Artist Spotlight - Carson McHone
(Photo Credit: Kristy Benjamin)
We had the opportunity to interview rising Americana star Carson McHone! An Austin, TX native, McHone's fantastic vocals and rich sound is sure to make you sway. Her most recent album Carousel was released in October of 2018 and has continued to make waves for the young musician. Check out what she had to say in our Artist Spotlight!
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"I took Suzuki Violin lessons for years growing up but my real love for playing music came a little later, about 15 or 16 years old, when a family friend gifted me a guitar and I began to learn songs that I loved to sing. With a very basic knowledge of guitar I began writing my own songs. The writing came about out of necessity, an attempt to navigate my experiences and feelings, and then playing and singing was a way to communicate, to connect. Because I grew up in Austin, a town where almost every bar is also a live music venue, and because the community is so supportive, I had the privilege of playing out in public when I was still in high school. When I dropped out of college at 19 I came home and started playing with other people, in the first formations of a band, and that’s when I started getting more serious about pursuing music as a way of life."
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
"Every song is different. Sometimes I’ll get lucky and everything comes together all at once in a way that feels just right, but usually it’s a more drawn out process. I have lots of notebook full of notes, lines here and there, a chorus or a verse, but it usually takes me a while to finish a song. Sometimes I’ll get a line that I really like and I hold myself to it, so that every line before and after has to be as good or better without taking away, but I can be my own worst enemy in this way so that it slows me down to a halt. It’s good to think of writing as an exercise, staying in shape so I can be productive, but it can sometimes feel like a task. In the end though, when I get something I’m happy with, there’s almost nothing like it, it’s very fulfilling."
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"A career in music can be an interesting path, there is no 'right way', just like in making the music itself, but I think if I look at anyone’s career, however similar to my own or not, I can learn something from it. The musical career industry has been changing so rapidly that it can be a strange thing to navigate. So much is at the artist’s fingertips now and it seems that if you don’t interact, as in through social media, that you’re really missing an opportunity. At the same time being so 'plugged in' can be a huge strain on the artistic part of your brain, and keeping true to your conscience. I think the best way to look at a career in music today is to think of the whole thing as the work of art, instead of seeing the “packaging” as being this vacuous marketing ploy, think about every aspect as an opportunity for something artistic to take place. Someone who I look up to lately who I think does a beautiful job of expressing her artistic intent in her career, whether it be through records, images, video, etc., is Laura Marling."
4. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
"Lately I’ve loved to ease into shows, starting off pretty delicate and letting them build. I like dynamics and I like to play with that even in individual songs. When I play with a band I like to think about the set beforehand and map it out to be almost seamless sometimes. When I play solo I tend to be a bit more conversational, taking time to tell stories, but in either scenario I think it’s so important to remember even though you’re 'putting on a show' that it’s important to connect with the audience, it builds everyone up, on stage and off, and that’s what it’a all about, connection, communication." 5. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
"It’s interesting to me to think about how people listen to music today. Everyone is in such a hurry it seems and I think the way people take in music is so different than how it used to be taken in, and it’s changing day to day. I guess one thing I try to keep in mind when listening to anyone’s music is when and where I listen, and how I listen. It’s so convenient to be able to take a device to listen anywhere you go but it’s almost like with all these playlists being calculated for your ears to be listened to anywhere and on the go that sometimes the art of it can be lost a little. I like to remind myself to sit quietly with something and really take it in.. put on a record, read the liner notes, look at the artwork."
6. Do you have any upcoming projects you would like fans to know about?
"Right now a lot of my focus is on touring the new album, Carousel, but I am writing new songs and hope to start work on another record soon. Before that though I hope to release a few more videos, and I’ve got two in the works now, so keep an eye out!"