California Americana-Country Group, CALICO THE BAND Discuss Their Forthcoming Album, ‘Under Blue Skies’ and Much More!
Posted On 03 Aug 2017
Led by the female duo of Manda Mosher and Kirsten Proffit, they will be releasing their sophomore album “Under Blue Skies” on Friday, September 15.
CALICO the band–short for “California Country”–returns with their signature intimate and tight harmonies on UNDER BLUE SKIES which can be heard on standout tracks such as “Cold, Cold Love,” “The 405,” and their inspired arrangement of Mamas & The Papas “California Dreamin’.”
The opening track “Fine Line,” tells the quintessential story of so many aspiring artists that come to L.A. in hopes of realizing their dreams. Everyone in Southern California that makes their way along the miles of freeway knows the “The 405,” the title of Proffit’s only solely-penned album track, on which love blossoms against the backdrop of an all-too-familiar L.A. Another song, like “Roll Away the Stone,” blends the luminous textures of voices over stringed instruments, illuminating the struggle of overcoming addiction through the eyes of one willing to share the burden.
Learn more about Calico The Band in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Where does this interview find the band today? Is there music playing in the background? What music do you all like to listen to when you are relaxing or answering interview questions?
We are sitting in the kitchen together after a show in Felton, CA discussing the show. Sometimes silence is nice after a long show. We are talking about Elvis and how there is an Elvis channel on XM Radio. It’s good to rediscover Elvis every once in a while. We listen to everything – Beck, Bach, Dylan, Joni, Jack White…all the great songwriters who deliver performances. – Kirsten
How does 2017 so far compare to last year? Did you all approach this year differently then you did 2016?
2017 has been focused on all aspects surrounding the release of Under Blue Skies. We run our own record label, California Country Records, so all of our energy and resources have been directed toward setting that up. 2016 was primarily about writing, recording, and mixing the record. We branched out on this new album working with the great Jim Scott who mixed the album and produced our cover of “California Dreamin’”. Although we have been touring throughout the making and release of the record, (we had our first UK tour this year) the main focus has been completing and releasing the record. Once the album releases we’ll be able to better focus on the touring aspects. -Manda
Growing up, did you all always want to be musicians? Can you recall the moment you realized that you could really make music together and be a band? Why do you think your name truly represents this group and the music that you create?
We have been playing and singing since our very early years. We each had solo careers that crossed paths at the end of 2012. We met because a promoter in LA wanted us on the same bill and we connected from there. We knew there was something special right away and started writing together. Calico is a name that encompasses many things for us. Being California natives and ladies doing music…our sound we describe as California Country so Calico is a shortening of that term and well Calico cats are female cats…and then there is this ghost town. -Kirsten
I always like to ask artists how their hometown has been an influence on the kind of music they make and really what kind of a band they are today. So how has your hometown influenced you all?
Since Kirsten and I are both Californians, that in itself has been a huge influence on our sound from the records we grew up listening to; to the temperate and sunny weather. There is an attitude and perspective that comes from being brought up in the golden state. We come from different parts of California; Kirsten is from Santa Cruz and I grew up in the La Crescenta and Pasadena parts of Los Angeles. There’s this easy going west coast factor mixed with the intensity of the crowded and competitive environment of Los Angeles where we both live now. -Manda
Let’s talk about your forthcoming album, “Under Blue Skies” which will be released this September. What was it like making this collection? How do you think that you all have grown since your first album was put out? What has remained the same? What things did you learn and bring to the table for this second collection?
We dug in way deeper lyrically on Under Blue Skies. We allowed our most personal experiences and emotions to start the conversations in addition to being conscious of the idea that we wanted a bigger, more sophisticated sound on this album. We had a goal to make a “better” record and now that we’ve been doing this for a few years together, we know each other well. When making our first album, Rancho California, we were still getting to know each other through making that initial record so when it came time to make the second record, we knew ahead of time what our sound should be. On the new record we feature one lead singer per song instead of the verse trading we did on our first record. We felt it made the focus of each song more tangible. Our vocal harmony sound has become signature to Calico and is something that carried over from the first recordings. We learned that we could define our sound even more specifically with our guitar sounds. That became part of the essence of the new album. -Kirsten
Can you elaborate on how singles “Cold, Cold Love” and “The 405” were written for this album? How do you all go about putting a song together?
What’s interesting is both of these songs are unusual within the Calico process of writing. Usually either Kirsten or I come up with a song title or verse, chorus, or musical piece…something that has promise and we bring it to each other and complete it out from there. Sometimes we bring in additional co-writers or we finish it just the two of us. For “Cold Cold Love” and “The 405”; these songs existed outside of our collaborative Calico writing sessions, but we felt they were important to put on the new record.
“Cold Cold Love” was a song that I brought into the band and has been part of our live sets for a while. We decided to record it for the new record because it brings an outlaw element of musical chaos and gritty energy. I wrote the song years ago with Ian Gothe and Jamie Rounds from Nashville who has since passed. It’s a distraught murder ballad…without the dirge of a ballad.
“The 405” is a solo penned song by Kirsten and was very personally inspired. I remember when she first played it for me and I loved it so much and said we have to have this for Calico, it’s fantastic. There was a blossoming relationship that was happening for her and the distance the 405 freeway can put between two people trying to meet up from the opposite sides of town in Los Angeles can be a real trial. The song resonates with so many. Kirsten approached the production with a Calico treatment of beautiful harmonies, pedal steel, resonator guitar, and mandolin. -Manda
Why did you decide to cover Mamas & The Papas hit song, “California Dreamin’”? Has this always been a favorite song of yours?
We had been thinking about it for some time, the vocal arrangement is really special. After we mixed the record at Jim Scott’s studio, we asked him if he might be able to gather Neal Casal, Greg Leisz, and Patrick Warren for a recording session. He said, “why not?” we brought our rhythm section of Matt Lucich and Ted Russell Kamp and violinist extraordinaire Kaitlin Wolfberg along with some special guest backup singers including Alice Wallace, and knocked it out in a day. We couldn’t wipe the grins from our faces. -Kirsten
What are your plans for the rest of this summer? Do you have tour dates lined up?
We just finished up a West Coast/PNW tour and now have shows coming up more locally at The Rancho Cerritos Historic Site in Long Beach, The West End Celebration in Sand City, a date in Carmel…and then for our hometown folks we’re putting on a record release show at The Hotel Café with Brian Whelan who’s a great Los Angeles based artist/producer who played guitar for Dwight Yoakam. Then we’re off to Nashville for our official AmericanaFest showcase and we’re putting on an official event during AmericanaFest week in conjunction with The Alternate Root called The California Country Social featuring artists that represent the west coast sound. We’re really thrilled that Calico, and our California Country Records’ artists Alice Wallace and Ted Russell Kamp all have official AmericanaFest showcases this year…it’s a real coup for our label and the west coast sound. Beyond that we’re currently booking our fall touring schedule. -Manda
Who are some of your favorite artists? Who would you all to work with in the future? What would be a dream collaboration for this band?
We have far too many favorite artists to list but we love Tom Petty, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, Sturgill Simpson, Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, John Moreland, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Nikki Lane, Ryan Adams, Gillian Welsh, Jack White…it would be an incredible honor to collaborate with any of our favorites. We also really like Rod Melancon, a young upcoming artist out of LA who’s garnering much deserved attention right now. -Manda
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
We always say that the music is joyful. We want people to feel good and have a great experience at our shows. We want them to feel entertained. When they put on our music, we want it to jump out of the speakers and feel warm. – Kirsten
What advice would you give to a band just getting started? Or even to someone young that is thinking of becoming a musician one day?
Learn all you can and pattern your career after successful artists. Don’t stop, make musical friends. Embrace the music community. Share your talents and help others. -Kirsten
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourselves or your music?
We know that we are fortunate to have realized that we share a path in the music business. It is something we do not take for granted. We are always looking for a sincere way of presenting our music. We love to connect with our fans. -Kirsten