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BLUES PLAYER

Succeeding at every phase of a dynamic music career. Leading the industry with her flashy style and crisp sounding vibrato.

Posted: March 30, 2022
While Faster never fails to showcase the gritty vitality of Fish’s musicianship, much of the album journeys into elegantly eclectic sonic terrain.

If you are a fan of blues music, then Samantha Fish is not an unfamiliar name. Samantha is one of the top performing blues artist to date. There are some comparisons with other blues artists. However, Samantha Fish has a clean and refreshing sound to her voice. That is only overshadowed by her stylish flair and selection of cigar box guitars. When all three come together, there is not stopping how far she can go in the music industry.

I personally felt, Samantha Fish gave everything she had on the “Kill or Be Kind” album. There was only one person that knew she had more to give. That was Samantha Fish herself. I firmly believe, that after her latest release of the album Faster, that there is no stopping her. There are just some artists that love music. The live and breathe it. It is just who they are. Yes, it the travel and hard work can be tiresome. But it is the love and desire that fills you with energy. Samantha is living off that energy. With that said, there is much more surprises in store.

Before we get into the Q&A segment of this article, let’s review some of Samantha’s accomplishments.

Over the course of her career as an award-winning artist, singer/songwriter/guitarist Samantha Fish has brought extraordinary power to her self-expression, capturing her inner world in combustible riffs, visceral rhythms, and spine-tingling vocal work. On her new album Faster, she joins forces with superproducer Martin Kierszenbaum (Lady Gaga, Sting, Sheryl Crow) and imbues even more intensity into her electrifying brand of blues/rock-and-roll. With Fish accompanied by legendary drummer Josh Freese (Guns N’ Roses, Nine Inch Nails, The Replacements) and bassist Diego Navaira of The Last Bandoleros, the result is a singular body of work both irresistibly galvanizing and emotionally raw.

The follow-up to 2019’s Kill or Be Kind (Fish’s Rounder Records debut), Faster came to life at the famed Village Studios in Los Angeles, where she and Kierszenbaum uncovered new possibilities in her captivating sound. “Kansas City played a major part in bringing us together: I was born and raised in KC and Martin has some familial ties. Shortly after being introduced last year, we had a conversation about making an album,” she recalls. “His track record was perfect for what I wanted to do with this album, which was to expand into different genres while retaining the roots I’d built in the blues world.” Revealing her affinity for North Mississippi blues heroes like R.L. Burnside and wildly inventive iconoclasts like Prince, the album ultimately embodies an unbridled energy true to its emotional core. “The whole record has a theme of taking charge and taking the reins, in a relationship or in life in general,” says Fish. “I really thought that after 2020 I’d end up with a really dismal, bleak album, but instead, we came up with something that’s fun and sexy and so empowering.”

Faster opens on its spellbinding title track, a fiercely stomping number whose vocal hook states her intentions to “make your heart beat faster.” Immediately making good on that promise, Fish next unleashes the restless urgency of “All Ice No Whiskey,” a pop-perfect powerhouse she considers something of a dare. “‘All Ice No Whiskey’ is a way of telling someone they don’t have any of that substance I’m looking for—sort of like, ‘Come back when you’ve got something interesting for me,’” Fish says. That defiant spirit also infuses “Better Be Lonely,” a fantastically loose and freewheeling track graced with a frenetic guitar solo. “That song’s about putting someone on ice, where you’re telling them: ‘I don’t want you right now, but when I am ready to have you, you better be there,” says Fish. Another bold statement of self-possession, “Twisted Ambition” brings mercurial rhythms and jagged guitar work to Fish’s refusal to let others define her. “It’s about flipping the roles of power—taking control and confronting a world that tries to put you in your place,” she notes.

While Faster never fails to showcase the gritty vitality of Fish’s musicianship, much of the album journeys into elegantly eclectic sonic terrain. One of Faster’s most vulnerable moments, “Crowd Control” unfolds in delicate beats and shimmering keyboard tones, forming a dreamy backdrop to Fish’s self-reflection. “It’s about confronting your demons – separating the version of yourself that you portray to the world from who you actually are. At its core, it’s about expressing vulnerability,” Fish explains. “When I wrote it, it felt like a true rootsy, Americana song. Martin added keys and modern synth textures that really brought it back around to this plaintive mood.” Featuring a guest spot from rapper/singer/songwriter Tech N9ne, “Loud” drifts from doo-wop reverie to guitar-fueled frenzy, riding that tension to glorious effect. “Tech N9ne is by far one of the biggest artists to come out of KC, and one of the biggest self-made artists in the world,” says Fish. “He was perfect for ‘Loud,’ which is a song about speaking your truth as loud as you can. It’s about saying to the person you’re with: ‘I want you, but I want you ugliness and all. So don’t ever be afraid to speak your mind and speak your heart.’” And on “Hypnotic,” Fish lays down a mesmerizing piece of R&B-pop, telegraphing unfettered desire in her seductive vocal delivery and lushly textured grooves. “‘Hypnotic’ is about putting somebody under a spell,” she says. “There’ve been times in my life when I haven’t felt all that in control in a relationship, and this song was my chance to become that person.”

For the final track to Faster, Fish selected the album’s most tender song, a gorgeously stark and slow-burning ballad called “All the Words.” “It’s about letting a relationship go because that’s what’s best for everyone, even though it’s a horribly painful experience,” says Fish. “When we recorded it, it was just me on guitar, Diego on bass, Martin playing the grand piano. It’s a song I hold very close, and it felt right to make it as raw as possible.”

Are you coming?

Throughout Faster, Fish threads her songwriting with the kind of nuanced storytelling and ultravivid detail that comes from carefully honing her craft. “Because we usually tour so much, most of my albums have been written in hotels between shows,” she says. “This was the first time I’ve ever had the opportunity to just sit in one place, and pour everything that was happening around me into songs.” Growing up in Missouri, Fish first found her love of songwriting in her late teens, mining inspiration from the likes of Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. Having taken up guitar at age 15, she soon began seeking out gigs by cold-calling countless local bars. “I used to open the phone book and call up every place in Kansas City, even if they didn’t have live shows,” she remembers. “I had maybe a three percent success rate, but eventually I started filling up my calendar—if you put on a good enough show, word of mouth gets around.” Over the years, Fish has maintained her reputation as a phenomenal live act and repeatedly turned out critically acclaimed albums, in addition to earning an ever-growing number of accolades.

For Fish, one of the greatest joys of making music is the powerful exchange of energy at her incendiary live shows. “I fell in love with music from going to shows, and I know how cathartic it can be. It heals your heart,” she says. “Anytime I play live, I just want to want to make people forget about everything else in the world and feel that same joy that I feel on stage.” And in the process of creating Faster, Fish experienced a similar exhilaration—a sustained head rush that’s entirely palpable in every track on the album. “There’s such a transformation that can happen in the studio when you really own that freedom to be creative,” she says. “I feel so charged up in those moments, like I can be whoever I want to be. It’s just me and these incredible musicians trying to make a piece of art that speaks for itself and contributes something new to the world. It’s never hard to feel inspired or empowered when that’s the mission.”

INTERVIEW WITH SAMANTHA FISH AND GUITAR THRILLS MAGAZINE

Guitar Thrills: I have to say, that I am a really huge fan of yours Samantha. I realize that you are very busy with the promotion of your latest release “Faster”. It means a great deal, that you have taken the time to answer some questions today.

Samantha: You are welcome.

Guitar Thrills: At what point did you decide to become a blues artist? Do you have family in the music industry?

Samantha: I don’t have family in the industry, but I do have family members that play. I grew up with music in the household. I decided I wanted to be a performer when I was around 17/18 years old. I had started attending live concert events and finally made my way onto a stage. That was a big turning point for me.

Guitar Thrills: What blues artist continues to provide you with inspiration? Was the blues genre you first choice, or are there other genres that could have suited you well?

Samantha: BB King, RL Burnside, and Junior Kimbrough were some earlier influences that still inspire me. I have always mixed different genres into my original music. Everything from rock to country/Americana. Blues, soul, pop, punk, r&b etc.

Guitar Thrills: There are varying opinions about guitar brand. What made you decide to that the Gibson SG would be your “go to” guitar?

Samantha: I always loved the way they looked. I loved Angus Young as a kid, so it’s kind of nostalgic for me. I also love Derek Trucks and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. When I finally got my hands on the one I have now, I really felt connected to it.

Guitar Thrills: I totally agree. When I think of the Gibson SG, I automatically think about Angus Young from AC/DC.

Guitar Thrills: The album “Kill or Be kind” was creative and ingenious. Did you imagine, that the “Faster” release would be as successful?

Samantha: I would hope that each album is as successful or more so than previous ones. I’m always striving for growth creatively, and with that growth, you hope that success would mirror that. Certain things hit certain people, there’s a timing element to it as well, I won’t get to see how this played out until years down the line.

Guitar Thrills: What makes Samantha Fish different, or better than the other blues artists out there? How would you rate yourself among blues artists, or even guitarists?

Samantha: I’m different because there is one me, just as there is only one you. You can try to sound like someone else, or be like someone else, but you’ll still have your hands, your voice, your energy and your soul. It’s easier and more fulfilling to find your own voice and try to make your way in the world. I don’t like to rate myself against other guitarists or artists. When you focus on everyone else, you’re neglecting the main person standing in your way. I try to focus on my own past performances. I’m the person I gotta beat and be better than. Tomorrow has to better than yesterday. That’s how you grow.

GT: I couldn’t agree with you more. Again, I have to mention how stoked to have a couple minutes of your time today. I would like to be able to connect with you at a later date, to find out the results of your latest release “Faster”. You definitely, have our approval.

Samantha: Thank you!

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