Today we bring together Nashville psych-rock artist Sam Hale and Wisconsin singer-songwriter Rändi Fay for our latest Bands Interviewing Bands.
After years of sharing his music in Los Angeles, Sam Hale decided to continue his journey in Nashville where he’s just released his latest EP, Somewhere Between Love and War. The new EP holds nothing back, as Hale gives listeners a deep glimpse into his personal struggles. “In the past year, I have made a lot of sacrifices and shifted my energy quite a bit and this EP shows my process through it all,” he explains. “I told myself, I could either be the safe version of myself, or the boldest. I chose the latter.”
Rändi Fay has been nominated for Jazz Artist of the Year for Wisconsin 4 years in a row (2015-2018) by the Wisconsin Area Music Industry, and while she’s currently working on a new album, she’s just released a brand new video titled “Supernatural.” Her music is ethereal and intimate, and she works to reach her listeners through her hashtag #connectingworlds.
Rändi Fay: I love that we both have recently released songs entitled “Supernatural,” and in both cases, have applied that term to a woman (in mine to both a woman and a man). It is a really cool and respectful way to view the power that we have to uplift each other. I am curious if the title came first, or if it was a result of your creating the lyric of the magnificent story of your mother’s strength and courage?
Sam Hale: That’s a great question. I started writing “Supernatural” when I was reminiscing with my mom about the past. She shared a few stories with me, and I began asking her about a more detailed account of how we came to the states. After writing a few songs about my childhood, the idea of writing a song about my mom and her relentless pursuit to get us here began to surface. The title “Supernatural” came a little later as I started writing over the guitar melody in the verse.
RF: Is your mom still with us, and how does she like the song? (It would make me cry!!)
SH: She’s doing well! She loved the song and I believe it did make her cry. Oops! At least it was a good cry 🙂
SH: Your song, “Supernatural” is more centralized on the idea of a powerful, kinetic connection equally shared by both partners. Did you write the lyrics based on your own personal experience?
RF: I would say not as specifically autobiographical as yours. But when I really think about it, maybe. The lyric has subtexts that are based on many different experiences of my own. For instance, I am a “soft/strong feminist” and wanted the protagonist to be the same- willing to be vulnerable, but also not allowing herself to be a victim in any way. I have had a few of those #metoo experiences -I am sorry to say that growing up in the 70’s and in the 80’s venturing into a then-male dominated profession, I was clearly not alone! I will never allow that to happen again. I wanted to model that in this song. You don’t need to be a victim to have true love. The vulnerability represented in the song comes from trust, not fear. Finding the right partner who appreciates you for your strength rather than being threatened by it can be “supernatural” in itself, as is moving beyond the memories of the past!
RF: I can see you have a very sincere heart, and are very socially conscious. Can you share with me three of your top causes?
SH: Thank you! I am quite passionate about immigration and human rights. I have put together a couple benefit concerts and plan to explore that more in the future. I feel like music isn’t enough these days. We have to give back any way we can, and music is a great platform from which one can do great things.
SH: I can tell you are very much inspired by nature through your photographs. Where is the most inspiring, surreal location you’ve been able to write music, poetry, etc?
Oh yes indeed! That location would be in the San Juan mountains (Southwestern Colorado) around the Telluride area. The magic and majesty of the mountain vistas, and the exhilaration of the physical challenges totally loosens up my creative process. I also love the Door County area of Wisconsin. I have had inspiration while on runs, while mowing my lawn, while looking out my window into the forest. You are absolutely right that nature plays a huge role in my music!
RF: Do you remember life in Iran? Have you gone back at all to visit?
SH: I have distinct memories, but I left when I was seven so I don’t remember a lot. I haven’t gone back, but I want to at some point. Part of me is afraid to go back, because I don’t want to get stuck even though I am a US Citizen.
RF: You have an amazing facility with English as expressed in your lyrics. Have you always spoken English, or did you learn it as a second language later in life? I have found that my friends who speak English as a second language have some of the most unusually beautiful ways of saying things- almost bridging the two languages.
SH: I learned English when I was seven and I picked it up pretty quick. Growing up my parents would speak Farsi to my sister and I, but over time my English has taken over. I still speak some Farsi with my parents, but I don’t practice enough so I’ve become a bit rusty at it.
RF: How has your transition to Nashville gone? It’s a different city from LA!
SH: Nashville is great. I have been fortunate enough to meet some great people. It’s definitely a different city than LA in so many ways. I feel like if you take Fresno, where I grew up, and put it in a blender with Los Angeles then you get Nashville. It’s simple and less crowded here, but we still have a city vibe.
RF: Do you do all of your own writing, arranging and production, or do you have a collaborator/producer?
SH: I usually produce my own music, but on this last EP I did work with a producer who helped with arrangements and production. I generally write the songs at home, and then develop them in Logic. Once I get a rough vision of how I want the song to sound, I take it into the studio and we develop it and add session players.
SH: What is your general process for writing? Do you start with lyrics first or the music?
RF: I sometimes start with a pretty strong concept of what I want to write about, but sometimes the inspiration is completely random. Whatever the source, in general my songs begin with a pretty full formed hook- usually a really melodic lyrical phrase with the rudiments of groove. The lyric content and more fully formed groove pretty quickly evolve. There is no doubt that my melodies develop secondary to the lyric. And I have found that I sometimes have very trite melodies stuck in my head. That is when I call on a co-writer to shake things up and come up with something completely different. I really love the collaborative process for just this reason!
SH: What inspired the contemporary dance choreography in your music video for Supernatural?
RF: The dancer, Azure Hall, basically did her own improvisational dance inspired by the track. Isn’t she fantastic? The producer, Jocelyne Berumen, had the idea for a dancer to be a physical manifestation of the seductive vibe in my head, and she found the perfect woman to fill the role.
Bands Interviewing Bands: Sam Hale (left) photo credit: Kirsten Balani. Rändi Fay (right) photo credit CyclopsGirl
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Catch Sam Hale on tour with Jon Pattie this Fall.