Having recently introduced you to rising country artist Callista Clark, who at 17 year old has already been signed to Big Machine and released her debut EP “Real To Me” (https://www.bellesandgals.com/2021/02/14/callista-clark-releases-debut-ep-real-to-me/) it was great to get the chance to chat to the Georgia-based singer/songwriter/multi-intrumentalist. The interview is such an interesting insight into this talented and level-headed young lady, I hope you enjoy our conversation and if you haven’t already done so that you check out her impressive music.
1. LH Hi Callista, and thanks for your time today! I assume you’re speaking to me from Georgia?
CC Yes, I’m at home in my music room…and thank you, I’m very appreciative!
(we were chatting via zoom, btw, and there was an impressive array of stringed instruments hanging from the walls behind her!)
2. LH Congratulations on the recent release of your EP ” Real To Me”… and of course getting signed to Big Machine so early on in your career! You must be thrilled with all the amazing comments and reviews… or are you the type that doesn’t read them and just powers on with things?
CC It’s a little bit of both! I try to focus just on myself, my content and try to stay updated on all my socials, I try not to look at certain things, you know! But obviously I really appreciate all the positive comments that everyone has been putting everywhere. I know I have a lot of fans who have really been waiting on this for so long, so I’m just super excited that I finally got to say “here it is!!”.
LH I bet you are… some of the songs were written (and recorded?) a few years back I think?
CC I actually recorded these songs this past Summer, but I did write them a while ago.
3.LH And talking of writing, I gather your first song written aged 11 was a result of your Mom encouraging you to put music to a self penned poem… but even without her doing that, were you destined to write songs at some point in your life do you think?
CC Yes, it was a school poetry contest and I wasn’t thinking anything of it. I knew I liked writing in school but I never connected it to the song thing. My Mom had been writing songs for church, so when she read it she just knew …and she was the first person I ever wrote a song with!
4. LH But even without her supporting and encouraging you like that were you destined to write songs at some point in your life do you think?
CC I do! It was really hard for me at first because I was super shy and really reserved, and it was really hard for me to share my stories. But the older I got and the more I did it I felt “OK, someone out there needs to hear this, I just have to do my job, play it and see what happens ” .
LH And look what HAS happened, wow!
5. LH Your appreciation for a variety of musical genres is evident in the covers you’ve posted on youtube and also comes through in your own music… but what is it about country music in particular that resonates with you?
CC Country music is storytelling. You know, for me it really depends on the song. I try to have the mentality that whatever I’m writing that day I just go in, and some of them end up more on the R’n’B/soul side of things and some more on the straight up 90’s country kind of thing. You know it’s just so much fun to be able to create music like that, whatever you’re feeling that day.
6. LH The co-writers on your EP reads like a who’s who of Nashville’s finest. Had you done much co-writing before and what did you learn from working with these incredible people?
CC The only person I’d ever written with was my Mom. And I didn’t know what i was doing, I just went in and was like “OK, if i’m going to do this I need to be honest, real, say what I’m feeling and not hide anything. open it all up and see what happens!“. My very first co-writes ever were “Real To Me” , “Change My Mind” …just all the songs on this EP you know! It just happened that way!
LH ( jaw drops) Wow!!
7. LH And what was it like stepping into the studio and hearing your songs come to life… I know you’re a multi instrumentalist, so did you have any of your own ideas when it came to the arrangements?
CC I did, and a lot of the tracks on this collection were really developed already in the first demo stage so I kind of had a good idea of what was going to happen. Usually when i have and idea for a song I know how I want it to sound or whatever vibe I’m looking for that day. So with those, we pretty much what we were going in to do and it just happened. And my producer Nathan Chapman really got it, he just understood the whole project and I really didn’t have to say much. If I had an idea, he’d do it times a million!!
8 LH You have already nailed the art of writing very relatable songs that so clearly come from your own experiences and feelings, as you explain in the title track… is writing your therapy and how do you hope your music will help others in similar positions?
CC It is like therapy, and something that’s just necessary for me to process things. I try to be as honest as I can and that was a really big goal of mine, and hoping that someone will think “Oh I felt that way too“. I really hope that people relate to it. I wanted it to not matter about your age, that’s something so special to me about ” Real To Me”, saying it doesn’t matter how old you are, everyone feels things and it’s real I promise you no matter how old or young you are.
LH That track is my favourite from the EP I think because of that! Even if you’ve had your heart broken only once, it’s still a broken heart!
CC That’s it!
9. LH Are you worried that your friends, and people you date, will know that as a songwriter you may be analysing everything they do and say and it may come out in a song at sometime or other?
CC ( laughing) sometimes yeah! My guitarist picks on me sometimes, he is my age as well, and says ” don’t you ever write a song about me”!! My friends say that a lot and know it’s always a possibility… but that’s what happens if I’m trying to be honest and write about what’s really happening in my life .
10 . LH The lead single “It’s Cause I Am” impacts on US country radio next month where it’s notoriously tough for female artists… what are you thoughts in the run up to that?
CC So, I’m not sure we’re 100% on that one yet, everything’s been so equal. We though when we sent the EP out they’d be just one track that everyone went for and we’d go “that’s the song!” but they’ve all got great reactions.
LH That’s the problem when you write such good songs! That’s where you’re going wrong, you need to write some rubbish ones too!
CC ( laughing) Thank you!
11. LH And how do you juggle hobbies and seeing friends with your blossoming career? Do you get time to do anything outside of it?
CC Yeah, you know I really love thrifting so much, and fashion. I love designing… I can’t draw super well but I have designed a few outfits and then had them made. When I was little I thought that if I couldn’t ever get over my stage fright and shyness that I was going to be a fashion designer, or an interior designer… I just love being creative in any way!
12 . LH And are you planning to do any music related studies at college?
CC I’m not sure if I’m going to college, but we’ll see!
13 . LH How is the rest of 2021 shaping up for you, as much as plans can be made right now?
CC I don’t really know, honestly! I hope that I can come to see all of you and do some live shows and things get back to normal at some point, but we will see!
LH When you do play live is it you and a band, a more acoustic set up, what can we expect?
CC Before quarantine I did a lot of listening room type shows, where it was me, my guitarist and my drummer on a little cajon rig. rally intimate. I loved doing that because it was my time to test out the songs I was writing, see which ones people liked, and that really helped me decide I should go with these five songs first.
LH Listening rooms are my favourite venues too… I think when you come over to the UK you’ll find you get a lot of quiet, attentive audiences, we really do listen to music over here so i’m sure you’d enjoy that.
CC I can tell, even from the interviews I’ve been having. I’m so excited to visit you!
14. LH I’ve just got time for a few quick fire questions about your bucket list… let’s start off with your dream co-writer ?
CC Ryan Tedder, I’d definitely like to write with him soon. Or Hillary Lindsey.
LH Dream venue to play?
CC Okay, there’s a LOT!! I’ll just say The Ryman here, and there’s the O2, right? I’ve been hearing a LOT about it….
LH Yes that’s a massive arena here in London that ( usually!) hosts our C2C festival every March..a great goal to have!
LH Dream act to open for?
CC Dan and Shay. I’d love to sing with Shay too one day, oh my!!
LH So he’d be your dream duet partner?
CC That would be INSANE!!
LH Well, you never know, let’s put that out into the universe and keep everything crossed!
Thanks again, Callista, I’m so impressed with what you’ve achieved so far and I’m sure it’s just the beginning of a very exciting career. I hope we can actually get to meet in person at some point!
CC Yes, me too! Thank you so much!
Interview conducted by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)