A few months back we asked you what you'd like to read more about in our journal. There was so many amazing suggestions but one answer featured quite a lot. You wanted to read about people who live out on the open road and make a wage from living in a van. Vanlife, as its become known as, has exploded recently with books, films and documentaries being created all trying to cash in on the success of a small group of individuals who make the lifestyle work. We scoured the globe, (well we searched on Instagram), for such a person. We found Savannah King. A musician in the States who travels gig to gig in a beautiful van exploring as she goes. We got in touch and had a chat about her life and experiences....
Tell us about your background and where you're originally from...
I am from Wilson, NY - A small harbor town on Lake Ontario. I started playing piano at the age of 4 and began performing with my guitar at 14. Both my parents are musicians, so I had a lot of support and encouragement. I’ve been performing and writing ever since!
When did you decide you wanted to be a musician? Was it a difficult decision to make?
Music has always been the most natural path for me. However managing your career and writing songs are two very different things. I earned a B.S. Business Administration with a concentration in the Music Industry from SUNY Fredonia in 2014 and that gave me a lot of the tools I needed to manage myself. After finding myself stuck in a job that I hated and going through a really intense writers block, I decided to buy the van and take off on the road. The more experiences you have, the more you have to write about! Today, the music industry is an ever changing world and much of it is DIY though the internet. I feel blessed to be starting my career in an age where it possible for me to make the decisions about my career. Being self employed can have its difficulties, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Writing songs is my true passion.
Anyone who follows you on Instagram knows you live out of your van. Tell us more about the van....
My van is a 1987 Ford Coachman named Vance. When we bought him off Craigslist, he had only 58,000 miles. Mechanically there was no work to be done, but ascetically he needed some work. We put in bamboo hardwood floors, new countertops, two 100w solar panels, new curtains, painted the walls white, and added more lights. We have a lot of luxuries in our van such as a full fridge/freezer, a two burner stove, running water, a sitting shower, and toilet.
Why did you choose a van to be your home? Does it make your lifestyle easier?
As a musician, you are on the road a lot. Touring long term is challenging and hotels are pricy. The more comfortable you are, the more shows you can play. Having a mobile home was the perfect solution. No matter where we are in the country, when we close the van doors, I am home. We practice, write, and create constantly in Vance.
Have you found your living space influences your music?
We take Vance to a lot of remote desert areas. The desert is a place that has worked its way into my music and my heart. There is something so spiritual about being far away from the civilized world deep in the desert. It would be very hard for me to not be influenced by these experiences.
What else influences your songs?
My songs are influenced a lot by people. Our time on the road has allowed us to meet some very unique and inspiring people. My last album was made before we bought Vance, so a lot of the songs that will be on my upcoming record tell the stories of these people, as well as what we’ve experienced.
Where is the best place you've parked Vance up overnight?
We were somewhere in the Tonto National Forest and turned down an unmarked side road. We ended up staying the night on the edge of this huge cliff overlooking the mountains miles into the distance. I just remember how quiet and peaceful it was out there. All alone, miles from any city.
What do you do for everyday living?
We have a Planet Fitness membership so if we are in a city we will usually go to the gym to get a workout and shower. Otherwise we will use the outdoor shower off the back of our van. We cook almost all of our meals in the van so there is always a lot of dishes being done and constant cleaning. It can be difficult staying tidy in such a small space, but we’ve worked out a good system where everything has a place.
Who travels with you?
I travel with my boyfriend Drew. He is also a singer/songwriter and musician. We were together for 2 years before we decided to move into the van, and we’ve now been together almost 4! It can be tough sharing such a small space with another person, but we do really well!
Best gig you've ever done?
One of the best gigs I’ve had came out of Coffeyville Kansas. I was hired to perform and/or lecture in 5 high school classes, 10 nursing home/assisted living facilities, and one college class - all in the span of 4 days. As a songwriter it can sometimes feel like you’re not making a difference, but these shows were so fulfilling and engaging. It opened my eyes to the importance of telling your stories and sharing your journey.
What does the future hold for you and Vance?
We will be heading to Baja Mexico this December. It will be our first time out of the US with Vance. Drew and I both love Mexican culture and paddle boarding on the ocean, so we can’t wait to explore everything Mexico has to offer!
Where can we find your music?
You can find my music on all the major music providers: Spotify, iTunes, Facebook, Instagram, and through my website savannahkingmusic.com
We want to extend our gratitude to Savannah for taking the time out of her busy life to speak to us. We loved hearing her story and can't wait to hear yours. If you've got your own Vanlife story then please get in touch by clicking "Contact" at the top of the page.