Interview: Colbie Caillat
Mon, 14 Sep 2009 08:14:14
Colbie Caillat Photos
Colbie Caillat Videos
Even after debuting at number one on the Billboard Top 100, Colbie Caillat still hasn't stopped working.
"I'm actually going to the studio in about an hour to record a Christmas song," she laughs with a smile.
It's never too early for Christmas tunes, and it's always the right time for Colbie's music. Her sophomore album, Breakthrough, is classic SoCal pop. Dreamy, lush production helps her unforgettable, sun-drenched hooks soar. Her music is fun, passionate and undeniably catchy. Colbie's evolved into the quite the songwriter too, with "Fallin' For You," having "place-me-in-films" written all over it.
Right before she gave Ole St. Nick his due with a Christmas ditty, she sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor Rick Florino to talk about Breakthrough and much more in this exclusive interview.
Do you feel like there was a big evolution between Coco and Breakthrough?
I think Breakthrough is definitely more diverse and mature. I worked with different producers and songwriters, and I added new production styles. I knew what I wanted for this record. I knew how I wanted each song to sound, and I knew how to get that sound. I love the first record, and it sounds great, but it's what I knew for the age I was at. This record shows who I am now.
So you feel like it's a clear representation of where you're at as an artist now?
Yeah, I certainly do.
Did you go into recording with a fully fleshed out vision for the entire album?
I wrote so many songs for Breakthrough that the hard part was choosing which songs to record. When I narrowed that list of "songs-to-record" down, I knew how I wanted each song to sound. Being able to have that knowledge and certainty was the best feeling I had going into this record. I wasn't unsure at all.
Lyrically, the album shows a lot of growth. You're really digging deep on some of these tracks, was this a fun or was it difficult?
It was so much fun! Honestly, lyrics have always felt like more of a homework assignment to me. I prefer finding the melodies and writing the songs. I can come up with the melodies easily. I get that job done, and then I work on the lyrics. When I have something to say or I'm going through something—either happy or sad or I'm in love or I'm breaking up with someone—all of those emotions are spilling out of me. That makes it so much easier to write and express how I'm feeling.
Do you read a lot or watch a lot of movies while you're writing?
No, not at all, I don't ever watch movies. I don't have time for it, and if I do, I feel like I should be doing something else. When I'm writing, it honestly happens in one night. I'll pick up my guitar all of a sudden, and I'll write a song. It'll just come out of me. I don't sit down and say, "Let me try to write a song. What should it be about?" When that wave of emotion or feeling takes me over, I just write it.
Can that happen at any time?
Yeah, but sometimes it won't happen for months. Sometimes it'll happen a couple of times in a week. I never know.
What's the story behind "Fallin' For You?"
I wrote that song with Rick Nowels the day after I went on a date with one of my musician friends. We were really good friends, and I really didn't think I was going to end up liking him in that way because I've never liked a musician before. They weren't my type of guys. Throughout the whole night, we had such a great time together, and I realized that I was adoring all of these things about him, and by the end of the night, I was just completely falling for him. By the next day, I was so excited about it. I hadn't had those feelings in such a long time. I went to the studio with Rick, and we seriously wrote that song in about ten minutes.
What's up with "Breakin' at the Cracks?" That song really stood out for me.
I'm so glad. A lot of people didn't want that one on the record because it's sad and very melancholy. I wanted that song on there because I think it's important. Yes, we have these fun, happy up-tempo songs, but I think every artist should have a song that you can cry to. I wrote that song about a family friend of mine who was going through two years of terrible things happening to her. Her two dogs died of cancer. Her parents both died in the two-year span, and her husband left her. She was going through the worst thing that anyone can go through in life. I put myself in her shoes and I wrote about it. I wrote about what was happening to her, and how she was "Breaking at the cracks, everything was going black and it's like a million heart attacks." On the next part of the song, I wanted to show that you can get through it—it's not the end of the world. There are ways you can get past these really difficult times in life.
What was it like collaborating with Jason Reeves on "Droplets?"
That song is one of the oldest songs that we have together. We wrote that during the writing of Coco. It's probably one of the first three songs that we ever wrote together. We started writing it when we were up in Paradise Cove in Malibu. It was night time, and we were sitting up on the cliff. There was a full moon shining on the water, and we started writing this song. We recorded it right at that spot, and it became one of our top YouTube videos, and a fan favorite. Finally, we recorded it properly and put it out on this record.
Do you spend a lot of time out in nature?
Well, I grew up in Southern California and Hawaii. That's the lifestyle I live. When we have days off, it's always sunny and gorgeous so we go to the beach or we go for a bike ride. We go jogging in the hills, around the lake or on the beach—anything involving outdoors. The weather is always beautiful, and the scenery is gorgeous. By living that lifestyle and growing up around it, it's built inside of me now. That comes out when I write. Gorgeous sunny weather is always nice when you're having a down day.