Yesterday, I reviewed singer Samantha Preis’ single Cruel Love. I loved it so much, I wanted to get Ms. Preis here for an interview and to my delight, she said yes. Not only is she is a talented singer, she is also a very smart and interesting person. I enjoyed communicating with her very much and I hope you enjoy this interview. My questions are in bold and her answers should be below.
I ask this of most of my interviewees, where do you call your hometown?
I grew up in Easton, Connecticut (USA)
How young were you when you started to sing?
I’ve been singing since I can remember… As soon as I was able. There was always music playing in my house growing up and I come from a very musical family. There was always something theatrical going on and definitely always singing.
When was your first performance and what song did you sing?
My first vocal performance outside of school was, (if I remember correctly), at Las Vetas Lounge in Fairfield, CT: A little cafe close to where I grew up. I would perform here regularly starting around age 14. I had already written many songs by that time, none of which have been released. However, I did write many of the songs on my first album “Good News” as a teenager, the earliest when I was about 16: My Cold Hands, Aristotle and Wine, Good News, & On Boylston.
When you first started singing, did anyone say, “your voice will take you places?”
Yes 🙂 Initially, I mostly composed pieces on the piano. When I started writing lyrics and singing songs, I noticed people started paying more attention. My middle school choir teacher once told me my voice should be the center-point to my performances.
On the other side, did anyone try to discourage you?
No. I am very lucky to have come from an extremely encouraging, supportive family.
What is your favorite genre of music to listen to you?
Pop, Jazz, Gypsy Jazz, Folk, Classical… I kind of like a bit of everything.
As a follow-up, any particular musician, singer, or band that inspires you?
Joni Mitchell, Michael Hedges, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Jethro Tull, Neil Young, Django Reinhardt, Claude Debussy… A lot of music from the 60’s and 70’s!
I am curious, as far as movies, what’re your favorite movie soundtracks?
Pretty much anything by Thomas Newman, Rachel Portman, or Gustavo Santaolalla. I particularly love the soundtracks from Shawshank Redemption, Cider House Rules, and Motorcycle Diaries.
How do you define the genre that you sing?
Pop/Jazz/Folk or “Singer-Songwriter”
When did you get your break as a singer?
I haven’t gotten a break, haha! It’s a constant grind working as a musician! However, I have worked with some extraordinary people who have opened me up to some great opportunities. Most recently, I worked on two tracks with producer, Vic Steffens, and executive producer, Bob Anderson, to record the single “Cruel Love”, and another track which will be released in June.
Where are your favorite places to perform?
I personally love to perform in cozy, listening room-type venues, such as Caffe Vivaldi, in NYC, where there is an incredible warm ambiance, a wood-burning fireplace, and a big, beautiful grand piano. I also enjoy performing at Cafe Universel in Paris. Paris is an incredible place for live music.. People go to performances, first and foremost, to listen, rather than to socialize, and have a huge respect for art and culture.
I listened to your song Cruel Love and it was fantastic. Tell me a little about the inspiration and writing process of that song.
In “Cruel Love”, the “how do you feel” line came first: It was nighttime, and I was in my flat in West Hampstead, London. I was super busy at the time, finishing up my dissertation for my MA program at UCL so I didn’t end up finishing the song until I came back to the United States a few months later.
Is there a music video possibility for Cruel Love?
I have thought about it. I hope to put out a music video for future songs. If not Cruel Love, I hope to release a music video in the next year.
Is Cruel Love a pre-album single?
I am currently working on several recording projects at different studios. Whether I will compile the tracks and release them as an album, I am unsure. However, as time goes on, things will become more clear. The good news is that there will be many more music releases this year!
Your previous album, Good News, has some great music on it. Do you have a favorite song or two on it?
Hard to say. Probably ‘Crayola Marker’.
Any song or songs there you are especially proud of?
I am proud of all of them. However, I’m generally most excited about my new material because it is fresh. I currently enjoy performing “Song For Merlin”.
Where do you go to find inspiration for your music?
I think there energy is in the room where I create and I am just a vessel for it to come through in music-form. If I can somehow latch onto that energy and make it into something beautiful, then I have achieved my goal.
I found a video of you singing live, and I have to say, you sound just as amazing in person as on a recording. What kind of voice training do you do to keep your voice strong?
Thank you very much. I never really had much formal vocal training. I took a short class in college on the “correct way to sing”, and, before recording sessions I often do the “Anne Peckham Vocal Workout” 🙂 . However, during my undergrad at Berklee College of Music, my instrument of study was piano.
When preparing for a live show, do you have a pre-show ritual that you to get ready?
Not really. I like to give myself some time to relax and get into the zone before a performance. I think it’s extremely important that I put myself in a mental place where I can reconnect with my songs and play them with passion and enthusiasm. (This can often be difficult when you’ve played a song 100 times.)
One final question, got any advice for young music artists who want to break into the industry?
Just keep going. It’s extremely difficult to live as an artist. There may be people who discourage you. The most important thing is that you keep going and continue to believe in what your doing. If you truly believe in yourself, others will too.
That concluded our interview. Check out her website, find her official YouTube Channel, follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and like her on Facebook. She is a talented singer whose music you will enjoy listening to. Check out the photo gallery below.
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