By Nicholas Jason Lopez
“I don’t have to go to the party; I am the party.”
Self-validation needs no invitation, as alt-pop aficionados have heralded the latest to come from San Francisco-based singer-songwriter Samantha Margret called “The Party,” which serves as the perfect playful track.
The self-love track was inspired by her own interpretation of the true meaning of joy – and that didn’t necessarily mean to follow whatever is “trending” on Twitter or TikTok, as everyone is different. She feared the loss of her voice and writing music for others, instead of for her own happiness.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to talk with Margret – who has drawn comparisons to the likes of Julia Michaels, Sara Bareilles and Marian Hill – about “The Party” and more.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Samantha Margret – I try to never write the same song twice. For me, the joy of songwriting is in the creativity. When Juliette and I wrote “The Party,” I was immediately taken by how the fast, spoken part of the hook connected with the slower groove at the end of the chorus. I knew that Patrick played saxophone – he’s one of those people who plays what feels like a million instruments, so I sent it his way just to play around. What he sent me back felt so right. It was so smooth and just felt new to me. I write enough songs to know when one feels special and this one felt weird in the best way. That’s what I love about alt-pop and pop music in general. It’s this tightrope walk between what listeners already love and what they’re about to love, but don’t even see coming yet.
Music Bugle – How would you describe San Francisco to someone who has never been there before?
Samantha Margret – I always start with the fog. It’s really contemplative. You can watch it roll in and burn off – literally sit at a window and watch time passing. I used to say – when I’m in Nashville, I’m a songwriter and when I’m in Los Angeles, I’m an artist and when I’m in San Francisco, I’m a poet. I think that captures the vibe for me.
Music Bugle – What was your goal for your new single “The Party”?
Samantha Margret – The song came from a soul collage reading. Soul collage is kind of like tarot, except I make the cards myself and they’re meant to connect me with my inner voice. Right before I did this writing camp with the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project, I was feeling a lot of pressure to make music that other people would like. I wanted to do “well” – whatever that means in the context of making art – and I knew that feeling didn’t usually lead to great music. At the end of this reading, I had the sentence, “I don’t have to go to the party; I am the party.” Writing the song was about fulfilling that sentence. I wanted to have fun and to make something that I loved. My hope, of course, is that other people will feel that energy, that it will remind you that you don’t have to go to someone else’s party.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
Samantha Margret – Social media is a tool and I think whether it helps or hurts is more about how you use it than its existence. The need to create content can distract from the desire to create music. I’ve fallen in and out of that bad habit over and over again. That said, I’m indie and I released five singles this year. I have no idea how I would have done that without social media. I’m still learning how to make things that I enjoy making on social media rather than whatever’s trending. As I said that, I realized how much I need to listen to my own song!
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Samantha Margret – To be completely honest, I had an easier go of it than a lot of people I know. I live with my partner, five blocks from my parents, so I had a family pod pretty much right off the bat. I was also already working from home, since I have a home studio setup. I’m an introvert, so seeing my family was enough social contact to keep me pretty upbeat and the time off the road meant I wrote a lot more music this year. I think I’m feeling the effects of this pandemic more now that the world is re-opening. I didn’t realize how much anxiety I was carrying around until I started trying to “go back to normal.” I’m pretty spooked by crowds now and I’m way worse at driving. Not to get too existential, but I also think this pandemic gave me a sense of ubiquitous uncertainty that I didn’t have before. I’m a planner and planning, at least long-term planning, feels almost silly now. I didn’t see this coming, so who knows what’s next. I’m still working on reframing that as a fun adventure instead of a terrifying abyss.
Music Bugle – What was the moment that made you want to play music?
Samantha Margret – My dad used to pick country songs off the radio to sing me to sleep. He’d sing at least two or three every night. I think that made me feel like music was special and sacred. I started making up songs in elementary school and my parents got me this tiny tape recorder. I filled it up with little song ideas. My sincerest dream was to be sitting in the backseat on the way home from school, singing something I had made up and to have my mom turn around and say, “What song is that?” like it was something I could have heard on the radio. I’m still trying to write a song my dad would pull off the radio to sing me to sleep.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?
Samantha Margret – I’m a homebody. There is nothing more relaxing for me than sitting on my couch, sipping a boba, watching a dumb TV show. I’m not amazing at taking breaks, but when I do, that’s where you’ll find me.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Samantha Margret – I’m always listening to Marian Hill. “Got It” is my favorite song of theirs. My friend Deza released a couple of bops this year that I’ve had on repeat. If you haven’t heard “Pout,” you should check it out. To be totally honest, I also just finished watching “Rhythm + Flow,” so D Smoke has been on repeat, Cardi B too. Listening to pop can feel like studying for a test, so I listen to a lot of country and hip hop for fun. I think that ultimately helps me keep my writing fresh too. I don’t want to write in a tin can with everyone like me.
Music Bugle – What’s something that people might be surprised to know about you?
Samantha Margret – I think a lot of people are surprised when I tell them I’m an introvert. I have a lot of confident songs and I’m very outgoing. I like to work a room, but that’s the performer in me. I save a lot of my truest self for myself. I like private moments and quiet spaces.
Music Bugle – What has been your hardest challenge lately?
Samantha Margret – I’ve been pulled in a lot of directions lately. I make my own schedule, which means I navigate a lot of different people who want some of my time and energy. Most of them are people I love, people who deserve a piece of me, but even when that’s the case, there’s only so much to go around. I don’t like to let anyone down and sometimes, that leaves me pretty burnt out. I think we’re all navigating what it means to fill up our lives with people after a year of keeping people at a distance.