Samantha Sidley, you are a young talented singer from Los Angeles who just released your beautiful jazz song “I like Girls”. Can you tell us about the inspiration for the song? Is it about any girl in particular and/or girls you have liked and loved or it is a general statement of saying you are a lesbian?
My song “I Like Girls” was originally written for a one women musical I wanted to create based on my life story. I’m a lesbian so although that is just a piece of the pie, I wanted something that celebrated that. It is a celebration of women and being a women who falls in love with them. When Barbara Gruska and Alex Lily were writing the song, they asked me, “what kind of girls do you like?” I said “I don’t know I think I like them all!” I’ve always been that way. I think a lot of songs about women have to do with celebrating their sexuality in explicit ways and although I’ve never come across a women without sex appeal it’s such a small part of who women are. I love women for ALL that they are. For their gifts, which everyone has. And I wanted that to come clearly across in the song, AND still have the hints and nods of sensuality.
And I think at the end of the day- anyone who loves women in whichever way can relate to the song. Also, getting back to the original point, yes I’m gay, proud, I like to flaunt it, and this song is about that!
Unlike many jazz singers, your attention to the lyrics seems front and center. as you sing ‘I like girls who don’t know they like girls ... I like girls who really like girls a lot’. This really tells the whole story of being a lesbian and recognizing a being one. Is that important to you, to be out and proud? Lesbians all over the world long for representation of their experiences, experiences being told across all genres and fields, be it in music, film, painting, even science, like philosophy, anthropology, sociology.
I always say “singing is the Olympics of talking”. Singing and music is about communication. I’m so lucky I can communicate my feelings through music and lyrics. So yes, lyrics are very very important to me. When I am creating a show- I try to string all of my songs together to create a story, be it direct or indirect the stories you tell individually as songs will relate to the other songs you choose- because they are a part of you, YOU chose them. Communication is extremely important to me. I’m not great at getting my feelings out by just talking but I can live in a song and have that speak for me. I consider myself an interpreter. A lot of the singers I learned from were not song writers. The songs were written for them. They were the story tellers. It’s a bit like acting. You make the experiences real for you in the song. I am always telling a true story when I sing. It’s funny because sometimes people think that is a persona I am playing. But it’s one of many I suppose- personas. It’s my truth.
People have had to hear songs from the straight perspective for so long. I always sing from my gay perspective. I always change pronouns because that is MY truth. I would be lying if I stood on stage and sang about men! That would be so weird! We all need a torch singer! Lesbians need a torch singer! I’m here to fulfill that role! But also love is universal and if I can relate to straight songs because they are about love I hope straight people can do the same about my songs about love (that only happen to be from a lesbian perspective).
Your debut album, “Interior Person” will be released on September 13th. Can you tell us what is the main theme of the record? I read that some of the most important women in your life came together to craft your debut album; you sing songs that features both adaptations and original co-writes from Inara George from The Bird and the Bee, Alex Lilly from the band just by her name Alex Lilly, and your wife, Barbara Gruska. You are going also open the show of the The Bird and the Bee show in August.
The main theme of my record “Interior Person” is about hope, triumph over pain, and self love and acceptance. Every single song on the record is personal. Every single song is true! Yes my wife Barbara Gruska, my two best friends Alex Lilly and Inara George wrote me songs based on stories I’ve told them and what they know of me.
It has been such a gift working with them. They are literally my favorite musicians and song writers so not only is just that part exciting- they see me and who I am. I don’t think there is any better feeling than being seen in your authenticity. And I’m going on tour with all of them! Playing in Bird and the Bee and opening!
How do you combine your professional and private life with wife Barbara Gruska who had a band called the Belle Brigade and has drummed for KD Lang and Fiona Apple. You both are very creative, how this works out and benefits to your marriage and to your music career?
I LOVE WORKING WITH MY WIFE!! We know how to give each other space when we both need it and we know how to talk to each other. YOU HAVE TO BE HONEST. You have to try and communicate your feelings to each other and you have to listen to each other. We work hard at that. But it actually also feels effortless at this point. I feel so lucky we work together. She has been a source of inspiration for me even before I knew her! Because I have always been a gushing fan of hers. I met her sneaking in backstage to one of her shows. She was playing her own set at a local club. She’s an incredible artist. It’s so fun making music and traveling the world together. We take care of each other. It’s a perfect set up. She’s not only my drummer, she is my producer and produced my record!
Do you think that lesbian themes should become part of the mainstream culture? If yes, why?
Lesbian themes should be a part of the mainstream culture because they ARE the mainstream culture. I will argue to the day I die there are as many LGBTQ people as there are straight people. There’s just a lot of repression and oppression in this world.
Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
I am inspired by people being authentic when they sing. I always think of Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Judy Garland, John Lennon, Anita O’Day, Ray Charles. And my wife, Barbara Gruska. I get so much joy from listening to them or watching them. It literally fills my heart with joy. FILLS MY HEART. And at the risk of sounding cliche, I am inspired by love and its healing.