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WPGM Commentary: Savanna Leigh On The Making Of Her Debut EP ‘Changes’

My name is Savanna Leigh and changes is my debut EP. This project is by far the most personal one that I have ever created because each song is specific to my story. They all showcase a different experience or emotion that I have gone through over the past three years.

I moved to Nashville when I was 18 to pursue music full time but I have been involved in it my whole life. I come from a very musical family and have been surrounded by their influence for as long as I can remember. My dad was a touring country artist from the time I was born up until I was about 6 years old.

Traveling with him as a kid, watching him perform, singing with my sister Lexi all my life and watching her create art has inspired me to do exactly that. Music is what I’ve always wanted to do and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

The title of the EP was inspired by what it states: Changes. Whether they were in my romantic life, my friendships, my personal life, or elsewhere. For the first time, I fell in love with the process of songwriting.

The idea of writing my feelings/thoughts down on paper and expressing myself in a vulnerable way turned me away from writing my own music for a very long time. I gave it a go on and off, but never made it a consistent part of my life until writing “No Words”. That’s the song that began the start of my writing journey and this EP.

I wrote “No Words” for a songwriting class that I was in at the time. I was going through my first real heartbreak which made it much easier to write a song; the words just spilled out of me and I ended up finishing most of it in about 45 minutes.

Little did I know, it turned out to be my debut single and the first track on “changes”. “No Words” gave me confidence in myself as an artist and a writer. From there on, I just kept writing and writing.

The creative process for changes was sort of all over the place. When writing these five songs, I wasn’t trying to create a specific project. I was just writing to cope with things that were going on in my life.

I tend to choose collaborators who I trust and can be open with. The best songs in my experience have come from me being as open and as vulnerable as possible in a session with another writer. And that is what I did for each of these five songs.

I met my co-writer and producer Bobby Terry (“No Words”) through my dad. He’s been a long time family-friend since working on my dad’s music when I was a kid. He’s an incredibly talented musician, songwriter, producer, and human being. He was the first person to get my creative flow started for this project.

From there I had built a friendship with Emily Hebert, and incredibly talented songwriter and artist here in Nashville. We went into our first session together and in about an hour had finished “My Fault”, which is my favorite song off of the EP.

From there, we spent about a year and a half writing ton of songs together and experimenting with different melodies and styles. That time really helped grow my writing skills and I learned a lot about myself through writing with her.

Then, I met the band Nightly. Nicholas Sainato, one of their members, and I had met years prior when he played the drums for my sister and me at a show in Nashville. We stayed in touch through social media since then. He had messaged me about meeting up to do a co-write with him right around the time I was looking for the right producers to help me create my first EP and to work with on future projects with.

When I went into the co-write, I had no idea what to expect. I had brought in a voice memo with a song idea on it and then Nick introduced me to the rest of the Nightly band (Jonathan Capeci, Joey Beretta) and we finished “Girl Underneath” that day.

It seemed to click instantly and effortlessly with the Nightly guys, and I felt for the first time like I had found my sound that I’d been trying to capture for the longest time. They all have an amazing ear for music and for making each song sound unique but at the same time cohesive when put all together.

They ended up being my songwriting collaborators on the rest of the EP and produced the last four songs on the project. We recorded the EP in Joey’s basement and that was honestly such a cool environment. Much more intimate and relaxed than a studio room.

I put the track list in the order of when each song was written to tell a story and to give a timeline to the listeners. My goal was that this would help my audience connect with the whole EP more so than just one song individually.

When COVID first hit, I was in such a different place and unsure of what my future in music would like. I never imagined within a year I’d have met the amazing people I’ve met and would have a project that means so much to me like this out in the world.

I never want to stop making music that is true, honest, and makes people feel understood and validated. I hope that any feelings they may not have the words for are captured in this project. I hope that my songs remind people they are not alone and that music truly is a universal language.

The amazing thing about music is that once it’s out there, it’s now out there for people to interpret and make their own.

This EP is something I will forever be proud of and it’s been crazy to see people’s reactions so far since the release. I can’t wait to keep growing, learning, and creating.

Stream my EP changes below and buy it here.

Words by Savannah Leigh // Follow her on TikTok + Instagram

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