Before the performance I was lucky enough to interview Carolynne, a nicer, more down to earth lady you’ll never meet. She talked about her career, her upcoming album and her own particular style of country music.
So we’re here in London at the Zedel Brasserie. How excited are you about your upcoming performances tonight and tomorrow?
I’m very excited, but I get nervous before I go on. I don’t tend to get over-excited about the shows till I’m in the middle of it and I actually get more excited about the shows afterwards! I get nervous about the shows because I don’t always know what I’ll do during them, I’m a bit spontaneous and I like to be a bit animated. It might be a bit timid/different tonight though, as we have just the two acoustic guitarists. We wanted to do the acoustic shows because I get to tell a story and I love giving a bit of background as to how I got here. So it will be a background of why the songs were written and how they were written, making it more of an interesting and intimate show.
In terms of music, does anything beat performing in front of a live audience?
It depends what day of the week it is. One minute I don’t want to perform as I just want to be in the studio writing as I’ve got this song and I’m really into it. Then the next week I never want to listen to that song ever again and I just really need to be on stage. My other half might say ‘What’s that song, let’s play that one?’, but I never want to listen to my own songs as I can’t get into the emotion of it when I’m singing it if I’ve sat and listened to it. So when we were playlisted on radio 2 for example, I’d listen to the intro and then turn it off!
On Belles and Gals we recently featured your latest single “Take the Keys” which has a real upbeat country feel. I said in the review that it’s “perfect for listening to in the car with the windows down”. Tell us all about the song!
Well the song was a last minute one that we added to the album. Most of the songs on the album I have written myself or co-written, but this is one I didn’t write, but if I really like a song, especially if I feel that I could have written it myself, I’ll do it. The song was suggested by an A and R person at Sony Records at a time when we were speaking to them. I love the song, so we decided to record it anyway and we actually recorded it in about an hour. Because it’s a ‘feel good Friday’ song it really fits within the genre of my album. It was a good song to put out because it transcends between the country radio stations and the commercial ones. And yeah, it’s just a feel good, wind your windows down, weekend song!
I think what we are going to do is maybe do an EP from it and then release an album later next year when I come back from my honeymoon. With getting married soon, it’s been a bit of a hectic year, so I didn’t want to release the album, as it would have been hard to get the momentum going. I’ve worked really hard on the album and I want to be working and performing it live around when I release it.
Earlier this year you played the Brooklyn Bowl at C2C 2016, your third straight appearance at the festival. Tell us you’ll be appearing again!
I hope so, yeah, I really enjoyed performing there at the Brooklyn Bowl, such a good venue and such a good vibe. I’ve loved performing at C2C. I really enjoy the fact that there are ‘new’ country music fans there, because that’s really what I am. I’ve grown up with country music but I’m from Leeds, I’m not from Nashville, I’m not pretending to be a country artist, I’m a country influenced artist. So if that puts me in that bracket then perfect –I’m not at all trying to imitate the genre.
I went to Nashville, spent a lot of time there and thought I was going to record the album there and that was going to be it, but it actually had the opposite effect and made me want to come home and record the album here. They do it better and they do it better because that’s them, but to do the best for me is for me to be myself, which is a Yorkshire country influenced artist and do the music that I write and I’ve grown up with. I’m a country artist because my family are country nutters but I’ve also grown up with Kylie Minogue and Madonna and I listened to that when I was seven years old. I’m country pop/rock, I can’t sing about trucks and gasoline, I can’t write those songs. It made me feel very proud to have taken that influence back home and put it into my music – it’s not that music, but it has elements of that music in there. That’s why I like artists like Ward Thomas and the Shires – they’re doing their own thing, they’re very English and English country is brilliant.
In 2012 you appeared on the X-Factor and made it all the way to the live finals. That must have been some experience?
Yeah it was and I went into it with my eyes open, I didn’t think it was going to do anything like make me a superstar, I just thought as a country artist from the UK I was never going to draw as much attention to myself and my music than what I did on the show. I’m so proud that I managed to do that as a country singer and maybe it helped, one of so many little things, such as the show Nashville for example, that make people think, ‘yeah maybe I like country music’.
It was an experience and one that I treasure because it helped me step up the ladder and draw an English audience into my music, even though it didn’t quite go to plan! It was very tough and I wouldn’t say it was overall a very enjoyable experience but I did it for a reason, I don’t regret it and I would do it again.
After the X-factor you went on a tour of the US and took in Nashville, Los Angeles and Arizona. How did that influence the rest of your career?
Again, it made me realise I’m English. I love Nashville, I love the Americans and I love that music and the whole environment that is about music. In some ways I wish I was from there, but I’m not. So it made me realise, you know what, I’m proud of where I’m from. Everyone was so shocked that there was this Yorkshire bird singing in Nashville and they loved it and I loved it too and it was like yeah I’m English, I’m from Yorkshire. It was like I was flying the flag for it, rather than downplaying it. So overall, it reassured me that that was the way I wanted my music to go.
If you could describe your perfect gig, where would it be and who would you do a duet with?
I would love to do a gig at the Leeds Arena because that’s where I’m from. I’d love to fill it out with country pop fans that have been converted, that would be the ultimate gig for me. I’d really like to share the stage with Martina McBride because that is who I used to emulate when I was younger, loved her voice and I thought she was beautiful.
Which artists have influenced you over the years?
Different artists, pop, country and rock. My dad used to listen to the Eagles non-stop. I loved Bruce Springsteen, Martina McBride of course and Mary Chapin Carpenter – the songs that she sung and the way she added the funny story-telling, quirky aspect in there. Of course, I’d dance around to Kylie as well.
What started you off in your singing career?
I really don’t know, I honestly just feel that I was born with it. I fall in and out of love with music all the time. I love it and then I hate it, because it’s hard and it’s easy, then it’s good and then it’s bad and then it gives you pain and then pleasure. It’s one of those things that can hurt me, because it’s important to me. If you love something, you allow it to hurt you. It’s just in me and as long as I’m alive I’ll just be doing music because it’s who I am. That’s why they say ‘If you don’t completely and utter love it, just don’t come in, because you’re not going to win’.
There’s always going to be someone who likes what I’m doing and someone who doesn’t like what I’m doing, but as long as I just don’t try and follow the trends, it is what it is and luckily enough at the minute people are paying attention.
I ended the interview by congratulating Carolynne on her recent engagement to England cricketer David Willey and wished her luck for her upcoming wedding.