Every now and again a voice will rise from the Americana vein, born of soil and sweat, steeped in power, gentle in nature yet fierce in complexion. S.G. Goodman is the latest incarnation of that voice. Elegantly she creates timeless joy on her 2020 release, Old Time Feeling, as she, again and again, delivers potent and dynamic richness in song. Humble and sagacious in essence, radiating all that is cherished with inexhaustible emotion and clarity of spirit, Goodman is as real as the deal gets. A kind soul with truth to speak and ears wide to listen, her music is approachable and stunning, vital and swift, as her voice awakens the senses and saturates the mind. Poised for a massive year in 2020 – and though the breaks have been pumped a bit the last twelve months – nothing can stop the locomotive force that is S.G. Goodman.
Glide recently jumped on the phone with S.G. and talk about working with Jim James, delectable gas station food, capturing inspiration when it strikes, and more…
Old TIme Feeling hit me right in the heart. I’m very interested in your songwriting process. How does inspiration tend to strike you?
I don’t really have a formula. I wish I did have a method I could always turn to and know something would show up but my method is more just remembering, ‘what I’m supposed to be doing as a songwriter.’ I’ve gotten over the whole making apologies for whipping out my phone and writing down an idea in the middle of a conversation. I’m always sure to honor the fact that I am trying to be a songwriter… at all times. I’m not one of those people who always write lyrics first or writes the music first, there really is no consistency in my process. I have hundreds and hundreds of voice memos in my phone and that’s generally how I do it. I also carry a small notepad and if a lyric comes I’ll jot it down quick. I know that if I don’t record my melody with my phone right away I might lose it forever.
Do you ever turn on the voice memo and just start singing out to see what comes? Like a freestyle.
Yeah, I do that. A lot of times its just gibberish but sometimes I’ll get something that sounds like a word and it’ll send me down a direction. Some songs I wrote in twenty minutes and others take years. My theory is: if you can’t remember it doesn’t matter but if you can remember it – even if it’s years and years later – hang onto it. A friend of mine who is a short story writer – he was actually my professor and now is a mentor of mine – says, “a story will go about its business.” I take that concept and I say, ‘a song will go about it’s business.’
Is it true you were working a shift at a taco shop in Nashville the day you found out you got a record deal?
Well, it wasn’t there that I heard about the record deal. I was taking a break outside and that’s when I saw an email on my phone saying I was being looped into a message thread with Jim James, who would then later co-produce my album.
Far out. Was that out of left field?
Well..I own a house in Kentucky. For different reasons I really needed a change of scenery. I’ve never really been drawn to Nashville even though a million people have yelled at me about how much I’m shooting myself in the foot not being there. So I gave in and believe it or not, paying a mortgage in Kentucky was cheaper than the room I rented in Nashville. I couldn’t afford my rent and mortgage so I got a job at a taco place to try and scrape by. I moved to Nashville in October and that’s when I sent my demos to a mutual friend of Jim James and mine. I asked them if they felt inclined to pass these songs to Jim and please let him now that I wanted him to produce my record. I wanted an all Kentucky team as best as I can do. I got the email from Jim’s team on a Monday and the Saturday before I was at a show at this venue called Fond Object. I was outside talking to my publicist and he said, “If you don’t hear back from Jim James by the end of next week we need to move on.” That Monday morning I got the email.
Oh my god. That’s amazing.
I truly believed it was going to happen. I told my band a year before that, ‘I’m going to get Jim James to produce this record.’ I was naming it and claiming it. That being said, I was as shocked as anybody that it happened (SG laughs)
DJ Greg Vandy at KEXP turned me onto your music. Do you know Greg?
Yeah, I haven’t done an interview with him or anything like that but I’ve followed KEXP for a long time. One day my dream is to do a live session there.
Vandy wanted me to ask you: what’s the deal with southern food delicacies to be found at gas stations?
We have this gas station here in Murray run by an Indian couple and they make amazing Indian food. I actually had that today for lunch. Right down the road from me in Paris, Tennessee there’s a gas station that sells amazing deli sandwiches and is also a notable barbeque spot. Of course there are some places that just absolutely suck but if you go into a small southern gas station and they have chicken livers and gizzards it’s probably a good sign. If they have homemade pork rinds sitting out you know there’s probably a good cook in the back (SG Laughs).
I can get behind that. Where is Murray, Kentucky and is it a good spot to tour out of?
Oh yeah, it’s a great location. I’m like two and a half hours from Memphis, two hours from Nashville. Less than four hours from St. Louis and less than seven hours from Chicago. I’m everywhere. The east coast market is so good and easy. I can’t imagine trying to tour out west right now. At my stage they’re not paying me enough. I’d be in the red before I left my house.
What’s in your tape deck?
I’ve been listening to an old record from Michael Nau called Mowing. I’ve also been listening to this old post punk band from Kentucky called Slint. When I was in college here in Murray there was a really thriving post punk scene. That was the music I loved. Also, Chad VanGaalen, a musical hero of mine from Canada just released a new record. He’s such an alien. I love everything he does.
I can’t believe Chad does all the animation for those songs too.
It’s insane. Hes seeping with talent. This is a funny story. I’m a massive Chad VanGaalen fan and have been for years. One day, years ago, my best friend Matt Rowan came over to my house. I was out in the garden and Matt said he was leaving in twenty minutes to drive to Cincinnati, which is about five hours from us. I asked him why and he said, “Chad VanGaalen is putting on a free concert.” And I was like, ‘I’m going!” I went inside and tried to scrub up quickly and got in the car. We get to Cincinnati and there he is, so close. I still listen to Diaper Island at least a month solid every year. There he was. We met him at his merch booth and we were so nervous. My friends and I bought some merch and went to put it in the car before the show started. We were talking to each other about how nice he was and how he’s really tall (both laugh). One of them looked down and said, ‘I was so nervous I bought a record that I already have.’ It turned out that we all bought something that we already owned. We were all so nervous. That might be the only person that I’ve ever been kind of struck in front of. One of my sweetest memories for sure.