Follow Us on Twitter

Caitlin Rose - The IndieLondon interview

Caitlin Rose

Interview by Rob Carnevale

ACCLAIMED singer-songwriter Caitlin Rose talks to us exclusively about her full debut album, Own Side Now, and some of the inspirations behind the songs – as well as why she feels she’s graduated from her earlier Dead Flowers EP with honours!

She also talks about why she loves coming to the UK, her favourite live memory (which followed a mis-understanding about gum) and why she loves a good ‘cover version’ – but hates the term ‘cover’.

Q. Hi, we’re loving the new material here at IndieLondon. You must be incredibly proud of Own Side Now?
Caitlin Rose: To me, being proud of something means you wouldn’t change it even if you could and that’s a hard pill to swallow, but I’m happy with it and pleased with the response it’s getting.

Q. Following the success and critical acclaim that surrounded your excellent Dead Flowers EP, did you feel any pressure when approaching the album? It’s almost like you’ve reached that ‘difficult second album’ stage before time (if that makes sense!)…
Caitlin Rose: The only worry would be the change in style from DF to OSN and people preferring the former, which is something I would never want to recreate. I’m not all that proud of the EP, especially now in its third or fourth year of existence. That was pre-school. Own Side Now is Grade 8… at least.

Q. What inspired the songs on Own Side Now? And how does such honest, descriptive song-writing come to you?
Caitlin Rose: I burn a lot of bridges!

Q. A song like Own Side, for instance, is heartbreakingly sad (with lines like ‘who’s gonna take me home’)? What inspired that?
Caitlin Rose: Probably heartbreaking sadness.

Q. Likewise, the forthcoming single, For The Rabbits… it features some amazing lyrics based around a fractured relationship. What inspired those feelings, can I ask?
Caitlin Rose: That song was written about a friend of mine. It wasn’t my own personal relationship.

Q. Being big fans of The Big Apple anyway, we were particularly smitten with New York City – was that a fun song to write?
Caitlin Rose: It was so fun that I didn’t get it finished for two years. It took me two trips to NY to write one song about NY and I still haven’t even seen the Empire State Building.

Q. The country scene is one of the most vibrant music genres at the moment – in the US there’s you and Taylor Swift winning awards and acclaim. What appealed about the genre to you? And do you feel it’s an exciting time to be associated with it?
Caitlin Rose: I don’t feel all that associated with it. I do my own thing, not really vying for a coveted spot on the Opry. I wouldn’t look an honour like that or a gift horse in the mouth, but it’s two different worlds and that’s not something I would ever tear my hair out over.

Q. How much fun was it to duet with Rayland Baxter on Shanghai Cigarettes? It sounds like you had a blast!
Caitlin Rose: Rayland’s a lovely person to be around. Lovely voice, lovely songs, lovely smile. Affable.

Q. Who else would you like to duet with if you could pick anyone?
Caitlin Rose: I’m gonna try and keep it contemporary here. First off, I’ll say Conor’O‘Brien of Villagers, because he has a lovely voice and I quite like his new record. Secondly, I recently met Dylan Leblanc in London and decided that I’d like to duet with him based solely on his appreciation for dirty jokes and the fact that he got knocked out on his own mother’s front porch.

Caitlin Rose

Q. How was recording the album in Nashville and working with Mark Nevers?
Caitlin Rose: Nashville’s cool. Living, recording, whatever. Everyone plays better than me. Mark’s a badass. We ate at a lot of Subway and Meat & Threes and I gained 10lbs.

Q. You include strings in some of your songs. What makes a string arrangement such a wonderful accompaniment to a song?
Caitlin Rose: Strings have a lot of personality. It’s almost like another vocal sometimes. Some little frill can sound it’s turning a phrase and sound very human at times. I say the same thing about clarinets. They sound closest to a human voice. I don’t know why people don’t use them more in recording.

Q. When did you decide you wanted to become a singer and how easy was that dream to pursue?
Caitlin Rose: I haven’t decided anything. Dreams only defeat you. The more I want something, the less attainable it becomes so I just try to sing my songs as best I can and try not to think about the rest.

Q. What advice would you pass on to anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Caitlin Rose: Make better friends.

Q. What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve been given and the biggest lesson you’ve learned in getting to this point?
Caitlin Rose: Charlie Louvin told me not to light my own cigarettes because I’d lose my sex appeal. That’s not the easiest rule to follow.

Q. You’ve delivered some great cover versions – none more so than Dead Flowers from the Stones – are there any other songs you’d like to try?
Caitlin Rose: I’ve been covering Marie by Randy Newman lately. It’s one of my favorite songs to play. Love of My Life by Queen was one I’d recently thought of doing. I love covers, but I hate that word “cover”. What ever happened to “rendition”? No one writes standards anymore. It’s sad to me.

Q. Are you looking forward to your forthcoming UK dates? And what can we expect from them?
Caitlin Rose: I’m happy to be returning to the UK so soon after my departure. This feeling I get from touring is new to me and I suspect it has some addictive qualities. I don’t really want to go home because I’m not homesick. The only things I really miss are Mexican food and my family…. and not living out of a suitcase. There will be some seriously talented people one the road with me next round and I’m excited about playing with a band again.

Q. So, what do you like about the UK?
Caitlin Rose: Beans on toast, pub culture, real DJ’s on the radio, Jeremy Kyle… just kidding!

Q. What are some of your favourite live memories?
Caitlin Rose: At the Cargo show in London last week I found gum on my guitar and, after explaining this to the audience, some girl yelled out: “WE THOUGHT YOU SAID CUM.” It was very funny.

Q. Finally, what are the 10 tracks that are never far from your iPod players at the moment?
Caitlin Rose: Go Long – Joanna Newsom
Hazel – Bob Dylan
Ballad of the Absent Mare – Leonard Cohen
Pieces – Villagers
Fish&Chips – Chuck Berry
Someone to Lay Down Beside Me – Linda Ronstadt
Silent Kid – Pavement
It Never Was You – Judy Garland
But Not For Me – Chet Baker
Wish You Were Here With Me – Rick Danko from a ’88 liveshow in Cambridge, MA.
Clay Pigeons – Blaze Foley (that’s 11, sorry)

Read our review of Own Side Now