Posted On 17 Nov 2016
Cale and the Gravity Well formed in late 2015, mostly as the result of a joke. Cale’s sister Zoe had earlier opined that she was thinking of starting a record label, and Cale, with all the certainty of the skeptical, declared that he would join it. His first album, the Age of Envy, was released not even a year later, in May 2015.
DC based rock band Lionize acted as producer for the album, and as such has heavy rock influences, but the The Age of Envy also contains elements of folk and indie. Cale points to such influences as the Fleet Foxes, Doc Watson, the Black Keys, and Shakey Graves, all of which combine into a sound that is all his own. Since then he has had tour dates across America, including a performance at the first annual Bonanza Campout in Heber City, Utah.
Cale resides in New York city, where he is simultaneously trying to learn the fiddle and the banjo, and playing open mics regularly. Musical ideas will grip him like a vice and, for a week or so, turn him into a man possessed, haunting his bedroom, huddled around his condenser mic, whispering strange and manic incantations into a passive metal ear. Usually, this turns out ok, but if you should ever see a wild-eyed, curly haired lunatic dressed in a superman shirt and harem pants belting sea chanties at the top of his lungs, please return him to Made in the Shade Records in Colorado. They will know what to do.
Learn more about Cale in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Now that we are well into the fall of 2016, what are some words you would use to describe this year? What have been some of the highlights for you and your music?
Various and eventful are the first things that come to mind. This has been a terribly busy year, and I really feel like any day now I’ll finally be ready for 2016 to start, now that we are fully 10 months in. Obviously the biggest musical highlight was the release of The Age of Envy which has impacted my life in many widespread ways, but more subtly than I might have assumed. Then there was playing Bonanza Campout, my first New York gig, assembling a full time band, doing a music video, photoshoots, setting up a home studio; it’s all combined to make me feel very much like a musician, of all things.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
Not in any serious manner. I just always had the singing ability and definitely was encouraged by the people around me to keep it up. I don’t quite know when the urge to perform turned from a social gratification tactic into an actual pleasure, but by high school the thought had occurred to me that maybe, someday in the nebulous future, I could be a musician. As for my earliest memory, that would be my mother, me “Where is Love?” from Oliver, when I was just a kid. I’m not a musical theater guy really but that song still makes me all nostalgic and melancholy.
I’ve read that you started this band as a result of a joke! Can you elaborate on that? How did you come up with your musical name?
That’s true, though I’m sorry to report that it’s not a terribly funny joke. My sister had said that she was going to start a record label (shoutout Made in the Shade Records) and I, rooted in the belief that suuuuuuuuuuure she was, said I would definitely have to be her first signed artist if she did. Took her less than a year to make good on her end, which left me awkwardly having to admit that I was not really joking, and would she please let me join? As for the name, that’s actually even less of a story. I was waiting for inspiration to strike me, in that manner that it seems like it strikes every band, and it never really did. I had a couple themes I wanted to express, and I am an amateur physics admirer, so I thought I could do something with “Gravity Well.” Several people in the Made in the Shade camp said that they didn’t think that was quite enough, especially since this was really a project for one guy. So I stuck “Cale” on the front, and here we are!
How would you describe your debut album, “Age Of Envy” to someone that has not heard it before? How do you think this collection depicts the kind of musician that you are now?
Well I’d like to start by saying that it’s in the umbrella term of “Alt Rock,” but that there’s really a lot more to it than that. It explores themes about anxiety, about change, uncertainty, stability, and it does this by having many different styles. There are reggae influences, blues, folk, bluegrass, all bound with (what I hope are) inventive and evocative lyrics. And I think all of that is pretty representative. I have a lot of different interests and a lot of universal fears, and that is what I am trying to contain in this music.
The cover art for “Age Of Envy” is very beautiful and striking. What is the story behind it?
(Laughter) Well this guy put up a really cool picture on Reddit of this fractal-art fox face, and I was like, “THAT would make an incredible album cover,” so I reached out to him. He never got back to me, but someone in the comments said it looked like the work of Iain MacArthur, an English artist who does this kind of work. So I sent him a message, and he delivered the absolutely beautiful album art. In keeping with the “Gravity Well” theme, I wanted it to be kind of an artistic rendering of a black hole, drawing material into one of my eyes. Why? Well a lot of it has to do with the fact that “beautiful” and “striking” was exactly what I was going for in an album cover, but also I have a congenital birth defect in my eye (the other one, but oh well) that causes it to blink irregularly and for a long time was noticeably droopier than my other one. This of course, has had a profound effect on my identity, and I thought paying it homage was the least I could do to thank the universe for it.
Are you constantly working on new material? When do you hope to release another album?
Less than I ought to but for the most part I spend a little time each day recording demos. Hopefully another album will come to fruition sometime early next year, though I am in no particular rush and won’t do it until I think I have the material. That being said though, I am also hoping to put out a single or two, and that is slated for late this year.
Who are some of your favorite artists and what bands continue to inspire you? Who would you still love to work with in the future?
I think recently it’s been a small rotating list that I have been quoting off of, but some people that come to mind include Sylvan Esso, Shakey Graves, Dengue Fever, the Talking Heads. Bob Dylan, though I am not really obsessed with his material, is an amazingly inspiring artist for his prolific work ethic, beautiful lyrics and Never-ending Tour oh my god how. Sometime in the future I would really love to work with the legendary Dangermouse, because I think he’s a guy who’s always up for trying new and interesting musical ideas, and has a know how that I would love to pick his brains about.
When you aren’t performing, working in the studio, what do you like to do for fun? How do you unwind from it all?
Well I try to stay active, though I go through phases and am just starting to come off a long period of generally treating myself like crap, so I’m planning to start working out again. I notice that basically every other aspect of my life gets better when I do that. Also, there’s a ton of nightlife here in NYC and my girlfriend and I are on a quest to see and do it all. Ok, she is, and I am a wiling participant, but she likes to plan stuff and I am a notorious procrastinator, so it works out overall. And of course, I do still play a lot for fun. I just bought a new loop pedal and that has been an endless source of joy for the past week.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
Oh I would never dare to answer this question. Art is subjective. Always. The intentions I wrote into the songs are only there so long as the listener gets it. If not, they don’t exist. The message in any one line depends on whoever is receiving it. There’s no right way to “hear” a song, and besides that, I am not here to preach. All I can really hope for is that whoever’s listening finds something meaningful through the music.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
Nothing specific comes to mind right now, but I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to All Access Music for the chance to talk about this thing I put so much effort into, and to you, the listeners, who read this and go to check out the music (or the other way around). And finally, if anybody has any more questions, I am reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org, and will do my best to get back to you in a timely manner. Thank you!