"Nothing more than feelings," so the old song goes. We beg to differ: feelings are inherently radical, and thus deserve to be appreciated for that very fact, rather than as affective mechanisms of the culture industry. Hence, Saam & Dev combines personal, intimate songs with the imagery of past forms of radical political action and their apparently impersonal masks and uniforms. This dialectical juxtaposition is key to understanding what Saam & Dev is trying to accomplish.
However, Saam & Dev is not only about feelings. It is also about learning. Conceptualized as a "learning lab," Saam & Dev utilizes innovative learning methods* in order to provide a safe environment for the creation of meaningful music without the need for virtuosity or pompous instrumental display. Aesthetically compelling music need not be technically dazzling, or even blisteringly energetic. Instead, it must be soulful. Saam & Dev is soulful.
Soul is, of course, a loaded term, one familiarly associated with black R&B of the long 1960s. The inspiration for Saam & Dev are Stax's famous duo, Sam and Dave, whose hits like "Soul Man" and "Hold On, I'm Comin'" made them justifiably famous as representatives of a powerfully gospel-inflected form of African American popular music. In the intervening half-century since the emergence of this form of soul, blackness (particularly in the U.S.-American sense) has become both a profoundly lucrative commodity and an instrumentalized form of expression adoptable and adaptable by vast numbers of non-black musical performers. For musicians who feel they cannot claim an authentic relationship to black traditions, however, what is an honest way to engage with soul music, which was inseparable in the last instance from the Civil Rights and Black Liberation Movements? By way of a provisional solution, Saam & Dev draws on the sounds of whiteness—both in its southern/country/western/Appalachian variants and in its deracinated, post-European ones—and through such sounds pays homage to a music, a tradition, and a political past much in need of review and remembrance if our society is to move past the cultural stultification of the neoliberal era.**
Like all art, though, Saam & Dev cannot be reduced to logical argumentation, a syllogism in the form of song. Saam & Dev is also vulnerable, whimsical, angry, and, at times, even funny. Saam & Dev is a realm, to which you are invited. Saam & Dev is a method, which we hope you will adopt. Saam & Dev is a burrito.
* Cf. Garth Hudson's pedagogical materials
** Of course, many ostensibly "white" musics (including much US country music) also find their roots in or draw significantly upon the musical and sonic heritage of the African diaspora.
released July 16, 2014
Saam & Dev is:
Saam (Emily Lechner), vocals, mandolin, glockenspiel
Dev (Sumanth Gopinath), vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboard, tambourine
Beth Hartman, bass
Derek Engelking, drums
Produced by Saam & Dev and Bryan Knisley
Recorded and Mixed by Bryan Knisley, North Orbit Studios, St. Paul, MN, September 2009
Mastered by Bruce Templeton, Magneto Mastering, March 2010
Photography by Mark Nye
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright Saam & Dev 2014
all rights reserved