THANKS to the terrific Callaghan Belle...
for telling me about her recent single, Dear Detroit, and what it is about. I ask her about her base of Detroit and how she views the music of the present and the icons of the past; whether there are particular records that have inspired her and whether there is more material coming along.
The young songwriter discusses artists she counts as idols; who she’d support on tour if she had the chance; whether there is any advice she’d give to rising artists – she picks an excellent song to end things on.
Hi, Callaghan Belle. How are you? How has your week been?
Thank you so much for having me! My week has been chaotic and exciting. I’ve been waiting to release music for a long time.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Yes, of course. I’m a songwriter and musician from Detroit but I currently live in Los Angeles. I’ve been working behind the scenes as a songwriter for a few years - but now I’m finally releasing material as an artist.
When did music arrive in your life? Did you discover it young?
It’s funny...I can’t remember a time before music and I don’t know why it started. When I was really young, I’d write a couple songs every day. At some point, my mom realized I had about ten notebooks full of lyrics. From there, my parents were supportive. I didn’t realize there was anything unusual about a little kid writing music: I thought everyone was doing it.
Which artists do you count as role models and inspirations?
So many. My current list includes The Beatles, Lana Del Rey; Kelly Clarkson, JoJo; The Pretty Reckless, Troye Sivan; Dolly Parton, Led Zeppelin; Aly & AJ…I could go on.
Dear Detroit is your new single. Can you reveal the story behind it?
I wrote Dear Detroit after a meeting at The Beverly Hills Hotel where I’d been told that my music needed to be “more about guns” and conflict. It was ignorant advice coming from people in such a privileged environment. But it inspired me to write about the internal battle that takes place when you move away from home. This is a song about feeling homesick for a sense of belonging, whether that stems from a person, a place; an emotion etc.
Thinking about Detroit, do you have any thoughts regarding the changing sound of the city and your favourite Detroit icons?
Wow, great question. My fascination with Detroit icons started very young - Anita Baker is actually my godmother. So, I grew up around one of the most soulful voices in history. I think it’s incredible that Motown, Bob Seger; Eminem etc. all come from the same city. To me, that says so much about Detroit and its depth.
What is Detroit like for a young songwriter? Is its slight inner-city regeneration a positive sign?
I’ve lived in Los Angeles for almost three years now so I’m kind of ‘the outsider’ who shouldn’t comment on the state of the city. But, when I was growing up, I was pretty isolated as a songwriter. Right before I moved, some friends of mine bought a church in Corktown and turned it into a recording studio. The goal was to create a collaborative place for musicians to meet and work. Now it’s this full community of artists and songwriters and it’s absolutely beautiful. Progress like that contributes so much to positive regeneration.
Do you feel like there might be even more material coming later in the year?
Yes! It’s crazy to admit this but my first album has actually been done for two years now. People kept telling me to wait to release it and I listened for some reason. Now, people are asking why I still want to release it. You just can’t win. (Laughs). But, Sovereign is my baby. So, it’ll be out later this year. I’m also releasing a song called Paranoia on February 22.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
My favourite memory is probably working with JoJo. It was one of those moments where I had to be professional but my inner ten-year-old was absolutely freaking out. She’s the reason I started singing, so working with her and listening to her sing my lyrics was just surreal.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
In no particular order:
Breakaway – Kelly Clarkson
I learned to sing from this album! When I was eight-years-old, I would sing along to Since U Been Gone at the top of my lungs during every car ride with my mom. Kelly has been my vocal inspiration for as long as I can remember.
Born to Die - Lana Del Rey
This album changed my entire approach to songwriting. Lana sings poetry. Her music showed me that you can paint a story and create an entire persona through your lyrics.
Beatles for Sale - The Beatles
This album just brings me back to my childhood. I was raised on The Beatles.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I’d love to tour with any powerhouse female artist. Kelly Clarkson, Ariana Grande; Kelsea Ballerini -I’ll go any genre. That’s the goal. Are we talking dressing room rider? I’m pretty low-maintenance. I’d probably ask for a piano and a jar of peanut butter. (Laughs).
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Ugh. I’m a new artist coming through! (Laughs). I don’t feel entitled enough to give advice yet. But, I guess I’d say just do your thing. You will get so much unsolicited advice about your sound, your look and your choices. At some point, it will overwhelm you. Take it all with a grain of salt and follow your instincts. You don’t want to launch a career on a song you only half believe in. Do your thing.
Do you think there are going to any tour dates coming up?
I’ve wanted to tour since I was a little girl. So, yes, hopefully sooner rather than later.
IN THIS PHOTO: Lennon Stella
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I actually go to school in my free time: I’m majoring in political science. So, after a day in the studio, I come home and read about political theories. (Laughs). It definitely doesn’t help me unwind. But, I think the key to not burning out is achieving balance. So, on an ideal chill day, I’m completely unplanned. I’ll spend time with my friends. I love road trips. I love traveling. Going to the beach, hiking; playing the piano. Being spontaneous and creative is key.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
There’s a song called Janey by Foy Vance. It’s a few years old but it’s helped me repeatedly pull through heartbreak and grief. I’m sharing just in case anybody needs to hear it right now
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