We’re finishing up Women’s History Month, and have a few more inspiring stories to share! Today, we’re sharing a familiar face to MCU, Sammy Rae! Sammy’s been working on her latest EP (seriously recommend checking out her Instagram for some behind the scene looks), and we spoke with her about her musical journey and her wish for other females in the industry. Read it below!
Talk about your experiences in the music industry and getting your start as an artist.
I was making music in my small city area in CT from the time I was 15. I was writing songs, performing them for my YouTube channel (low key, a lot more people cared about the stuff I made as a kid than they do now) and playing them on keys at small venues. My sophomore year of college I moved to New York, where I started making my first professional record and getting into the singer-songwriter scene. I put out that album and started to gig with the material.
For the past year and a half, I’ve been writing for and leading my own band. We’re a six person, jazz, pop, and soul band and we play around Brooklyn and Manhattan pretty frequently. Right now, we’re finishing up production on an EP set to come out mid July. Our first single, “Good Life,” will be released on May 25th and we can’t wait! I’m really excited about how all this hard work in the past year has produced a cohesive sound, spirit, and energy in the band. I have high hopes for all these releases.
What inspired or motivated you to become a musician?
When I was young, I gravitated towards piano and singing. I think I was just very observant as a child and had a lot of feelings about a lot of things. I liked challenging myself to write about them in interesting ways, and I started to make music. I also did a lot of theater and poetry writing as a kid. My parents’ support of my interest in the arts encouraged me to try a lot of things until something fit. As I grew and was influenced by the changing landscapes of my young adulthood, I’ve sort of honed all my creative interest into songwriting.
Have you faced any hardships as a woman in your career? Any advice or resources you’d like to give other women?
I really love the New York City music scene. And part of the reason I love it so much is because it has a place for everybody, and everyone is welcome. I know that that isn’t true of all cities. That being said, I feel that there is a certain pressure placed on female musicians and songwriters.
I am a member of two bands, the one I front and write for and a separate, 6 person folk band. Currently, every member of both bands aside from myself is male. I look around at the bands my friends are in, and most of those players are men as well. It’s tough to be a present and successful musician. Especially in a place where there is such a high standard and so much competition. It requires a lot of vulnerability and courage. A lot of it is meetings and maintaining connections, organizing teams, explaining yourself and getting people to trust your ideas.
In a climate like this, those things are particularly difficult for women to do, especially in an industry disproportionally made up of men. Being authentic in your art means being honest about your experiences. Simply put, I think its more difficult for female artists to be honest about their feelings and be taken seriously.
I want to see more female bandleaders developing themselves and their bands. I want to see more women producing and sharing their own content, managing their own projects. I want women to know that they are allowed to share their feelings and express themselves in the lyrics they write, in their onstage appearance and in business conversations. Women are allowed to surround themselves and hire team members that make them feel supported and heard. Women have the right to get out of dangerous and unhealthy relationships with management, labels, etc. I know that I felt a real surge of confidence when I started reaching out to more girl players and building those relationships. And they’re killing it, there are a lot of brilliant girls in New York right now making amazing things. I want women to feel safe to reach out to other women for encouragement. We’re here to make each other better in our own lanes, and its not a competition.