Interview: Exploring Daydreams and Songwriting with San Mei

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Over the past few years, we've been in awe of everything San Mei does and the magic she creates through her music. After a massive SXSW, she announced yesterday that she has signed a major US booking deal with United Talent Agency. In Austin, we had the chance to talk to her about her EP Heaven and being inspired by daydreams.

How excited are you to be here in Austin for SXSW?

It’s a dream come true. When we got into LA, we just couldn’t believe it, we were all like ‘we can’t believe we’re here playing shows in America!!’. It’s just so incredible and it really is a dream come true. To be able to play SXSW is a huge tick off the bucket list.

Is it your first time playing in America?

Yes, so I have travelled here before, but it’s my first time playing shows. We did a little show in LA a few days ago before getting here, and that was a nice little warm-up to get the nerves out and I'm looking forward to playing all the shows here.

Congrats on releasing Heaven last year, I absolutely adored the EP! How long did you spend working on it? 

Thank-you so much! I think I wrote it over the course of a year. Sometimes I can take my time writing songs, and I know there are a lot of musicians out there that are really good at writing songs quickly in a few weeks, but I can’t do that and I prefer to take my time. So once I had some tracks that I was happy with, I felt like they were the right ones to make an EP with. After that, I did work on it a few days here and there with Oscar Dawson and then we did some work over in Melbourne, and it was really cool.

When you’re in that writing headspace, do you like to venture out or stay at home?

My dream is to go hire a cabin in the rainforest and just write songs but unfortunately, the reality of my life is that I don’t get that luxury (laughs) so I kind of find the time where I can at home and lock myself in my room and try to do it that way. If I ever get the chance to go to more places and spend the time to write there, that would be absolutely amazing.

When I was listening to the EP, I got the vibe that you’re an avid daydreamer, am I onto something? 

(Laughs) yes, that’s absolutely true. It’s how I psych myself up when it comes to music. I guess with my songs, I like to invite other people to get transported into a daydream as well. My daydreams often inspire the themes of the songs and the soundscapes. But yes, I love daydreaming a lot (laughs).

I’m with you, daydreaming is the best! What about observation or people-watching, are you ever inspired by the world around you when writing?

Yes, sometimes I can be. I think a lot of my writing can be quite introspective, I suppose. For some of my songs, I do like to write from someone else’s perspective as well, whether it’s someone I am close to or friends.

When you get an idea for a song or a thought pops up, is there somewhere you like to jot it down?

I mostly use the notes on my phone. Unfortunately, I don’t have a cute diary or anything (laughs). I want to do it more I think, I want to practice writing a cool idea, or a line or a melody that I hear in my head. So I haven’t done it too much in the past, but it’s definitely something that I want to work on and get better at.

Have you thought much about your next release?

I do have something that’s going to be ready to go when I get home, so it will hopefully be coming out very soon. So I’ll have some more music out soon. I just did some more music with Oscar Dawson and I can’t wait to share it.

That's pretty exciting, can't wait to hear it. And as soon as you wrap-up things here in Texas, what’s coming up for you?

I’ve got a couple of headline shows interstate in Sydney and Melbourne and I’m getting to play with Jack River on her Sugar Mountain Ball which is so exciting and I’m incredibly honoured to be able to do that as she’s someone who I look up to as an artist and I think she’s amazing.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)
Photos by Kristy Smolcic (folio)

You can catch San Mei live at her upcoming headline shows:
April 6th - YahYahs, Melbourne 
April 13th - Vic on the Park, Sydney 
April 14th - North Wollongong Hotel, Y&O Sundays 
Click here for more information, as well as other shows she's playing (including Jack River's Sugar Mountain Ball)

Listen to her EP Heaven below: