Interview from Cale & the Gravity Well

When you decide it’s time to make a new single, is that more exciting or stressful?

Well I’m not really sure. The phrasing of that question seems to indicate that I would be approaching producing a single as a business decision. Like, it’d been too long without any content release, I need a single, I gotta write a single. That does sound stressful. But for the most part, that hasn’t been an issue yet. Unless you’re doing pop, which has a need for constant releases, or you’re much more visible than I am, I think you should create when you want to create. When that happens, I guarantee it will be both exciting and stressful. That’s just the nature of it. You’re invested in making something meaningful, something entertaining, something you’re ostensibly good at, and that also means that you’re constantly beleaguered by the idea that you can’t do it. Gotta do it anyways.

You write all of your own music; where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs and what’s your favorite part about the process?

Well a lot of the inspiration just sorta bubbles up from whatever happens to be going on in my life. There was a while there where I tried to write some third person more ballad-y type stuff but I just couldn’t make it work. I had a writing professor in college that was fond of saying “write what you know,” and I think that’s pretty good advice. That all being said, mostly I don’t choose what I write about. Often I’ll have like a nonsense phrase, or a melody with no words, and I’ll just do vocals takes of my singing gibberish until I hit something that resonates. After that it’s about following the threads; why did you sing that? What’s the deal with this phrasing? Is the melody too bland, too complex? My favorite part is the decorative stuff actually. Little details make all the difference in production. Just like no two productions of Hamlet are ever the same, despite having identical scripts, there are a million different ways to write the same song, all dependent on the arranging. It’s that kind of in-the-weeds, late stage tweaking that really gets me going.

What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town?

I was part of a folk singing group in college, and those are by far some of my most cherished musical moments. Almost all of my best friends are a part of that group, and we have get togethers several times a year, often with the undergrads still. It’s a magical thing, to be able to sing with a group of people who can all contribute to the same songs. I heard once that people in choirs have been shown to synchronize their heartbeats after they begin to sing, and I believe it, because the sense of community in that group, of connection, is so strong that in a lot of ways going ot those gatherings feels like coming home. I don’t know if I’d be doing this without those experiences.

How do you balance your music with other obligations in life? How does it get affected if so?

At the moment I don’t have a day job, so luckily for me that’s not a huge obstacle. Which actually is becoming a bit of its own issue. One of the things I’ve come to realize about music making is that it’s a very time consuming and engaging thing, but it can’t be your only thing, at least for me. Musicians ought to be well rounded, interesting people, and that might mean not spending every minute of your time writing and playing music. So really now my problem is bringing it back into balance, as you say.

What is your favorite song to sing live?

Of any song? Scar Tissue by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Of my own songs? Lions and Tigers. It’s in such a comfortable spot for my vocal range, and there’s a lot of meat there.

Do you have any events coming up or recording going on right now aside from the newest record release?

Yes indeed! I am working on an EP that is like 80% finished. Got some vocal tracking to do, some mixing, some album artwork, and bam! New release! So be on the lookout later this summer!

At what age did you start singing and what inspired you?

I don’t know really. I just always sang. And not because I was “inspired,” because frankly, not every piece of artistic outpouring has to be from a place of uncontrollable creative vision, but because I could sing in key. That’s a big deal for a kid, because it means you get positive feedback, so you do it more. And because you do it more, you get better, and so on and so forth. You come to love it later, I think, once you understand it a little more.

How easily do songs tend to come to you?

Depends on the song. Occasionally they will come fully formed, in all their glory, just waiting for me to go through the necessary motions of instrumentation. Mostly though I’ll have a verse, or I’ll have a chorus part, and the rest of the songwriting process will be a series of lurching steps towards the end result. Irritatingly I’ve started doing this thing where I’ll hallucinate full songs in vivid detail right before I fall asleep. If I can wake myself up in time and get to my phone, I can maybe sing part of it, but the details and the overall feeling always slips away. So I have a bunch of drowsy, mumbly melody lines in my voice recording app on my phone, and who knows if they’ll ever actually be anything?

If you had a soundtrack to your life what song/songs would have to be on it?

Ooooh good one. It would start and end with L’Estaci dell’oro, by Ennio Morricone, and I think the middle would be made up of Hey Ya, by Outkast, Built to Roam, by Shakey Graves, Australia and New Slang by The Shins, Dress by Sylvan Esso, Rabbit Song by Boy and Bear, Summertime by Doc Watson, and Blue Smoke by Merle Travis.

For our readers who have never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words?

Fire at the CCr concert