By Lucy Harte
Two years after the release of her sophomore album The History of You, US-based singer-songwriter Callaghan returns to her native UK to promote her forthcoming EP The Other Side. Unknown Magazine spoke to Callaghan about her upcoming release, touring the UK and what else we can expect from her this year.
Your upcoming EP The Other Side has been described as having a more “cinematic” sound, how else does it differ from your previous releases?
I recorded my first two albums in Atlanta and Nashville. The second one definitely had some country influences on it, as you’d expect from Nashville. My new record was recorded in LA and has more of a pop sound with some big anthems, but still keeping the honest emotion of singer-songwriter. Having the opportunity to work with producers who are at the pinnacle of the film music industry gave me the opportunity to explore a sound that my songwriting has always leaned towards, creating tracks which draw the listener in, paint pictures in your mind and stir emotions.
What kind of influences inspired The Other Side, particularly the title track?
These songs are perhaps more personal than ever, with the lyrics touching on subjects such as the loss of a family member in “I Don’t Know How to Lose You”, or the experience of being in the UK for the EU referendum and the USA during the recent elections in “The Other Side”. Songs like “Surrender” offer raw emotion while “Solid Ground” is an uplifting anthem celebrating life and the people you share it with.
The title track “The Other Side” is a little more political than I have been in the past with my songwriting. I think it’s a reflection of the world we live in at the moment and the emotions it stirs up. I was in the UK for the referendum and in the US for the elections. What was clear to see in both countries was the level of anger and division between people. It seemed like some politicians were taking advantage of that anger by offering simple solutions to complex problems to further their own ambitions.
The song “The Other Side” is basically about that struggle and the hope that in the end we can pull together and live in as positive a way as possible to help each other.
Being based in the US for the last few years, how does it feel to be touring the UK again?
It’s always great getting to come home to the UK to tour. Even after having lived in the US for 7 years it still feels like coming home and I’m so thrilled that the last album had so much support from Radio 2 because it allows me to tour across the whole UK. I’m really looking forward to being back in York on Tuesday. The only problem with touring in the UK is the easy access to all my favourite chocolate and junk food that I eat far too much of when I’m on the road over here!
You’ve had a history of taking distinctive steps in your career, from tours hosted entirely at peoples’ houses to your current album, which will be released as three separate EP’s. What drives you to make these unique decisions?
I think that with the way the music industry has changed over the years, as an artist you have to be creative with ways to make a living from music and always be open to new ways of reaching an audience. There is so much music out there for everyone to access, so things like house shows and crowd-funding really help with building a strong fan base and also getting them directly involved with the music I’m making. I’m enjoying making EPs because it means I can keep writing and recording and put 4 songs I’m really proud of out there every few months.
On the subject of your upcoming EPs, will there be a thematic difference between The Other Side and its successors?
The idea of releasing the 3 EPs rather than one album is to give me the opportunity to experiment from one EP to another depending on the influences and experiences at the time of writing and recording over a longer period of time rather than all in one go.
I’ve already got an idea of the songs that will go on the next EP that I’ll be recording out in LA in August, but I’m excited to be writing with lots of different people and seeing what influences me. I feel like the EPs will all have a shared theme of human connection and emotions because that’s what I hope to capture in my songwriting – the shared experiences we all have and the stories from all our lives which make up what it means to be human.
What else can we expect from Callaghan in 2017?
I’ll be continuing to write and record the other two EPs for this series and writing lots with other songwriters in the UK and LA. I’m taking part again this year in the Buddy Holly Foundation Songwriters’ Retreat which is a week-long retreat where a group of songwriters get together and write all day every day. It’s a real treat getting to take time out from touring and be immersed in songwriting and get to write with some amazing people so I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes from that this year.
The Other Side is out 30th June
Click here to listen to a live recording of her single Surrender