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Live & Local With Atria

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Photo by Claire Helm

Atria, the bright orange star of a small triangular constellation, is also the name of Savana Cameron’s solo music endeavor. Her music explores transient soundscapes, a compliment to Cameron’s ethereal vocals. While creating atmospheric-like tunes, she is also currently finishing her music degree at Wesleyan College. Cameron told me about Atria, creating soundscapes, and overcoming stage fright.

What is Atria?

I wanted something that meant space creating because I feel the music is very atmospheric. It’s very ambient. I wanted something that would take people away from their day to day.

What does this project reveal about you?

Honestly, it’s something I really can’t do without. It’s as much for me as it is the listener. It’s therapy for me. A lot of the songs are about dealing with depression, a lot about my family. I’ve never written a love song. The songs are about self-awareness and picking yourself back up after dealing with drug addiction, depression. I watched a lot of my personal friends and family struggle and it was an anthem for them to pick themselves up. It connects with the audience in that way too, because I’ve noticed at my shows people are able to space out, trance out, and just relax. There’s definitely not going to be any mosh pits going on [laughs].

Did you grow up in a musical household?

I kind of found music on my own. In middle school, I wanted to play drums, but for some reason I was discouraged from the drums and towards the flute. In high school I did musical theater. I had my first solo in Annie. Then I started doing theater at Theatre Macon. I realized that I really loved music and had a knack for songwriting. I couldn’t afford lessons so I started singing in church choirs and that was a really great way for me to learn about singing for free. I ended up wanting to do it professionally. So, I started taking lessons at Mercer and ended up at Wesleyan.

What has been your biggest challenge with this project?

Every time I sing, I try to go to the same place that I was in when I wrote it. Constantly reliving that sometimes is difficult, but it’s very rewarding in the end. I have a lot of issues with stage fright. It’s really scary to be on stage by yourself and have everyone look at you. It’s challenging to be up there and be so exposed. And you want people to enjoy it. I have a hard time with my nerves, but I always end up making myself do it and being glad that I do.

Tell me about creating soundscapes and how you want to present them in your music?

I’ve researched about tone and use a lot of effects. I use a lot of delay to try to create a soundscape with depth that has a big tone. Even though it’s just me, it’s a really big sound. It’s something that can create an atmosphere for people. And putting those haunting melodies on top of it, I feel like it just creates a very tranquil peaceful place for storytelling.

What inspires your musical soundscapes?

I want it to sound like, and this is going to be weird, but kind of like if there was a drop of water on a very serene, misty pond. I know that’s kind of out there [laughs]. I love Explosions in the Sky and that kind of instrumental music. I think that’s my place where I can show off what I know on guitar. It’s hard to be taken seriously as a guitar player sometimes, especially for a woman just to be honest. You know people are always like, you have a great voice, but they are never like what kind of guitar do you play, or I really like the tone you have, or that was an awesome riff [laughs].

You have such a soft, ethereal voice in your music.  Is that something you have always gravitated towards?

I think so. I change registers a lot. Technically I’m a mezzo soprano. I love Joni Mitchell. Nico doesn’t really have that light voice, but I love Nico and Nina Simone. I really love ladies with original voices that are just unique and different. I have always liked a more soft soprano tone and that’s what I had to work with.

What are you currently working on?

I have been writing more and trying to make my other songs a little more technical with some guitar work. One of the newest songs that I have out is about my niece Veda. I was watching her play on the playground one day with a grown guy, but he had the mental capacity of her age.  I was watching how innocent and sweet they were playing and how scary it was to see her start to learn about the world. I feel like adulthood can harden us and take away that innocence and trust. It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written actually.

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