SavageLuke // Feature Friday
Written by Kayla Albee
Single: My Friend
Release date: January 25, 2019
Andrew Lange, AKA SavageLuke, is a Nashville based solo musician. His Outlaw Country mixed with Americana vibe combines modern themes with tried and true elements of classic artists like Bob Dylan and Neil Young.
SavageLuke’s latest single off of his Barely Alive EP is titled “My Friend” and is a message to us all to stop and slow down from time to time. This single has an off the cuff quality, due to the fact that it was recorded live. This adds a vulnerability to the lyrics that may otherwise not have been as prominent. In a city that’s bursting at the seams with radio ready pop country, it’s a breath of fresh air to give this stripped down single a spin.
Tomorrow evening, SavageLuke’s single release show will be taking place at Phat Bites alongside Stan Lassiter and Mark Henes. You can listen to “My Friend” below, and check out an interview with SavageLuke where we talk about live vs. studio recordings, go-to venues in Nashville, and more!
Q: What’s the first song that you wrote, and how has your songwriting process changed since then?
A: I started writing songs when I was about 15 years old when I got my first electric guitar. I played in a few garage bands with my friends and initially, I would just help friends and bandmates complete their own work. I began to take my own writing more seriously around the time I was 18 or 19, I got an acoustic guitar and it was around then that I wrote my first song called "My River" (available on the "SSA Session" on Bandcamp as well, shameless self-promotion haha). I was inspired to write it when I learned about Heraclitus the philosopher who once said, "It is not possible to step twice into the same river, or to come into contact twice with a mortal being in the same state" according to the Ancient Roman biographer Plutarch.
I grew up near Memphis, TN and the Mississippi River is still emblematic of the music that has come from that city so I wanted to try to combine all of that into a song about how I see my own musical path changing throughout my life, hence "My River". I think that all songwriters start writing because they are inspired to. Most of my early songs came to me almost in flashes and I had to do my best to try and catch them before they faded away in my mind. Imagine the scrolling intro to Star Wars but instead, it just seemed to appear all at once and I just hoped that I could write it all down in time!
Today, I truly try to craft my songs and apply techniques that I have picked up from so many great songwriters that I have met along the way and incorporate those tricks into my own writing. It is those techniques that help you finish songs that otherwise would be forgotten and learning your craft helps to protect from dreaded "writer's block". That being said, I still get those flashes and they always seem to be my favorite songs to sing and play. Who knows how that really works? It's hard to say...
Q: When it comes to your new single, what would you like listeners to take away after their first listen?
A: That is a really good question! Everyone has a friend in their group who always takes things a little too far, drinks too much, or gets too rowdy and if you don't have that friend in your group then it is probably you! I wrote the song "My Friend" about the funny fact that we have a hard time openly talking about our own problems. It seems like people are constantly "asking for a friend" trying to get advice anonymously.
In the verses, I to try break the ice and take a humorous (and exaggerated) look at my own past and poke fun at it, but in the choruses I really am trying to encourage people to overcome their own personal struggles and hopefully remind them that there is always a chance to change the path you are on. None of us are perfect and I chose this particular live take of the song because it isn't "perfect" and it definitely doesn't have any polish to hide it. With it being a new year, I wanted to share something that hopefully uplifts people and remind them that we always have a chance to make a fresh start.
Q: Barely Alive was recorded live in Nashville. When it comes to a studio recording vs. a live recording, what do you like better about each, and which do you prefer to listen to?
A: As an independent artist, the advent of using computers to make, record, and distribute music is the most important musical development that has happened in my lifetime. The fact that anyone today with a computer and a microphone can make their own music and share that with the world is mind-blowing to me and I am so happy to live in a time where we have independent means of recording and distributing our own music instead of relying on record labels or studios to simply record our work. That is not say that record labels are useless and personal tape recorders made some of that possible years ago (and some could fairly argue that some quality has been lost) but even a phone can be used to record and then upload music in a matter of minutes and artists today should take advantage of that. Whether you decide to produce your own music or book studio time, that space allows you to record and edit your music in so many ways that didn't exist even 10 or 20 years ago.
I could spend hours and hours just listening to different drum beats and make a whole song around my favorite one. I don't have to own or store a drum-kit, it's awesome! I know so many creative artists who have recorded their own albums in their home studios and it is really inspiring. Using the studio is about discovering new musical possibilities, applying them to raw unfinished songs, and taking them to a new level that might go beyond how they can be performed by a solo artist. You get all the time you need to craft the song and get it just right whether that means doing 100 takes of a single vocal or punching in a bass line. Even pitch and tune correction software that used to be trade secrets are now available to anyone and you can get the music to sound "perfect".
With a live recording, you have none of that safety net and that is why I chose to record "My Friend" live. Barely Alive EP is a mix of live recordings and one on one studio performances that I did with producer Cody Joe Bottoms, but all of the recordings were done in one take with no overdubs. I wanted to release it that way because I want to share my music as it would be performed and that way, people can almost take the show home with them if they wanted to. A live recording captures the moment and spirit of a song better than a studio sometimes and it highlights the real talent of the players on the recording.
I enjoy listening to studio recordings for the "official" take of the song so to speak, but I have always loved live recordings in a way that can't really be duplicated in the studio. I think that when you take away the safety of the studio, it opens up the song to take interesting turns that they might not normally go down. I also prefer to play my music in the moment and no song is ever really done the exact same way every single time. Some nights a song might be played in a Rock ‘n Roll style but next time it is a slow ballad, live performances with an audience allow that magic to happen if you let it.
Q: Aside from Cafe CoCo, what are your favorite go-to spots for stripped down shows in Music City?
A: The most unique singer-songwriter show that I have seen in Nashville was at the "Bluebird on the Mountain" event near the Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory. It was a warm night with great ambiance and after the show, guests were encouraged to take a look through the telescope. We could see Jupiter!
I got to see John Prine at the City Winery during AmericanaFest and the Ryman in 2018, those are both great places to see a stripped down show. At City Winery, I'm With Her played after and their harmonies sounded incredible.
Lately, I have been playing rounds at 404 Bar and Grill as well as True Music Room on top of the Cambria Hotel and I've met a lot of great singer-songwriters there. Sadly, I think the writers nights at both Cafe CoCo and Bobby's Idle Hour have ended. It's kind an end of an era in a way, at least for me, because I really enjoyed playing and listening to music at both of them.
Q: What can we expect from you this year -- any plans in the works?
A: My main goal for 2019 is forming a band. I want to take my music live on the road and really inject some electricity into the songs. I am writing and recording music for a follow up to Barely Alive EP and I will be continuing to explore the Americana/Outlaw Country sound but hopefully with a band to back me up. That being said, I have written a few new songs that kind of stand apart from that and I also want to make an indie rock record in the vein of the modern rock bands that I enjoy today.
My favorite music to listen to that I have gotten into recently is LoFi Hip Hop and I would love to learn to make some beats of my own music to chill out to. I've been learning more and more music theory and applying it to the piano and I hope to incorporate all of that music into my live shows. Even though those are three distinct genres, I'd like to believe that I can make them all gel together somehow.