"We have been pegged as just another married duo who's expected to write cheesy love songs but honestly, we've always seen ourselves as a band that won't be pigeon-holed" We chat with Carolina Story
Their second album came out in October and they've recently released some festive music, so we thought it was a good time to chat with Carolina Story about the making of Dandelion and what else they're up to.
Hey Ben, Emily, how’s your day going?
So far so good. We're a little worn out from yesterday's 15 hour drive but doing well on our end.
So... bit of context, where are you right now?
We're in South Dakota visiting Emily's family for Thanksgiving. We haven't seen them in almost a year since we've all been laying low with everything going on. Everyone got tested and results were negative so we deadheaded it here from Nashville with just a couple stops for gas and food.
Tell us a bit about you, what do you do for fun?
Well, we've been married for 11 years and have two beautiful kids. Ben wears his heart on his sleeve and knows no stranger. Emily is a little more reserved but is as loving and as loyal as they come. We both enjoy spending time outdoors, hunting, fishing, camping, hiking. Ben's really into following sports and Emily enjoys painting and doing other artistic things in her down time.
You released your second record earlier this year, what can you tell me about Dandelion in two sentences?
We poured everything we had into it and then some. It's the best representation of the sound we've heard in our heads and have been trying to convey so far.
Which was the first song that you wrote that made the record? And what’s the background to it?
Well, there were a couple of songs that we had written earlier in the process that fit into this theme that we ended up recording, but the first song we wrote specifically for the record was 'Dandelion'. Once that was written, the path forward from a thematic standpoint became clear. It was written with a good friend of ours and multi-instrumentalist, Justin Schipper. We wrote it during the immigration and border crisis. It set us down a road of writing character-driven songs and about the struggles and triumphs of everyday people. Some autobiographical, some not, some a little in-between.
If I only had enough time to listen to one song on the album that encapsulates you guys as a band right now, which would you recommend?
That's a 50/50 toss up between 'Dandelion' and "See You When I See You".
If you had to pick out one difference in you as a band, or in your sound, from Lay Your Head Down to Dandelion what would it be?
Our producer, Paul Moak, really drew a lot more out of us than I think we even knew we had in us. He pushed us but in the most gentle way. We really progressed not only from a songwriting standpoint but also broadened the scale of our sound. We leaned more into our various influences on this project. There are many more epic moments on this album than the last but there are also some tender, one take, all-acoustic moments. More of a broad stroke across the canvas than one focused dot with the brush, so to speak. Also, we made it a point for Emily to take the lead more. Sorry, that's more than one.
You’ve released a couple of seasonal songs, what can you tell me about them?
We gathered with the same players and same producer from Dandelion for these two songs. We wanted to record 'Christmas Time Is Here' from Charlie Brown Christmas and give it more a psychedelic treatment and wanted to keep the haunting unison vocal. With the original song, 'New Year's Eve', we wanted to write a unifying letter to everyone out there who've had a tough 2020, which encompasses just about all of us. It's a letter to a friend, urging them to keep hanging on in that "it's always darkest before the dawn" kind of way.
Tell me about Nashville, the good, the bad, the best place for a coffee?
Nashville has changed a ton in the 10 years or so that we've called it home. Some ways good, some ways not so good. Our wish is that it never gets too big for its britches and remembers to hold on to the things that make it unique. One of the biggest appeals about Nashville is that it's a true melting pot of all types of people. There's also just so much talent around every corner and is home to the greatest songwriters and musicians in the world, in our humble opinion. We're not really coffee snobs so there's no shortage of options. If you want to sit with a newspaper, drink some joe and people watch, Fido is our go-to spot.
I usually ask, what have you got planned for 2021, assuming things become slightly more normal!
We definitely hope to get back to touring and to finally be able to take the new album on the road. In the meantime, we've got plans to continue writing and to put a new record out in 2021.
Diversity generally, and gender specifically, have been talking points in country music for a good while now, what’s your experience of being treated differently as a mixed gender band?
We definitely think we've been given more opportunity because there's a male in the band. It's pretty obvious that if you're a person of color or a female that you have a tougher hill to climb and that's extremely unfortunate. Especially within a genre that prides itself on being so community-oriented. We have been pegged as just another married duo who's expected to write cheesy love songs but honestly, we've always seen ourselves as more of a band that won't be pigeon-holed into what others expect us to be.
If you could recommend one artist to hear this week, who would it be?
Anything and everything from Brandi Carlile.
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
Dogs or cats?
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
Ben takes his piping hot and black as night. Emily enjoys the seasonal and if it's just a regular coffee, with a little french vanilla cream.
To find out more about Carolina Story you can visit their official website or check out what they're up to on Twitter and Facebook. You can buy dandelion from Bandcamp or stream from the usual (Tidal below).