Kashena Sampson gracefully tames her raw and mystic spirit for her debut record, Wild Heart.
You're kind of a newcomer to the Nashville country scene moving from Las Vegas. What was your time like in Las Vegas? What's the music culture like there? What prompted the move?
I grew up in Vegas, from high school on. My family is still there. I never really dove deep into the local music scene there. When I was 21 I moved to L.A. and I lived there for almost 8 years. That's around the time when I started focusing on my music. I have been working towards making this
record for a long time. A good friend of mine told me “If you want to be a musician hang out with other musicians. You learn from surrounding yourself with people who are doing what you want to do.” That made a lot of sense to me. Nashville seemed to be a place filled with people who were doing just that! I had a lot of people in my life telling me to go check it out, and I took it as a sign. I'm into the mystical side of life you know!
I’ve lived a whole lotta places in my life, I'm used to being the new kid, it's not always the most comfortable position but that's OK. It builds character. I thought I should give it a shot out here, you never know unless I try.
When did you get to Nashville? How did you first get stage time in Nashville? Who were the folks that have been most helpful pushing you to bigger gigs and studio time in the city?
I got to Nashville November 1, 2015. I bartend over at The Basement East, I got the job about a month after moving to town. I'm always singing to myself at working and one day Terry who does the booking over there put me on a show! He said I always hear you singing to yourself and I
could tell you had a great voice so I wanted to book you on this show! Ha! That's how I got my first show in town. From there I have made a lot of great friends in town who have given me guidance and direction. It was my friend and coworker Charles Kaster of Hans Condor who put me in contact with Andrija Tokic at The Bomb Shelter.
Your debut record, Wild Heart, is out on August 18. How was it recorded and what was the production phase like to achieve the raw and clean vintage sound of the record?
I recorded with Jon Estes over at the Bomb Shelter. We tracked all the songs in 2 days, then took another couple days for overdubs, background vocals and mixing. Altogether, everything was done in 6 days. Jon helped produce and mix everything. He is so great! He also played bass as well as a bunch of other instruments, and we had Jon Radford on drums and Jeremy Fetzer on guitar. Everything was tracked analog to 2” with mics, guitars, amps, etc no later then 1976. It was very important to me for this record to have that vintage sound. I didn’t want it to be over-produced or perfect sounding. I wanted it to sound raw, especially the vocals. I wanted people to be able to feel the music which I think gets lost a lot of the time in recording. Jon got it right away! He really helped me get the sound I was going for. I had a great time working with
him and I am very grateful for the experience.
Do you have a permanent band that you'll be touring with?
Tour details are still in the works at the moment, ha! The past couple of months I have been playing local gigs with Benjamin Reed on lead guitar and Thomas Banks on bass. They are both awesome musicians, and really good people!
The record is very mature and fine-tuned for a debut record. How long have these songs been crafted? What's been the cause for the delay in your entrance to the recorded music scene for so many years? What made the time right to put Wild Heart on a record now?
It took time to craft these songs. I had to experience life to write about it. As far as recording, I had to be in the right place, I had to find the right people to work with. I didn't want to rush anything. I looked into working with a few other people, but I waited till everything felt right.
Your on-stage attitude and spirit has been compared to Stevie Nicks and Bonnie Raitt. How have these classic performers influenced your music and live performing?
Wow, that's a complement for sure! Both of these woman have been huge inspirations to me as I was developing my style and sound. They are amazingly talented, strong woman. They carry themselves with grace and class which is something I really admire.
What ways do you think your music is different from some of the other music coming out of Nashville these days? In a city so full of talent, what keeps you motivated to make new and creative work?
As an artist I believe you are always creating, and if you are sharing your truth it will always be unique. One experience, one situation, one idea can be perceived and expressed in so many different ways. Everyone has something to share that is special and unique. This city is full of amazing talents! I think the key is to stay true to yourself and not to compare. We are all different in our ways and that's what is so great. Not everyone is going to like my music and that's OK, because there are also going to be a lot of people who do! Singing and creating music brings my joy and that's what I want to hold on too.