We had the good fortune of connecting with Siena Friend and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Siena, what are you inspired by?
Inspiration is a mysterious force. In my creative life, I’ve had to work to find the balance between waiting for inspiration to strike, and going out in search of it. Usually my songwriting is inspired by being in nature, traveling, taking long walks around new cities, and having new experiences. During the past year and a half, I’ve had to find new ways to stay inspired as the COVID-19 pandemic forced me, like so many others, to stay home. I found that staying connected with other songwriters and musicians was crucial to keeping me inspired and motivated during this strange year. My latest album, Start Again, was created in a semi-collaborative process with a small group of other musicians who were all working on their own albums. We met virtually every week to discuss our progress, our setbacks, and to share our music. We also collaborated on each other’s albums by sending tracks back and forth. I had a friend in NYC recording keyboard parts for me in his apartment, and a friend in Colorado recording drum tracks in her garage! It was amazing to have this collaboration to support me from afar during a time when we were all so isolated. More than anything, the past year has taught me that I need that support and community in order to stay inspired – and I think all creative people do! It’s too easy to get lost in your own head and doubt yourself when you are isolated. We need each other as reminders why we keep creating even through the hardest times.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve been making music as a singer-songwriter in the indie-folk genre since I was a teenager. Although I have pursued other endeavors along the way, such as filmmaking, visual art, and most recently starting my business as an Ayurvedic Health Coach, music has been the through line of my life journey. I released my debut e.p. under the name Siena Friend in 2019, which was recorded at the Songwriting School of Los Angeles. I loved having the chance to work in a studio with talented producer Ben Wilkins on this project, and it also made me curious to learn more about producing myself.
For my latest album, Start Again (out everywhere on June 20th, 2021!), I knew I wanted to try a different approach. I went back to to my DIY roots (think recording music sitting on my bed when I was 15) and produced my own album from a makeshift home studio. I wanted this album to still be grounded in acoustic guitar and vocals, but I let myself get a little more experimental. I incorporated some slightly more electronic elements (as tends to happen when one is left alone at home to explore Logic for months!), and this expansion opened up a whole new world for my music. I grew up in the 90s inspired by great solo singer-songwriters like Ani Difranco, Liz Phair, and Fiona Apple. This album still reflects those influences, but also draws from other artists like The Postal Service and LCD Soundsystem, as well as some of my new faves of the modern generation of singer-songwriters, Phoebe Bridgers, Soccer Mommy and Clairo. The result of all this is something that I think still feels very much like “me,” but will take listeners on an even more engaging and dynamic journey over the course of the album.
Overall, this album has a message of hope and rebirth. Many of these song were written either for others in my life who were going through difficult times, or to cheer myself up when I was feeling down. The album title “Start Again” has many layers for me. The phrase comes from one of the songs on the album, “Joshua Tree,” which is about feeling trapped in a cycle of addiction, yet realizing that at any moment we have the chance to break free and “start again” – no matter how many times that takes. When I started the process of recording this album, I decided to quit drinking alcohol for the time to would take me make the album (it’s been a year and a half now, and still going strong!) So in some sense, I see this album as a story of my own recovery or transition from a phase of my life where I felt I was held back by alcohol. Additionally, it feels like we’re all “starting again” right now as we emerge from the pandemic and learn how to live in the world, rebuilding our lives after many of us have lost a lot. And finally, I have a big transition on the horizon as I am expecting my first child late this summer! I know that motherhood will require me to “start again” in my life, my career and my music in ways I can’t even imagine now. But humans are remarkably resilient and adaptable, and I look forward to seeing what the future has in store.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Having the city shut down for most of the last year has forced me to be outside more and get creative with my excursions. Luckily, there is no lack of amazing natural beauty and outdoors to be explored in LA! I live in the Hollywood Hills, and walk almost every day at the Hollywood Reservoir. This little-know spot is a beautiful walk around a pristine reservoir with a great view of the Hollywood Sign! When I want to drive a bit further, my favorite beach spot is El Matador beach in Malibu. You have to hike down a steep stairway down a cliff to get there, but it is the most picturesque beach in the LA area. I suggest packing a picnic and spending the day there.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
As I mentioned previously, my latest album would never have been completed without the support of an amazing group of musicians who were all on the journey with me! This group, called the Album Mastermind, was facilitated by golden lotus studio, an online songwriting community created by my friend Gary Grundei. This studio has given me the support not only to record and produce my own album, but to continue writing new song every week and stay connected to an active group of songwriters and musicians. I am forever grateful to golden lotus studio, especially for keeping me connected and making music during a year in quarantine!
Other: Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3CLpxIgo4Tj63Uz9J1pooa?si=hwpjknMIQcG9mq5P40E9Cw Itunes: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/siena-friend/1451985407 Bandcamp: https://sienafriend.bandcamp.com