I don’t know Savannah Rae all that well, but I can tell you that in the few interactions I’ve shared with her, it’s evident that as an artist she means business. That much is particularly evident in the music she’s made over the last year or so with dream pop band Mother Runaway, a four-piece that released a pair of spectacular singles and played out a handful of regional shows. We actually had the pleasure of hosting them at our last NN house show, where they put on one hell of a performance (watch a video from the show here).
When I got wind that the band was disbanding as a collective unit and shrinking to a one-woman solo project led by Savannah, I was more than curious to see what exactly was going on. Naturally, I reached out to Rae to get caught up on all things Mother Runaway — why make such a drastic change, what does the future hold for MR, who/what drives her as an artist, and more. Read our conversation below, then make plans to see her perform this Sunday May 27th at Zanzabar alongside Clever Girls, GRLwood and Voodoo Economics.
Never Nervous: Catch us up on what’s happening with Mother Runaway. Are you a band, or has this become a solo endeavor?
Savannah Rae: As of February 2018 I decided to make Mother Runaway a solo project. Of course it’s not uncommon for bandmates to disagree on any number of things. Sharing your art and creative ideas with others is typically pretty difficult. But for me the decision was mainly based on the simple fact that something just didn’t feel right.
Somewhere along the way I felt like I wasn’t being true to myself as an artist. So, I broke off from the band to figure out why that was and what it was that I was trying to convey with my music exactly. Since then it’s been a lot of experimenting and trial and error. Slowly, but surely though I’m figuring things out and getting closer and closer to a sound and vibe that feels very genuine.
NN: Will you be performing any of the songs you released previously, or is this a fresh start with all new music?
SR: I will not be performing either of the singles that we released as a full band. I like those songs exactly the way that they are and wouldn’t want to re-do or change them in any way. They represent a time when Mother Runaway was something else and the relationships that we all shared as bandmates. However, I will be performing and recording some of the songs that we had played live together that we never got around to recording. They will sound very different though, since I am stripping them down to be much more simplistic.
“I will not be performing either of the singles that we released as a full band. I like those songs exactly the way that they are and wouldn’t want to re-do or change them in any way.”
NN: Is the name “Mother Runaway” more of a moniker for you now, or is it a personal project that will continue to evolve?
SR: Honestly I just love the name Mother Runaway. I feel like it is the perfect title to represent the music and art that I am creating.
NN: Where did that name come from anyway?
SR: To be honest, it came from a long night of researching names that aren’t already taken! It is so tough to find an artist or band name that hasn’t already been claimed by someone else. So, I took to a word generator that would randomly spit out a list of 10 words. Mother popped up and I originally said “Mother Run.” After some discussion we decided as a group that “Runaway” made more sense. It wasn’t until later that I realized how perfectly it fit this idea of being a symbol of strength or hope for “runaways,” for anyone who is searching for a sense of inspiration, something that will push them to keep going.
NN: What can you tell us about your upcoming album Champagne Heart? Will it be an EP or a full length, and where was it recorded?
SR: Champagne Heart will eventually be a full length album if everything goes as planned. But in the process of creating things are always subject to change. Depending on the how the recording process goes I may release an EP to hold everyone over until the full album is complete. There’s still a lot to learn and consider. But the end goal is to release a full length album that will be titled Champagne Heart. I’ve written so many songs over the last few years and I’m continuing to write even more. Some of them may make their way to an EP and the best of them will be saved for the album. Only time will tell.
NN: Is there a release date? And do you plan to tour to promote the album?
SR: I can’t say for sure when the release date will be. Like I said this is all a process of figuring it out, but I can assure you that the product will be worth the wait. I am doing a lot of this on my own so people will just have to be patient with me. I am only concerned with making the right choices that are going to propel this project forward & make it the best quality and best representation of Mother Runaway.
I absolutely plan to tour when the time is right. For now I’m going to continue to play as many live shows as possible in Louisville and surrounding cities.
NN: I read that you take visual art very seriously, especially when it’s served as a companion piece to your music. What is the inspiration behind this, and what benefit do you intend it to have on your new record?
SR: I’ve been a visual artist for most of my life in various mediums. I’ve dabbled in photography, painting, and video. I’ve always done a little bit of everything to express myself. Once I came to the decision that music should be my main focus I set out to find the perfect team of people to work with on the visual elements. My best friend and partner in crime Sally Sum of St.Sum photography has turned out to be the best person to have by my side for Champagne Heart.
She and I understand one another on not only a personal level, but creatively as well. Each time we get together to create a new set of images for Mother Runaway all of our plans leading up to that point typically get tossed out the window and we wind up creating something completely organic and spontaneous. I think this is why the images tie in so perfectly with the Mother Runaway sound. Each are different elements that are so true to who I am as an artist. The music and the images both come together so naturally.
NN: As a songwriter, what inspires you to create? Whether it be related to music or not, what turns you on?
SR: As a songwriter I feel that I am mainly inspired by my personal relationships with people, or by observing others in their personal relationships. I think a lot of the time my lyrics turn out to be sort of a stream of subconscious thoughts coming to the surface. It isn’t until examining a song after the writing process sometimes that I’m able to understand where the ideas came from.
“I think a lot of the time my lyrics turn out to be sort of a stream of subconscious thoughts coming to the surface.”
NN: How would you describe the music you make to someone that hasn’t heard you?
SR: I would describe the music that I’m making as dreamy with a bit of a rock n roll edge at times.
NN: I understand that you were raised in a small town called Cynthiana, KY. How’d you end up in Louisville, and what drew you here? Is there a fascinating story there?
SR: I wound up in Louisville after moving from my hometown to Lexington. The story from Lexington to Louisville though, I guess you could say is highly relative to my music career. I was at a Halloween party in Winchester Ky. I met a guy there who was living in Louisville. He convinced me to make my way here and then he and I played in a band together for a while called Big Spoon. That was the first full band I’d ever played in. I learned a lot about myself as a musician through that experience along with gaining a better understanding of production, songwriting and the recording process.
NN: Before you go, tell us about your favorite song from 2018 thus far.
SR: It’s hard to choose a favorite but something that really struck me that came out recently was the “Moon River” cover by Frank Ocean. I think he is brilliant and everything he does is so moving.