empty frames chats with sam amidon

EF: There seems to be a fight in your music. You seem to be aware of the presence of sadness, darkness, and the reality of death and want to overcome it. Can you talk about this?

SA: well i don’t write any of the words to the songs the words and vocal melodies are all from old traditional american folksongs – all i do is change around the harmonies and guitar parts and stuff.  so i am not singing words that i write, i’m singing words that i’ve found in songs. and usually i hear the melody first and only hear what the lyrics are afterwards and sometimes i’m really surprised! what are those weird songs about? why did those people make them up?  they knew a lot more about death than we do. whoever they were.

EF: Will you talk about the significance of the title “All is Well”.
SA: well it is, right?
EF: Your songs are like rooms.  There is a screen door but then after a few listens suddenly there is something behind it that is not readily picked up on. Like, on “Fall on my Knees”..it feels like there are two different songs, the picking being the screen door, and the steady bass procession being the room behind it.  Do you write in layers or do you write one sequence at a time and then put the layers together?
SA:
wow, that’s a nice description of the music! that depth element to the music has a lot to do with what my collaborators do.  nico’s arrangements on all is well create so many other directions and places for things to go, and valgeir’s production and mixing puts all those things into the space you describe.  same with thomas on the chicken album but in his own way.
EF: Who’s in your band?
SA:
chicken: thomas b
all is well: nico, valgeir, and contributions from aaron siegel, stefan amidon, eyvind kang, ben frost, and a lot of wonderful icelandic people
often: my friend shahzad
and whoever else i find along the way.
EF: What are you listening to right now?
SA:
“Doo-Bop,” miles davis’ last (uncompleted) album.  it’s a hip hop record from 1991 with miles’ cryptic trumpet playing and some pretty good hip hop beats and some terrible rapping.  a very sad little record.
EF: You do a rendition of Kurt Cobain on your “Home Alone Inside my Head”. Do you think any other musicians could be recognized by one vocal effect? If somebody said, “Do the Sam Amidon” how would that sound?
SA: Kurt Cobain had a real folk voice, a real sacred harp voice.  My friend Isaac Alderson is incredibly good at imitating people’s voices, i think there is a switch that turns on in his brain and he enters a room in his mind where that person’s voice is stored and he is able to really channel it!  He could probably do “Sam Amidon”
EF: Word or phrase to describe Chicken.
SA: falshearted
EF: Word or phrase to describe All is Well.
SA: loping

EF: Finally, what is a lyric that inspires you?
SA: “what a relief to know that the war is over,” from the song “relief” by r. kelly.  it reminds me that no matter how f**ked up the world is, you can still be completely insane and write a lyric like that and sing it with total power & belief.

Read a full review of All is Well here.

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1 Response to “empty frames chats with sam amidon”


  1. 1 autumn November 5, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    it sounds like e.f. has done a lot more thinking about this album than s.a. has.


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