An Interview With Singer-Songwriter, CAL On His Recently Released Brand New Album, ‘The Identity Crisis’ and More!
Last week on November 15th, the singer-songwriter CAL released a new collection of music called “The Identity Crisis.” On the heels of a hiatus from the gold-selling pop phenomenon TIMEFLIES—which he co-founded— CAL embraces a wider emotional and sonic spectrum than ever before.
“The Identity Crisis” serves as his most personal project to date. On one hand, CAL belts out soaring hooks with dynamic range, channeling pop expanse. On the other hand, he flexes rhyme prowess and kicks old school bars befitting of an underground rap battle. “I wanted to say things that related to where I am in my life now and explore my identity more,” he says. “As much as I Iove performing with TIMEFLIES, I wrote some of those songs in a dorm room. I’m not the same person. I had to write about my life and what I’ve learned. I had to communicate my journey. I don’t think I knew how until now.”
Check out the fill album here- https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/5JfMAZvLNeAx7DY2t5yvtS
The artist has been in the studio working with other collaborators such as The Chainsmokers, Cody Simpson, Quinn XCII, Breanna Yde, Johnny Orlando as well as writer/producers Justin Tranter (Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, etc), Daylight (Shawn Mendes) Jorgen (Pink, Imagine Dragons), Hiko (Khalid) and many others. Outside of music, he continues to evolve in the worlds of lifestyle, fashion, and activism. Not only does he remain an investor and ambassador for Thursday Boots, but he also supports Nothing New, which builds shoes from recycled materials.
Learn more about CAL in the following All Access interview-
What does a typical day look like for you? What do you have scheduled the rest of today and this week?
I feel like no one’s ever asked me this. I wake up, walk my dog (Woodstock), think about working out… probably don’t and then head upstairs to my “home studio.” As an artist you kind of need to think with 2 brains. There’s the one that says “hey respond to e-mails and be a person” but my right brain usually wins and I start making a beat or writing a song and then come up for air around noon or 12:30pm, at which point I have a 1pm “session” scheduled about 5-6 days a week where I write with other super talented people. I’m usually home by around 9pm.
Now that we are in the latter half of the year, how has 2019 treated you? What are some goals that you have had for yourself this year? How close are you to reaching them or did you already? What are you already excited about for this fall and even looking towards 2020?
2019 has been unreal for me. I’ve written songs for a number of my favorite artists and I’ve also released my brand-new solo project. It’s been a daunting “challenge yourself” kind of year. But I’m very goal oriented and I’ve slowly started checking them off. I’m just really focused on making music that speaks to me and getting more of it out— connecting with fans in new exciting ways and then getting to tour!
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be in this industry? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
Music was and has always been everything to me. I’d like to say that I knew from day 1 that I’d be here but that’s far from the truth. I sang in the shower and was pretty afraid of being on stage. But then it happened… and it was kind of like Pandora’s box. I became addicted to the high of performing for people – haven’t really come down since.
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing? Would you be as fulfilled in life?
I’ve always loved entrepreneurship and I think it goes hand in hand with music. You have to take risks and have lofty goals and it’s all about execution. If I wasn’t doing this, I would have probably started some other business, but who knows. Startups and business are definitely something I’m very passionate about.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all? What has been the best part about it all?
The way fans connect will always blow me away. Whether it’s tattooed lyrics or meeting other fans at shows and becoming lifelong friends. It feels surreal every step of the way.
What do you think you have taken from Timeflies to your solo career? Do you find that you enjoy one over the over right now?
I don’t think there’s any sort of “one over the other” thing going on. I think it has prepared me, and it’s honestly hard to separate. I am Timeflies, it will never not be a part of who I am — so I take that with me wherever I go. I’m just feeling crazy inspired to create right now.
Let’s talk about your newest collection, “The Identity Crisis.” What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process? How would you say that it compares to anything else that you have put out?
I can’t compare it to anything I’ve done. I feel like there is a level of honesty and vulnerability I’ve never come close to talking about. The Identity Crisis has been crazy for me because I’ve been dreaming of the pieces falling into place for almost 18 months and it’s slowly starting to happen. The A side comes out Nov 15th and then the B side … I’m getting ahead of myself. But if anything has surprised me throughout the process, it’s been my hunger to learn. I’ve started to vocal produce almost all my stuff and have gotten really into production for not just me but for other people, too. I’m just kind of falling in love with the process.
What was the inspiration for your singles “So Cal” and “My Brother”? How did they get to be on this album?
I wanted them to be the first two records people heard from CAL. I wanted my fans from Timeflies to know that the rapping and hip-hop elements were still there, and I wanted the world to see how honest and self-reflective I was being. I love writing pop songs and I’ll definitely write more, but I wanted my first releases to be the ones where you say, “no one could sing that but that artist.” It is truly about him (the artist) and his experience. I think that’s where you really connect with people. Instead of just saying “how can I make the biggest song in the world,” saying, “how can I let people in?” Tell them how I’m feeling and give them a glimpse.
I’d love to hear more about your involvement with Thursday Boots and Nothing New? How did you get to be a part of them?
As I said before, I’ve always loved startup culture. I started a company before we started Timeflies and I love the process. So, I was introduced to these guys a number of years back and just saw their hunger. I really loved the product, and I love it even more now, but it was the hunger and desire to win that the founders possessed that ultimately made me want to get involved. You can’t fake desire, and it’s contagious. If I have one piece of advice from everything I’ve done and learned, it’s to surround yourself/ and involve yourself with good people.
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started making music?
It’s honestly impossible to measure. I think it’s one of those things where I’ll never think I’m good, but I’m definitely better lol.
How do you feel about social media? What do you think social media has done for your career so far?
What’s that? Okay, I mean, we all have some sort of love/hate relationship with social media. I’m not sure Timeflies reaches the level it does without social media, and I love the connection and access it gives us. It’s scary in the sense that there’s nothing unhealthier than comparison, and I’m afraid that’s what people are doing all day on there. But as a tool for musicians and fans and connection… love it.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
This is going to sound weird. But I live somewhere in between Pharoah Monch and James Taylor, and I love it there. I am so stuck between classic rock and hip hop with a little bit of dance. Jeez I don’t know, I’m just excited to see what happens next.
If you had an unlimited budget and your schedule was free, what would your dream music video look like?
A film co-directed by Wes Anderson and Michael Bay.
Where would you love to hear a song of yours played?
CVS, MSG, the casino I’m probably sitting in as you’re reading this? A coffee shop. I don’t know, I love connecting with people. However, and wherever I can, I’m down.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
A feeling. Good, bad, whatever. If you bring up some of my favorite songs of all time my sensory memory is buzzing. I remember where I was when I first heard it or some important moment it was playing. Being a part of those moments for people is a dream.