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Spotlight Interview With Samantha Grimes

Samantha Grimes has a new single release that just dropped and its soulful, southern rock feel fills the air with swagger and style as vocals have attitude and character .

The "Modern Severance Reprise" single is indeed a reprise of an earlier version of the track released a few years back but this version has more cinematic undertone and a colorful vibe with acoustic guitars and light percussion throughout its course.

This is an honest and up front track that we can relate with and Samantha's lyrical phrasing is on point as she sings with passion and heart.

Upon listen to this song, you really get into the groove easily and find yourself bopping your head and by the second go, you're singing right along.

Dipping back through her previous material is also quite a pleasure as her earlier material is excellent and you're sure to find more than a few tracks to add to your playlists.

With a killer new single released, we wanted to find out more of how this all started for the artist. So we did just that.

RAG: Okay let's start with "Modern Severance Reprise". This track certainly has some southern tones and swagger to it. Where did this track come from?

This song was originally written in 2011. The original Modern Severance is strictly acoustic, and is currently available on all streaming platforms. I wrote it as a method of closure to one of my first real relationships. If you review the lyrics, it is pretty much an acknowledgement of the lessons learned when navigating love. Many of my songs are related to that theme – whether it is the beginning of that adventure, the middle, or the bitter end. Plus, I'm a sucker for a little wurlitzer and slide guitar...more on that later!

RAG: What made you decide to reprise the song?

I’ve been playing the song live since I wrote it back in 2011, but it just happened to emerge during my hiatus from working with a band. Whenever I would play it – sure, the musical nature and the songwriting translates well, but there was something always missing in my opinion. Right before the onset of the pandemic, I was just starting to perform again. I played a couple shows but that missing piece was still prevalent. I started working with two incredibly talented musicians to formulate a band that could fill out my sound in a live setting. However, during all this excitement – and lockdowns, I was doing plenty of Facebook live streams. Every live I would do, there was this gentleman that went by the name of J. Christopher Vaught. He’d comment his likes and send notes of surprise about my style (I play left handed but upside down) and encouragement. One day, he asked permission to cover one of my songs “Wheaton County”. I thought, well, sure! No one has ever asked me that before. Then he pulled the audio off of one of my YouTube videos (which was just vocals and guitar) and damn near produced the whole song – drums, bass, etc. While this relationship was forming, I sent him the acoustic version of Modern Severance. He threw the reprise back into my court where I added some flare. Voila, Modern Severance Reprise. He has an incredibly gifted talent for playing just about every instrument thrown in front of him, and he has been generous to share that gift with me to benefit my music.

RAG: How did all of this start for you?

My father was a DJ in the 70s and my mother loved to sing. Some children were sang lullabies; I was lulled to sleep by the intro to Boston’s “More than a Feeling”. I asked Santa for a guitar when I was five because I wanted to play “Hotel California” by the Eagles. The guitar I was gifted was much too big, so I laid it on my lap and learned (albeit briefly) to play almost in a slide fashion. As I grew older, I was able to bring the guitar up to the proper position – except I was holding the right-handed guitar left-handed. This has been the way I have played ever since. Low E on the bottom, high E on the top. I flip everything in my head when I watch others play to follow with them. I started writing music when I was in my early teens. “Wheaton County” is probably the earliest one written that I still play today. I was sixteen when I wrote it for an assignment in English class.

RAG: I'm hearing some different styles on this one. Who are your actual biggest musical influences?

My favorite songwriter is Fran Healy and he also happens to front my favorite band, Travis. I love the musicianship and the way he writes his lyrics. I’ve always felt a strong connection to British rock/pop, a la Travis, Oasis, Coldplay. However, there is also a tiny Alanis Morissette on my shoulder who brings some grunge, and a lot of female heat.

RAG: What's next for you as an artist?

Always writing the next new song. Aside from that, performing with my bassist Jon Larson and drummer Nick Engelhart. As COVID restrictions ease, we’re able to book shows with the safety of everyone in mind without compromising our love of an audience. The next single will be released sometime this summer entitled “Black Eyeliner” which we recorded with iconic engineer/producer Christopher Blood and producer Tom Prestin. Along with that full production, several other singles are being produced with J. Christopher Vaught.

RAG: Did you used to perform live? Will you be focusing on that at all when the time comes?

Already deep into focusing on that! Booking shows for this summer! I love performing live. I’m a half-people pleaser half attention-needer. Performing live fills both of those requirements! Plus, I love connecting with an audience.

RAG: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?

I run an auto repair / vehicle dealership. I've been in the auto industry for over ten years now. I also graduate in May with my masters in accounting. I have a beautiful family at home, and a few other hobbies I chase. I used to race mountain bikes, but now I am lazy and ride for fun – or I opt for a motor to do the hard work and ride my motorcycle.

RAG: What kind of things inspire you to write?

People tend to ask what my process is…honestly, it is very simple. I mess around on my piano or with my guitar and usually, a progression or melody emerges that I find catchy. Same goes with the band – my bassist Jon is especially talented at throwing a bass line at me first and I fall in love. If I play that bit a few times, and I feel something, words come pretty quick. I have a mantra – if it is a struggle to write the lyrics, then I’m fighting too hard for a song. Every song that I have written (that has found a home on my set or has been recorded) likely took between one-to-twenty-four hours to write. Bonus points if I keep coming back to it or it becomes an earworm. If I fall asleep with the words in my head, I know I’m on to something good.

RAG: You’ve been releasing music since 2018. What sort of advice would you have for other up and coming artists trying to get heard?

Funny story, I’ve actually been releasing music since I was 19. My first EP, which was released in 2006 (before digital distribution was huge), featured five songs. Those tracks can be found on my YouTube page to this day…or on an old autographed CD that was donated to a thrift shop (that’s always a good feeling finding those). I think the best advice is to be your own advocate. If you feel you have something worth someone listening to, fight for it. Rejection happens – you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. You’re going to play the random gig in the dive club where they claim the manager who is in charge of payment “went home ill” (Don’t worry, he’ll connect and settle up later!) You’re going to share your song a million times to all of your friends and their friends and those people’s friends – only to make a few dollars off of streams. Who knows, you might get your art in front of the right person and the rest is history. Or maybe, your music is your outlet and passion, and having one person write to you and say your song helped them in some way is enough. Whatever your desired end-result is, don’t settle. Keep going. You’ll find your niche.

RAG: Who are you listening to right now?

I’ve got a serious musical crush on AJR. The song “Weak” just hits me hard. I wish I wrote it - that's how attached I am to those lyrics. I am also a fan of Sir Sly. The regulars, other than Travis, are Lily Allen, Kasabian, Kaiser Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand. If you get into my truck and we’re going somewhere, we’ll be listening to them!

RAG: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?

Thank you for the follows, the likes, the purchases and the virtual tip jar donations. I write music as a cathartic process for me, but knowing that it is appreciated and enjoyed adds to my joy exponentially. Musicians everywhere have had a rough go, along with venues over the past year. Your support and love have gotten me through it. I am sure my fellow musicians agree – your patronage in any form means the world!

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