Interview with Savannah Jaine
Savannah Jaine, the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, has just released her new single ‘Return’ in collaboration with her partner, British guitarist Lee Meadows.
Last year, Savannah was working with Lee as a Country Duo aboard the cruise ship, the Carnival Dream. Whilst they were stuck in quarantine outside of Houston for weeks, they recorded the first demo of ‘Return’.
The track was eventually recorded at MilkShed Studios in Lancashire, UK and the pair worked with drummer and producer Chris Hope.
It is a song that is close to Savannah’s heart. It’s about leaving a toxic relationship, having the courage to close the door on that chapter of your life and accepting that you need to let go and learn to thrive on your own.
Drawing from their roots in country music, the lyrics take centre stage and Savannah’s vocals are bold and emotive and bring to mind artists like Tracy Chapman.
The entire production has a dream-like quality and warmth. It’s steady guitar lines, striking harmonies and moving vocals also convey a powerful sense of courage and bravery.
It was a real pleasure to chat to Savannah about her new single, her love of country music and how music has allowed her to travel the world…
You cite artists such as Yola, Brandi Carlile, Susan Tedeschi, Kacey Musgraves and Taylor Swift as inspirations. What is it about their music that you love?
I grew up on country music and have always appreciated great song-writing and solid musicianship. I really love this “Cosmic Country” style that’s becoming popular – organic instruments with pop/ambient production elements, throwbacks to more traditional folk styles but with EDM drumbeats, it’s all so interesting and satisfying to listen to!
How did you learn to write/to play/to sing?
I learned how to sing in church when I was younger, and began piano/voice lessons when I was around 5. I learned guitar basically on the job when I worked for Carnival Cruise Lines. If you want to learn a new instrument, put yourself on stage with an instrument you don’t play and you’ll learn fast – or else you’ll die from embarrassment.
Can you tell us about the story behind your latest track ‘Return’?
‘Return’ is a song about healing and moving on, finding happiness in your current circumstances. I wrote it after a toxic relationship ended – I was so upset I couldn’t fix everything and make things work, but it wasn’t my fault, it just wasn’t right. I was feeling really alone and felt I had nobody to talk to, so I wrote a song telling myself the things I needed to hear.
For this track, you collaborated with Chris Hope at MilkShed Studios in Lancashire, UK. What was that experience like and what is most special to you about this track?
It was amazing for us. My partner Lee produces all our music in our basement usually, but we felt this track needed other ears. Chris helped us refine our sound and brought some great expertise to the project. He also coached me through my lead vocal and I’d never had that before in the studio – I’m a live singer, not a studio singer, so I appreciated that so much. I think my favourite part of this recording is the little guitar hook Lee thought of – it was inspired by Taylor Swift’s Folklore and I think it fits so nicely. He was very proud of it!
You are planning to release a new single from your upcoming album every 6 weeks. Where do you usually gather song-writing inspiration and what is your usual writing process?
Anything is inspiration! I’ve been doing a Songwriter Challenge on Tiktok where people give me 3 random words and I write a song based on them. I’ve done around 50 so far. You can really find inspiration anywhere. My usual process is meditation to clear my mind and then sitting with my guitar and just singing/playing to see what I like. I’ll usually record a voice memo of what I come up with and then Lee can make a Logic track off of that – then it’s really on the go!
Is there going to be a theme running through your album?
Traditional and organic instrumentation with cosmic, ambient production elements – Cosmic Country, I suppose. We want to create a cohesive experience for the listener where all the tracks flow together effortlessly – but we’ll see what happens. That’s the goal!
You have performed as a country duo with your husband on cruise ships. What have you loved most about that experience?
Yes, both of us were contracting musicians for a long time separately before we met and then started a duo together. We both loved that we were able to travel whilst playing music and making a good salary. With Carnival, I visited around 40 countries and paid off my University loans in 5 years. It also made me a solid performer – 4 hours of singing a night, 6 days a week is no joke. Cruise ship musicians develop an endurance that I just haven’t encountered elsewhere.
Can you tell us about the best live show that you have ever played?
A few years back I self-booked my first European tour – I played in hostels in exchange for a free stay. It’s called Play to Stay and I don’t know why more indie artists don’t do it – its incredible. I played a show in Rome at The Yellow – I didn’t know anybody and had no draw at all, but that day I had met and befriended some other backpackers at the hostel and they all showed up to my gig and cheered me on. It was a great stage, a nice sound system and here I was with all these new friends in a country I’d never played in – it was a fantastic gig and a really cool experience overall.
If you could choose a non-country song and put a country twist to it, which song would you choose?
Oh, we love doing this, we pick new cover songs all the time to add to our live sets. We love doing your standard rock tunes like Sweet Child of Mine and stuff like that – we take requests on all our lives, we’ll play anything!
What can we expect from you within the next six months? Any releases planned? Future gigs?
With the UK still in lockdown, it’s hard to say when we will be back playing gigs – but we do live streams on Facebook and Tiktok regularly and our next single will be out beginning of May! It’s poppier, a summer bop called “Reality TV”.
Savannah’s plan is to release a new single every 6 weeks leading up to a full-length album at the end of the year so to keep up to date with her latest news and music, you can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Soundcloud TikTok and Spotify.
By Eveline Vouillemin