Updated: Jun 12, 2020
I got to chat with Samira Winter on the phone in place of an in-person interview due to the cancellation of SXSW. In bold are my questions and her answers follow.
I know both you and your sister are into making music so are your parents musicians or just into music? How did y’all get into that?
My parents really love music. They’re not, like, professional musicians but we’ve always just had a lot of music growing up. Like my dad was in a punk band in college, and my mom, who’s Brazilian, just always would play nylon guitar. We would just all sing a lot of songs together. It’s funny ‘cause ... this whole corona[virus] thing is reminding me a little bit of ... in Brazil, there would be a lot of rain and the electricity would go down and we would just ... stay in and have it all dark with candles, and we would just sing that song, “Our House” by Crosby Stills and Nash. So we would just sing a lot of songs together. It’s definitely a musical family but I wouldn’t say they were professional musicians.
How did you kind of find your own sound?
It took me a little bit, actually. ‘Cause I started writing songs when I was in middle school, but they were kinda more like.. a little bit more folky, more poppy. … It took me ‘til my last year of college to start Winter. I was like writing songs and then I had this band with my friends in college … and it was kind of indie and kind of shoegaze-y and I think that kind of gave me the confidence to be, like, ‘okay I’m ready. I think I know what I wanna make’. Like, dream pop, indie, gazey music.
And you helped your sister produce her EP recently. What was that collaborative process like?
It was so fun! I love my sister’s songwriting. It really took me back to my first songs and, like, the vibe I was into musically… That kind of stuff is so fresh. Your first songs are so special. It was just really nice to connect with that kind of energy. But she knew really well what she wanted. She would just get the right take really quick. It was really fun. I love those songs so much, they’re so dear to me.
What have you been doing to keep busy while practicing social distance?
The funny thing is I actually have so much on my to do list. So it’s been really productive. For me, I know that it’s rough circumstances, but it’s kind of exciting, because I’m always looking to have more time by myself. (laughter) Sometimes I have a hard time balancing alone time and socializing time, so this is forcing me to just do all the stuff I need to do. Which is good.
SXSW was cancelled because of coronavirus and you had to cancel a few other shows, was that a difficult decision for you and the band to make?
It was! The whole time I was kind of in denial. I was like, ‘No SX isn’t gonna be cancelled.’ And then when they did [cancel it], I was, like, ‘Oh shit... this is actually serious.’ Then a lot of people were talking about how they were gonna go anyway. And I was talking to my bandmates and there were a lot of actual safety and health concerns of going to SX and there was also the financial concern... So it was hard. To the very last moment I was, like, “No I’m still gonna do a Phoenix show”, and one of my bandmates was like, ‘I don’t think we should do this. I don't feel safe.’ So it was, like, ‘okay I think we just have to cancel it.’ It was definitely rough, because I love SX and I love Austin.
You’ve got an album coming out on May 15th, Endless Space (Between You & I). What sounds or themes can we expect from that?
I would say it has the most psych elements of any Winter record that I’ve put out and will probably ever put out. It’s definitely an exploration of being influenced by Stereolab and Melody’s Echo Chamber. It feels pretty intimate even though it’s very produced and arranged, and there’s a lot of elements. There’s kind of this texture; this lo-fi kind of thing that makes you feel very connected? I don’t know. I’m kind of curious to hear [how everyone receives it]. That’s just how I feel about it. I feel like there’s kind of this ghostly quality to it. It's definitely still pretty optimistic. I feel like my melodies and my choices usually tend to be pretty bright and sunshiny. It still has some of that sunshine, but it’s definitely a little bit of a darker vibe than the most recent records.
I’m sure they’re all special to you, but do you have any favorite tracks?
I would say the last track, actually. It’s called “Pure Magician”. I really like that song. It’s hard to choose, though. I really like distortion, and that song ... there’s a lot of distortion and it’s more shoegaze-y.
You posted a little on Instagram about the recording process for this upcoming album with Ian Gibbs but how did the experience this time compare to past projects?
It was cool because, you know, I like working just with one other person. Ethereality was when I had band mates that were more involved in the process and I had them be involved in the recording. It was really nice working with Ian because he basically can shred on all instruments … and we connected so much on making it very magical and having little bits that only happen once. Together, we would kind of get in a deep zone of creativity and inspiration. And we kind of worked bit by bit, so I would write a song and I would go to his house and we would spend a day or two recording it. Then more time would pass and I would write another song and bring it to his house. So it was cool because it was … a bit of a journal of that year. Each song, we kind of created its own world, but he did a really good job of keeping all of the songs and the whole record really consistent.
You’ve got a tour coming up in May with Surfer Blood and Holy Wav. I’m sure you’re stoked for that but which of those dates are you the most excited for?
(Laughter) I’m excited to go to New Orleans. I’m excited for this festival we’re playing in Indianapolis. I’m super excited to play in Austin. I would totally live in Austin if I didn’t live in LA. So, I’m definitely excited for that show. I don’t know ... I’m excited for the whole tour. I like being on tour for an extended amount of time. It makes you really tight with your band, and you just get in that tour mode, and just live that life. I just hope it happens. I think if it doesn't happen in May, it’ll get postponed.
Favorite meal: Breakfast.
Favorite place: In the ocean.
Favorite song right now: “The One to Wait” by CCFX
Musical guilty pleasure: I try not to have the concept of guilty pleasure … But if you were to say ‘guilty pleasure’ like for most people … I honestly love the song “Yellow” by Coldplay (laughter)
Favorite color: Blue. I went through this really intense pink phase. And now I’m back to blue slash red.
First gig: It was in Boston, where I went to college. It was at The Great Scott. And we only had 4 songs, which was the first EP, so we just played 4 songs. And my bandmate, she was the drummer, she was like, ‘Hey let’s put flowers in your hair’, so I did that. And she had Christmas lights on stage. It was so sweet.
Favorite movie: I really like that French movie, Amélie. I love that movie. Oh! 10 Things I Hate About You. That’s probably my favorite movie. But also Amelie.
Dream venue or dream show: I really want to play Pitchfork Festival. But dream show would probably be opening for a band from the 90s. If I could open for the Breeders, Teenage Fanclub, The Jesus and Mary Chain, that would probably be my dream show.
Make sure to check out Winter’s new album “Endless Space (Between You & I)” when it comes out on May 15th and try to catch her on tour this Spring (hopefully).
In the meantime you can find Winter here: