INTERVIEW: Sam Davis

Danielle Kelly is an artist and writer based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kelly’s project-based practice ranges from installation to performance and has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Portland. Kelly’s writing has appeared in such regional publications as Las Vegas Weekly and Desert Companion. Kelly is the Executive Director and Curator of the Neon Museum. She has done a series of interviews with artists with ties to Las Vegas for celebration of our music issue.


What is your relationship to sound in the studio?

So I’m taking this to be sound as ambient noise and not sound as art-object (something I
haven’t worked with much since college). I guess I haven’t really thought about this a lot. I’ve
had a variety of studios over the years, some urban, some on the fringes of towns. I guess I’m
both inspired by noises and really annoyed by noises. I used to live across from an custom
car stereo shop. That was the worst, everything would shake during business hours. One of
my favorite spaces was surrounded by a garden and trees and there was a lot of sounds from
the wind in the leaves and birds and stuff in the garden, lots of light and fresh air, the
occasional sound of airliners landing-that was kind of perfect. I guess my close second
favorite studio was my old studio in vegas-it had great skylights and was almost silent, lots of
time with the iPod.

loss of pressureWhat is your relationship to music in the studio?

I almost never work in the studio without music. If I’m working with Anna we play vinyl or listen
to mix lists. On the other hand, I do a lot of solitary work grinding sculptures, printing in the
darkroom, or shooting solo out in remote locations. I always have music in some way. It’s
central to what I’m doing and there are always evolves some kind of playlist of music that I’m just
into during specific projects. With sculpture stuff, it’s my way of protecting my hearing with
noise canceling earbuds and it’s nice to not hear the grinder, etc. I don’t know what, if any,
reciprocal effect the music has on the work though. I listen to everything from the Lomax field
recordings to goofy hip-hop and the occasional Slim Whitman thrown in. You never know…

What, if anything, is in heavy rotation in your studio right now?

We’ve been using Pandora a lot in the studio. When I do a lot of painting, I’ll listen to vinyl
because it reminds me to get up and walk around a little in order to flip the disc. My favorites
on the mix in Pandora lately have been Big Star, Friends of Dean Martinez, God is an
Astronaut, Alt J, Band of Horses maybe some Mogwai, Wilco, and the new Beck.

What would be your desert island studio record?

Man, that’s not a fair question, you can’t just pick one …. It might have to be Loaded by Velvet
Underground or maybe something sneaky that has a little bit of everything like the soundtrack
from Fear and Loathing.


Sam Davis received his BFA from the University of Florida in Creative Photography and later completed an MFA at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He currently lives in Los Angeles. Find out more about him and where his work has been featured on his website.

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