Podcast: Musical conversation with Samantha Farrell

Samantha Farrell is the assistant to the director of MIT.nano Vladimir Bolovic,

Samantha Farrell is the assistant to the director of MIT.nano Vladimir Bolovic, as well as a professional musician. Image: courtesy of Samantha Farrell

The following podcast and transcript featureáSamantha Farrell, who isáthe assistant to MIT.nano director Vladimir Bulovic, as well as a professional musician. Below, she talks about how music is keeping her focused, productive, and sane, and how artists are moreáimportant thanáever in difficult times like these.

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

Samantha Farrell:

I’ve had a couple people say it gave me a vacation from my anxiety or it gave me a break just for a little moment in the day. I just kind of forgot about it and to me that’s the mission accomplished, like that. I couldn’t hear a better thing that someone could say about this.

Samantha Farrell:

(singing)

Samantha Farrell:

My name is Samantha Farrell. I’m a musician and I also happen to work at MIT. I’m the assistant to the Founding Director of MIT.nano, Vladimir Bulovic, and I also help manage his research group, The One Lab.

Samantha Farrell:

(singing)

Narrator:

Samantha started performing professionally in the early 2000s while still in college. Most nights you can find her out listening to music, at band rehearsal or performing live. Her and her band are regulars in the Boston music scene. However, like most of us currently, they now find themselves stuck at home, struggling to adjust to the new normal. As Samantha began to settle in and navigate through canceled gigs and working remotely, she found herself in need of something more, something creative and collaborative and fun.

Samantha Farrell:

That Monday after they asked us to not come back to work, I was feeling really sad. I was feeling really sad and lethargic and uncertain about everything. And over the course of the week I was thinking of ways, okay, how am I going to stay sane? And I knew that continuing to make music would help keep me nice and even and feeling good about things. So my boyfriend and I, he is a videographer, we were thinking okay, what can we do collaboratively? What can we do with our friends’ If we’re going to be isolated, let’s still try to make something together. And that’s how we came up with the idea of Split Screen Quarantine.

Samantha Farrell:

(singing)

Narrator:

Split Screen Quarantine is a weekly video series Samantha publishes on her YouTube channel. Each video, which she calls a transmission, feature a collaboration between herself and a different musician, performing a song of their choice. Going into this idea, Samantha says she wasn’t quite sure what the end result of each collaboration would be, but what she did know was she wanted to maintain a specific aesthetic throughout each.

Samantha Farrell:

We wanted to keep that home grown shot at home found footagey kind of look, so we decided to shoot these on an iPhone or whatever cell phone that you have and we spent a long time getting the keyboard sound to the font so it would look and sound like coming from a bunker in the 80s, like in a post apocalyptic movie or something like that. We were just trying to lean into the weirdness of all of this.

Samantha Farrell:

(singing)

Samantha Farrell:

So what everyone does is that they record their footage and then everyone sends the files and then Christopher, who’s the videographer and the editor of these, stitches it all together.

Samantha Farrell:

Each video takes hours to create and put together and the audio, we spend a lot of time mixing it, so big round of applause to the behind-the-scenes editing and production help from Decent Productions.

Samantha Farrell:

(singing)

Narrator:

Her collaborators consist mostly of musician friends and band members, some of whom she has worked with often and some she’s never worked with at all. Her only requirement, a collaborator who is equally excited and as enthusiastic about participating as she is. One of her most recent collaborations was with an MIT alum who played not just one but four separate instruments to round it all out.

Samantha Farrell:

We just recorded a Melody Gardot song, which I love, I play with my band a lot and it’s a big hit with the blues dance community, so I’m used to seeing a lot of people swaying in the aisles when we’re playing this one and I recorded it with Michael Valdez, who is an MIT alum. He was class of ’90, Core 16 for undergrad and then he got his masters in Aero-astro, same department in ’93. I met him maybe eight years ago now. He just came up to me at a gig and he’s like, I should be your piano player. And I said, okay. And that was that. But he’s a multi-instrumentalist. He’s a brilliant person, of course, went to MIT, so. He is playing upright bass, piano, drums and Wurlitzer on this. So I hope you enjoy.

Samantha Farrell:

(singing)

Samantha Farrell:

I’m having so much fun just collaborating with people. One of the next people that I’m doing this with is Van Morrison’s ex piano player. He’s coming up, coming up next on one of these. I have a friend in Amsterdam who’s about to do one with me. I have a friend in Los Angeles who’s going to do one with me. It’s just a really fun way to reach out and just talk to people and have musical conversations with people. And what I’m finding is that I’m not receiving resistance to it. It’s not like, oh, let me think about it, everyone wants to do it. I think having a creative focus and a mission, to record and record audio and then record yourself, it gives you something positive to do. And then to have every Monday having a finished product is, it was making everyone feel kind of productive.

Samantha Farrell:

(singing)

Samantha Farrell:

I feel like in times like these, this is when the arts really shine and when people’s humanity can really shine. It’s when musicians and filmmakers and artists are needed more than ever.

Samantha Farrell:

(singing)

Samantha Farrell:

Again, my name is Samantha Farrell and thank you so much for listening, and if you want to continue to hear Split Screen Quarantine transmissions, they’ll be coming out every single Monday until MIT lets us back in, which may be awhile, but you can find them by subscribing to me on YouTube. It’s just Samantha Farrell Music, or I’ll be releasing them on Facebook, Samantha Farrell Music on Facebook.

Samantha Farrell:

(singing)


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