RPM's Marika Swan caught up with Choctaw singer-songwriter Samantha Crain mid-tour to talk about the art of packing, what it takes to keep healthy on the road and what's changed for her in the six years since she started this job.
I interviewed Samantha Crain a few weeks ago as she was just setting off on her spring tour - by now she's all finished up and back home. Her Choctaw father introduced her to the guitar and at the age of 25, she has been touring for the last 6 years. So since she was 19 years old she has toured for at least 6 months of the year and sprinkled the other half with one-offs, festivals and mini-tours. I managed to catch this busy veteran after she finished doing a spot on a local radio show:
Marika Swan: How did your interview on the radio go?
Samantha Crain: It’s one of those things about interviews because everyone wants me to tell them how exciting my life is. But it’s just as normal as anybody else who has a 9-5 job. Well not just like it because it is very different but it's not overly exciting. I am doing what I like to do which is traveling but also I’ve gotten used to it. It’s the routine that I get into. Driving to the city that I am going to play at, do whatever radio stuff or interviews that we do. And then we play the show and then we talk to people after the show. Then you go to sleep then you wake up and you do it again. It's not like a road trip. It can be if you want it to be. Which sometimes we want it to be. But sometimes it's exhausting to do that. This time around, we are all mellowed out a little and just want it to be a business trip. As you get older in life you need some routine in your life or you kinda go nuts. And that’s where I am at right now. We are going to cities we are really familiar with. We know where we like to go and people that we’re going to see. Its really enjoyable and satisfying because you are working for a paycheck and you want to be working for it.
MS: Probably the way you feel about it all now is very different than when you were 19.
SC: Oh yeah definitely. I mean also when we go to new places I get a lot of the excitement that I felt when I was first starting. When I go to Europe now and do shows I am very excited to see the cities. Anywhere in the States though is pretty much familiar. There are lots of cities that I have played over and over and over. I really love that too though, it's really nice to feel like they are your home away from home since I am not home a lot. I also have different resources available to me now. I wont happily sleep on the floor every night like I used to. Being six years older, you need a mattress under you once and a while. Just to be healthy you need some sort of routine. Get a good sleep, have something good to eat and maybe go jogging every once and a while. It’s just the things that become important to you as you get older. It’s probably that way for anybody who has a job. For me I just need to fit it into a day that’s otherwise pretty strict.
I just try to think of it like instead of me trying to get out of being a part of society this is how I fit into society. I think that everyone is there own cog in this machine that we live in and this is what I do. It's my job and it's because I love traveling and that’s very much a part of me. I love to play music. This is me contributing to society. We all work in our own ways so everything can move together so I don’t like to think of it as me trying to get out of being a normal person.
MS: You must be an expert packer.
SC: I’m actually not good at it. Its one of those things where I wish I had that skill and I feel like I’m getting better at it. When I first started touring the situations that I was traveling in were like we were in a really small vehicle and we could all bring one backpack full of stuff for two months. But I was also 19 years old so two weeks without showering, I didn’t care. Then we started traveling with a trailer so we had more room so I would literally bring everything that I wanted. Two giant suitcases full of stuff and like a bicycle. Just all sorts of books and tapes. And now I am doing more Europe stuff and I have to cut back on what kind of stuff that I can take. I pretty much take a small suitcase for however long I am going to be over there. Now I am trying to relearn the art of packing. You’d think I’d be good at it but I never bring what I need. And I bring everything that I don’t need.
MS: When you get full of doing what you do now, do you have other things that you dream for yourself?
SC: I don’t want to think about it. It would just be worrisome to think about all the things that you’d rather be doing other than what you are doing. It doesn’t seem very healthy. I think that you should focus on what you are doing and then when your path isn’t working out and you need to change the path of your life then you can think about that. Anytime that I feel unhappy it's probably because I am thinking too much on the "grass is always greener" mindset. So it makes it more sense to me to think about what I am doing now and try to focus on that as much as possible.
MS: So you try to live as much as possible in the present?
SC: I try to because I don’t think its something that comes to me very naturally. I think naturally I am a very futuristic thinker and so it’s better for me to kind of live where I am at for my own mental health.
Here's a lil' video of Samantha Crain's Churchill with Penny Hill, Brian and Laney of O Fidelis and Daniel Foulks, by VDub Sessions who documents Oklahoma musicians on the move.