It’s sometimes cliché when a musician says that music is in their blood, but if you’re the Self Family, generations of musicians prove that to be true. And as Hank once said, they’re just carryin’ on an old Family Tradition.
In doing so, the band has offered their debut album, after spending well over a year crafting and recording the songs that comprise it. Blending the individual stylings of each member into one cohesive sound, the Selfs have presented a sonically diverse album chock full of strong harmonies, fiddles and steel guitar.
We chatted with the band about making their album, several of the songs on it, their plans for more new music and more!
Pro Country: Can you tell us some of the influences that you’ve drawn on collectively to shape your sound?
Self Family: Our family plays a wide variety of styles, and draws from traditional music such as Country, Western, Americana and Roots music.
PC: Your debut album was well over a year in the making, and was released in late 2021. How encouraging was it to see the fruits of your labor pay off, and what were the emotions like as the album was finally released?
Self Family: It was a dream come true for the whole family and something we started so many years ago when we sang with our kids when they were little, and taught them how to play instruments. Bobby Flores produced the album and was such a pleasure to work with, as he captured the sound that we were looking for on every song. When the album was finally released, we were excited and anxious to share it with the world! It was surreal knowing that we had accomplished something we set out to do a long time ago.
PC: “Dedicated” is a song where Maura takes the lead and offers an interesting melody that is a bit sonically different from the rest of the album. Can you talk about the sonic inspiration behind the song?
Maura Self: “Dedicated” was one of the first songs I wrote. It is very special to me because it was what really got me into songwriting and what started it all for me. Another reason this song is special to me is because of how differently it was written and the sound is so diverse compared to some of my other original songs. It was really fun and exciting mixing different styles and genres when we recorded this song in the studio. “Dedicated” is now a reminder of how far I have come with my songwriting and finding my own style.
PC: “Deep In My Texas Heart” is one of our favorite songs on the album. Sadie, can you talk about the inspiration behind the song?
Sadie Self: “Deep In My Texas Heart” is an old fashioned love song I wrote about a cowboy on the road. Before writing it, I had really been into music with a pure country sound with a cowboy vibe, and I was really wanting to write something similar, but with a different unique twist. I had recently heard the classic tune “Deep In The Heart Of Texas” and I had that song stuck in my head for well over a week. I had the cool idea to kinda use that as inspiration to write a Texas love song. So I made a list of the things I love about Texas and put it all together, and had it written in about an hour. I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out, and once we recorded it in the studio, the fiddle and steel guitar really brought it to life.
PC: “Longer” is a touching love song that you’ve said is very special to you. Joanna, can you tell us what “Longer” means to you?
Joanna Self: This song is very special to me because it really captures our life together and our family. We just celebrated 26 years of marriage this year. We met in February of 1991 in Loraine, TX at a small country church. We ended up performing together in a band that my dad, Donnie Cornutt, started for several years, so music is what brought us together. We got married in that same little country church in Loraine five years later. We passed on our love for music to our children, and will now be passing it on to our first grandbaby, Slaid Self. It is such a blessing from God to be able to perform with my family, a dream come true for both Matt and I, which leads up to the story behind my song, “Longer.” This song was written in just a few hours. A song has never come this easy for me as this one did. Matt played a little medley one day at our kitchen table while I was cleaning up dishes after making breakfast and seeing the kids off to school. I liked what I heard and sat down with him and the lyrics just flowed freely! The love that I carry for this family is found in the lyrics to “Longer.” “Wish I’d met you sooner I could have loved you longer. Life began when I found you. Time makes love grow stronger”
PC: Your album features an original song from each member of the band. How much did you enjoy being able to showcase your talents, individually and collectively, on the album?
Self Family: One of the things that we think makes us unique is what each person in the band brings to the table and how different everyone’s writing style is. We all definitely enjoyed getting to showcase an original song and highlight everyone’s different style on this first album. It definitely brings a lot of diversity to our group, and while everyone has their own signature sound, when we all come together, it combines as The Self Family’s signature sound with rich harmonies and versatile sound.
PC: While your album is largely rooted in a traditional country sound, there are also flashes of bluegrass, and even an island calypso feel. How important is it for you to cast a wide net sonically and have a level of diversity in your sound?
Self Family: It is very important for us to have diversity in our sound. We love to mix genres and styles in our original music to create a whole new sound that is unique and never been done before. Our fans have expressed to us that they love the fact that we cover such a wide variety of styles at our live shows. From Stevie Nicks to Marty Robbins to The Byrds, and all the way to Joni Mitchell, all of these different influences have really shaped our signature sound.
PC: What do you hope listeners take away from your debut album after listening all the way through?
Self Family: Our initial hope is that after listening to our album someone will hear something that they like and can relate to. Each song from the album is so special and personal to each member in our group and we just hope those emotions come through and mean something to somebody else.
PC: You regularly post a variety of cover songs on your social media channels. How much do you enjoy tackling those songs, and what goes into the song selection process?
Self Family: We really enjoy taking well known songs and making them our own to fit our sound. We try to mix it up and highlight everyone individually as well and that plays a big role in our song selection. When picking different cover songs, we usually try to pick a well-known song that people will know and recognize.
PC: What are your plans for 2022?
Self Family: We have some exciting things in the works already this year. One is signing under management and working with a great team of people to help our dreams turn into reality, and we already have several new projects in the works. We plan on releasing more original music from everyone in the band, and we can’t wait to be able to share more of our music. We are still writing new songs on a regular basis, and we are very excited for what the future has in store for us.
*The Self Family is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*