Q&A with VANESSA CARLTON
Posted On 21 Jan 2016
Tag: Air Live, Alan J. Lee, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, allaccessmusicnicole, Artist, Artist Interview, Blue Pool, BRONCHO, City and Colour, Deer Tick, Dine Alone Records, Eddie Chacon, Esquire, Interview, John McCauley, Liberman, Music, music interview, musicallaccess, Musician, New York, New York City, Nicole DeRosa, Nothing Where Something Used To Be, NYC, Nylon, Nylon Magazine, Operator, Philip Glass, Press Here, Steve Osborne, Take It Easy, Twin Forks, Vanessa Carlton
“Forget the Vanessa Carlton you used to know.” – NYLON
“She’s doing more with less, and her lyrics have progressed from urgent observations about growing up to more contemplative reflections about growing older.” — Esquire
VANESSA CARLTON released her EP titled Blue Pool last summer, July 24th via Dine Alone Records (City and Colour, Twin Forks, and BRONCHO). The EP features four tracks written for her full length album Liberman (now available here ) which was named after a colorful oil painting by her grandfather Alan J. Lee, who was originally named Liberman.
“This whole album is paired down and minimalist and this song is an example of how you can turn a traditional piano vocal song into something else,” says Vanessa. “Also I’m a big Philip Glass fan and I love how Steve Osborne (Liberman producer & mixer) was able to turn my swirly piano part at the end into this slippery sounding kaleidoscope.”
The EP features songs “Take It Easy” and “Blue Pool” also found on Liberman as well as live living room sessions of “Operator” and “Nothing Where Something Used To Be.”
These tracks reflect Vanessa’s current state of mind since moving from NYC to Nashville, marrying husband John McCauley (Deer Tick) and having a baby girl. The simple instrumentation mixed with her wistful vocals and poignant lyrics bring you into her world and showcase a new side to this accomplished songwriter.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa had a chance to catch up with Vanessa between writing, relaxing, being a mom and touring. Read more in their interview below!
Hi Vanessa! How are you today? What’s on the agenda today besides our interview?
I’m recovering from a late night. I do this to myself once a week…drank too much last night, not enough water. Of course my baby doesn’t care. Despite this I’m very well thank you.
It’s almost 11pm so only extremely awesome and relaxing things are on the agenda for as long as I can still stay awake.
So, first things first, just to bring everyone up to speed on all your recent blessings… you moved from New York to Nashville, and you are happily married to fellow musician, John Mccauley (Deer Tick) and have a new baby girl together. And, if you will be releasing your new EP, Blue Pool (July 24 via Dine Alone Records)! Congrats! How has the move to Nashville been for you? What is it about Nashville that you love and are inspired by?
I love Nashville. I love our house. It was built in the 1930’s. I bought my first car. We have a fire pit. Victor our dog is in heaven. And the people here are lovely. Great southern manners. I think it’s the Tennessee light. There is a unique shade of green here. I’ve lived in NYC for 20 years so I am ready for this pace. I’ve still kept my apartment there but I rent it out for most of the year.
Take me back a bit, Vanessa…for those that are not familiar with you and your music, how did you get your start? Who or what was the catalyst for you to want to live the life of a musical gypsy?
Well, I guess I got my start from my mom. She was my first piano teacher. She’s a pianist and ran a piano school out of our home. Honestly, I always thought I’d be a ballerina. Music was my outlet from the intensity of dance training.
“I never thought I’d end up being a gypsy! But if I really think about it….it’s in my blood. My dad is a pilot. He went to School in Beirut. The Carlton’s get around.”
Your upcoming album is called, Liberman . How did that name come about?
The album is named after my grandfather. Liberman is my mother’s families true last name before my grandpa changed it to Lee. He was a shirt designer and a painter and felt his business would be more successful if he didn’t have a Jewish last name. Sort of how Ralph Lipshitz changed his name to Lauren! Actually Ralph used to sell his ties in my grandfather’s store.
What did you learn between your other albums, collaborations and playing live, that you felt you wanted to infuse into your upcoming album, Liberman?
“I learned so much from working with Steve Osborne. He’s the man you want to collaborate with if you want to create a dream in the form of music. We crafted a very specific mood. I hope this album is a release for people. You turn it on and just escape and feel good.”
What was the inspiration for the song, “Blue Pool”? Did you help come up with the treatment for the video as well?
We haven’t made a video for Blue Pool yet. Blue Pool is inspired by the Secret Garden but the verses are modern scenes that are have happened to me, little vignettes. The chorus is very much about a woman’s mind: how quickly the wall can go up. It’s important to find that secret door.
Who have been your inspirations growing up?
Honestly, as I’ve gotten older I feel that my deepest inspirations come from my own family. I see things in myself that are like my mom. Things that I love about my mom, how she creates a home, how she takes care of my father, how she expresses her exuberance about things. The woman has no filter and is very positive. I’m inspired by her. Though I have much more of a filter. And my voice is much quieter.
What was the first song you fell in love with and why?
I don’t remember the feeling of love but I was absolutely entranced by “It’s a Small World” ride at Disneyland. I went when I was 2. My mom said when I got home I played the melody of that song on the piano. She of course thought I was a musical genius! But, the cassette tape I loved was Aaron Copeland. I also loved Prokofiev’s Peter And The Wolf tapes.
Who is in your current playlist? What artists or bands are in current rotation for you?
“I’m loving my husband’s band’s new demos. The perks of being married to a guy in Deer Tick. The Johnny Smith Quintet Moonlight in Vermont makes me feel like sipping on lemonade…or a martini in the 1940’s on a beautiful southern porch.”
I just bought the Jamie XX album In Colour which i dance to everyday during my workout. My favorite album from last year is Kurt Vile’s Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze.
I gotta buy the new Alabama Shakes album, as a matter of fact I’m gonna do that now. I love Brittany’s voice and appreciate the easy classic sound of that band.
I have purchased a lifetime subscription to My Morning Jacket. I’m a loyal lady. They just came out with a new one called the Waterfall.
Jenny Lewis is a badass. I met her briefly at a festival in Louisville last year when I was pregnant. I love that she just took Tristan (a really good Nashville musician) out on tour with her to play keys and stuff. Jenny seems very generous and cool.
What’s on tap next for you, Vanessa? What are you most excited about for this year?
I’m trying to figure out how to tour with a baby and a dog. I have till October to figure it out. I think it’s gonna be cool. Honestly, I never thought I’d be so lucky to be where I’m at in my life. To find this peace and easy rhythm seemed like such a faraway idea for a long time. As long as I don’t wake up with a hangover you will find me sitting in a rocking chair on our porch with my baby in my lap, beaming in love with the Carlton-Mccauley clan.
To learn more about VANESSA CARLTON , visit here HERE .