Interview with Erin McCarley
(Here's my most recent piece for NoiseTrade.)
Alt-pop songstress Erin McCarley just released her incredible new album My Stadium Electric earlier this month and she’s celebrating with an infectious 4-song EP, Boys’ Club Live. Featuring 3 stripped-down acoustic versions of songs from My Stadium Electric (“What I Needed,” “Elevator” and Rearrange Again”) plus a cool non-album bonus cut (“The King and the Cat”), Boys’ Club Live showcases even more of Erin’s knack for smoky melodies, clever lyrics and stirring vocals. It’s always nice when an artist’s talent shines even brighter as the sonic layers are pulled back to reveal more and more of themselves. While Boys’ Club Live absolutely has a great vibe on its own, it works even better as a companion piece to My Stadium Electric. So think of it as “My Stadium Acoustic” and make sure to grab them both!
Recently I was able to ask Erin a few questions regarding her new album, her new EP, song placement and how things have been since she moved from San Diego to Nashville.
NoiseTrade: Your new album, My Stadium Electric, feels a little grittier and more aggressive than your 2009 debut Love, Save the Empty, while still retaining your fantastic sense of melody and pop beats. Was this an intentional shift or just a natural progression in your songwriting?
Erin McCarley: It was both. The songwriting for this record had touring experience and performance in mind. I felt like I was shedding a few layers and breaking into a braver and more animated version of myself.
NT: While I always try to steer clear of the well worn, clichéd type questions… I’m genuinely curious about your album title. Where did My Stadium Electric come from and what does it mean for you?
Erin: The title stems from the lyric in the first song on the record, "Elevator". The stadium represents my inner core (mind/body/soul) and the "electric" was the energy of who I was allowing myself to become. A lot of walls came down between the making of these 2 records.
NT: Your NoiseTrade sampler features unique acoustic versions of some of the songs off of My Stadium Electric. Did these songs change or transform in any way when you rerecorded them in this more intimate style?
Erin: We recorded this EP live along with a video series up on YouTube called "The Boys' Club Live". It was a great experiment for us to strip these songs back and give the listener a closer look at how the song came about in the first place. We played softer which meant we had to carry the energy in different ways than the My Stadium Electric versions. The arrangements came to us very naturally. The songs speak for themselves. And I also decided to add a special song that didn't make it on the record (The King and the Cat) which I recorded separately in London last year. It seemed to really fit the vibe of this EP concept.
NT: I’m always fascinated with the concept of showcasing new artists via music placement in television shows and movies. With so many of your songs popping up in that visual medium (one in which you can’t control what images/moods it’s being matched up with), what has the experience been like for you from the “creative songwriter” side and then from the “artist that has to continually think about building an audience” side?
Erin: I don’t find anything creatively stifling about the TV and FILM world. I love the use of my music in that medium. I do have a say if I think it is a good creative fit so I’ve found that it's opened up more creative opportunities for my songwriting. Sometimes the song is picked after it's been written for a personal reason, and sometimes I’ve written specifically for a visual request. It’s a great way for people to connect to your music. TV and Film have become a bit of a universal A&R department in a way. They've found and given light to a number of really good indie artists.
NT: While you’re currently a resident Nashvillian, you started your musical journey in the Southern California. What’s been some of the most poignant similarities and differences between the San Diego scene and here?
Erin: Wow Nashville. What a scene it has become! When I was first in Nashville, I wasn’t sure I would be able to find my footing and my people. But over the past 5 years or so, the indie rock scene has lifted out of the fog. While living in San Diego, I isolated a lot. There was a small talented music scene there, but my support system at that time was the beach and a few local coffee shops that gave me my first chance to perform my own material. Here in Nashville, I feel like everyone's got my back. Friends that understand the highs and lows. And people that push me and make me want to be better.