DERANGED to Divine is perhaps the starkest and most beautiful…
album names I have ever heard. It pretty much sums up the work of Carina Round. Based in L.A. now: the British-born musician has collaborated with some of music’s heavyweights- from Dave Stewart to Ryan Adams. Deranged to Divine- available to pre-order https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/deranged-to-divine-itunes/id1119504638- is out shortly and unifies and combines the multifarious, spellbinding work of a stunning musician. Having achieved and experienced more than most artists: it is all hands on the deck for Round. In August, she returns to the U.K. for some promotional dates. Taking in the likes of London (The Lexington on 5th) and Brighton (The Green Door Store on 11th) it is an exciting summer, for sure. There is perpetuity and an evergreen quality to Round’s work: her music gets inside the soul and evokes something unexplainable. Taking all this into consideration, I was keen (with respect and nerves) to press Round. We discuss her childhood and musical icons; the juxtapositions between L.A. and Wolverhampton (her hometown) and plans for new material…
Hey Carina. How are you? How has your week been? For those new to your music: can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m great. I’m just off the back of a U.S. and a European tour with Puscifer for our latest album which went really well. I’m currently preparing to for some shows with Tears For Fears and my U.K. solo tour in August- in support of my record Deranged to Divine which is a self-curated retrospective spanning the last 15 years of my career.
You are based in L.A. What is it about Los Angeles that is so attractive to musicians?
Well, the entertainment industry is based here. Also, before you reach a certain level of success as an artist- unless you come from money- it can be quite difficult to live comfortably. There’s a certain quality of life here just because of the nature of the location:Ocean, Mountains, Weather; that it’s hard to get in many other big cities, yet it offers the same amount of potential. And then, after reaching a certain level, I find many artists move over here from N.Y.C. They can still do what they need to but have a much less stressful life: bigger house, large working space, a pool; maybe they start families.
The legacy afforded to California as a hub in the ‘60s and ‘70s by the Laurel Canyon Scene (Byrds, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Joni Mitchell, Mamas & Papas, James Taylor; Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne etc.) or music from the Wrecking Crew sessions had enough longevity to carry over a romantic ideal too. I think even (though) that is long gone.
In reality, though, it can be very isolating- many hours alone in cars. A few simple tasks can take a whole day. No walking anywhere. No real central energy. A lot of the time this can be pleasurable and conducive to creativity. For me, I need to inject myself into a nucleus of overwhelming human energy every now and then. Like charging a battery.
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Your music clearly resounds with listeners around the world; your voice and confidence are outstanding. Did you grow up in a musical background? Were your parents influential with regards your musical ambitions?
Music was always a part of my life from as long as I can remember. I grew up in Wolverhampton with a single mother and listening to music and dancing was a big part of our household. Then at around 6, I moved in with my grandparents and it was a huge part of that household too. My grandfather had a terrific voice. He would be singing more often than not singing and I just adored him for it. It became a big part of my physical expression as a child to go about my day singing my face off. Both pre-existing songs and stuff I made up in them moment.
I began writing poetry before I was a teenager. I picked up a guitar and began crafting songs around the age of 15. At this point, my attendance at school dropped off a lot but my self-education began to bloom. I really began to find my voice. That’s what I was going to do. While my single mother couldn’t really get behind the idea of allowing me to flunk she didn’t really have much choice. Once she realised that she was nothing but supportive.
On that front: which artists and singers were particularly important to you growing up?
Growing up - Led Zeppelin, Roxy Music, and David Bowie played a big part in inspiring me to express myself through music. Japan and the voice of David Sylvian. I discovered Can very young. Bob Dylan, Neil young; Nick Cave is a constant. Kate Bush of course. The honesty and warmth with which Patti Smith writes poetry and the rawness with which she performs is an ongoing inspiration. The Bulgarian Women’s Choir excited me vocally a lot. The recording of Chess Records and Northern Soul music were a big presence in my youth. As well as whatever was on the radio at the time.
When it comes to writing a new song: what motivates you to put pen to paper? Is it scenes from day-to-day life or the realities of love (or a mixture of both)?
For the most part, I draw from my own experiences. I’m a very emotional writer so it’s difficult for me to say read a synopsis and make up a song for it. Unless I have an emotional response to someone else experiences, then I can draw from that and arrange a song based on emotional reaction. That’s where the initial inspiration comes from; then once that’s in place I can approach it more cerebrally and elaborate with technique. The exact relaying of an experience is not really what matters to me in terms of inspiration. It’s more the feeling I get from what’s being said.
You tour and perform with a large band (of guys no less). What is the atmosphere like on the road? What is it like having to tour and live with a bunch of guys?
For some people, a bus full of people is problematic regardless of the sex. I’ve grown pretty adaptable to that situation and everyone keeps to themselves when necessary and mingles when it’s appropriate.
There were 4 women on our bus. It’s actually pretty well-balanced.
Deranged to Divine is out on 29th July; taking material from your career between 2001 and 2015. What compelled you to release the album?
I released the album partly because I knew I was going to be traveling through Europe with Puscifer this summer – the tour had sold out and the response to the album is very positive. It’s garnered a much bigger fan-base and I wanted to release something that would be a cohesive yet eclectic; experimental and very personal introduction to my solo work (for people who have never heard it before).
Can we expect to see any new material from you in the coming months?
Yes. I will be touring until the end of the year and I would like to spend next year making, releasing and touring a new solo record.
Looking into Deranged to Divine: you have collaborated with some extraordinary musicians over the years. Which artists have been particularly great to work with?
My relationship to all of these people and artists are different and the work and time spent was unique to each. I learned a lot from each of them. You know, I worked with Ryan (Adams) off and on over a few years. My work with Dave (Stewart) spanned over a decade and I spent a few hours in the studio with Billy (Corgan) - but each experience had a lot of utility for me as an artist, as well as providing moments of outright joy. They are all very memorable for different reasons.
From August; you are embarking on a mini-tour of the U.K. Does it feel good to have home on the horizons? Do you miss the West Midlands and Britain?
Yes, I miss my family and friends of course. The friends that remain over long distance are usually the ones worth missing. I never really miss living there. I have developed some strong and important family in Los Angeles over the last decade. I do, though, miss the seasons and the weather in the U.K. strangely enough. I long for cold damp air for painfully extended periods of time. Then after a fortnight of visiting I’m ready to go leave.
A lot of singers and musicians will be inspired to follow you into music. What advice would you offer them
If you’re anything like me you won’t be ready to listen anyone’s advice until you learn something the hard way. That being said, I think the most important thing that I learned, the hard way of course (and continue to learn) is that in any collaborations or relationships in general, it’s always good to remember that, no matter who it is telling you otherwise- and how many years of experience they have- it's ok to say no to something that you don’t feel is an authentic move for you as an artist. The flip side of that, of course, is to learn to make the distinction between a ‘no’ that is safeguarding you from future regrets of inauthenticity and a ‘no’ that is just from fear of being pulled out of your comfort zone.
Finally- and for being a good egg- you can name any song you like; I’ll play it here…
It’s Raining Today - Scott Walker.
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