INTERVIEW: TRUE GIANT
True Giant is the project of singer/songwriter Garret Santora. Growing with songs over time, he started to stumble on what was a debut album of songs that are deeply special to him. The North Carolina born and raised artist then decided to start to recording his debut project, with the deeply emotive acoustic country single 'Tears Keep Coming' being the first single from it.
Cutting through those melodies with a presence among the very best, it's clear that this album is going to be very special, with 'Tears Keep Coming' being the perfect introduction. We sat down with Garret to learn more about the album and why he does what he does so well. Check it out below, exclusively for FLEX.
Hey Garret, welcome to FLEX! How are you doing today?
It's almost 70 degrees in the bipolar springtime of Chicago. So I'm gonna count this as a win - doing well, thank you. Hope you are.
Why do you make music?
For starters, goofing around with a musical instrument is a great way to spend time. It's my favourite protest against the meaninglessness of life. That and coffee. And there's a lot worse shit you could do with your time. And it can be very healthy if you let it. I'm trying to give my attention and energy to feeling good. But also, my brother and my friends and I have been making music since we were kids. My old man set a guitar in front of us one day when we were pups I think just to see what we would do with it. We haven't stopped since. Without it I might be completely rudderless.
Tell us how it feels to have your debut album ‘Nervous Holiday’ soon out in the world? Great title by the way!
Thank you. I also think it's a good title. It's a great feeling. It's the first time I could ever really hang my hat on a group of songs as both the writer and producer. While that probably makes me sound like a control freak, which is kind of true, I needed the learning experience. Making a record and producing a record has a delicate and weird balance of giving away and retaining power. You gotta know when you let somebody do their thing and how and when to direct traffic. Jacob Beeson, the tracking and mixing engineer, made that a lot easier as he's seen this parade before. He's been making his own records and recording others for years. And I think he could tell what I was trying to do for both creative and personal reasons.
‘Tears Keep Coming’ is the first instalment. What is this song about?
Tears Keep Coming is a pandemic song. We have those now. It's our new weird topic. Not that pandemics are new to the world, but it's new in the age of 24 hour news cycles, the internet, and constant entertainment. Anybody that writes songs or writes anything wrote about that, and in some cases, is still writing about it. I wrote the first two verses of that song after a phone conversation with a friend of mine the day after John Prine died.
Stream 'Tears Keep Coming' here:
What was the recording and writing process like for it?
In addition to the aforementioned phone call that inspired that song, another conversation with an old friend of mine inspired me to write the last verse. Years ago he and I were getting high on the train tracks outside his apartment on the Southside of Chicago and talked about the never ending hum that the city made. When we spoke during the pandemic, I was living in North Carolina, and he told me the hum had for the first time, probably in our lives, stopped.
Recording that song was pretty simple. The day we tracked drums for that record I took a few live passes at a couple songs. I think the recording that made it on the record was the first take. From there it was just figuring out how to thoughtfully build that song. The spacey guitars and mellotron seemed to make sense thematically as that year was kind of like a (fever) dream. I played those parts, and that kind of thing is always just goofing around and trying to excite myself.
Chrissy Yengle sang those harmonies. Jacob had known her for a long time and suggested her for it. She sings on a handful of tracks on the record and did a great job. I can't imagine those tunes without her on them now.
Any challenges that were faced throughout the project of recording the whole album?
Keeping 11 songs under my thumb was a bit daunting. It's easy to forget to just do what's in front of you. When you get off track and think about how much is left to do it can get a little wonky mentally.
The good thing about this record was the bulk of it was tracked 10 yards away from where I slept. The house I lived in was owned by Jacob. I could track but also simultaneously write at my leisure for the most part without time restrictions. And Jacob could do the same with mixes. That house was previously owned by a Greensboro slumlord, and it was basically collapsing in on itself, and we were in there making records. It was fuckin’ awesome.
What do you want your listeners to take away from this record?
At the very least, if anybody decides to listen to this record, I hope that if they've been struggling in any way with the things that we as people struggle with, be it heartache, grief, or addiction, etc. that they're not alone. We're all going through it together. Songs have that kind of power. They stand in solidarity with the human experience.
You say there was a really DIY feel to the album, written with Jacob Beeson. Is this how you always wanted your body of work to be created?
I did all the writing on this record, but Jacob, just shy of at gunpoint, forced me to record it. I think I was always interested in making records this way. From the early days until now, my friends and I always flirted with home recording with a variety of equipment, though it wasn't until more recently that I felt comfortable enough with the technology or myself to really give it a shot. I had a lot of encouragement though.
Current favourite track off ‘Nervous Holiday’? We understand you don’t want to spoil readers too much!
Jane In Another Life is my favourite track off the record. It's about my grandmother, and it's very dreamy. While I'm happy with the record as a whole, there's just something about the vibe we hit on that one.
And finally, are there plans to take this out on tour in 2023?
While there is talk of shows in the Midwest and Southeast for the future there's nothing concrete planned just yet.