Singer/songwriter Vanessa Carlton is looking to make a comeback this summer with the release of her latest album, “Rabbits On The Run,” under her new label, Razor & Tie. The Pennsylvania native, who was previously unsure of whether she should resume her music career or take up acting, is going back to what made her famous nearly a decade ago. Since the young age of 2, Carlton has always had a strong love for music. Whether it was playing Disney theme songs the piano, or listening to classic rock bands such as Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd, Carlton was always open to music.
While studying at Columbia University, Carlton signed with Interscope records. In 2002, she released her debut album “Be Not Nobody,” which was highlighted by the worldwide success of the hit single “A Thousand Miles.” The song peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and went on to garner Grammy nominations for “Record of the Year,” “Song of the Year,” and “Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist.” She also released singles “Ordinary Day” and “Pretty Baby” that year. Carlton toured with popular rock groups such as The Goo-Goo Dolls and Third Eye Blind to help promote her album.
In 2004, she released her second album, Harmonium, which was produced by Stephen Jenkins of Third Eye Blind. After splitting with A&M records due to underachieving sales and disagreements, Carlton signed with Universal Republic in 2007 to release her third album, “Heroes & Thieves.” With the help of the hit singles “Nolita Fairytale” and “Hands on Me,” the album was met with generally positive reviews, and peaked at number forty-four on the Billboard 200 charts.
Lately, Carlton has made appearances on high profiled television shows such as NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Today Show, E!’s Chelsea Lately, and TBS’ Conan to help promote her upcoming album, Rabbits on the Run.
In our exclusive interview with the soulful pop star, Carlton discusses several topics such as the inspiration behind her song melodies, what influences her to continue her music career, the connections made between her latest album and the novel “Watership Down,” her favorite albums and much more!
- Q: Some of your songs speak of independence and having the strength to just be yourself. Would you consider yourself a feminist? - Scott Sims
- A: In a way, yes. I think I define it in my own way. If you want to generalize, then yeah. I don’t like the label in general.
- Q: Will you ever release some of your unreleased songs? Such as All is Well, Morning Sting, and Ameriteen. - Angelo Giusti
- A: I don’t know. I gotta revisit those and figure that out. Maybe. Never say never.
- Q: How do you get the inspiration for your song melodies? Is it more of the process of experimenting at the piano or is it dependent on external influences? - Leonard
- A: You know, it’s just so difficult to articulate because it’s very special. I think in other art forms – if you’re drawing, it’s like why are you going to let your pen go there? Why do you want it to curve that way? Why do you want to shade it this way? You just want to. Sometimes melodies come when I’m at the piano because it’s all relative to what I’m piecing together with my fingers. Sometimes I just hear one note and my brain goes someplace else, weaving together. It’s a loom, like a melodic loom. That’s really difficult to articulate. I hope it doesn’t go away! I don’t think it’s going to; it’s been around for a while.
- Q: Your music is amazing, you use a lot of metaphors in your lyrics and I become excited when you release a new album, because your song writing grows more and more. My question is, where do you get the inspiration from whilst writing lyrics? - Ansley Pope
- A: With lyrics, I honestly spent so much time fleshing out and being so careful with these lyrics. Books and journals of poetry and stories—the most finely crafted approach I’ve ever had with lyrics. It’s really easy to just get, not lazy, but you fall into “well, I’ve been singing this way for so long, I should just to stay this way because it’s what I’m used to.” Or “this sounds good.” Sometimes you just go with something because it sounds good and that’s not the kind of record I wanted to make. Maybe the words synced well but if it’s not the most articulate or honest thing to say then don’t say it. I just wanted these lyrics to really be able to exist on their own, to be strong as their own element without the music Sometimes you peel the lyrics away from the music, it’s really weak writing. It’s a work in progress but I think I’ve gotten better over the years.
- Q: You have stated that you almost didn't do this record. Why is that? What will be the deciding factor if you do another record after Rabbits on the Run? - Richard Otter
- A: I’m not in the headspace yet to consider post-“Rabbits.” I’m completely immersed in this rabbit hole. So that answers the second question. Regarding the first question, I basically had slowly been moving away from making the types of records I really wanted to be making. I don’t want to undermine the work I’ve done. There are elements of myself in everything I’ve done. But as a whole, in terms of a body of work, I would get to the finish line on the record — you just end up with something you didn’t plan for. Not that that can be a negative. Sometimes those natural unfoldings of something you didn’t expect are really important. I just lost the blueprint, it wasn’t clear to me anymore. That’s my fault, that muddiness. When you set out, it’s so clear that kind of record of you want to make, you end up with something else. And I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I was extremely frustrated as to why that kept happening. I am the common denominator in that so I had to figure out how to fix myself and change my process completely. I realized that the only way I could make another record was to fix that. It came to be that this record came out of complete necessity. I realized that the standard was so high, and I just wasn’t going to make another record unless it was kind of the fantasy record, the fantasy blueprint.
- Q: You mention that "Rabbits on the Run" was inspired by the novel "Watership Down." Which character from the novel would you say that you identify with the most and why? - Michael Ceken
- A: I feel like Fiver and Hazel represent parts of the ego, they’re two sides of your self. They’re two ends of the spectrum, creating the whole. I think their relationship was supremely important to me and I see myself in both of them. I think we strive in the end to arrive where Hazel arrives, his moment of enlightenment. He would not have gotten there without Fiver’s nervous energy and antsy nature.
- Q: You tweeted about making a song called "Moneymaker" a while ago. What happened to this song? Why is it not on Rabbits on the Run? Will we ever get to hear it? - Andrew Kulp
- A: I think we started weaving on a different loom when we started arranging that song. It actually led me to things that may be an electronic project that’s on the horizon for Steve Osborne and I. I’ve never said that before but I’ll just put it out there.
- Q: Will you be coming to the UK for your autumn tour? A lot of people seek an answer to this question. - Jess Bromage
- A: I can’t imagine not. It would break my heart if I didn’t. I’m doing everything I possibly can to put something together so that it works, so that the model works. It would be weird for me not to go over there. This was created in England so I will be back.
- Q: Which of your albums is your favorite? - Erik Meers
- A: This one because it is the most honest through and through. There are moments on each record that I like a lot. This one as a whole is a flushed out body of work. Through and through, it is the most honest thing I’ve ever done. Also, I got more healthy as a person because of it. It was a catalyst for a complete restoration for me. So it had a huge impact on me in that way.
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