SIDETRACK interviews: CARR
Edited by Letícia Lucena
For a while now the internet has been the best place to watch new artists rise. From Lana Del Rey’s "Video Games” to Billie Eilish’s “Ocean Eyes”, its platform for indie musicians has become essential, with thousands trying to get a song to spread everyday. And last week, one of them did.
Catfish and the Bottlemen fans were taken by storm when a song named after the band’s frontman came out. Every single stan could relate to it because of the lyrics that said: “Dear God, please make every man a little bit more like Van McCann, or just give me Van McCann, maybe then I would like boys again”. With the song being the main topic of conversation in the fandom for days, there were just one question left: Who was the angel-voiced singer behind it?
Carly McClellan, a film graduate from the east coast, is the one responsible. Going by the artistic name CARR (her childhood nickname, with an extra R at the end to look better), she had already released the song Strangers and its music video before her debut EP 8th Ave came out on September 6. With the video for Van McCann (Boys) coming out just a few days ago, we saw more of her retro aesthetic and fun side, also displayed in the song itself.
We got to talk to her and show why she is one of the coolest girls you’ll ever meet. Check it out:
SDTK: First of all, congratulations on your EP! You have a bright future ahead. How is the reception being so far?
CARR: Thank you so much! The reception has been amazing. It’s only been out for a few days now and I’ve gotten so much love and support from people... I’m really grateful for it. It’s a cool feeling when someone reaches out and says that they feel exactly how i felt or went through a similar experience. I also had a few people reach out saying that a song made them cry or it reminded them of someone special and I’m like: "I’m sorry I made you cry but I’m glad you felt something".
SDTK: You are very secretive on social media, there are few things about your personal life we can get from it - besides you being a virgo (which I love, by the way). So how did you start making music? When did you decide that this was something you would officially pursue?
CARR: Hah virgos are the best! I definitely keep it mysterious and don’t put it all out there. I actually hate social media, I find myself so much more at peace when I’m not on it at all. If I didn’t like interacting with people that liked my music, I don’t think I’d be on at all so I try and limit it when I can. I've been on it a lot since this release because I try and answer everyone that’s reached out to let them know how much I appreciate the support. It really means a lot to me. I only started making music very recently which is kind of crazy. My mom has always predicted I’d be a writer though, because when I was a kid I had tons of journals filled with all of these made up stories. I was always writing and creating stuff. I ended up going to college for film, so once I was finished I moved to LA from the east coast to pursue that.
Once I got to LA, I met someone who was really frustrating, and I’d find myself sitting at the piano in the house I was staying, writing all of these songs about him. It came easy to me somehow and it was really therapeutic and enjoyable so I wanted to explore it and learn more. I ended up getting an internship at a small recording studio where I would actually clean for them in exchange for sitting in on sessions and learning. I was like Cinderella at that place, I really started at the bottom. I remember feeling extremely insecure at one point, because everyone I would meet would tell me that they had been working at this forever and had been writing music since they were kids, and there I was in my early 20's just trying to get started. It was hard, but it made me really fall in love with everything that goes into making music, and I knew I wanted to go for it. I left that internship and got a job at a bigger studio and from there I just met a lot of music friends, one who was Jimmy Keeley who created the EP with me.
SDTK: Listening to your songs we can get this feeling of heartbreak, being in love and even being tired of love. Where do you get your inspiration from? Is it all from your own life experiences?
CARR: I actually thought I just wanted to write for other people, until last year when an important relationship ended. It was with someone that I really loved and connected with, so I was beyond devastated when that was over. I was really sad and I started writing all of this music that felt too personal to give to anyone else. It was really scary at first, but I was like: "OK, I’m going to go for it and start sharing my own stuff because this is my story".
I wish I was someone who could put myself in someone else’s shoes and write a song but I’m not. I draw everything from 100% my own experiences, everything is really real and personal. I try to be as honest as possible and I think that’s why people can feel it. I’m still trying to get comfortable opening myself up that much to the world.
SDTK: Talking about inspiration, which artists would you say impacted more your musical and writing style?
CARR: Ohhhh that’s a hard one. I listen to so many different types of music. I would say for writing I don’t really draw inspiration from anyone but myself. In reguards to sound, I think I relate to Billie Eilish’s darkness that she brings to her music. I’m also into Clairo's Lo-Fi style, I’ve been loving her new album that she dropped in August. However, my favorite artist at the moment is probably King Princess. I think she’s underrated and I love her and her stuff.
SDTK: You already made videos for two of the songs in the EP: Strangers and Van McCann (Boys). They both have a similar aesthetic, so how was the process of making them from the inicial concept to the finalization? When you write your songs do you already know how you want the video to be like?
CARR: I’m a really visual person, and I absolutely love the process of creating a video to tell the story of the song. Before the songs are even finished, I usually know exactly what I want to do for the video. For Strangers, I knew exactly what I wanted to do really early on, and same with Van McCann. I make sure I work with friends that really get my vision and can bring it to life as best as possible.
SDTK: We have to talk about Van McCann (Boys) because I think I never felt more represented in a song! When you wrote it were you scared of the reaction of his fans? Was there anxiety in the fact he might listen to it?
CARR: Haha I'm glad you can relate. It’s funny, I originally got the idea because living in LA, most of the guys here try SO hard. They always push how successful they are or who they know in the industry, and at the end of the day I could care less about all that. I know there’s lots of girls here that go crazy for that image but I’m not one of them. I crush on Van because he seems not to care about that stuff either, he just seems like an effortlessly cool guy which is why the comparison was solid. When I pitched the idea to my producer, I was thinking there’s no way he’s gonna be down for making this song... It’s so random, and there’s still many people that don’t know who he is here in America. Surprisingly, he was down for it because it showed a side of me so different from the other songs on the EP. It's quirky and fun, and it was the funniest song to write too, I had to record it so many times because I’d just start cracking up. We drank mimosas and googled fuck boy starter pack memes and we just laughed for hours.
In regards to the fans reactions, oh yeah I was freaking out. I was so overwhelmed and I had the worst anxiety ever when it started circling the fandom so fast. I didn’t realize it would generate that big of a social media buzz and I wasn’t prepared for it at all. His fans have been so amazing though, I’m really lucky. They’re honestly so cool and supportive, I wanna be friends with all of them. They really got the humor in it too which I appreciated. The haters were tough for me in the beginning but I learned not to pay attention or care, not everyone is going to like me and my music and that’s OK. I didn’t have any anxiety of him hearing it, the only thought I had was that if he does hear it I hope he thinks it’s funny and I hope I don’t get sued.
SDTK: Is relating to people one of your goals when writing? What do you expect people to get from your music?
CARR: I really write for myself and exactly what I’m feeling or dealing with at the time. If other people can relate to my experiences and feel the same way, that’s the ultimate goal. I want people to hear my music and feel something, you know? I also know the other side of things too... When you find a song, and it just really clicks with you as if you could have wrote it yourself. That’s a cool feeling.
SDTK: 8th Ave is your first release, so you must’ve worked really hard on making it the best it could be. What was the process of finding people that would help you like? When did you start working on it?
CARR: Yeah, it feels like it’s been a journey for sure. I think as a new artist the biggest struggle is finding someone to work with that understands your style and can bring it to life. Me and Jimmy just vibe really well. He got me and my sound and was able to produce what I wanted. We have a good friendship too, and we just find that we make good music together. I’m painfully a perfectionist as well, and he deals with me and handles everything with such ease. We worked on the EP for probably like 8 months. We had a lot of songs that were good, but just didn’t really get to the place I wanted them to, or just didn’t feel as special to me. There’s a few that I think still have some potential if we work on them and those could possibly make the next project.
SDTK: And finally, what are your plans for the future? Can we look forward to music videos for the other songs on 8th Ave or are you already working on new music, perhaps an album?
CARR: I’m really excited for the future. I’m always writing when I feel the inspiration, so I’m sure I’ll be back in the studio very soon. Right now I'm in the process of working on the Ready Yet video, so hopefully that will be out soon. I have a cool vision for this one and I’m actually producing and directing it on my own. This song is probably the most special to me for some reason, so I really want to bring all those feelings to life in the video. As far as future projects, an album would be the ideal situation, that would be a dream. But for now, I can’t wait to start playing these songs live at some smaller shows around LA. I’m happy that I have people supporting my EP, because Its really all just getting started.
Check out CARR's debut EP, 8th Ave below: