Interview: Carter Sampson on bringing “Gold” to the UK

How the pandemic enabled the mining of “Gold”.

Oklahoma has produced a legendary list of roots artists including Bob Wills, Woody Guthrie, Leon Russell, J J Cale, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, and Wanda Jackson to name only a few, and one of today’s Okie artists is touring the UK with Amelia White in the Oklahoma Meets Nashville Tour, Carter Sampson. America UK reviewed Carter Sampson’s ‘Gold’ in April, and Martin Johnson took the opportunity to get a few of Carter Sampson’s thoughts on the record and tour. Carter Sampson confirmed it was the pandemic that helped make ‘Gold’ the artistic success it is by enabling her and her musical cohort, Kyle Reid, to spend more time in the studio. She also explains that she visits a lot of thrift stores to help maintain her own style of clothing.

How are you, and where are you?

I am in the UK now, High Wycombe at the moment.

Why has Oklahoma been able to punch above its weight musically over the years?

There’s a lot of musical talent in Oklahoma and a lot of support for us too. We’ve also got a lot of music in our state’s history. From early jazz to Bob Wills and Woody Guthrie to Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Wanda Jackson and Patti Page.

How important is Oklahoma’s history to you as a singer-songwriter?

It is my roots,  I come from a long line of Oklahomans so I do write about it quite a lot. I enjoy history too.

Why do you think ‘Gold’ turned out so well given it was your pandemic record?

My musical partner Kyle and I had the luxury of working on it over a long period of time since there was no hurry to release it.

How much of a Kyle Reid record is ‘Gold’?

Well I couldn’t have made the same record without him. Kyle and I are a good team and work well together. Kyle’s musical stamp is on it for sure and he brought a lot of different sounds and ideas to the table.

What are you most pleased about with ‘Gold’?

I loved the recording process for this album. Pre-pandemic Kyle brought a bunch of recording gear to my house and set up in my living room. We worked there for about 10 days, It was really the most comfortable place to be for me. Side A was recorded at my house then the pandemic hit and we moved our operation to Kyle’s house. He has a studio in his backyard where we ran chords and cables in and out of windows and doors and into his house where he could engineer the record without us being in the same building. Side B was recorded this way. It really took a lot of the pressure of a recording studio off and I think I performed better because of it.

You are the self-styled Queen of Oklahoma, are you ready to spread your rule to the wider US and overseas?

Haha, I wrote a song a long time ago called ‘Queen of Oklahoma’ and I never thought people would call me that but I’m totally OK with it. I love travelling and playing music wherever I can.

Who are your go to influences?

Emmylou, Patty Griffin, Lucinda Williams, Elvis, Dolly.

How do you approach your songwriting?

It seems to come all at once. I won’t write for a while then usually several songs come out of me at once. When an idea or line comes to me I put it in Notes in my phone and revisit it when I’m ready to write.

You have a distinctive visual image, what is behind that and what are your inspirations?

I’ve always liked to express myself via fashion and clothes. I love searching out fun and unique pieces, a lot of thrift stores! I also like to be comfortable in my own skin and clothes so I wear what I like and what makes me feel good.

You’ve picked up various awards over the years, what do they mean to you as an artist?

It’s nice to be recognized for your work. I did quite a few songwriting contests and learned a lot about pressure and performance. I learned to control my nerves a little better by competing.

What’s your relationship with Horton Records like? 

Horton Records is a non-profit record label out of Tulsa, OK and non-profit labels are pretty much unheard of in the music business. They are a great organization which helps get Oklahoma music into the world. ‘Gold’ is my second release on HR and I’m so happy with the support and help they have given me.

What have your experiences with UK audiences been like?

I really love playing in the UK. I joke about it a lot but American audiences are generally loud and don’t listen very well and the English audiences are so quiet and kind.

What plans have you got for the rest of 2023 and 2024?

Touring in the US and working on an EU tour for Fall 2024.

At AUK, we like to share music with our readers, so can you share which artists or tracks are currently top three on your personal playlist? 

I’ve been on a major Aretha Franklin kick recently. Darrel Scott and Elvis are played a lot in my house too. Jared Tyler’s (Horton Records) ‘Dirt on Your Hands’, Watchhouse’s ‘Wildfire’, and Lucinda Williams’ ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top’.

Finally, do you want to say anything to our readers?

I hope to see you at a show soon!

Carter Sampson’s ‘Gold’ is out now on Horton Records.

About Martin Johnson 406 Articles
I've been a music obsessive for more years than I care to admit to. Part of my enjoyment from music comes from discovering new sounds and artists while continuing to explore the roots of American 20th century music that has impacted the whole of world culture.
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