Posted by amanda in Oct 25, 2011 with No Comments
The Business of Music
Amos: Do you ever think that you’re going to release the Mikal Blue stuff at some point, as a package?
Carey: I don’t know if I will. It’s cool to know that it’s in the bag if I want to.
Amos: I know that b-sides don’t really exist anymore, so that’s too bad.
Carey: Yeah, I love b-sides, but that was back in the day when volume mattered to record companies for sales. If you have more product you sell more. Now recorded music isn’t as much about sales as about having something that you can tour off and market the rest of your brand on. It can even be advantageous to have five amazing songs, as opposed to just do b-sides, which you and I both love. As an upstart artist, it doesn’t make as much sense. One day I will go back and release everything.
That being said, besides the “After the Morning After” Ep and the “Begin” single. I have released other songs I recorded with Mikal Blue. You can get them exclusively at my shows.
Amos: I was talking to [Brooklyn Producer] Jason Finkel a while ago and he was saying the same thing, that people should just do EPs now because people have ADD.
Carey: Yeah, it seems people are less and less interested in listening to full records. I mean, right now, because I’m an artist who’s working in the current market, I’m interested in the best way to bring my music into the world.
Amos: I feel that this is a very hard time for artists right now, because artists and managers really have to figure out what does and doesn’t work, if they can even make money from album sales, etc. Maybe fans are still stealing it all.
Carey: People are stealing music, but I don’t care. I think, generally, if I’m playing a show then they come up and buy it from me at the merchandise booth. I really don’t care if people steal my music. I just really want to get it out there.
Amos: You did a pay-what-you-want program on Watching, Waiting.
Carey: Yeah! That was at a time in ‘07 where Radiohead had just done that with their CD. I think that we were one of the first independent artists to do that, doing the pay-what-you-feel. We did it and it for a month and it was so successful. I looked at the numbers, and I think the album was downloaded 6,000 or 7,000 times. For me, that’s a lot when Watching, Waiting came out my goal was to sell 10,000 copies and just from that download campaign, 7000 people downloaded it. It was amazing. That was one of the craziest things that I’ve done.
So my philosophy is just getting the music out there that’s what I care about. It’s never been about money.
Posted by amanda in Oct 13, 2011 with No Comments
Amos: What is co-writing? Before I started getting really into this, I would have a very literal sense of the idea where it’s just focused on writing. I would imagine two guys with a white board writing a lyric up on the wall, then the look it over, and then strike it out if they don’t like it.
Carey: It can be that. It’s so artistic and so open it can really be anything that you can imagine. I’ve seen that, where it’s two guys with a pad looking at each other and writing. It can be I have an idea and I Skype it to my friend overnight, then he writes something and sends it back. Or it can be something where I write like 99% of it and then a producer or someone else writes the other 1%, but it needed that 1%, that’s like the Lennon McCartney thing later. It can be really anything. It’s art.
I hate to generalize it, because it can always happen different, but if I’m doing a writing session for my own song and not another artist, I’ll bring in a pretty complete idea. I tend to write stuff that’s pretty complete. Maybe I write lyric won’t make sense, because I’ve written it cryptically, and then they’ll come along and make sense of it, which I found to be really good. The song “Elaine” on Watching, Waiting, Marshall isn’t even credited as a co-writer on it, but he really helped to make it a story.
Amos: He seems to be a producer that does quite a bit of co-writing.
Carey: He has co-writing credit on two songs on Watching, Waiting, in which he really did chip in, and, to his credit, really stepped in and shaped a lot of stuff. With Mikal Blue we co-wrote on the song “Begin.” I wrote the song and then he came in and fixed it. It can really be any way that you can imagine.
Posted by amanda in Oct 09, 2011 with No Comments
The Whitefish Bay Sessions EP
Amos: What is the Whitefish Bay Sessions EP?
Carey: The Whitefish Bay Sessions EP was a limited EP. Actually, I’ll probably release it again, but it’s the demos for Watching, Waiting. I sent Marshall Altman three or four fully-produced demos of songs that made it onto Watching, Waiting. He listened to them and then he told me he’d really rather listen to me sing them live with an acoustic guitar.
I took my studio Whitefish Bay, which is in Northern Door County, Wisconsin. My parents have this cabin up there. I went up there with a guitar and brought a bunch stuff. I recorded 15 songs of just acoustic and live vocals and I used those as the demos when I went out to LA to record the album. After the record was out, I picked five songs from those demos and released it as a limited edition EP.
Amos: Was this digital or physical?
Carey: It was a physical CD that was available from my online record store. It’s never been released digitally. Once you put something out there digitally, it’s out there forever.
Amos: I notice that you can still get stuff from your Telepathy band through iTunes, not all of it, but some of it. You can only get the physical CDs from Amazon.
Oh, also it’s funny that you mentioned that your parents have a summer home in Wisconsin. When I was researching for this interview, I saw a mention or two of Wisconsin, and how you recorded stuff there. I was trying to figure out your connection to the area and in my notes I wrote “family summer home?” So it’s funny to see that I was right about it.
Carey: Yeah, it was just a cabin in the woods, but it’s really small. Are you familiar with Bon Iver? This whole PR campaign for his new record is that he recorded it in a cabin in the Wisconsin woods. I was so bummed when I heard that, because I said to myself, “That’s what I do!” I wish I would have used that. If you listen to the Whitefish Bay stuff you’ll hear that the songs really changed from that to the record.
Amos: How long did you do those Whitefish Bay recordings before recording Watching, Waiting?
Carey: It was basically while I was waiting to make a record. I was in Chicago, and we were building a following playing shows. I was still writing and getting stuff ready. I think we had the record date set, that I was going to go out in August and make that album. Before that, Marshall asked me to send him some demos in the summer. So I just went up to the family cabin and I spent about a week and a half there with my recording set-up. I had just met my then girlfriend. I had just fallen in love with her and she came up and visit me at the cabin and we spent a week in the woods. The whole experience for me was really cool. It was just me playing the music live in the cabin. I think it turned out well.
Amos: What kind of recording setup did you take with you?
Carey: Basically all the gear that I have here in my studio right now. I carry a lot of gear with me when I travel and when I’m on the road, because I think it’s important.
Amos: How does shipping and hauling that equipment work out for you? I remember reading something from Brendan James where he was talking about how it would cost him a ton of money to ship or check-in his keyboard because of all sorts of carry-on and luggage rules at the airport.
Carey: Yeah, that’s got to be tough for him. If I’m flying. I carry on an acoustic guitar and I check in an electric guitar. I have a pedal board, and I check that too. It just depends on baggage fees and what airline I’m flying if there is a band that’s meeting me and they have equipment… it all just depends on the logistics of travel.
Amos: Do you do a lot of flying-type touring? Is it more of the van type?
Carey: It’s mostly the van type. That’s what I prefer, because you have all the gear in the van with you. Let me put it this way, when it comes to traveling I’d rather fly, but if I was touring I’d rather drive.
Read more here!! http://bit.ly/nmhlSh
Posted by amanda in Oct 06, 2011 with No Comments
Amos: Did you experience any artistic changes in your music, after you had moved back to Chicago?
Carey: Absolutely, I had consciously started writing songs that, to me, were better songs. I think I was learning how to write better songs at that point, since I was doing it a lot more. The songs accomplish things that I wanted to accomplish. My Telepathy songs were 10 minutes long with crazy instrumental breaks.
It’s really interesting, I see a lot of artists, and there’s no rhyme or reason in the way that people approach it. Some people fast track it and some people are a slower burn. I’ve always felt that I’ve been on the slower burn. For me, I wouldn’t have it any other way, because I’ve learned so much. I feel like I know what music to release and what music not to release, so I’m having a better feeling of what I want to do.
Amos: Yeah, going over it, your’s and Brendan James’s history, it feels like there’s a lot of overlap going on there, or a lot of kinship.
Carey: I’ve always felt a real kinship with Brendan. We met and I think ‘07 or ‘08 after Watching, Waiting had come out and two songs had been chosen to be in this movie, Palo Alto, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival. It ended up coming out on DVD and distributed by Lionsgate. The opening credit has “Ain’t Got Love” on it and “Watching, Waiting” is also in the movie. I came out to New York around that time, and I was dating this girl in New York. This was when I was still in Chicago and Watching, Waiting had come out. I was touring and promoting it.
We went to the premiere at Tribeca and at the party Eric Robinson was there and he told me I should meet this guy Brendan James. So Brendan and I had met and my manager was there. At the time Brendan was working on the final product of the Mikal Blue record and he said that he was going to have to start touring.
I invited him out on a tour run in Chicago. It was like Chicago, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Indianapolis. That’s where my main core stuff was. Because when I moved back to Chicago I developed my Chicago audience, and also Milwaukee above and Indianapolis below. That area is always where I was the strongest. I brought him as an opener and we really bonded on that tour, and I became a huge fan of his music. Subsequently, I ended up touring with him on his own tour. During that tour, he ended up showing me Park Slope, Brkln, where he was living. I had this girlfriend out here in New York. So that was what triggered my New York move. That’s how all that started.
At that time I had been in Chicago for a couple of years and really felt comfortable with what I had established. So I thought it was time to take it to a higher level. That’s what brought me out here.
Putting Together Watching, Waiting
Read More Here! http://bit.ly/oD7lLs
Posted by amanda in Oct 01, 2011 with No Comments
Working With Other Artists
Amos: Did you do any co-writing or playing with other musicians when you were in LA?
Carey: It was more collaborative on the band side of it; I was just really into playing. I really haven’t co-written besides 2 songs on Watching, Waiting and then later, a couple songs with Mikal Blue. I did a little bit of co-writing with those producers who were established guys known for co-writing. Literally, until the last four months of my life, like now, I have not been into co-writing, and now I’m into it. I just started it for the next record and I’m doing a bunch of co-writing.
Amos: Did you have something that you did with Sarah Bareilles?
Carey: Yeah, she sang on Watching, Waiting. She sings on “Smile”. [plays a bit of the song “Smile”] So that’s one of the songs that I wrote and very few people know that Sara Bareilles sang on it.
Amos: Is she credited for it?
Carey: Yeah, but this was right before she became huge. When she came into the studio she was a friend of Eric’s. He was like, “Yeah, you’ve got to meet this girl, and she should sing on a song.” Then she blew up after that. But, yeah, Sarah sings on that song and I would say just my core fans know that.
Amos: That reminds me of when Tyrone Wells was talking about one of his songs at a show and how one of the former American Idol judges, Kara DiaGuardia, had sung background vocals for one of his songs but wasn’t credited because it was done on the down low.
The whole Sarah thing was on the up-and-up, she was doing really well in LA, but she wasn’t star. I don’t even think her album had come out yet. She knew Marshall because she had previously toured with Marc Broussard.
Amos: Since she only sings harmony on the song, was that ever something that you had imagined? The idea of using of possibly using a female vocal on the track?
Carey: At the time I had just written that song in Chicago. When we started in the studio, Marshall said this would be a cool one to have girl sing on. I didn’t even hear it to tell you the truth. So I was like, “Cool, we’ll try it.” So she just came in.
“Gotta Be Next To You.” on After The Morning After EP is Amber Rubarth, She sings a duet with me on the After The Morning After version. So when I wrote that I was thinking specifically it would be really good with a female voice. Now, I think like that.
It’s all part of the learning process. You learn these things as you go.
Read more here: http://toddcarey.tumblr.com/