A video interview with singer and songwriter Sam Phillips: It's not easy being green
Among other attributes of Sam Phillips’ Long Play music and art installation on the Web, the singer-songwriter figured that her eco-friendly subscribers would appreciate the aspect of recording and distributing music digitally, without using up more plastic, paper and energy to create CDs.
“One of the surprises for me in doing this,” Phillips told me at her home recording studio on L.A.’s east side, “is that a lot of people still want something physical. I don’t think even they know exactly what that is, whether it’s a CD or a beach towel or a coffee mug. I was so proud of how green we’re being. It’s interesting that a lot of people are still looking for something they can hold in their hands.”
The yearlong project got off the ground last fall and has attracted about 1,000 subscribers, who pay $52 for 12 months of access to the Long Play site within her main website. She’s putting together five EP collections of three or four songs each. At the end of the year, she’ll release a full album, which she expects will include some of the songs from the EPs and extra songs that didn’t fit onto any of the EPs.
One of the songs that found its way onto the EP she put out in February around Valentine’s Day was “Tell Her What She Wants to Know,” something she’d first recorded years ago while she was married to T Bone Burnett, who also produced her records for nearly two decades, until they divorced a few years ago.
"This is an older song. It actually came out originally on the ‘Gilmore Girls’ soundtrack,” said Phillips, who served as music composer for the TV series. “It’s the only thing I think I ever recorded with T Bone that I didn’t like. So I wanted to give it another chance and re-do it.
"That’s part of it too: We’re doing older songs in the Long Play in new versions," she said. "I thought that might be a timely one for Valentine’s Day: ‘Tell Her What She Wants to Know’ -- it hearkens back a little to a kind of Beatle-y country sound.”
My full story on Phillips and the Long Play appears in Sunday’s Arts & Books section. We’ve also assembled a video chat, above, with some musical excerpts, shot on site at her home studio.
-- Randy Lewis