Sav's Hip-Hop & Love Songs
Marty Rubin: I’m here with Savannah Jeffreys, AKA, Sav. She is about to embark on a sick performance of some seriously good material for The MASH. Sav and I have been buddies for a while; we’re both musicians. She’s here to answer some questions and to make sure the audience knows where she’s coming from and can vibe with her. Sav, Will you tell us about your music experience this summer?
Sav: This summer I interned at Republic Records, and I also interned at a music publishing company called Downtown Music Publishing. They’re both in New York City, where I’m from–born and raised. I’ve been working in the industry for a while with various internships and things. My dad is a musician and my mom is his manager, so I call myself the assistant manager because I help her finesse everything. She’s always asking for my help with social media and random shit. It’s always been a part of my life.
This summer was crazy because I was working those two jobs, and I was also working at a restaurant at night so I was constantly moving around. During my off time, when I should’ve been sleeping and chilling, I was going to concerts and partying. But, it was super dope because I got to see so many different sides of the industry. Working for the label, I was in A&R (Artists & Repertoire), so I got to do a lot of research on new artists. It’s Drake’s label; it’s the number one label in the country. It was crazy to see how all the shit was happening; I got to see the CEO of the company working everyday.
The main takeaway of my summer was that I could do this too. I don’t know if I see myself being a superstar. I don’t know if I see myself getting a deal and all that. But, there’d be days where I’d be sitting and listening to new rappers and R&B singers and feel like, ‘yeah, this is great, they could be big,’ but at the same time I’m writing and working on my own shit. Like, I could be big. Or not even that I could be big, but like I want to do this myself.
MR: What about those new artists inspires you? What do you hear in their music that makes you tick?
SJ: Just that they’re out there hustling. Wesleyan is amazing, but I’m also not sure if I’m meant to be in college for four years. I love working, studying, and doing fun shit, but maybe I shouldn’t be here and should just work on making music. But, at the same time, my major inspiration right now is SZA, and I think she’s 26. Her latest album, Control, is insanely good. I related to it so much and felt where she came from as an artist. I’m 21 and she’s my idol right now. If I could pick an artist to be, it’d be her. But, it takes time to develop yourself as an artist. So, I do feel so lucky to be at Wes, getting my degree. Whatever I’m doing work-wise after graduation, hopefully in the music industry, I can still work on my own shit and keep developing material. I want to keep releasing things and get better and better. I want to find my sound.
MR: What in her do you see in yourself?
SJ: I grew up playing piano and mostly doing pop songs. Admittedly, my first inspiration was Avril Lavigne when I was five. Some of my songs are still pop. They’re all love songs, let's be honest with ourselves. I have a few songs that are about life – friends, and family, and shit – but, I thrive in my boy drama bag. A lot of SZA songs are about different relationships she’s had and her sound is sick. There are so many moments in my life that I’ve had hanging out with guys I’ve been with that I feel like I’m cool with now. I look back on these experiences, some of them were sad breakups, but they made a song. I was able to write about them and process everything through music.
It becomes less about the people or moments I’m referencing because those emotions can be applied to other things, and I hope other people can relate to that. I can relate to songs I’ve written in the past in new ways now. I sing with the feeling that I had when I first wrote it, even though I don’t necessarily currently feel that way.
MR: Even now, when you’re on stage, up there playing, will you be thinking about those specific times? Can you even take yourself back there?
SJ: Yes, I can definitely take myself back there, but with my newer songs are what I’m feeling right now in my life. That’s where I’m currently at in my life right now. I have this song, “Out of Control”–
MR: I love “Out of Control.” It’s the first song I ever heard you play.
SJ: I wrote that as a freshman. I wrote it at Wes, in the music studios. I’ve written all of my best shit in there, honestly.
MR: Well maybe you are here for a reason then…
SJ: Yeah, that is very true! That song is from an experience that happened three years ago. When I play that song, it doesn’t even cross my mind. I can play it and not think about that person. What I am thinking about it is, yes, that happened, but now I am up here performing and you all can fuck with it. Things from the past, I can still bring into the present. I’ve actually thought about other people while singing that song since then.
MR: Oh, that’s pretty cool to be able to say. Tell me about “Whole New.” Is that the latest song that you’ve dropped? Are there other things that go along with it?
SJ: Yeah. I have a couple songs I’ve written since then. One is called “Are you Down.” I might record it and post it before The Mash, but if not, then definitely the following week. I wrote “Whole New” in the Spring about my current boyfriend. He and I both love hip-hop. So, I incorporated some secret hip-hop references in it.
MR: Not so secret…
SJ: Ok, good good. I’m glad because there are some really good hidden things. If I ever actually made that song a hit, and if it went on Genius.com with the lyrics, I’d have so much fun annotating it with all the references and inside jokes.
MR: That’s hilarious.
SJ: It was so fun for me to write because it was a surprise for him. I was weaving and bopping all these secret things, and I knew he would get them all. I played it for him, and I was shaking in my boots. But, he got all of it so I was happy.
MR: So, you get nervous to play for him? Do you get nervous playing in front of other people?
SJ: Not really. I mean, I’m always kind of nervous to do any show, even though I’ve had some pretty solid gig experience in New York, playing with my dad and in various shows. It’s different. I can play in front of people I don’t know, but when it’s people that I know and respect, it’s intimidating. I told all my friends to come to The Mash and they’ve all heard me play before and like the songs that I’ve shown them. My boyfriend isn’t going to be there, he can’t make it, but if he were there, I’d be freaking the fuck out.
MR: I get that. When I play off campus, even if I’m just playing in Middletown, I feel more comfortable. There’s just so much going on around me when I’m playing on campus that makes me feel nervous. Where is your stage going to be?
SJ: The Olin Stage.
MR: Ok, the Olin Stage, right on the street there so you’ll be reeling in lots of people. Are you playing anything that people don’t know yet?
SJ: I am going to play my new song, “Are you Down.” I’m definitely going to do “Out of Control” and definitely going to play “Whole New,” which I’m hoping some people know now because I posted it the other day.
MR: Absolutely. Do you have a full band?
SJ: No, it’ll just be me playing the keyboard.
MR: Do you prefer that setup?
SJ: I’ve only ever played with a full band a couple times, in New York with my dad’s band. They’re all musical geniuses because they’re older and they’ve been doing it forever. With them, we don’t even rehearse it, they can just do it. We did “Out of Control” at SXSW. My dad did some showcases, and I played in one of them and it was the sickest thing. I was at this classic Austin venue, super Texas–so country. I’m a New Yorker, I don’t have that country vibe at all, and I’m out here with my dad. My music is pop, R&B., and I was like, ‘are they gonna fuck with it?’ But, they totally did, and it was dope. The band was sick.
MR: Are there other artists in the Wes scene you see yourself working with? Are there people you fuck with in that sense or are you more of a lone wolf?
SJ: I’ve always been a lone wolf, and it’s probably been a hindrance to the development of my music. I’ve never really produced with other people. I’ve had people who’ve said they’re interested in working with me, but it usually never happens because I’m pretty shy or busy fucking around with stupid shit. But, that’s a big goal for senior year for me, to really take advantage of all the dope ass musicians and producers here, collaborate more, and make shit happen. So much cool music has come out of Wes.
There’s that moment when you’re creating a song and you’re just like, ‘this hits!’ Maybe it doesn’t blow up, but you’re in your bag, you and your friends are just jamming. I feel like college is for those moments when you’re just like, ‘I’ve arrived.’
MR: Do you think you’d have to change your vibe to do that with Wesleyan students? Because you really do have that rich, low, timber, soulful, but also hip-hop or pop-y sound. Especially when you’re playing a grand piano like with “Whole New.” Do you feel like you’d have to change how you sing if you’d sing with a full band or could you just continue on with that sound?
SJ: I took a class as a sophomore that was a forum about the contemporary music industry. Our final project was to write a song and perform it. That was my first experience collaborating with other people and performing together at Wes. The song we wrote is called “Masquerade.” I definitely think I did change my vibe on that because the other musicians I was working with played Jazz. But, I’m sure there are so many people at Wes who are dope hip-hop producers that’d want to collaborate. So, in that sense, I feel like I wouldn’t have to compromise any of my own stuff, but I definitely want to be flexible in changing things and taking different directions.
MR: Good. I see you in the Spring with a full band behind you – with a trumpet and a saxophone, you on the piano, playing a full jazz-band style version of a hip-hop song.
SJ: Yeah, that’d be dope.
MR: I can’t even think of anyone I’d want to name without you being like, ‘no, no, no…’
SJ: (Laughs.) Like a Rihanna song or some shit?
MR: No, I don’t mean like a Rihanna song, but like a rap song or something. Like a Black Beetles or something like that.
SJ: Oh, yeah, that’d be dope as hell! Right, like bringing my flavor into it.
MR: Is there anything you want people to look out for while you’re performing at The Mash? Anything you want to say about your performance?
SJ: It’s my first solo performance at Wesleyan. I would definitely say to friends of mine who’ve always encouraged me to do more music, to just be patient, I’m going to make it happen. This is just the beginning. Keep a look out. Keep eyes.
Marty Rubin ’18 is from St. Louis, MO and is a Psychology and Spanish Literature double major at Wesleyan University. He plays ice hockey for Wesleyan University, enjoys hiking, and loves jamming with his guitar.
Sav will perform on the Main Stage (Foss) of The Mash Music Festival on Saturday, September, 9th, at 3:10 pm.