Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile
Photo by David McClister

“Not being a mainstream kid is something I’m equal parts proud of or embarrassed by.”


After a long four year wait, alternative country-folk songwriter and vocalist Brandi Carlile will return to Toronto’s The Danforth Music Hall tonight to perform songs off of her latest record release The Firewatcher’s Daughter. A Music Blog, Yea? recently gave Carlile a call ahead of the show to discuss recording at Bear Creek Studio, her passion for unamplified music, not being a mainstream kid, her involvement in The Fight The Fear Campaign, and meeting her influence Elvis Costello. Enjoy:

AMBY: Hey Brandi. Thanks for having a chat today.

Brandi Carlile: It’s my pleasure. Thanks for talking to me.

AMBY: The pleasure is mine! First off, congrats on the release your newest record The Firewatcher’s Daughter. For our readers, tell us a bit about the experience of creating your fifth record.

Brandi Carlile: It was unlike creating any other record. We had no demos or idea of how many songs we were going to record or if some of them would work or not. We had no producer, but a panel of friends in the studio, and we had no major record label.

AMBY: The songs on the album were recorded, as you mentioned, without any demoing at Bear Creek Studio in Washington State. Did recording at Bear Creek have an influence on the record at all or your time recording The Firewatcher’s Daughter?

Brandi Carlile: The studio always makes a big impact and Bear Creek is one of my favourite recording studios. It’s a bit like a home for us because it’s much like where we all live. It’s a place where we definitely feel comfortable. Right now, it feels good to be in that environment. That influences our level of confidence and the way we play.

AMBY: Before the album’s release, you played some historic rooms with the twins [Phil and Tim Hanseroth] where you performed new and old songs without any amplification. Do you plan on doing something like that again in the future?

Brandi Carlile: Absolutely. That was called the Pin Drop Tour. Unamplified music is a real passion of mine. There’s a lot of texture and colour in it. The Pin Drop Tour will always be something important in my life.

AMBY: There’s a song on the record called Mainstream Kid which reminded me of so many people I know. Was there a certain situation you observed that influenced you to write this song? What inspired it?

Brandi Carlile: Oh yea. I’ve got to tell you, there have been so many situations that I’ve observed over my years and feelings of entitlement and invisibility [laughs]. Those kinds of things. For me, not being a mainstream kid is something I’m equal parts proud of or embarrassed by.

AMBY: After four years, you’ll finally make your return to Canada to play The Danforth Music Hall. Are you excited to come back to Toronto?

Brandi Carlile: I am so excited to come back to Toronto! I can’t wait to come back and I don’t know why I haven’t been back in years. I hope to be back in Toronto a lot more often.

AMBY: In the past, you’ve sold out venues like Red Rocks and The Beacon Theater. Which theatre, venue, or city would you love to play which you’ve yet to?

Brandi Carlile: That I’ve yet to… I played at this venue a few times, and it’s really important to me, but I’ve never been able to be a headliner there. That would be Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

AMBY: As part of this tour, you recently announced that The Fight The Fear Campaign is tagging along with you this summer. It’s a wonderful program where you’re offering free self-defense workshops wherever your tour bus stops. How did you get involved with this program?

Brandi Carlile: Thank you for asking about that. There was a horrible crime that happened in Seattle that made a big impact on me. Two women from the gay community were attacked in their home and one of them died and one of them lived. I felt compelled to really reach out and I don’t know why. I heard that they were fans and after everything they went through… I spoke with her to see how we could provide a path to do something about this, she thought about it for a while, and then came back to me and said she’d like to find a way to support girls and help them feel confidence. We started The Fight The Fear Campaign with her and offered self-defense at battered woman shelters and homeless shelters. It went well and the fans demanded that we come back with The Fight The Fear Campaign again, so we brought it back.

AMBY: It’s amazing that this was all put together. For people who are attending these shows, how can they sign up for these workshops and get involved?

Brandi Carlile: They can go to http://lookingoutfoundation.org/ and follow The Fight The Fear Campaign on there. You can get involved in a million different ways and I’d love to see what people have in mind.

AMBY: I saw some photographs of you and P!nk together the other night and one where you were with Mr. Elvis Costello. How surreal was it for you to meet him? I read that he had a huge influence to you.

Brandi Carlile: It was crazy to meet him! I had kind of met him briefly before, but I actually got to tell him that his songs made a big impact on me while I was writing. He was really lovely and kind. I got to sing Pump It Up with him which was cool [laughs].

AMBY: That’s so nice to hear. I keep seeing photographs of you with all of these great celebrities.

Brandi Carlile: Honestly, this is one of the most satisfying things about what I do. I’m really a fan at heart.

AMBY: Well, congrats on this new record release. Things seem to keep getting better and better for you, and we really wish you the best with this new tour and what’s to come.

Brandi Carlile: Right on. Thanks a lot, man.

***

Thank you Brandi Carlile, for giving us your answers!

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Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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