Vanessa Carlton: “Sometimes I just have to get the melodies out.”

Photo by Brantley Gutierrez

We talk with Vanessa Carlton regarding her new album Rabbits on the Run and how she manages to stay centered amidst the chaos of the music industry.


[By Monica Melrose, November 21 2011]

Q. Your new album Rabbits on the Run was released this past July 2011. I’ve read that you credit “Watership Down” by Richard Adams as a big inspiration for the album. Can you elaborate?

Vanessa: I didn’t realize how interwoven into my childhood Watership Down was until a few years ago.  Reading the book as an adult was mind blowing.  Whatever I connected with as a child to the animated film has exponentially grown.  The odyssey that the rabbits (particularly Fiver and Hazel) are on is epic and wonderful.  They escape the destruction of their warren and build something completely new.  I derive energy and inspiration from this book and it was the underlying inspiration for the entire album.

Q. Why did you choose to record the album by analog?  

A: I spent a long time meditating on what this album would be…..particularly on how it would sound…meaning the engineering, the sonics.  What I connect to the most is my vinyl.  I knew early on the only way this record could be created was in an analog world.

Q. What is your most personal song from this album?

A:  “Hear the Bells

Q. You’ve been quoted as saying, “[Creating music] is how I connect. It’s how I stay alive.” Why do you think music is so universally powerful?

A: I think music is this beautiful and mystical manifestation of human emotion…of pathos. Making music is the way that I interpret my experience of the world I think.  Sometimes I just have to get the melodies out.

Photo by Matthew Wilson

Q. How do you keep yourself centered and focused amidst all the chaos of the music industry?  

A. I think I’ve struggled a lot with keeping myself together in the past.  When my first album came out I was in shock I think. I felt completely over-exposed and had no idea what I was doing.  In hindsight I think I handled it ok but it’s taken me years to figure out the balance.  Recently I’ve figured out a way to create something much more honest and I think it took me leaving all labels and moving to the English countryside and making an album in an old mill with ridiculously talented people.

And then of course I step right back into the chaos.  I focus on the work and I nourish the relationships in my life that are important to me.  I feel very lucky to be able to support myself in the music industry so I honestly, I have no complaints.