7 Questions with Callaghan
US based singer/songwriter Callaghan has chosen to release three new EPs in the coming 12 months instead of an album. You can hear tracks from the first of these releases ‘The Other Side’ and some new material when she plays Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh on Sunday 4 June but before then here’s a quick interview ….
For those that don’t know you can you tell us a little about you, and your music?
I’m a singer-songwriter, originally from Lincolnshire, who moved to the USA in 2010 to record my first album. I’ve been living in the USA since.
I write songs about things I have experienced and stories people have told me. I try to write songs that listeners will feel are relevant to their lives and their own experiences. I play piano and guitar but singing is my real passion.
I would describe my latest recordings as “cinematic pop”. I recorded my first two albums in Atlanta and Nashville. The second one definitely had some country influences on it, as you’d expect from Nashville. My new record was recorded in LA and has transitioned my sound further towards pop, but still kept the honest emotion of a singer-songwriter. Having the opportunity to work with producers who are at the pinnacle of the film music industry gave me the opportunity to explore a sound that my songwriting has always leaned towards, creating tracks which draw the listener in, paint pictures in your mind and stir emotions.
These songs are perhaps more personal than ever, with the lyrics touching on subjects such as the loss of a family member in “I Don’t Know How to Lose You”, or the experience of being in the UK for the EU referendum and the USA during the recent elections in “The Other Side”. Songs like “Surrender” offer raw emotion while “Solid Ground” is an uplifting anthem.
You moved from London to Atlanta during the summer of 2010, how have things worked out and is the USA now where you call home?
Since moving to the US in 2010 I’ve lived and recorded in Atlanta, Nashville and now LA. It’s been great to take inspiration from each place and work with different people each time. Each album has been like a different stage in my musical journey across the USA.
It has been really interesting getting to travel all over the country (I’ve now been to 47 states) and take inspiration from the places I go and the people I meet. It definitely gives you a new perspective on the world and where you’re from when you live somewhere else. America has been a very hospitable place for me and I’ve been lucky to benefit from the kindness of strangers all over the country. Each year since 2013 we’ve done a Callaghan Across America House Show Tour spending a month or more on the road playing shows in fans’ homes and gardens from coast-to-coast. People have been very welcoming, and enthusiastic about my music.
I do base myself in the US now but I love that I get to come back to the UK several times a year and tour.
You’re playing The Voodoo Rooms when you come to Edinburgh, do you prefer to play small, intimate venues or bigger festivals and arenas, or both?
It’s fun getting to play venues of all sizes because they’re all so different. There’s definitely something thrilling about being in a big venue, having lots of room on stage and having a band with me to perform with but there’s also something very special about the intimate connection you can create with an audience when you’re in a small room and there’s no where to hide. I have played at the Voodoo Rooms once before and absolutely loved it – there’s such a warm atmosphere in the room and incredible sound, so I’m really looking forward to coming back and performing there.
You’ve recently introduced some political expression in to your songs, is this something you might do more of or do you feel you’ve had your say?
It’s true that I have strayed into slightly more political territory with my recent songs than I ever have in the past. I think it’s a reflection of the world we live in at the moment and the emotions it stirs up. I was in the UK for the referendum and in the US for the elections. What was clear to see in both countries was the level of anger and division between people and certain politicians taking advantage of or feeding off that anger to further their own cause, offering simple solutions to complex problems.
The song “The Other Side” is basically about that struggle and the hope that in the end we can pull together and live in as positive a way as possible to help each other.
Where do you stand on the whole ‘digital debate’? Do you think that the streaming services are good for the music industry and artists, or just the streaming companies themselves?
I think it’s a complicated issue and I can see it from both sides as an artist whose music is on those streaming platforms, and as a listener who uses them to discover new music. I think they’re a great tool but I think ultimately the problem comes from not compensating the artists properly for the content that they’re creating which keeps these streaming services going. I think there’s a real danger down the road if we as a society continue undervalue music and expect it to be free. Fewer and fewer artists and songwriters will be able to make a living by creating and recording music and so, inevitably, the quality and diversity of music is going to suffer.
Do you have much time here in Edinburgh, will you have some free time to do some sightseeing?
As is so often the case when I’m touring I’m usually only in the area for a few hours to do the show so I don’t often get to do much sightseeing. I have been to Edinburgh a few times though and travelled around but there’s still so much I’d like to explore. Luckily my older sister who is getting married later this year is having her hen weekend in Edinburgh so I’m going to organize a whole weekend of Edinburgh fun for her which I’m really looking forward to!
‘The Other Side’ EP (out 30 June) is the first of three new EPs you have planned for the next year.
With a Pledge Music campaign for the releases it’s quite a project, how did that all get underway and how is it progressing?
This is the 2nd time I’ve used Pledgemusic for a project and it’s just been incredible. This time we’ve had about 350 people get involved so far in helping fund the recording of my EPs and it’s a really exciting way to involve my fans in the whole process of writing and recording an album. I get to share a lot more with them than I would do normally – from behind the scenes in the studio, the stories behind the songs, updates from the road and lots of other special experiences. We’re at 114% of the target that I set to record the EPs which is fantastic, and anything over the 100% helps towards the budget to help promote the EPs and get the music out to as many people as possible.
It’s incredible seeing the support from so many fans who want to help create the new music and become part of the team. As an independent artist it really gives me hope for the future of music seeing artists and fans get together and create projects.
Do you have any other musical projects planned for the future?
I’ll be continuing to write and record the other two EPs for this series and writing lots with other songwriters in the UK and LA. I’m taking part again this year in the Buddy Holly Foundation Songwriters’ Retreat which is a week-long retreat where a group of songwriters get together and write all day every day. It’s a real treat getting to take time out from touring and be immersed in songwriting and get to write with some amazing people so i’m really looking forward to seeing what comes from that this year.