Samuel Eisen-Meyers has been slowly plotting his next work, rearranging the pieces and reimagining how this whole thing works long-term. A lifetime Portland resident, Eisen-Meyers works full time both in music and the visual arts, though has spent the last few years consumed with oil and canvas.
Eisen-Meyers cut his musical teeth early and by the age of 15, was performing regularly with blues groups in Portland, OR. At 18 he began writing and performing his own original material, while actively touring and supporting other artists and songwriters. With roots in blues, pop, soul and groove music, he developed a fond appreciation for the expansiveness and colors of modern jazz. While frequenting the west coast festival and club circuit with bands out of Portland, Seattle and Bellingham, he wrote and recorded three albums between 2009-2014. Now at the ripe young age of 28 he returns with the first release since 2014 entitled The Heart of the Soul Pt. 1 – a culmination of years of composing and building what Eisen-Meyers calls, “Joyful Noise.” The first single entitled “Reach”, is semi-exclusively streaming today on XRAY.fm
XRAY: How do you define your Portland Music community?
Eisen-Meyers: Supportive, genuine, hardworking, determined and inspired. I have been so grateful for my community here in Portland and the amount of energy and creativity that is exchanged between us all on a daily basis. Designers, photographers, videographers, painters – it goes way past music. There are so many hard-working musicians, industry professionals and fans in this town who keep the circle strong and vibrant. I am constantly motivated and challenged not only by bandmates who want to see me grow, but by musicians that are constantly pushing the boundaries, creating careers and contributing to the real magic of Portland.
X: Can you talk a little about you self-ascribed title of ‘joyful noise’?
E: My ultimate goal in life is to make music until the day I can’t anymore. Somehow it comes out the way it does because of what I listened to growing up, who I looked up to, what I feel, what’s going on in the world… Over the years I’ve figured out a formula for my sound, and with so much noise and chaos in the world, it’s hard to not write music about it. That being said, Idesire to put a positive spin on the situation to be for something rather than against it, and to help be part of the soundtrack for motivation, inspiration, and hope. Hence, Joyful Noise. There’s so much Noise out there, but there’s so much Joy too. My music gets loud, energetic and intense, but also stays uplifting, light and accessible.
X: How did the new album come together? Was this produced at home, at a studio, were there some key players who need a shout out?
E: I had been working for around three years on preproduction for this new album which is going to be released in two parts over the next year. When I say pre-production. I mean writing and programming parts electronically, arranging vocals, envisioning the set, and making sure everything is prepared to go into the recording studio and presented to musicians. There was a lot of growth and kinks I had to work out within myself and my writing process to really get things to where they needed to be… one of which was stepping into the role of a lead vocalist.
I brought this all to Figure8sound studio in NE Portland. The lead engineer Pyata Penedo, is a great friend of mine and helped me co- produce the actual album. He recorded, mixed mastered the project. It was all done in house, and I used what extra funds I had saved for the project to *hire* friends who are some of my most favorite musicians to come in and develop and play the parts I wrote in pre-production. On the new single, “Reach,” Saeeda Wright is singing support vocals, Michael Elson is on keys, and Chris Thomas is on drums. Moorea Masa, Clara Baker, and Josephine Antoinette lent their singing and magic in support of the other songs throughout the EP. Also, a huge factor in the outcome of any album or new project is the brand, design and layout. Another friend of mine, Jordan Sowers, has been fueling the art direction of both social media and print design and distro on the back end of everything.
X: Any plans to tour with the new material?
E: In early December, the double – single release shows are at The Jewelbox Theater in Seattle, WA on December. The Firefly in Bellingham, WA on December 7th. And the Portland show is on December 8th at The Jack London Revue, doors at 8pm.
I’m starting slow on this release and hitting some key NWmarkets that have felt like home to me. My goal is to be out touring full time starting late spring/summer into fall of 2019.
X: We have active musicians, plenty of venues, record labels, and promotional companies based in Portland. Having said that, what is the Portland music scene missing to help our artists extend beyond the bubble of Portland and furthermore the Pacific Northwest?
E: This is a really good question, and I know a lot of people are talking about this right now. It seems that we have a great amount of infrastructure supported by creative agencies, licensing houses, labels, managers, lawyers, agents, etc… but I think as more and more artists are going after it, we’ll need more avenues to access that infrastructure in order to sustain a career. As an artist who is in the process of setting up a business and a solid team, it’s a challenge to manage everything, but myself, and so many others are doing so, and there are so many people who are willing to talk, share information and answer questions. There are so many loopholes that are easily missed when so focused on the art.
I think the biggest thing I’ve recognized, is that it’s important to think long term… like how am I going to be doing this sustainably for the next 30 years? So, if over time, more industry is set up to propel the careers of artists who really desire to build a career and do it full time forever, it’ll be here, because we want it, and so does everyone else. There seem to be a lot of artists out of Portland who have the proper infrastructure set up and who have been busting their butts who are out there doing it, so if we continue to unify and share recourses and information, we can burst the bubble. I don’t think its necessarily what we’re missing, just what we need to foster and build from what already exists. X