I'm not sure if I would have the courage to leave everything and everyone I know behind and move across the world the way singer/song-writer, but Callaghan did. She took a risk and moved across the world to make her debut album with one of her inspirations. She shared her story with me for Musiqtone, about how she made that tough decision, if she would do it again, and what's to come with her debut album.
Hailey Sager: Will you please introduce yourself and tell us more about you?
Callaghan: Oh sure, yeah, my name's Callaghan and I came over to the States in 2010. Originally I'm from the UK, from Lincolnshire, which is about a hundred miles north of London. And I've been doing music pretty much all of my life, but more of a serious career kind of thing since I was about sixteen. I got in touch with Shawn Mullins through Myspace in 2009, I was a big big fan of his. I knew that he had produced a lot of material. So I emailed him not really thinking that he would see the email, but I thought, 'oh what the hell, I'll give it a shot.' And he wrote back and said, that he loved my music and wanted to work together. So I ended up moving over here [to Atlanta, Georgia] and recorded my album with him, which has just come out on May 1st. Now, I'm touring all over the US in support of the album and having a great time.
HS: You reached out to one of your inspirations, Shawn Mullins to work with. What was the story behind that? Did it work out right away or did it take time for him to decide to work with you?
Callaghan: It was pretty instant I think. From sending the email it took about two weeks to get a reply, but from the moment that we actually connected, he was really set on wanting to work together. Obviously it was kind of difficult logistically because I still lived over in London, at the time. And I was kind of unsure if I wanted to leave everything behind and go and take this massive risk and leave my job, friends and family and all of that. So I came over for a couple of weeks in 2009, and I met him and we recorded three songs together as kind of a trial to see how we worked together. I just felt that he instantly got what I was doing and his style of production fit my songs perfectly. He really helped bring kind of my vision of what I wanted my first album to be. He really helped bring that to life. It's been fantastic getting to work with him and also getting to tour with him. I've learned a lot, definitely over the last couple of years.
HS: That's amazing that you were able to work with your inspiration like that.
Callaghan: Yeah, yeah, I mean it's fantastic! Sometimes I look back and think, 'I've just recorded an album with someone that I've listened to for the last fifteen years,’ yeah it's kind of crazy.
HS: Who are some of your other inspirations that you would love to work with and would you go about asking them the same way?
Callaghan: [Laughs] I would love to, I guess one of my biggest inspirations is Elton John. I've been a huge Elton John fan for a long time. I taught myself the piano when I was about thirteen or fourteen and I did it from an Elton John book. I learned a lot of his songs and I would just play them back by ear. I've been listening to him for ages, but I don't know if I would be as lucky the second time around, messing someone again. But, I know that he has a house in Atlanta, so you never know maybe one day I'll just bump into him at a Starbucks or something.
HS: Right, anything can happen!
HS: You packed up and moved to America from England, how did you make the decision to do so and leave everything behind?
Callaghan: Well it wasn't an easy one, definitely the friends and family thing is the most difficult thing. But it was too much of an opportunity to pass up. I had this amazing producer that wanted to help me make my album. And I knew that the American music scene was more suited to this type of music that I do well anyway, rather than the British market. It was something that I was thinking about for a while. That I wanted to come over here and just explore and play music over here. When the whole plans started coming together and I could come over here to play shows and record with Shawn Mullins, I mean I was like it would be crazy to pass that up. I was like 'you only live once, so you have to grab these things when they're available.
HS: Do you plan on going back to England anytime soon to tour or do you plan on sticking it out in America for a longer period of time after your new tour.
Callaghan: I would like to go back to the UK and do some more touring at some point, but at the moment because this country is so vast, it's keeping me very busy touring over here. So I don't want to stretch myself too thin hopping between the two countries. So at the moment, I am really enjoying touring around a lot and I've done about four tours with Shawn and now I've started touring with other people as well like Steve Forbert and Matthew Sweet and Griffin House. You know, I'm enjoying going back to the same places and seeing audiences build and that kind of thing. So, I still feel like I have a lot to do here. I'm just enjoying getting on the road and getting to play for people.
HS: Yeah, I've heard that Texas is three times the size of the UK and that's just one American state so you definitely have a lot to do here.
Callaghan: Yeah, exactly! It's amazing the scale of it. When you've lived in the UK all of your life and something is two hours away you think 'oh that's so far. And then you come here and one of the journeys of the tour with Shawn last year, we had to drive from New Jersey back to Atlanta in one go and it was 936 miles. So I googled what the end to end of the UK was and it was 930 miles. And I was thinking, no one in their right mind would drive that distance in one day. But, I'm getting use to it.
HS: You've been in America for a few years now, is there anything you still don't understand about our culture compared to British culture?
Callaghan: Hmm I can't think of anything, I guess it's because we get so much of American TV and American culture over to the UK. So there's a lot of stuff that we're familiar with. I guess the food has taken a little while to get use to. Like the food in the south, I've eaten a lot of grits. It took me a while to learn to like them. But no I've had a really great welcome from everybody. Everyone I've met has been really fantastic and encouraging of what I'm trying to do. So yeah they make me feel very welcome over here and I'm very appreciative.
HS: Your hit song, Best Year, is an inspiring song for all of us to just live our lives to the fullest. What has been your best year thus far? And why was it, is it your best year?
Callaghan: Well I guess last year, well I don't know actually. It's difficult, because I feel like I don't want to already have had my best year. I keep thinking that last year and making the album and getting to tour was just phenomenal because I've never done it before on that kind of scale and I had so many new experiences last year. That's going to be a very difficult year to top. But I'm confident that my absolute best year, I don't know what it would be but I'm confident that it is still to come because there is still so much more that I want to do like more touring and seeing more people coming out to the shows. I'm hoping that the word is spreading with people coming out and going home and telling their friends to come to shows. So I think there is still plenty to come.
HS: Tell us about Life in Full Colour, did you have the songs written before the move or did you write some of them through your journey?
Callaghan: It's a mixture of both. I mean some of them are quite old songs on there and some of them were written last minute right before the album was put together. I wanted it to be kind of a balanced album of up tempo songs and slow songs and happy and sad. Hopefully when someone listens to those songs they get taken on a journey through those ups and downs and different emotions that you would experience in life. So there were new songs I wrote, like Best Year and um just doing this whole thing and packing up and coming over here takes such a big risk. It definitely opened my eyes to what's possible when you take a chance like that and go after one of your dreams. But there was definitely a mixture of different songs and a couple of songs that I wrote with Shawn on there as well.
HS: What is your favorite song to play live?
Callaghan: Best Year is a really fun song to play live. It has such a good energy and the audience really gets into it. A lot of the time people come up to me after the show and tell me about something that they've been putting off or wondering what they should do and deciding that they're actually going to do it. Like the other day someone emailed me and said that they are going to go around the country on their motorbike and just travel the country for a year. And I thought cool, why not! I kept hearing all of these things people were telling me so I set up this thing on my Facebook page where people can tell me what their best year would be and we've had a lot of really good responses to that.
HS: Yeah, I saw some of your responses to that it is really cool!
Callaghan: Yeah, a lot of people want to travel I think.
HS: What is your favorite city to play now that you have a few tours under your belt?
Callaghan: There are a lot of favorites for different reasons. There's a place in Illinois. Evanston, Illinois has a venue called Space, it has fantastic sound and it has some of the best pizza I've eaten as well. So it's not always just the music really but the whole experience, the people that work there really love me as well. But I mean there's loads of them. But obviously in Atlanta my home venue is Eddie's Attic. That was where I got my first show when I moved here. Eddie Owen has always been a supporter of mine. I'm doing a couple of shows actually on Memorial Day weekend. On the 25th at Eddies Attic and then with Shawn's full band on the 26th in Duluth, Georgia at a new venue called Red Clay Theatre! But yeah, I'm looking forward to that and I always love discovering new venues and playing new places and meeting the people that run them as well.
HS: Justin Bieber got his start at Eddie's Attic when he first started playing in America as well, so you never know where it could lead you.
Callaghan: Yeah it's amazing to look back and see all of the people that have played there, like John Mayer, and obviously Shawn Mullins, and I hope that that thing continues.
HS: If you could play one venue in the entire world where would it be? And who else would be on the bill with you?
Callaghan: I would really love to try, I don't know which one it would be but, one of those huge big stadium shows. I went to O2 Arena in London a couple of years ago. I don't know how many people it holds, I think like 50,000 or something like that. But with the costume changes and the dancers and the lights and all of that. I think it would be so much fun. Yes, I would love to try that someday! It's going to take me a little while to build up my audience, but why not! I think it would be awesome. I think I would have Coldplay on the bill and maybe Lady Gaga, that would be an interesting mix.
HS: Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans before we go?
Callaghan: They can get my single Best Year for free on my website which is www.Callaghansongs.com and look out, I'm doing loads of touring in the next couple of weeks. Philadelphia, DC, New York and up in Portland and Seattle as well. So, keep an eye on my Facebook page for all of the tour dates.
HS: Thank you for taking the time out to speak with us at Musiqtone!
Callaghan: No, thank you! And thanks for the lovely review of my album as well.
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