CEV Artist Interview
But we also heard a lot of folk music at my grandparents. I loved old musicals- and they were a big influence on how I heard songs when I finally started writing my own music.
CEV: Did you have any formal training in music? How important is that for success if you really want to become a singer/songwriter?
AC: I played music as a child in the school band- and took music lessons. But I'm not classically trained by any means- I'm much more intuitive about melody and songwriting. I think having formal music training is an asset as a musician, because you have the language and skills to communicate with other musicians, but I don't think it's a prerequisite to success. It is extremely helpful though- knowledge is always a benefit. Jenni and Mike are formally trained, and I can see the advantage it gives in rehearsals.
CEV: When did you begin to write your own songs? Looking back were they a good foundation considering they were your first efforts?
AC: I began writing my own songs when I was 17- I was an exchange student in Denmark and I took a guitar, even though I had no idea how to play it. The songs I wrote that first year were probably pretty awful. It wasn't until I started to collaborate with my best friend Jeannie Howell a year later (as part of the first band I played in) that the first decent songs started to come along.
CEV: Were you always determined to make a career out of your music? When did you decide that the time was right?
AC: I never dreamt of making a career from music when I first began writing songs. Maybe other people are different and always know- but I've always had so many interests- art, acting, music, Latin America, travelling, languages, anthropology. It wasn't until I met Gregory Page in San Diego- a real songwriter making a living from music that I felt inspired to try to make it my life. Even now, It's funny that I tried since I was a thesis away from a Graduate Degree.
CEV: What did you do to get yourself noticed or to start performing for audiences?
AC: Well- when I was in a band at 18, we just played shows around our area for fun. It didn't occur to us to do anything other than that at the time. Later when I lived in San Diego, I just started playing at open mics in the acoustic scene- and started getting shows. I eventually moved to LA, but it took me a year before I worked up the courage to try and play a show in LA. I was really intimidated.
CEV: It used to be that you got noticed by an A&R person from a label and they gave you a contract if they liked you. In the new world of being an indie artist how hard is it to build a fan base and get people talking about your music?
AC: I think the we have lots more opportunities now as independent artists to make a living at music- although it's still pretty hard-scrabble. I don't have the magic recipe- I feel like I'm still struggling to find fans and new listeners as much as the first day I started playing. But that's probably just my perception of things. It takes a lot of constant outreach- but really blogs and luck have a whole lot to do with "buzz" I think. Hiring PR or marketing isn't a magic bullet either. Some bands sink and some bands just take off.
CEV: When you draw on personal experiences in your lyrics is it difficult to put them into songs that will eventually be heard and shared by everyone?
AC: I think everything I write eventually goes through a filter in some way- so that when it becomes part of a song, it's not mine anymore. It's not about me. I don't really write a lot of songs that are "confessional" regardless of how people perceive the music I make... Green Cotton Dress is about a one night stand, but it's not my story. Maybe it never was, maybe it's an amalgam of stories- from friends and my own life, or something I imagined happening. An alternate ending to a night out. You have to live and perform in the moment- but also, let that shit go once you put it out there. No one wants to see a girl crying onstage as she's singing about heartbreak...
CEV: How did the name Correatown come about and who are the core members of your group?
AC: Correatown was one of many nicknames a friend had for me. My friends & I used to add "town" or "city" onto the endings of words in our little circle of slang. The core members of our band are Rob Poynter who plays drums, Jenni Tarma who plays bass, and Mike Corwin who plays guitar... and me.
CEV: Is songwriting your domain or is it shared within the group?
AC: So far, I've been the songwriter in the band... it's developed from my own solo work. We talk about writing more songs together as a band- so we'll see where that takes us. Everyone definitely contributes to the band with their own instruments and ideas once we're in our rehearsal space. A song is just the skeleton- you can dress it up in any number of ways.
CEV: Your new album is called Pleiades which came out September 20. When did you start working on this album?
AC: I started writing the songs on this album back in 2009 & 2010. We started to record a few of the songs in summer 2009, just as I was releasing Spark. Burn. Fade. (the first album I put out as Correatown - previous releases were just Angela Correa). Since the album was self-funded we would record in small batches of songs whenever I'd saved up enough money.
CEV: How would you describe the general mood of this album? Or is there a thread that runs through the songs?
AC: I think the mood of the album is contemplative- it's both dark and dreamy all at once. I wanted the production to feel like you'd been launched into a floating ethereal outer space realm of sounds and textures... but the songs have really strong and distinct melodies that root it all down. I was writing about a lot of different ideas, traveling, isolation, memory, loss, growing older, figuring out what our place is and how to be comfortable in the roles we choose.
CEV: When you were working on the songs that would eventually make up this album what input did the band have in the songs?
AC: We'd work in the studio together, or sometimes the band would lay the foundation tracks and I'd build it up in the studio with our producer Dan Long... then we'd listen again and tweak. The album wouldn't be the same if everyone in the band hadn't played on it. Everyone brings their unique style and phrasing to the songs.
CEV: What did you find most enjoyable about writing and recording Pleiades? What was it that didn’t go as well as you might have hoped?
AC: I really love being in the studio. It's such a productive time- you go in everyday and eventually you have a handful of songs. You can really quantify that part. The releasing of an album and all the administrative shit that goes along with it- is seriously so tedious to me. That's def a reason to find a label. I'm better at making music than at releasing it.
CEV: Was there any significance to choosing the name Pleiades for this album?
AC: Just the overall feel of the album- and the Pleiades have a long history of folklore and story telling in every culture. I thought some of the stories fit with the themes in the songs. It's also a beautiful word- and evokes a specific feeling for me- ever since I was young I remember looking up at the stars in my hometown and finding the "seven sisters"- the Pleiades constellation.
CEV: Were you a hands on artist when it came to doing the engineering and the final mixes of Pleiades? If not then how important is communication between you the songwriter/performer and the person who is doing the engineering/mixing for you?
AC: Our producer Dan Long mixed the album for us... I was there through the whole process and had a lot of opinions- much to his chagrin, I'm sure. But I really trusted his ears and his choices. But yes, I'm very hands on. It's your music, your idea, your vision- it's hard to just hand that off and hope someone is at the same place you are with it. Fortunately, Dan really shared the vision for the album.
CEV: Are there any songs on Pleiades that captures the essence of what you were trying to communicate on this album? Why?
AC: I think a lot of the songs encapsulate what we were trying to create... Valparaiso, La Serena, Further, Everything All At Once, Sunset & Echo for sure... they are lush and spare at once. They involve memory, story telling, abstraction and inclusiveness. Maybe the oddball on the album is Turn On, Turn Up... I was just having a bit of fun musically- but lyrically it lives in the same world.
CEV: How do you feel about the album now that it is done and out there representing your music to the world?
AC: I'm really proud of this album- I could never say that before about an entire album. Maybe a song or two. I feel like I can give it to someone and not say a word... the music speaks volumes. If you don't get it, that's ok. I feel good about it. I can honestly say, for me personally, it's the best music I've ever put out there. That's huge.
CEV: Do you enjoy performing live? What do you get out of the interactions you have with the audiences?
AC: I love performing live- it's such an *in the moment* kind of experience. I think the audience experience varies depending on where you are. In LA, it's a pretty chill and stand off-ish crowd, it takes a lot of energy to engage. On tour, especially in Europe- it's amazing. People are so much more available as audience members. You can give more less self consciously.
CEV: Will you be touring outside of L.A. or California in promotion of Pleiades?
AC: This winter we hope to tour up through the West Coast- and at some point in 2012 to go to Europe/UK
CEV: Any final thoughts or observations about your music to the readers of this interview?
AC: I really just want people to find out about this album and to listen. All I can really hope for is people to tell other people about it- and for it to somehow organically reach a new audience. I've poured the past two years earnings into making and releasing this album- it's been a real roller coaster of emotion doing that- you wonder if you're crazy or stupid or just delusional. When I get e-mails from strangers who've heard it, or orders from people in Germany or Europe asking about the music... it makes it feel more worthwhile. If you love something- share that shit with the world people. It makes a tremendous difference to the person making it.
CEV: Thanks so much for taking the time out to talk to us and I wish you the very best with your new album.