Samantha Fish By Lori Smerilson Carson December 1, 2019 SAMANTHA FISH Filled with energy and enthusiasm, Samantha Fish is whole heartedly taking her latest studio album Kill or Be Kind on tour throughout the US until the end of December. Catching up with her in the midst of her busy schedule, she revealed some details about this show as well as some background information regarding her fifth studio record. SFL Music: Tell me about this tour. What can fans look forward to? Samantha Fish: Well, we’ve been playing the new album pretty much in its entirety for the new show. I think its what people have come to expect. A lot of guitar. A lot of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s really fun and high energy, but I feel like the songs are just more hook oriented. I feel like there’s more, I don’t know. I feel like it’s a more mature development in the show. So, we take them up and down through the catalogue. I’ve been kind of mixing it with some of the older things as well as the new stuff. You know, just trying to give people a good of time as possible. SFL Music: Anything in particular new or different besides the album? Fish: Yeah, the show itself, it’s like a completely different show then this time last year. I’m constantly trying to change up things here and there, you know, instrumentation, set list, song list. I mean it’s pretty much a new show from top to bottom. SFL Music: That’s awesome! Who would you say are your influences? There’s that bluesy sound, but for instance “Belle of the West” sounds like there may be a little bit of a country influence and your new single “Bulletproof” has more of a rock sound? Fish: You know, I think my first influence had to be just whatever was playing on the radio. It’s kind of like I just grew up in that time period and that’s what was available for guitar players. Like I would definitely gravitate towards classic rock at the time. So, there’s old school cool stuff like The (Rolling) Stones, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Led Zeppelin. Stuff like that, and I kind of found my way to blues through that because all of those guys were really heavily influenced by the Delta. You know, the style that was coming. That was born in America here. So, I got into blues pretty heavy. I really connected with like the Fat Possum (records) roster, especially North Mississippi style, but I also as far as a songwriter goes, I love songwriting, storytelling, country music and Americana. And for singers, I just was hooked on R&B and soul. So, it’s a little bit across the map, but I feel it all sort of mixes in pretty well. SFL Music: Definitely, and I love how you implemented the voice box in “Bulletproof.” How did it come about that you decided to do that as it is so unique? Fish: Scott Billington (Grammy Award recipient for Best Contemporary Blues Album) produced the record, so we had a pretty clear conversation about that song in particular. I wanted it to be like north Mississippi, EDM disco, a dance track. I’ve been playing around with vocal distortion for years, whether it’s like a megaphone through like a regular microphone, or just full on distorted micro effects in a studio. I’m constantly trying to push and get different textures and tones not just on vocals, but guitars too. if I could make a guitar not sound like a guitar, that’s kind of cool. (She laughed). Come up with new sounds and styles that way. SFL Music: In the “Bulletproof” video you play the box guitar. What or who influenced you to play guitar? To choose that instrument? Fish: I just always thought it was cool you know. What’s cooler than listening to a really cool guitar solo? I think I was always attracted to it. It just seemed so sexy and ballsy and in charge and kind of the opposite of who I think I was growing up. I was like a really shy kid, so I think, you know, you’re kind of attracted to. Like the moth to a flame kind of thing. I don’t know, just rock ‘n’ roll to its core. I’m attracted to it. SFL Music: What was it like to be on the cover of Guitar World Magazine? Fish: Well at first, I thought it was a joke. I’ve had some fans make some lovely photoshop copies of like Rolling Stone and stuff. I just thought it was another, like fan made. I was like, oh that’s sweet. (she laughed). Like a day later my publicist was like ‘congrats’ and I was like What? Are you messing with me? It kind of blew me away. I felt very honored. Prestigious spot to be in. SFL Music: What would you say your mark on the music industry as far as guitar playing would be as you play with a variety of guitars. Fenders, Gibsons, and Delaney? Fish: I think as a guitar player, we all have our own unique way of expressing something. So, to me it’s just my own unique way of expressing my feelings on the guitar and I play with a lot passion. I think that’s what people get out of my performance and stuff. I mean, I really just, I put my all into it. So, I think it’s empowering for women to see other women play guitars. I hope to be kind of a role model. There were role models for me. I hope to continue on that tradition of female models for other young players and you know, just be the best that I can be. I think I’m still working on trying to get my voice in it. I think you’re always looking for your voice in it. I kind of want to push the boundaries with it too. I like tip toeing onto the experimental side of tones and textures and effects, but I haven’t really thought about that, like what I want to be known for as a guitar player. I mean, it’s a hard thing to sum up I suppose. SFL Music: You come from a family of musicians? Your dad (Bill Fish), your sister (Amanda Fish). Fish: They all kind of dabble in it. My dad played guitar. He still does. It’s a hobby with his friends. My mom sang when she was in church. When she was a kid, and she went to college for it too. My sister plays guitar. She sings. She does a lot. All my aunts are musical and my uncles are musical. I think I just come from a really musical family. SFL Music: Do you think that contributes to who you are as a musician or do you think other influences more so contribute, or do you think it’s a combination? Fish: I think it’s a combination. I think we get to where we are in life, it’s a combination of who you’re born as and what you surround yourself with. It’s a nature and nurture thing. I definitely think that I probably come by it honestly with them, but it’s been a lot of hard work. Never came easy. So, I kind of went after it and just surrounded myself with everything music. People, you know, records. Different instruments. I kind of just dove in and that was my life from 17 years old on. Just the music. SFL Music: What influences you when you write your music? Anything in particular? Fish: It’s all over the map you know. It’s usually anything that sparks any kind of a strong emotion. Anything from like broken hearts, to politics, to people being mistreated in the world. It kind of starts there. I mean, its anything that sort of starts with a strong emotion. So, you write about it and then it develops. You write about good stuff too. It’s not all angsty. I think it probably starts from just a strong emotion. Whether that’s good or bad. Strong emotions always inspire right? SFL Music: Yes. Absolutely. What would you recommend to new, up and coming artists? Fish: I just would, I guess tell them to do as much research, you know, learn about the history of what you’re doing. Be educated in it. I think it’s really important. Especially in blues. We really focus on the history of the genre. Where it came from, and it’s really important. It’s part of like the right of passage to know and to do your homework on it. I’m always a fan of education. Just knowing that you’re going to have to work hard for it if you want to make a dent. Nothing comes easy. So, that’s usually what I tell anybody who’s interested in doing this, and find your own voice. Don’t try to be a clone of somebody else. You’re never gonna do somebody better than they can do themselves. So, find your voice. Find what makes you unique, makes you different. Then chase it. Don’t let anybody tell you it’s not good enough, Just, keep going for it if you believe in it. You know, that’s what you got. SFL Music: Well, you’re a very positive influence. What do you want to convey with your videos? Is there a goal? They seem to show the fun you and your band are having. Sort of a slice of your performances like with the “Bulletproof” Video? Fish: Yeah. Well there’s something about videos and I love doing music videos. I’ve actually got to do three for my new label per album which usually I only get to do one. So, it’s just another form of art, artistic expression, and this way you can tell even more of the story then what the song might have laid out before. You can even go further into it to actually, this is more of a story of its own, dictate the art, the images of that song. It’s kind of just another way to, I guess, continue to express yourself. SFL Music: Was there a theme behind the new album Kill or Be Kind? Fish: I think overall, and I’ve kind of given this a lot of thought because there’s a few different themes in it I’ve come back to. Like there’s a lot of love songs on the album. There’s a lot of growing things I think on the album, but I remember when I was writing it, maybe not every song I was writing, I was in the best place or frame of mind, but kind of holding onto a shred of hope and empowerment and optimism throughout because even though there are a lot of sad songs on the album, there’s still kind of this thread that’s like, even if you’re leaving and moving on, you’re gonna do better. So, there’s some empowerment to that. In hindsight looking back at it, it’s like ok, I think this album actually has some optimism to it. It’s actually kind of an optimistic record. Like you get up, dust yourself off and move on, you know. It’s kind of empowering. SFL Music: Are there more singles coming out soon for fans to look forward to? Fish: Yeah. I just don’t know when they’re going to come out. We just finished a video two days ago. I think that one’s probably going to drop in December. SFL Music: Perfect. This article is out in December. Fish: Awesome. Oh, that’s perfect, So, the song is called ”Dream Girl.” It’s the ballad on the album and I was really proud of that song when I wrote it and I thought the production was really cool. We did some really modern things to the back of that song that we think kind of separate it. Yeah, I’m excited for the video to come out. Tell a little bit more of the story. SFL Music: You made the Girls With Guitars album (with Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde). Is there possibly a future duo with your sister Amanda? Fish: You know, as far as me and Amanda ever doing anything together, right now nothings on the table, but for now she’s all in on her stuff and I’m all in on mine and we’re supportive of each other, but it’s been a separate track so far. I think that’s just kind of where we’re going right now. I definitely support her and I know she supports me too. SFL Music: Does it help having family in the industry? Fish: You know it’s an interesting dynamic because It gives us all this common thread to talk about for sure. I think it’s nice to have people around you who understand what you’re doing. SFL Music: Do you ever think of designing your own guitar? You have such a wide span of guitars that you play. Fish: Well I’m trying to sweet talk some people at a bigger company to see if we can make that a thing, but we’ll see how far that sweet talk gets us (she chuckled). Guitar World just came out with a thing, and it was like companies that are going to make signature models and they were, I think they were hoping that Fender would make a signature model for me, but I don’t know if this is a thing. I’ve actually had a signature model for years, the Delaney guitars, and they’ve been great to me over the years. I play Gibsons. I play Fenders. I play cigar boxes. All kinds of stuff. SFL Music: What is your favorite or do you have a favorite? Fish: Right now, my favorite’s been my Gibson SG. It’s kind of my go to. It’s completely awesome. It works in a lot of scenarios. Its loud, got a pretty rock ‘n’ roll output. It plays great and it just applies to a lot of my songs. SFL Music: Is there anything else you want fans to know. Fish: We’ve been really busy. It’s been a great year. I’ve been really fortunate to get to produce albums and stuff. You know, I don’t really take time off. I’ve got a little time off right now. I don’t think you can hear my voice. I’ve got laryngitis like crazy. My body knows when to shut down, which is a good thing. I’ve got time off, so I’ve got good timing at least, but yeah, we’ve got a lot of things in the works. SFL readers keep an open eye for her upcoming concerts and be prepared for the show with checking her LP Kill or Be Kind. 34 | www.SFLMusic.com The Samantha Fish Cigar Box Guitar Festival New Orleans 2020 The Samantha Fish Cigar Box Guitar Festival -New Orleans 2020 will take place over four days (Wednesday, January 15 through Saturday, January 18) in two of the city’s best live music venues: New Orleans’ top Americana club, Chickie Wah Wah (2828 Canal St. 504-304-4714), which will host the Festival on Wednesday, January 15 and Thursday, January 16 (7:00pm-10:30pm each night); and The Howlin’ Wolf (907 S Peters St. 504-529-5844), which will host afternoon and evening shows on Friday, January 17 and Saturday, January 18 (2:00 pm-11:00 pm each evening). Ticket Sales Link: https://www.eventbrite.com/d/united-states–louisiana/samantha-fish-cigar-box-guitar-festival. The New Orleans Cigar Box Guitar Festival, founded in 2016, has gained a reputation for outstanding entertainment during its first four years in existence. For 2020, Samantha Fish and the NOCBGF have partnered to expand the growth and outreach of the festival and the Cigar Box guitar. “I have included the Cigar Box guitar on a song or two on most of my albums (including my last single ‹Bullet Proof,› says Samantha Fish. «The instrument may look limited but there are so many sounds and styles that we haven’t discovered yet. I am looking forward to making this one of the biggest events honoring the instrument as well as other acoustic instruments that can Rock.” “The partnership of Samantha Fish and the New Orleans Cigar Box Guitar Festival is a marriage made in roots music heaven,” says Festival Producer, Collins Kirby. “She’s a contemporary artist who’s fully in touch with the traditions that inform today’s music. We’re delighted to work with her spreading the word about the art and music of handmade instruments.” The focus of the event is to celebrate the great music and rich cultural history of the Cigar Box guitar and similar homemade instruments. Historically, Western pioneers, Civil War soldiers, rural farmhands, street singers and other resourceful musicians found ways to build these expressive devices from household items and random hardware. Many musicians throughout the world are currently using them to record and perform live, making the unique instruments and their sound a staple of today’s Americana music scene. The festival is excited to present top homemade instrument performers April Mae & the June Bugs, Sugarcane Jane, John Nickel, Cigar Box Serenaders, Steve Arvey, Cash O’Riley, and others. Workshops, demonstrations and interviews will comprise the educational component of the event. In addition, the Festival will host special sets which will include the legendary John Mooney, New Orleans icon Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and the Golden Eagles, Jonathon Long, Waylon Thibodeaux, Johnny Sansone, Damon Fowler, Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers), and more. On Friday and Saturday, Samantha Fish and guests will be performing, closing both nights at The Howlin’ Wolf with a special concert. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the New Orleans Blues Society. Details and ticket opportunities are available at www.SamanthaFishCigarBoxGuitarFestival.com. Share It!