For UK-based country singer-songwriter Carolynne, music has always been a priority. Her story starts at the age of fourteen, when her family inspired her to hit the road joining five-piece country band Sundown. After several years of touring, she starting work as a published songwriter all the while continuing to tour and perform. Eventually, she appeared on the X Factor UK, being the first UK contestant to bring Country music to the X Factor stage . Carolynne's debut EP, Coming Back To Me was released April 7th and the singer-songwriter kindly took the time via email to speak about her roots, the EP, and more.
Your story starts at the age of fourteen, but for anyone who may be new to you and your music can you give a brief background as to when you began singing/songwriting and when you knew you wanted to pursue music professionally?
I was first introduced to country music by my Nan and my aunt. My dad loved it too but he would often listen to other genres also, my aunt and Nan were the big time country fans & you'd often see them shopping in their cowboy boots. We call them in our family "the country nutters".
Our family would often go to the country club at the local social club on a Tuesday evening to watch the bands and that's where it all started for me. My aunt took me to see one of the bands on the scene, a father and son duo called Sundown. She told them I could sing and would he listen and give me some advice. I sang for him in his living room but didn't want him to look at me so everyone in the room had to face the wall. I was only 14 at the time and pretty shy around new people. He asked there and then if I'd like to join his band and tour so that's what I did. I spent the next few months on the road with them singing backing vocals and some solo songs while learning about equipment and how to be on the road. I only stopped as it was a little much leading up to my school exams but as soon as school was done I headed to London to pursue a career as a singer. I signed as a songwriter with BMG and spent the next few years writing in Sweden and London with different artists.
It seems that your family, who themselves loved country music, were very supportive of you early on?
I'm blessed with a truly amazing family who have always supported my love of music and desire to try and get my voice heard. My parents helped me move to London when I was 18 and have always been there for me through some very sticky times. To say it isn't easy pursuing a career as a country artist in the UK is an understatement. That's why I made the decision to try my luck on X Factor as I knew that would be the one thing in the UK that would grab the public attention and hopefully divert them to my music.
Your music blends country with pop; what draws you to that sound and who are your influences or inspirations?
I had a very eclectic taste in music growing up and still do. Pop music at school was always a topic with my friends and artists in the UK at the time that were big were Madonna & Kylie Minogue so I'd often dance around my bedroom immitating them. My dad introduced me to The Eagles & Bruce Springsteen, who I still love to listen to, and I also I loved the songwriting style of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Chelly Wright.....but my favourite voice was always Martina McBride.
After participating in the X Factor, you moved to Nashville to learn songwriting. How did your time in Nashville influence you as an artist?
I'd already been songwriting for some time when I decided to go to Nashville but I wanted to spend some time in the heart of Country music to help develop my skills and learn. Of course, I loved it there and enjoyed every minute. It's so different to what we have in the UK and I found it inspiring just being in that environment. The one thing I've always been conscious of is imitating the American country style. I'm from Leeds UK not Nashville (as much as I wish) and I really wanted to use my time and influence there to take home and record back in the UK.
Your new EP, Coming Back to Me, was released earlier this month. Why did you choose to use Coming Back to Me, which is also the first single, as the album’s title?
The song "Coming Back to Me" was always a front runner for me I guess because of my personal attachment to it. The song can be interpreted in several ways. It could be coming back to a person, a love or a place... for me it's about coming back to music. When you love something you give it the power to hurt you and over the years pursuing my career I've certainly been hurt and wanted to retreat or give up trying. But somehow, without even being conscious of it I've always come back to music. The lyrics are me saying them to myself. I'll never be able to erase music from me, it will always find its way back.
Did you have a hand in writing the four tracks on the EP?
Of course! Songwriting has always been my way of expressing my feelings. Most of my songs are drawn from personal experience or inspired by something close to me. I have written on this EP with some great writers and friends, and they know me very well.
Can you talk about what inspired “Real Man” which is such a fun song and to me recalls Shania Twain?
Well, this was written before I met my husband! Ha. My friend Catherine & I came up with some cheeky lyrics about what we would be looking for in a man and how it's really hard to find these days with all the fake social media posts that are out there and all the poser men taking selfies and pouting all the time. It's just not attractive! We were having a giggle chatting about where all the "Real Men" in the world have gone and that's when this song was born.
You’ve performed at C2C, had a residency at London’s Live at Zedel, and performed in the US when you were here for five months. What are your future touring plans? Do you want to return to the US?
I'd LOVE to return to the US and it's something myself and management are working on. At the moment I'm playing several gigs in the UK promoting my EP but as soon as I can hop on that plane to the US I'm there!
Finally, what is one recent release you cannot stop spinning?
I have Little Big Town's The Breaker on in my car right now.
For more information visit her official website
Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify
Purchase Coming Back to Me HERE and HERE