Monday, 2 November 2020

An Interview with Samantha Durnan

My recent post, Create or Destroy, included an offer:

'If creative people out there would like to be interviewed for my blog then just let me know.

We can talk about the positive aspects of your life and work. We can get your message across.

This offer is small fry, in the grand scheme of things - but nevertheless it is a positive action.'

We are starting our new series in great style, as we proudly present an interview with Samantha Durnan

Samantha Durnan

Samantha, a singer/songwriter based in North East England, has already appeared on this blog, both under her own name, when supporting Heather Peace at Arc, and also as part of The Hootones, who rocked The Georgian Theatre with Gypsy in 2019 and SHE easier this year.

We discussed Samantha's life in music from her early days to the forthcoming new album, scheduled for 2021.

Who introduced you to music, and are any members of your family active, musically? 

I come from a musical background. My Dad plays the guitar and my Nana used to be a singer. I was eight years old when I learnt my first couple of chords and it was then I knew I wanted to be a musician.

Not long after that I started guitar lessons with our lead guitarist in the show (James Henderson) and he encouraged me to record my own material.

How old were you when you realised music was going to be a major part of your life? 

I was 8 years old when I discovered that I had a passion for music and I knew that nothing else would come close to the buzz I felt while playing an instrument.

How would you describe your musical style? 

Alternative/Pop. I'm influenced by all types of genres from Pop to Metal from Classical to Rock. I try to include a little bit of something for everyone in my music.

Can you tell me something about your creative process? Are you writing songs more or less all of the time, or do you have to take time out from other aspects of your life in order to fully focus? 

I often get a random urge to write and as soon as I get that feeling, I grab my guitar. I don't plan to write, it just happens. Very quickly. Then I stop and think, where did that come from?! 

I'm currently writing an album and I'm on such a creativity high. I never know where the music will end up taking me and that is what I find so exciting about the process.

Do you write better on your own, or with the help of others? 

100% on my own. I'm not ashamed to say I'm a complete control freak when it comes to writing, haha! Once I hear an idea in my head, I'm set in stone.

What usually comes first – the music or the words? 

Music. Always the music. I like my words to work rhythmically with the music. I tend to create a melody by humming and then the words will flow.

How do you balance your musical career and aspirations with the ‘real world'?

I wear lots of different hats to succeed as a full time musician in the 'real world'. It would be a dream to write songs for a living but it doesn't pay my bills...yet, haha! 

I set up a Music Agency a few years ago called 'Pluck' and we specialise in Weddings & Corporate Events. Having the Agency allows me to afford to live and invest time and money back into my writing. 

At the end of the day as long as my career involves music, I'm happy.

You play your own, original songs but also have a full repertoire of cover songs with The Hootones. Is the former body of work easier to remember and play than the latter? 

I feel there is more pressure to remember the cover songs as people often sing along to the classics. Not as many people know the words to my original material so it wouldn’t a miss if made up a lyric or two, haha!

The Hootones in Action

Are there any internal battles within The Hootones when it comes to choosing the set lists? Are there any songs that you really wanted to include, but didn’t? 

It all depends on the Event. For Weddings we know we need to get the guests up on to the dance floor so we will decide as a band which upbeat songs will work best. Obviously some members prefer some songs to others but we always go with what we think the audience would prefer. With our show SHE we have a different approach as we perform our favourite songs by some of our most inspirational female artists.

Which artists do you admire?

I have so many! But the artist that stands that stands out for me is Stevie Nicks. I love everything about her from her voice, image to her sheer determination. To still be touring the world and moving around the stage like she does is admirable!

Which albums would make it onto your desert island list? (As many as you want!)

Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

Michael Jackson - Thriller/Bad

Ludovico Einaudi - Island

The Staves - Dead Born & Grown

Haim - Days Are Gone

KT Tunstall - Eye to the telescope

Florence & The Machine – Lungs 

Which song do you wish you had written?

Beat It by Michael Jackson.

The Internet has impacted greatly on the music industry. What are the good and bad points from your point of view? 

I have been able to reach audiences from around the world via the Internet and I am hugely grateful for the platform. However it is sad to see artists getting paid so little due to illegal downloading and streaming services paying out a small percentage.

For your dream gig, with whom would you love to perform?

Stevie Nicks. I think I’d break down on stage but after a few drinks and tissues, I’d be fine.

Think back to the two fabulous evenings (Gypsy and SHE) at the Georgian Theatre. Were you nervous before the gigs?

Yes! Only because I’d organised the Evening and I wanted to make sure everything ran smoothly and everyone had a great night.

You have just left the stage at the end of the shows. You have connected with – and entertained – every person in the hall; a success by anyone’s standards. How does it feel? How long does it take you to wind down afterwards? 

It is one of the best feelings! When musicians and audience members connect, the energy in the room is on another level. I’m completely wired for a few days after a gig like that.

What projects do you have lined up, either for The Hootones or for your own work?

Due to the current live music circumstances The Hootones aren’t able to perform. Once live music restrictions are lifted we are hoping to put on another show and have a huge party! Aside from the band I’m currently in the middle of recording an album which I will be releasing next year.

What advice would you give to anyone starting out in the world of music?

Listen, learn, be true to yourself and enjoy the journey!

The entertainment industry has been very badly hit by the pandemic. How long do you think it will be before the emergency clears? 

Honestly, I have no idea. I am still in complete disbelief that we are currently living through a pandemic.

Do you think most things will recover (in time) or do you take a more pessimistic view?

I like to hope that most things will recover although it is extremely difficult to feel and see any positivity throughout this heartbreaking pandemic. But I have faith in the industry and I believe we creative folk will get through this horrendous period in time.

Thank you very much, Samantha Durnan!

This is a taster of Samantha's work. Head here for more information and bookings.

Stay tuned for the next interview in our series, which is coming soon...

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