We sat down with British singer-songwriter Callaghan to talk about her ongoing tour, new EPs and musical influences.
Interview by Jane Howkins
You’re currently in the middle of a UK tour. How is that going? Any good tour stories so far?
The tour has been really fun – so far I’ve played in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, York, and Tynemouth. The audiences have been really great at all the shows and I finished this leg of touring off at the weekend with a set at Joy Festival where I’m sure the weather was a good bit hotter than it is where i live in LA! I had some great fish and chips in York – always good to get those for dinner!
You recently played a show in York, at The Basement. How was that? Did you enjoy our city?
It’s always a real pleasure coming back to York. I quite often bring musicians over with me from America and getting to show them round a city as beautiful and old as York is so great. They can never believe that it’s real – especially the Shambles which is one of my favorite parts of York. The Basement is a very intimate room to play – they do a really nice job fitting everyone in and making it sound great.
For those who haven’t seen you yet, what can people expect from a Callaghan gig?
I always aim to take the listeners on a journey throughout the show, with songs to tap their feet to, some to make them cry, as well as lots of stories and laughs. I want people to forget where they are for a couple of hours and just get immersed in the music.
I perform songs from my previous albums, some brand new songs from my upcoming record, as well as a couple of songs by other artists that have particularly inspired or influenced me over the years.
You have a new EP out at the end of June, titled The Other Side. What can you tell us about that, and what is the title a reference to?
These songs are perhaps more personal than ever, with the lyrics touching on subjects such as the loss of a family member in “I Don’t Know How to Lose You”, or the experience of being in the UK for the EU referendum and the USA during the recent elections in “The Other Side”. Songs like “Surrender” offer raw emotion while “Solid Ground” is an uplifting anthem celebrating life and the people you share it with.
The title track “The Other Side” is a little more political than I have been in the past with my songwriting. I think it’s a reflection of the world we live in at the moment and the emotions it stirs up. I was in the UK for the referendum and in the US for the elections. What was clear to see in both countries was the level of anger and division between people. It seemed like some politicians were taking advantage of that anger by offering simple solutions to complex problems to further their own ambitions.
The song “The Other Side” is basically about that struggle and the hope that in the end we can pull together and live in as positive a way as possible to help each other. I also wanted to call the EP “The Other Side” because it was the first time I had recorded in LA – on the other side of the USA from Nashville where I tracked my last record.
We hear it’s quite a political EP. Can you tell us what that might entail? I’m writing these questions on the eve of the UK’s general election, and tensions are particularly heightened at the moment!
I’ve always steered clear of politics in my previous writing, but I think at the moment it’s hard to ignore. In general I try to connect in my songs to the things that people experience in every day life, the shared experiences and emotions that unite us all. It seems like there are a lot of people struggling at the moment and a lot of chaos, confusion and division in society. The song “The Other Side” draws attention to the need to keep our eyes open to being pulled in different directions by politicians, media, or those seeking to divide us. I’m not trying to make judgements on anyone’s personal opinions or politics, but just that we should remember that we’re all human beings and should try and work together rather than against each other.
You worked with Anthony J. Resta on the EP. How did that come about, and did you feel you two worked well together?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredible producers out in LA. Starr Parodi and Jeff Fair who have created music for some of the biggest movies to come out of Hollywood including Braveheart, Mission Impossible and the James Bond films to name just a few.
Anthony Resta is originally from Canada, and has worked with legendary artists such as Elton John, Duran Duran and Blondie. Working with Anthony was like being on a roller coaster. His mind works so fast and can conceive, and bring to life, a vision of a huge production just from hearing a very simple piano/vocal demo track. Working with him was some of the most exciting and inspirational time I’ve spent in the studio. He’s particularly known for his innovative use of vintage recording gear from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, some of which was employed on the production of “The Other Side”.
You have two more EPs planned for release in the next twelve months, as well as The Other Side. Why have you decided to do so much, and how will that work?
For me as an independent artist, who’s on the road a lot, finding a chunk of time, and money, to write and record a whole album can be challenging. I have so many songs I want to share, and there are lots of different writers and producers I’d like to work with, so putting out smaller projects gives me the freedom to share new music much more often and really concentrate on producing 4 great songs every few months.
Will you be releasing a full length release at any point, or is it just the EPs for now?
This is the first time I’ve released EPs rather than a full album. I’m planning to release 3 EPs over the coming year. I found with my previous 2 albums that so much time is put into writing, recording and promoting one record, but once it’s released it’s so quickly consumed and people begin asking when the next one is coming out. Meanwhile as an artist you’re so busy promoting and touring your album that you don’t get an opportunity to record any new material for a year or two. I think the way that people consume music these days has changed and EPs seem to fit with people’s appetite to get new music little and often.
What/who influences you the most, and what have you been listening to recently?
The music I grew up with was Elton John, Carole King, James Taylor, a lot of the big song-writers. I was also a huge fan of Shawn Mullins growing up and his album “Soul’s Core”, which came out in the late 90’s, was one of the reasons I wanted to become a song-writer myself. He was such a strong influence on me and getting to work with him on my first album when I moved to the US, and have him become such a mentor for me over the years has been incredible. I have also always been drawn to a lot of the power-house vocalists and performers such as Freddie Mercury, Celine Dion, Michael Jackson. People who are just spell-binding performers. More recently I have been influenced a lot by Coldplay, Bear’s Den, and Tom Chaplin, and took a lot of inspiration from them during the time I was in the studio for this project.
Any last words for the fans?
There’s still time to get involved in my “year of new music” and get all 3 EPs before they’re released publicly, plus lots of behind the scenes extras by going to pledgemusic.com/callaghan.
I’ll be touring some more in July and look forward to hopefully seeing everyone at a show soon!