY: Finally, my favourite question… are there any other musicians you’re currently loving? Anyone we should be paying attention to?

SAMANTHA: Always loving Sam Amidon. Also, have been really re-getting into old Judee Sill records. Loving the new Bonny Light Horseman tunes – as I’m a huge fan of Fruit Bats and Anais Mitchell, so it’s a dream band really. I know everyone has been into Soccer Mommy, so that’s probably nothing new, but I think she writes brilliant pop songs.

 

A Small Death is out May 1st via Real Kind Records / Communion Records / Caroline. Pre-order your copy here.