Season Ammons Interview

This interview has been edited for clarity and flow.

On May 25, for episode 4 of the Backline Beat Podcast, I hopped on Zoom to talk to singer-songwriter Season Ammons. We chatted about her upcoming album, No Restraint, her favourite song she’s ever written, her influences, and a lot more. 

You can watch the interview above. Or read it below.

 Jade Dempsey: How are you?

Season Ammons: I’m good, nice to meet you, I like your name. 

I like yours, What’s the story behind it. I’ve never heard Season before?

Yeah, my mom, she couldn’t decide between autumn and summer…So she just said, I’m going to name her all the seasons. So…and I’m the only girl, I have three brothers, and they’re actually pretty normal names, Jeremy Randy and Derek. But I came. Yeah, I got season. Which is kind of cool because it works, you know, in this industry. It’s you know, I have a built in stage name, and I do get asked all the time. Is that your real name or your stage name. I’m like, it’s…my real first name. And it happens to be a great stage name.

Am I right in that you just got off a radio tour?

Yeah I did. I just got back…yesterday…the days are kinda running together. But yeah, I was gone from May 2nd, and I just got back. I went everywhere, all through Texas, went through Oklahoma, Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, South Carolina, North Carolina, then Florida. Then made my way back to Texas.
So it was long. But you know, it’s fun. It’s a fun part of my job getting to meet all the radio programmers and DJ’s and sort of hit the pavement, in a sense. And the thing  that I kept getting over and over again is like, “wow, you’re kinda old school, like, nobody is doing this anymore.” And I’m like well…
I think it’s important. I think when you get to meet someone face to face, and they get to, you know, hear your story. There’s just a connection. I think that’s lost in this digital era. So I’m okay with putting in the work and going out and meeting people, because I think it makes a difference.

Do you find that maybe you get a bit more airplay because they know you a bit more. They’re more inclined to maybe put your song on a few more times a day or so?

I do, because I think that they see the work that I’m doing, and just the investment of just coming out and doing all this stuff. I mean, they see I’m doing the work. And so yeah, they want to help out, because they actually see I’m a real person doing it. And you know, I’m an independent artist. While I have some people on my team, I’m still and independent artist, and no one can do the work that I could do, which is just the meeting and greeting and the getting in the van and driving down the road and playing the shows. There’s certain things that only I can do that, even if you have a whole team of people. I mean, they can’t do that type of work for you. So I think it does. It pays off in in the long run, because they get to really know who you are, and then it feels like they’re a part of helping you come up. They’re like on your team. So they feel a sense of like…there’s a gratitude on their side, with like, “Hey, I helped her out.” So I think it’s cool that way.

So you have your new album No Restraint, coming out (July 14). It was recorded during the pandemic (2020). What made now the right time to release it, three years later?

Well it took a while, of course, to get it done, and to find the time to release it. It was almost two years of not being able to work. Not being able to play shows. It didn’t make sense to put out a record, when I couldn’t promote it properly, which entails doing all the radio and PR stuff…You know, there’s a budget behind it to try as an independent artist. You gotta get the momentum to get out there and to push it out, and I just didn’t want to put anything out. This was a really good record, and I was so proud of it, so I wanted to do it justice.
Also, everybody else was putting music out, because between 2020 and 2021, everybody was recording music. We were all kind of in the same boat, and I feel like there was an onslaught of music coming down, and I just felt kill it would serve it better, if it would just wait. I was just waiting for he right time. Now was the time. And I wanted enough lead time to really promote it. So I started the promotion on this record a year ago. Last summer is when I started, you know, going okay, it’s don’t the mixing, the mastering, like everything’s done except the artwork, and all the other little things. But I wanted enough time to put it out properly.

Yeah, for sure.
You released your first single, “Help Me.” I saw you talk about how the song came from some depression and kind of the desperation of the time. How does that influence your writing? Kind of your mood and state of mind?

Music and writing is definitely very therapeutic. So if I’m feeling moody, it’s going to come out, you know? In my music I don’t always try to writing from a perspective of like, oh, I feel happy, or I feel in love, or whatever. I don’t think like, I’m going to write this sad song. But sometimes, yeah, it just sort of seeps out, and influences my writing. And other times it could just be a melody that I get, or some kind of hook will kind of drop in. And then I’m writing, you know, it’s a very interesting process. It’s never like one thing all the time, but yeah. 

You’ve also talked about how Memphis Minnie influenced the song. Do you find yourself when you make songs, that you put yourself into a different perspective and making a story behind it that might not necessarily be yours?

For sure. I call it character writing. I have a couple dozen songs that I have character written, where, yes, I will pretend to be someone else, or I’m thinking in a very cinematic way, where I’m writing a three minute movie, essentially, and I’m trying to convey the emotions of someone else and putting myself in  someones else’s shoes. And that can help me get out of my own head and get a little bit more creative if I have the ability to just go, okay, the song isn’t about me, but I’m just going to write from this perspective. But even so, I think as humans, we all share common emotions. So even though maybe a song isn’t about me, I still share the common emotion of sadness or loss, or whatever it is. And that’s sort of what I think unifies us. And I think it’s a cool thing about music.

Yeah, completely. 
You can completely connect with someone that you come from different circumstances, and just completely connect to a song, even if you didn’t go through that exact same thing. There’s something in it that just speaks to you.

Yeah, for sure. It’s pretty magic. And that the beauty where, if I get off stage, or someone says, you know, they relate to a song more, they cried, because it reminded them of this, and everybody puts their own background, their own story, their own journey into a song, because that’s how we relate. We go, well, I felt this before, and so it’s kind of neat to see there people can take a song or how they hear or view it. And it’s like once I write it, I can think it’s about one thing, but once it’s out there, it turns into whatever…I don’t have any control over what people think about it, and I think that’s great.

Do you have a more recent song that you can think of that kind of hit you in the chest, feel wise?

Yes, actually, I just wrote a song. It’s called “The Storm”, and it’s not out yet. I don’t have it on an album, but it pretty much wrote itself. And it, it’s a very emotional song, but it’s also got a lot of…what’s the word?…There’s hope, even thought the song is bittersweet. There’s a hope about it, and for the longest time when I would try to sing it out, I would get like, a lump in the back of my throat. I could almost not sing it for a very long time…Now that I’m singing it out, I’ve had people coming up to me and say that song brought me to tears…That song I hope to get recorded very soon because it’s a really good one. I think it’s the best one I’ve ever written so far, but it definitely is “The Storm” is just the archetype, the archetypal theme of like the energy of, sometimes you have to sit in a level of acceptance of wherever you are in your life. And you literally have to let the storm just pass over you. And while that sucks, and sometimes it’s not fun, there’s always sort of a renewal process, because a storm might devastate and distrust everything. But through it all, eventually, you know, the sun is going to some back out, things are going to change, and sometimes destruction is necessary for a renewal. So yeah…
So be on the lookout for that one. I’m already making plans to get it recorded very soon.

Would you just release it as a single, or wait until the next album?

I think it would be a stand alone single, because I’ve had so many people go,  “where’s the song? I want this song,” and I’m going, “I haven’t even put out my new album yet.” I kind of have to pace it. But I’ve been thinking it would be a standalone single. I’m thinking the fall. And then I might eventually put it on another album. I can always tack it onto something else. But it’s a really good one, and I’ve already got people wanting it. When dozens and dozens of people go, “I need this song in my life” then that tells me somethings like gotta get it done.

I can’t wait to hear it.
Your sound is quite varied from song to song on the album. I’ve seen you joke about it in videos. Do you set out to do that? Or do you just do what the song dictates?

Yeah, you nailed it. I don’t ever think I’m just gonna stay in one lane, or just write something in particular. It’s just whatever comes through. And and I’ve gotten to a point in my life, and I will always have been this way where I just didn’t care that it was country, or that it was folk, or that I’m writing a pop song, or this isa a rock song or I’ve written, you know, some jazz ones. I just never thought about it too much, because I was like, well, my name is season like it’s kind of expected at this point, as a lot of people just know that I’m sort of all over the place, and I don’t. I don’t really stay in one lane. So at this point, like, I don’t care. And I just go. Well, that’s just my sound. My sound is this. And I’m okay with that. So I just go, it’s fine, whatever comes through. If it’s a good song, and it makes the record then great.
The closest thing I ever did to making like a “true” album was in 2019 I put out a Texas country record called Neon Side of Town, and it was a very specific Texas country, which is different than Nashville country or anything else, but it had four Top4o songs on the Texas charts…And I specifically picked songs that fell in that genre. And there were a few that actually weren’t but because we put a…it was a production style. I mean, that’s the other thing, if you put a very specific production style behind certain songs, they can all be country or pop, or whatever leaning you want it to be. So anyway Neon Side of Town, is the closest thing to like, “I’m going to stay in this lane, Texas country.” And I love that record and it’s great. But yeah, for this next record. I mean, like you said, it’s kinda all over the place. It’s like you hear one thing, and then it doesn’t represent the next thing. But there’s still a cohesiveness to the record. But it’s very bi-polar.

Photo: Ray Redding Sr.

Seeing as we’ve been talking about more recent stuff. Where did you get your start in music?

So I picked up a guitar when I was about 15 years old and I taught myself how to play guitar and piano. I used to write a lot of short stories and poems. I was very big into poetry in a young age, and I just sort of had the the light bulb moment where I thought, where I realized that songs were just poems put to music. And so there was a power that I felt when I picked up a guitar, and I would just would take a poem that I had to start making a melody with chords I was making up. And I was like, this is a thing, and I can do this. And it just came really naturally to me, and I ended up moving to Nashville when I was right out of high school, and I lived there for several years and just wanted to learn more about songwriting. So that’s why I moved there. I guess that’s kinda where I got my start. I kinda sorta had this dream of being a musician, being an artist, even though I didn’t really know that that meant. I used to think you had to get a record deal, or you had to get discovered, or something like that. And it wasn’t until 2010 that the music industry was changing. Streaming was really coming along. You had the internet, and you were seeing this DIY thing really explode. And it was like, okay, this is kind of the new frontier to where independent artists can can do it without a label. I mean, it’s easier, but it’s also harder. There’s a big thing in between there where yeah, you can put your own music out there. But there’s things that a record label would do for you that now you’re responsible for doing, because you pretty much are the record label. And so there’s there’s a lot of responsibility there. But there’s a lot of freedom, because I’m able to make records. And so, since 2010, started kind of going down the path of how do you become an artist? What does that even mean? You know,  just learning the business and I realized, you can be talented and writing songs and playing shows. There was whole other side of getting their music out there. And what did that even mean? So that that took several years and and multiple albums of me kind of moving through the machine, even the indie machine to finally get even to where I’m at right now. and it’s it’s just a process. I think it’s it’s part of the evolution of an independent artist.

Is there advice you’d give to your 2010 self, knowing what you know now?

Well I guess I would say, just keep focused on moving forward. I was so worried about everything being absolutely perfect that I was almost afraid to launch at first, you know? I would spend a lot of time just looking over every every little minute detail that I wouldn’t actually like, press the send button, to whatever it would be. It was everything from the website to pictures to cards, I mean, because when I was just getting started, I meat, you had to get all your assets together and kind of have your stuff. And I guess if I had to say to myself that long ago, I would say, just put it out there and just keep moving. Keep moving. Don’t stress about it because you’re going to keep changing. This isn’t going to stay the same. So while you could put out a website right now. It just needs to be out there right now. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Yes, get the good stuff, but then move on and don’t fret about it because you have songs to write, and you’ve got a recording studio to book, and you’ve got a million other things, and you’re getting hung up on one little detail, you’re wasting time. So that’s definitely what I would say is, just you know, you’re gonna keep changing your outlines are gonna change. Your everything’s gonna change. So what you put out now is just a little snapshot of what you’re doing. And it’s not forever.

I completely get that. I’m still trying to teach myself that. I feel like in 10 years it’ll be like, okay, somewhere along the line you got that. I’m trying to tell myself that, but I’m not listening to myself.

I know. And don’t get me wrong. I’m still like hung up on certain stuff.  I mean, you know, Make sure it’s the right picture or the right this or I mean but I think it gets easier. You’re able to just go yes, or go, or like that works that doesn’t work. And I think that only comes with time. And I think that’s the beauty of the evolution of whatever I mean. A small business. I mean, you’re an entrepreneur, you know. We’re all  doing our thing, our creative thing. And I think that’s beauty of it is like that we’re all learning every single step. So I think It’s not good, it’s not bad. It’s just part of the process.

You work with a trio when you perform. Do you work with the same lineup, or does it change?

Yeah. So, I’m in Texas right now…The last couple years after the pandemic, I mean, it was like just trying to get back out there again. I have had the same trio, so an upright bass player and a percussionist. That line up has pretty much stayed the same for the last year and a half. But I do have a band in Florida that I just reunited with when I was doing shows there. And there’s some key players in Florida that have been with me for a decade, but some of the other players kind of rotate. Prior to the pandemic, I sort of had a rotating cast of players for different shows, because every show is kind of different. And some band members can travel, some can’t. But when you’re talking like big players, That’s their job, too, is that they’re just full time. They’re called side men or session players, you know, and they can pick up the gig any time anywhere, and it’s like no time has passed. They’re just that good. You can just send them the music, and then they show up on stage, and it’s like you’ve been playing together forever. So I’m actually looking to expand after the summer and sort of regroup and get some other players in. I’m building a band right now for for next year, essentially, to get out and promote this record a little bit more. So I’ll be having some other players on board. And eah, I mean, between doing some solo stuff here and there, I mostly prefer playing with the band, because it’s it’s a lot of fun. nd you know, if hings kind of move in the right direction, then I’ll be able to secure solid players that will travel with me full time. But it takes a lot of commitment from other players to to be out on the road. And some of them can’t commit. So it’s like you might have players that can commit to, you know, 6 weeks here, or whatever. But you know, this is the name of the the game.

Calling back to Memphis Minnie. Who are some of you influences, both past and more recent?

So I love Motown, and I especially love Ray Charles. I loved Gladys Knight. Stevie Wonder is a big one. Love Stevie Wonder. I loved Tina Turner, which we just lost. And I loved, you know, even like in the seventies. I definitely loved Heart, Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles. and you know, in the eighties, of course, I really loved Phil Collins. Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper…And more recently I would say. Im really enjoying, Jamie Harris. I love Britney Howard from the Alabama Shakes, Margot Price, Nikki Lane, Marc Broussard…Man, there’s so many. Paul Cauthen right now is really cool. American Aquarium. There’s some Texas artists that I really like, Bri Bagwell. She’s really good, and Jamie Harris is actually a Texan as well. But I think she’s up in Nashville. But she’s an amazing songwriter. Check her out.

Just as we’re wrapping up here. The question I ask everyone. If you met a civilization that had never hear music before, what would you play them. It could be one of your songs, or anything from history?

Wow. That would be, you know, I think I would play them…”Imagine” There’s just something about that song that I’ve loved since I was a kid. The melody always hits me. I remember I used to cry as a kid whenever I would hear that song, and others by the Beatles, but I think it really sums up lyrically…it’s just a great song. I think yeah, that’s the one I’d go with. 



Season Ammons' Favourites & Firsts

“Yesterday” by The Beatles

She’s So Unusual by Cyndi Lauper

Stevie Wonder

Play? Red Rocks
Watch? Eddie’s Attic

Fried Green Tomatoes
Women Who Run With The Wolves


First Concert:
Watched? Santana
Played? With my show-choir when I was 14.

Thank you again to Season. You can check her out here.

Leave a comment on who you’d like to see me interview. And check out Backline Beat on Youtube. Thanks.

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                                                      — Jade Dempsey  

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