Bitch by Savannah Jo Lack
by Patrick Ogle
Savannah Jo Lack's Musical Journey A Lesson In Versatility
Ms. Jo Lack is a violinist with classical training who has opted to move from that rarified world, off that musical Mount Olympus, down amongst the great unwashed mass of singer songwriters (and in some cases I really mean that literally). How does this transition take place? And how also do you decide to use the violin as the basis for your new pop music direction.
“You move to Tasmania, this tiny island and you sit in the freezing cold and want to work on an album but you don’t play guitar and wish you had taken those piano lessons with grandma,” says Jo Lack. “ It was a natural thing. I had some guitar skills but not enough. Necessity is the mother of invention.
A variety of musicians have told me the same thing over the years; when you are at your best is when you are challenged. Too many “want-to-be” musicians wait for the “perfect situation” to create something. Jo Lack confirms that you can find that situation freezing your butt off in Tasmania with only your violin to play.
She basically used the violin as her rhythm instrument and tried to come up with a sound that is hers. She sings while she plays, which is not totally unique, but is not common in pop music either.
“I start with a rhythm and then I make it come to life on the violin.” she says.
Jo Lack came to the USA three years ago and toured for a year, settling in the San Francisco Bay area two years ago. She has toured up and down the West Coast. Mostly these tours have been with other songwriters and multi instrumentalists.
With her classical background, and classical music is by definition more sonically broad than popular music, I wanted to know if she thought about how her music would sound on iPod earbuds. The answer was a solid “sort of.”
“If not when I am recording then definitely in the mastering process. My background is classical and I still don’t understand compression, stuff at the end of the process never made sense to me.” she says.
It doesn’t make sense to anyone really but that is what sound engineers are for! In any case songwriters , good ones anyway, cannot spend too much time worrying about whether listeners understand the sonic limitations of earbuds in listening to music.
“I am always starting from an emotional stadpint and trying to stay true to my thoughts,” says Jo Lack. “ I am not making commercial records but records I can stand behind on any level.”
She says she would love to do a vinyl release but that wasn’t possible on the new record.
When the subject of “classical” music comes up Jo Lack says that she never really delineated between that and other music. It was all music to her. After deciding she didn’t want to be in an orchestra she assessed her options as a musician: touring with a band or freelancing were the most likely options. Neither was wholly appealing but she wound up doing the latter. It was here she had toe opportunity to listen to other songwriters and find her own voice.
But why was it she decided she didn’t see herself in an orchestra as a career?
Once, while playing with an orchestra, she walked off stage only to be met by the orchestra manager who gave her a dressing down. Had she played poorly or missed her spots? No, she was being admonished for having the wrong sort of stockings on. She had given everything and then is told off because of her socks. I would have slapped the guy upside his head myself but Jo Lack is a more understanding sort. She just decided to move on.
“That is how I started playing this weird stuff.” Says Jo Lack.
Jo Lack wants to use music that expands people’s perception. As noted, music is music to her, but what she produces and aims to produce in the future is a sound that has a character that moves relationships of people and landscapes. Music can be more than just sound in other words. Music can alter your perception of the world around. How people see the world is not fixed in the eyes of Jo Lack.
“Music can change that in a chemical way.” she says.
Savannah Jo Lack’s first solo record, Knitting Songs, comes out in August and dates are planned for the East and West Coasts. She may even hit some other select cities so keep your eyes open.
You can find out more at the Savannah Jo Lack Website.