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A chat with Savanna Leigh

Nashville-based and self-made artist Savanna Leigh is making her return with the release of two heartfelt singles “unfamiliar” and “like i used to.” Giving listeners a space to navigate life right alongside her, Savanna’s earnest songwriting and wholehearted lyricism have made her an exceptionally unique and refreshing artist. Savanna recently took the time to chat with us about bittersweet beginnings and all things music, which you can read about below!

Your recent single “unfamiliar”  explores the disconnection that comes with not feeling truly at home in a place. I read that you’ve lived in Nashville for almost 6 years now but grew up in Florida, which you consider to be your home. What does having that sense of “home” mean to you? What role does your physical location have on your artistry?

I’m starting to find ways to make Nashville feel like a second home, but Florida will always be home because it’s where I grew up and my family and friends are there. Making friends and finding a sense of community has made Nashville feel more familiar. The more people I find that I trust here, it starts to feel a lot easier. It’s all about the people. 

I read that you were raised in a super musical household where many of your relatives were creatives who were pursuing music or art, and that while growing up, you dedicated most of your time to learning how to play guitar and piano, entering singing competitions, and writing songs. What impact has your upbringing had on you and your music?

The town in Florida that I grew up in was just outside of Tampa, so it was definitely not a super musical place. There wasn’t really a big music scene so growing up around people who were pursuing music professionally was something that allowed me to know that it was possible for me to pursue it too. It gave me the space as a child to be creative. My parents were super supportive and gave me a lot of motivation from a young age, so my creative pursuits were always encouraged. 

What was the first song you ever wrote, and how old were you?

My sister is also a musician and wrote her first song when she was six, so I remember always listening to her. It took me a while to really feel comfortable writing. I always wanted to find my own independence so it was hard for me to pick it up at first because I considered it as my sister’s thing. So I think I tried writing my first song when I was 12, mainly because I saw an interview where Taylor Swift said that she started writing when she was 12 [laughs]

Your song “like i used to” is vulnerable in the sense that it addresses the feeling of missing the person who you once were. Your authenticity on this track really opens up the space for people to find some relatability and feel less alone in having the same thoughts that you’re expressing here. Did it take some time for you to be able to write from your own honest and sincere perspective, or was that something that came naturally to you from the beginning?

It definitely took me a while and it’s still an ongoing process. Vulnerability is something that I struggle with so I experience a lot of disconnect there. Writing songs can still be uncomfortable for me, especially if it’s a writing session with people who I’ve never written with before. By the time I wrote “like i used to” I had already been doing sessions for a few years in Nashville so I figured out how to sit with the discomfort and come out with vulnerability. It gets easier the more I do it.

I noticed that you’ve made a playlist on your spotify profile called “note to my younger self.” Did any of the songs on that playlist help you construct and navigate the themes within “like i used to?”

I wrote the song back in June of 2022 when I was writing a lot of songs about relationships, so there were a lot of songs that got me into that headspace. “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack and “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac were all songs that I grew up listening to so I tried to pull inspiration from those places. The storytelling aspect of a country song helped inspire a lot of my songwriting, especially now being involved with the Nashville scene and the writers I’ve met there. 

Your songwriting skills and lyricism are really captivating, are there any artists that you find yourself inspired by, whether that be from their songwriting style or sound?

There are so many! Right now it’s been a lot of Gracie Abrams. Lennon Stella was someone who really inspired me when I first started to do my solo work in 2019. She was one of the first pop artists that I gravitated towards. I’ve been listening to a lot of Annika Bennett recently too who is a great writer. As a unit, Russ is someone who I listen to a lot. I’m inspired by the way he navigates the industry. I’m always feeling inspired by a lot of different things. 

You’ll soon be releasing acoustic versions of "like i used to" and “unfamiliar.” Could you tell us a little about these upcoming releases? Will the acoustic versions unlock something new within the song?

The acoustic versions are definitely different in the sense that some of the melodies are changed and the keys in the song change in some ways. One is piano based and the other is electric. I recorded both on an iPhone voice memo so it’s very DIY. I wanted it to feel like you were sitting next to me. I wanted it to feel more personal. 

You also just released a music video for "unfamiliar” which is so beautifully bittersweet and nostalgic. Did you know from the start that you wanted that track to have a visual to go along with it? If so, why?

I definitely knew that I wanted to have visuals for as many songs as I could. They’re each so personal so I like to give them to the fans in different ways that I haven’t done before. 

With so many exciting things already lined up for you this year, what can we expect from you in the future?

A lot of new music is coming which I’m very excited about! I’m working on playing as many shows as I can and hopefully having some kind of tour this year. I’m so ready to get the music out and share it with everyone.

Words by Sara


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