(Photo Credit: Erika Christine Photography)
Bay Area native Samantha Margret reminds all of us, emotions are valid in her new song, “Emotional.” She explains it beautifully, “Now, more than ever, whatever we feel is valid. I grew up thinking that my emotions were ‘too much,’ but our emotions make us who we are. They make life sweet and bitter and intense, and I think it’s all stunningly beautiful and well worth the ride.”
We can all agree that right now everyone’s emotions are everywhere. We were happy to chat with Margret to talk all about her new single and her partnership with SafeHouse.
The Bay Bridged: First off, I love to ask everyone, how are you doing?
Samantha Margret: Whew, that question seems to be more and more daunting each day. In some ways, I’m doing better than I ever have. I’m writing strange and exciting music. I’m listening (not just in the car on the way to wherever, but really listening) to meditations, to protests, to music. I’m hanging out with my cat. I’m also working hard to balance the unknown of COVID-19, the heartbreak of ongoing racial injustice, and the drive to keep going. How do I keep working? How do I help? Some days I have answers, and other days I don’t. I’m glad we keep asking each other “how are you?” even though it’s hard to answer. It feels more important now than ever, and we seem to be learning to answer honestly.
TBB: I love your new song “Emotional” and I think at the moment, it’s 100% relatable. Can you tell our readers a bit how this song came about for you?
SM: Thank you! As you might have guessed from the song, I have a lot of feelings. Growing up, I got called a “crybaby” and told I was “too much”. That’s not the end of the world or anything, but it left this impression that intense emotions were bad, like we are all supposed to be in this comfortable neutrality all the time. But emotions are so much more important than that. They help us grow and love one another and ourselves. They make life sweet, and bitter, and intense, and I think it’s all stunningly beautiful and well worth the ride.
This song is my invitation to everyone who keeps their emotions cooped up: let them out. Feel what you’re feeling. Crack your heart open, find out what’s inside, and accept it just as it is. That’s not weakness. I can’t think of anything stronger.
TBB: I stand by the fact your feelings are valid. What would you say to someone who thinks expressing their emotions is a bit too much to do?
SM: I’ll be the first to admit that what’s right for me isn’t necessarily right for my neighbor. And, even though I believe in expressing emotions, I’m also a fan of privacy and kindness. There’s a sacredness in keeping things just for ourselves or our loved ones. There are also times when our emotions are not at the center of what’s happening—when they need to take a backseat for a little while. Sometimes inviting our emotions in is a small, personal endeavor as opposed to a big, public, outpouring.
TBB: A lot of us are still finding ourselves at home amidst everything going on. I love that you started the Zoom show Music in the time of Corona. What typically happens during your mini-series? Why should people tune in?
SM: Music in the Time of Corona started when I thought there were going to be three shows. The Bay Area had just issued SIP orders through the first or second week of May, and I thought, “wouldn’t it be fun to do a couple of Zoom shows to feel like we’re still a community.” Each week, I gathered two other songwriters for a Nashville style writers round. We would take turns playing original music. Zoom is far from a perfect concert application, but there is something so nice about seeing everyone’s faces and chatting with the performers in between songs. Live streaming can be kind of cold—just me and a text chat that I can never seem to read quickly enough. On Zoom, we’re almost in a room together…almost.
As people started growing into the new normal, I shifted the structure of the show, so, now, it’s more like a real house concert would be. Audience members can contact me, and we do a little consultation about what kinds of music they listen to. I pick out two other musicians who I think would be a great fit, and they can send out an invite to their community as though it were in their living room. One of the beautiful things I’ve seen during this strange time is people forming support pods—groups that check in on one another and do virtual happy hour or knitting. With the extended isolation, the new format is really aimed at creating intimacy and reminding people that they still have friends and family who love them.
TBB: I also read that you’ll be partnering with SafeHouse for your release. Can you tell us a bit about what SafeHouse means to you and why it’s so important for people to know about SafeHouse?
SM: I got involved with SafeHouse doing administrative work at first. I would go into the Hope Center and make coffee, organize emails, create spreadsheets, the kinds of things that the trained social workers and advocates shouldn’t be spending their time on. For me, reaching out to SafeHouse was about fighting for my city. I was born and raised in the Sunset, so I know firsthand how segregated and divided San Francisco is. At the same time, I loved growing up in the city. I loved taking the bus alone to school and getting massive amounts of Dim Sum for $5. This city has been really good to me. Unfortunately, that’s largely because of the race and class that I happened to be born into. I think when you love something, you help it be its best.
SafeHouse is serving a population to whom San Francisco has historically been unfair and unjust. They support women who are experiencing housing insecurity, sexual exploitation, and sex trafficking by creating survivor-centered space, services, advocacy and community education. 100 percent of SafeHouse graduates find housing, and more than 400 women have received safe housing through SafeHouse since 1998. To me, those numbers are unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of. But it’s not a flashy organization. They’re focussed on serving survivors. The flashy stuff is our job—the people who come in contact with the work that SafeHouse is doing. We are the ones who need to spread the word and do the fundraising.
TBB: Can we expect more new music on the way? If so, what has been your inspiration for the new music?
SM: Definitely! I’m working on getting more music out by the end of summer, and the new songs are a look into the weirdest corners of my imagination. I think SIP really amped up my me-ness. I guess not being around anyone else will do that. One of the songs I’m most excited about is called Matthew McConaughey, and it’s based on a dream that my friend, Emmalee, had about me. (Anyone who wants to hear the demo can become a patron on Patreon.) My most recent writing is definitely in the same spirit as “Emotional.” I hope that when people listen, they have a sense of joy in being exactly who they are as well as a feeling of possibility for who they could be. Jonathan Van Ness has this philosophy that loving ourselves is an act of revolution, which I love. I think the new music has a lot to do with processing that idea and trying to live it fully.