ERIN McCARLEY: ‘Performing live is a freeing experience’

ERIN McCARLEY continues to engage audiences with her new album My Stadium Electric.

[By Monica Harris]

Singer/songwriter ERIN McCARLEY just finished up a fall tour including a stop at the Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles in support of her second album My Stadium Electric.

The soulful singer continues to engage audiences with her blend of pop and indie soft rock. We talk to Erin about her new album and about performing live which she describes as a “freeing experience.”

Erin, tell us about the creation of your new album. Take us behind the scenes.

I recorded half of it in Nashville, half of it in London, and one song in Atlanta, and worked with several producers.  In Nashville the producer I worked with, Jamie Kenney, we actually did “Love Save the Empty” on the first record. Kind of all the experimenting started there, and then we took it over to London and did the other half with Martin Terefe. And Ben Allen is the collaborator I worked with in Atlanta for “Pop Gun.”  I spent 9 weeks in London. We co-wrote a few songs and then it was a crazy process. Because for my first record everything I did was done very enclosed, no team around, it was just me and my one producer. And this time I was traveling around everywhere and spreading it out and picking up inspiration from different places. I did a lot of writing in Scotland, actually. I have a friend that has a place out there and I got to go out there with Jamie and another writer. That was pretty crazy. It was a really good experience.

How do you feel you’ve grown as an artist since your first album?

You know, the first record I hadn’t toured yet. So a lot of that first record was experiences of me growing up as a child. And I think this second one is me growing up as an adult. And having that experience on the road. I think a lot of these songs were written with touring and playing these songs on the stage, and the performance element was definitely more of a focus than it was on the first. I think that was probably one of the biggest growth areas for me.

When are you in your most creative mood?

I think when I’m moving. I think a lot of times creativity comes when there’s some sort of movement, whether I’m in a car, I’m in a plane, when I’m jogging. There’s something about that, that triggers ideas, but then obviously the outcome is usually done when I’m solo and alone and able to really focus in on what that emotion was that I experienced.

I read that you used to live in San Diego?

Yeah, I learned to surf in La Jolla, at La Jolla Shores. I actually played my first show out at Pacific Beach. I can’t remember the name of the bar. It was an open mic and I was horrified. [Laughs.] I was so scared. I also played at Lestat’s and Twiggs, two coffee shops in North Park. That was where I got my start.

Why do you think you were originally drawn to writing music?

I came here to sing. I was sort of writing but it wasn’t something that I was focused on. And I think that singing wasn’t going to get me very far in a town like Nashville, which is a very songwriting-heavy town. That pushed me and challenged me to enhance my writing skills and dive into that more. So the influence of Fiona Apple and people like Patty Griffin and that whole world, and then moving to Nashville and seeing how big of a world songwriting is, and what it allows you to do, and expand your career.

Where are you originally from?

I’m originally from Texas. I lived there for 20 years, and then San Diego a little bit, and then Nashville. I’ve been in Nashville for five years.

Did you grow up in a musical family?

Not really. My mom grew up dancing, and that’s what I grew up doing. So that side of music, yes. It wasn’t a big writing or singing community.

What kind of dancing?

Every kind, you know, jazz, ballet, and tap. I did it for 12 years. That was my first passion. With the second record I brought more of that in, and I think performance wise, too, I’m bringing more of that in, just not being afraid to move because it’s what I grew up doing. So you’ll see a lot more of that on the road.

What do you feel most thankful for this year?

For sure, friends and the community that I have here in Nashville. My family just moved here 3 months ago so I’m very, very grateful for that.Nashville is amazing, it really is, especially for the creative minds. It’s a very supportive community.

What can we expect at your live shows?

I think you can expect a lot. You won’t see me behind the guitar a lot. On the first record I kind of hid behind a guitar. This one I’m diversifying and being a lot more free, and using the sample pads and the tambourine and electric guitar. So it’s a very lively event and a freeing experience.


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