Mark: Tonight we’re chatting with Samantha Martin from Samantha Martin and the Delta Sugar about the new album, The Reckless One, which will be released on the 20th of November this year by Gypsy Soul Records, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us here on the rock and blues by show.
Samantha: Absolutely. My pleasure. Thanks, Mark.
Mark: No problem that you’re a singer songwriter and a bandleader, but could you just introduce yourself and give us a little background on yourself and how you started out in the music industry?
Samantha: Absolutely. So I was born Samantha Martin. I was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada now. And I’ve just been playing music since I was about seven and professionally since I was about twenty two. OK, that’s
Mark: Great. Who were your early influences?
Samantha: My earlier influences included a lot of funny enough country music. So my dad was a big country music guy. I listened to a lot of Willie Nelson and Hank Williams growing up. But then my mom, she was a rock and roller and so she was listening to a lot of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones. So those, I would say, were my earliest influences. And then as I grew a little bit older and started doing a little bit digging of digging into what influenced the rock and roll music that my mom listened to, that’s when I started getting into some of the earlier blues music coming out of the Mississippi Delta and the soul music coming out of Memphis. So ie Stax and of course, Muscle Shoals.
Mark: Ok, it’s perfect. So it’s Samantha Martin and the Delta Sugar and why the Delta Sugar why that name?
Samantha: So the reason I called it Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar was just because there were a few incarnations of what I was trying to do in my career. And Delta Sugar was just indicative of the sound that we were going for. It’s that sweet three part harmony and the sort of the sound that was coming out of the southern United States in the 50s, 60s, 70s.
Mark: The album is called The Reckless One. Why the Reckless One?
Samantha: So I called the record the Reckless One, because I personally felt very reckless. I was being reckless. I was being reckless in love. I was being reckless with my career. As far as you know, I just felt like we were kind of full steam ahead on everything without giving much time to really think things through. So it was sort of a running joke amongst myself and my friends that, you know, I was like throwing caution to the wind and just kind of going for it. So I felt sort of reckless. So we called it the rReckless One.
Mark: That’s perfect. It’s 11 originals and one cover by Bob Dylan. Meet Me In The Morning. What made you choose that particular track?
Samantha: Well, we had been in the studio for two separate sessions and we had booked all this studio time. And we were at the end of the second session and we had about three hours left. And rather than just throw away the studio time and leave the studio, we decided to just have a little fun in the studio and try a few different things. We had originally started with a couple of covers that we play live, and it just was lacking the energy because I think musicians tend to get a little bit bored sometimes. If you play the same song over and over and over again, sometimes you get a little bit bored of it and so is really lacking the energy that we have live. So I thought, well, why don’t we try a cover song that we don’t do? And maybe In The Morning, because of the simplicity of the chord structure, it’s quite easy to pick up on it. And because it’s such a timeless style song and so well written that it could be moved into different genres so it can be bent to the soul side of things as opposed to the way Bob Dylan did it, so we just were having fun in the studio. And it turned out so great that we thought, oh, heck, why not? We’ll put it on the record. And it turned out it just turned out so great. We were having fun with it.
Mark: How does the writing process work with you then? Do the words come first or is it like a riff built around or do you sit around all together in a room?
Samantha: I tend to write with one other person, possibly two other people. We don’t write as a band. So I get together with a guitar player or a piano player or somebody who is also, you know, just a lyricist, for example, like Paul Reddick was one of the co-writers. He’s not really an instrumentalist, but he’s an amazing, poetic lyricist. So we I kind of get together with one or two other people and we just depending on if that person comes to the writing session with an idea, i.e. a riff or a chord progression that they like or that they’ve been kind of working on, we just kind of go from there. So we sit down, we have a coffee, we discuss what kind of song that I’m looking for, for the record, whether it be upbeat, down tempo, whether I’m looking for more of a soul lean or if I’m looking for more of a blues lean. So we just kind of have a little discussion and we sit down and we talk about it and we start playing the music, I think first, because then the lyrics kind of come to you. The music inspires the lyrics for me,
Mark: And are they personal experiences, I’m reading through track listing there’s songs like I’ve Got A Feeling, Pass Me By, All That I Am, One Heartbreak and all those sorts of like imply a personal connection to the songs.
Samantha: Definitely. Most of my writing is very personal. I either write about situations that I’ve been in or situations that have happened to other people that I know. And they’ve you know, we’ve talked about what happened. For example, One Heartbreak is about my little brother, who, you know, has been struggling through his early adulthood to sort of find his identity and his purpose. And he was doing a lot of moving around. Canada is quite a large country. So he would move from Ontario to Alberta and then Alberta to Ontario, and he was bouncing around a lot. And that song was me kind of saying the only common denominator to your pain and misery is you, not the location. So if you just put down some roots and it was just sort of that conversation that I was having with him about putting down roots and then and just kind of sticking things out and you’ll come out the other side. I’m better for it.
Mark: So do you feel when you’re putting together the album or writing for the album that you have like a concept or a feeling or a theme you want to go with the whole thing? Or is it like a collection of individual songs that kind of come together to form an album?
Samantha: I think it depends on the album. So our first album Send The Nightingale. There was quite a bit of material that dealt with the feelings that I was going through when I found out that my mom had terminal cancer and was passing away. So there was definitely a theme in that record since then for the record that we put out just previous to this run to me and this record, The Reckless One, it deals primarily with the human condition of love, either love leaving, love coming, love sticking around, or, you know, the trials and tribulations that people kind of go through and trying to find common ground and understanding and and working through the vulnerability. So the last two records have been a similar theme, which is the vicissitudes of love.
Mark: The first single Don’t Have To Be what made you choose that as the lead single then?
Samantha: We chose Don’t Have To Be for the lead single because it was fun, danceable sort of song that would catch people hopefully caught would catch people’s attention and the subject matter wasn’t too heavy. It was just sort of a lighthearted introduction to the record. It’s indicative of sort of everything that happens in that record, as far as you know, from song to song, it changes here and there. But, you know, it was an all encompassing sort of song that kind of took everything that was happening on the record and went. Here’s a taste. And then. Yeah, it’s also sort of a familiar there’s a familiarity to it. It’s indicative of sort of the Rolling Stones. It’s got those sounds and things that people would be like. I feel like I’ve heard this song before, but I haven’t. And I don’t know what it is like. I don’t know who did it. So, you know, for example, if you’re sitting in a cafe and they’re playing that song, you might think, oh, that sounds like a Rolling Stones cover or that sounds like this cover. But meanwhile, it’s mine.
Mark: I did notice that when I was listening through to the album, there’s definitely hints of other artists in there. And as you quite rightly say, it’s very difficult to put your finger on where that particular feelings come from, shall we say.
Samantha: Yeah. And I think a lot of artists do that. Like if you look at, for example, Gretta Van Fleet, Greta Van Fleet, they’re quite obviously trying to be the, you know, the 2020 version of Led Zeppelin. So it’s a little on the nose for me personally. Not that I don’t think they’re great. I think they’re great. But, you know, it’s a little too on the nose. You’re trying to parrot exactly what Led Zeppelin did. Whereas with me and with a lot of other artists we want to pay homage to the music that influenced us without directly stealing.
Mark: More of a style thing rather than.
Samantha: Yeah so stylistically we’re influenced by the record and the songs are influenced by sort of that Stax, Motown, even moments of Muscle Shoals or even Phil Spector, you know, one of the songs on the records, very Phil Spector. So we’re but it all kind of comes out of the 50s to 70s rock and roll, soul and blues music that was coming out in that time. And I’m paying homage to what influences me as an artist.
Samantha: That’s all right. It was actually made in Canada. It was called Parkdale Home Studio here in Toronto, and it was produced by Darcy Yates and Rinnan Ulasdoan.
Mark: Why did you choose those particular guys to produce the album then?
Samantha: Well, Darcy had produced my Run to Me album, which was the record that came just before this one. And his take is a very minimalist approach to production. So he likes a very basic minimalist approach, whereas Renon, he’s the guy that wants all the bells and whistles and he wants everything to be really produced and slick. So I chose the two of them to work together so that I could find a balance between the minimalist approach and all the bells and whistles.
Mark: So kinda getting the best of both worlds.
Samantha: Exactly. So, Darcy, would you pull Renon in and say, OK, that’s too far, that’s too far, we can’t do that. And then Renon would be the person that would push Darcy to be like, you know what, we need a string section. So there was this give and take between the two of them. And I got the best of both worlds. And it worked out
Mark: Just turning to the cover, the Fabergé egg,as a grenade. Whose idea was and what’s the thinking behind that?
Samantha: Yeah. So the artist who made that piece, his name is Dave Crowflit and he is an incredible artist. He is Canadian, but he lives in California now. And he had this series called The Paradise Grenade. And it was he would explain it better, like his purpose of making the Fabergé egg over the grenade. But the way I interpreted it and the way that, you know, the reason why we chose that is because, because love is fragile, but it can also be quite explosive and damaging. And so because the record deals quite a bit with, as I was saying earlier, the vicissitudes of love. You know, like it’s indicative of sort of like me as a person. It’s this vulnerability in this fragile because a Faberge egg is fragile, but so is the grenade. So they have two very different outcomes. And I guess how would I explain it? Like they look the same and they’re but they’re very different,
Mark: Very, very different.
Samantha: So depending on, you know, whether you’re falling in love, it could be a delicate Faberge egg. Or if you look at a song like Better To Have Never, where it was about a relationship that ended. And I wish I had never been in in the first place, that was more of a grenade. You know, I threw that one and just kind of blew the bridge out of the water, never to return.
Mark: The album is out on the 20th November this year. But what have you been up to during lockdown? Have you been continuing to write or have you just sort of like been keeping yourself sane, shall we say?
Samantha: Well, I to be completely honest, because we had just come out of the studio last October, November. I had done the bulk of my writing last year in August and September. I’m the kind of person where I have to if I’m not writing on a deadline, like, say, for example, for a record, I tend to just focus on the actual performance of the material that I’ve been written and work on the live show and use my creative processes towards the artwork, towards the how I’m going to release a record in the middle of a pandemic. Exactly. You know, because everything’s changed. So I used a lot of my creative brain to try to creatively think about how I’m going to release the record, given that I can’t tour and I can’t play. I suppose so we’ve been working a lot more on content like video content and artwork. Yeah, so we’re working towards that and that, trust me when I say we make all these plans and then, you know, depending on what’s happening at that particular moment, those plans can get canceled. And so I’ve been really just focusing on the business side and trying to get all my ducks in a row that way. And, you know, say like, for example, we had lined up the live stream show for the album release party.
And then just this Friday, they told everybody in Toronto that they can’t have people indoors for live music events. And because we had planned on having 50 people in the live audience, which was, you know, sort of important because we needed that money to fund the live stream in the first place, you know, so plans have changed and now we’re kind of knocked back on our heels and trying to figure out how we’re going to do it without the live in person. Audience So it’s been a little bit crazy. I’m trying to stay sane. I’m also trying to put a 12 piece band in a room for a live stream. So I got my hands full. I don’t have time to write right now. It’s been crazy, but generally speaking, I do have bouts of inspiration that will make me pick up that guitar and write, you know, write a song. And I have little ideas and I tend to like I’ll be walking from the post office or something and I’ll get like a flash of inspiration and I’ll just kind of sing it into my voice memos on my phone and, you know, come back to it later.
Mark: I was going to say the do you have like a sort of like a back catalog almost of ideas that you put away in a drawer and then when you’re ready to go for a full blown album, do you rummage around in it and pull out this these little snippets that you’ve made up during the previous couple of months or whatever.
Samantha: Absolutely. That’s one hundred percent what I do. Yeah. Because I get these little little bouts of inspiration and just kind of singing into a voice memo or write a note on my phone. I have a book beside my dad that I scribble notes in if I’ve had a dream that’s inspired me, those sorts of things, I journal a little bit. And yeah, when I go to write for the record, I pull out all those things and just kind of go from there. And that’s kind of all the little tidbits that I’ve done over the years. And yeah, I just sit down and try to go, OK, well that was really good. Let’s build on that.
Mark: Do you find that when you’ve actually finished the song, you say in inverted commas that you’re happy with it then, or do you like to put it away for a couple of weeks or whatever and revisit it and see whether you can like, fine tune it maybe or something like that? Or is it once it’s done, it’s done and that’s it. Move on to the next one.
Samantha: Well, I tend to, I would say that most of my songwriting, I write the bare song, you know, because it’s just usually just me on an acoustic guitar or me with one other guitar player or another keyboard player. So we tend to write the basics of the song and then the producers and I sit down and that’s where and when we go into the preproduction with the full band before we go into the studio, that’s where we’ll start fine tuning the record and say, for example, I wrote a song that didn’t have a bridge. And the producer said to me, well, we need a bridge for this song. So then me and the band will work out, you know, a bridge, part for that song and I’ll write the lyrics to it. Those sorts of things do happen quite a bit with the way I write songs, but usually for me personally, it’s a song that fights me too hard. Then I feel that it’s, you know, there’s a reason why it’s fighting me. I, I don’t I don’t tend to dwell too long on a song that just doesn’t seem to be sitting right.Move on to the next one,
Mark: As I said earlier, the Reckless One will be released on the 20th of November on the Gypsy Soul Records. But so where can our listeners find out more about yourselves and the band? And more importantly, where can they get hold of a copy of the album?
Samantha: So you can head over to SamanthaMartinMusic.com and if you go to the website, there is a store section where you can preorder the album both in the physical copies or anywhere where you listen to music. So whether it be Spotify, iTunes or Title, Deezer or anything like that, however you listen to music, you can get it there. And then, of course, physical copies via my website and on the website, there’s tons of pictures, there’s links to all my social media accounts for sort of more in the moment, updates of what’s going on and there’s a bio and all that kind of stuff. So it’s sort of my catchall. So anything that you need to find out about Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar’s all SamanthaMartinMusic.com.
Mark: That’s perfect. Well, thank you for taking time out your busy schedule and to chat with us here on the Rock and Blues by Hughes Show
Samantha: I really appreciate your time. Thank you.