Interview with Caryn Lee Carter

Occasionally you come across a song from a new artist which is just delightful. That was exactly what I experienced when I heard ‘White Trash Without the Trailer” for the first time from Caryn Lee Carter. Having played it over and over I had to find out more and was fortunate enough to have a chat with Caryn just a couple of days ago!

Hi Caryn! You’ve just released the delightfully titled “White Trash Without the Trailer.” The song grabs you straight away and is full of character. We love it! Tell us all about it.

It makes my heart so happy to hear that y’all like it! That song was ridiculously fun to write. We wanted it to be very cheeky and sassy, which I think comes out in the track as well as the video. It’s just a great way to call someone out for thinking that they’re better than everybody else simply because they’ve got a little money in the bank or have fancy friends. When it comes down to it, a country girl is a country girl, and there’s no point in trying to hide your roots. 

For all those wondering, yes it’s written about a real person from my past! But I can’t tell you here, mostly because I don’t feel getting sued on Judge Judy. Come ask me in person at my next show and I’ll let you in on the secret.

The accompanying video is equally as good, where you portray two very different characters. It looks like it must have been a lot of fun to shoot?!

The video was INSANELY fun to shoot. We had such a great crew, from the director to the glam squad down to the sweet production assistants, and it all went really smoothly. Plus, a lot the extras are my friends in real life, so having them on set made the whole day even better!

 Probably the coolest part about it is that I got to put on a more traditional music video performance with the trailer scenes, but I also got to let loose and be really silly (i.e. got to drink pink champagne and twerk my little white girl heart out) when I played the party girl. It was the best of both worlds for sure.

My only regret is that I didn’t steal that trailer…

The song is part of your debut self-titled EP which was released just last Friday. How exciting is it have your own music out there?

Knowing that people are listening to something that started out as a spark of an idea in your head is really fulfilling. The best part about this release is having people tell me that they’ve got “White Trash” stuck in their heads! If my audience remembers a song AND they love it, I feel like I’ve done my job as a writer. I can’t wait to hear the response to the rest of the EP.

So tell us a little about how Caryn Lee Carter got started in the music industry. Has it always been country music?

My heart always has and always will be rooted in country music. I love all genres, but I don’t have a passion for anything else the way I do country. It’s in my blood. I was raised on a lot of Southern gospel and folk music along with 90s country, so it just feels like home any time I hear acoustic guitars or banjos or a twangy voice.

 I’ve been singing my whole life, but funny enough I didn’t start writing songs until a few years ago when an ex-boyfriend encouraged me to try my hand at it (Yes, an ex launched my musical career!). After that, I started playing shows all around Atlanta and writing and recording as often as I could. Four years later, I’m lucky enough to be releasing an EP that I’m really proud of and talking to sweet people such as yourself about it!

What effect do you think growing up in the South (Georgia) has had on your career?

Oh gosh, country music is just ingrained in you when you grow up in the south. It’s playing in the background of every restaurant or party you go to, it’s what you sing along to when you’re driving through town, it’s what you put on all your mix CDs (back when that was a thing).

 This genre is all about being authentic, so growing up as a southern girl in a small town means I can truly write what I know and not have to worry about whether it seems “real” or not.

And which artists have had the biggest influence on your career?

I’m a 90s kid, so artists like Jo Dee Messina, Tim McGraw, Shania Twain, and the Dixie Chicks had a huge impact on me. My aunt actually taught me to harmonize using SHeDAISY and Dixie Chicks songs. The songwriting style of that era really shaped me, and I think you can hear that throwback vibe in this EP.

 Currently I’m inspired by Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves because they’re such stellar songwriters in addition to being incredible performers.

Tell us a little about your songwriting process. Is it words or music first, or do you not have a set method? Do you prefer writing alone or in a co-write?

Most of the time I like to start with lyrics — a cute one-liner or a good title. I keep a running list of lyric ideas on my phone, and then when I have time to write I just read through and see what strikes me that day. I’ll start strumming my guitar to figure out what feeling I’m going for, and it all kind of takes off from there.

I used to like writing alone, but nowadays I honestly prefer cowrites. Maybe it’s because I’m more confident in myself as a writer now, and I’m no longer scared to throw out half-finished ideas? I’m not sure. Magic happens when you’ve got a good collaboration going, though. It really improves the final product when you’ve got other people to feed off of who can contribute a whole new point of view to a project.

What has been the highpoint of your music career so far?

I was lucky enough to sing at the Bluebird Café earlier this year, which is always a bucket list item for up-and-coming songwriters! Fingers crossed that’s just the beginning.

If you could choose the perfect gig – where would it be and who would you do a duet with?

Vince Gill at the Ryman. Bonus points if he could get the Eagles in on it! (R.I.P. Glenn Frey)

To finish, tell us about your plans for the coming weeks and months!

Right now we’re focusing on getting the “White Trash Without the Trailer” video out to as many people as possible (Share, share, share!) and also working to secure some radio play for a few of the other tracks on the EP. I’ll be back and forth between Atlanta and Nashville doing shows and interviews as well, and hopefully you’ll be hearing a lot more from me very soon!

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