Interview & New Video
Carly Thomas is a life saver…literally.
Not only can her music reach down into your soul and speak an unspoken language that creates a connection, but her sheer vulnerability is bravery to the ultimate degree.
Her music will change you, for the better, and might even save your life. I know it did for her.
Carly wishes she had memories of growing up in Bangkok Thailand but was only 2 and half years old when her adventurous parents moved away.
Carly returned to her birthplace where “it felt so familiar to me. It felt like a home.”
Although she did not recognize places, it was more “internally and spiritually. I always felt super-connected to that place.”
Her first memories are going to school in a small town in Indiana.
Another adventure awaited her, at the age of 11, as the family moved to Argentina.
“I remember that vividly. It was a very pivotal time in life. It was a very hard move. It had a lot of effect on my journey and my character.”
Travel is one of the greatest educational experiences, especially as you learn about different cultures.
“It gives you a perspective that is more personal. Once you are immersed in the culture, experiencing it on an intimate level, it creates more of an awareness that there are so many different ways to be in this world. Everyone has a story, a different background. It makes the world seem more relatable.”
Carly’s story was being created with these adventures, but it wasn’t easy as a pre-teen to pack up and change your life so radically. She would need music to work out those emotions.
Early Musical Experience
“I listened to my mom play guitar, she is a singer/songwriter.”
60s and 70s folk music filled her childhood home.
“I remember, as a pre-teen, totally falling in love with Oasis.”
Rock, Alternative and Grunge shifted her perspective on music.
“I felt it as more of an expression, than something lyrical & thoughtful.”
Energy over storytelling.
“I love when you can listen to a song that you feel it, in your body, almost at the edge of what you can handle.”
The Offspring, Green Day and Oasis stirred something in her. “The grittiness of it was really appealing to me.”
When asked, Carly will often describe her music with the label: Moody.
It’s not just the sound, or the lyrics, but the whole package that elicits an emotional response, like those young ears being exposed to the raw energy of Grunge and Punk.
“One of my favorite things experiencing music is when it’s just the right chord change, just the right lyric that you are just like: Awww. I felt that in my gut!”
“In my songwriting and melody writing, it’s more about trying to find the perfect alignment of that. There is no way to do it with just words or just music. There has to be that perfect…electricity.”
Electricity, that invisible power that flows through wires explains what I felt, exploring Carly’s body of work. It might not be something you see, but it’s definitely something you feel.
Follow Your Dreams
Follow your dreams was something her family would impress upon her.
“The belief that nothing is impossible is an important thing to have when you are doing a career in the arts that is alternative and risky.”
It wasn’t just family, but even seeing songwriters that she admired inspired her.
She would watch award ceremonies and see the journey from humble beginnings and “don’t give up” would be whispered in her ear.
It feels almost like a calling.
“I don’t think I really have a choice. I’m going to keep doing it because I have to.”
Part of dreaming is having your head in the clouds. Carly has said that she sometimes feels like a kite flying in a creative zone, but with a string that keeps her grounded.
“I don’t know how else to create then be in that zone, floating just outside of the parameters of reality.”
Not only does Carly create in that special place, but she yearns to take people there.
“It’s a beautiful part of the journey when you can listen to a song, and you are transported to this alternate world for a minute. We are all looking for an experience.
Craving the experiences, questioning and curiosity about everything and let it funnel into a piece of work that can hit someone in a way you don’t even know. There is some kind of beautiful chemistry and connection in that.”
The Power of Connection
Because Carly is ready to tap into that creative space, be honest with her words and feelings, it has a far-reaching effect.
Being independent, an artist can sometimes entertain doubts about the journey.
It was at the London Public Library that someone approached Carly to buy a t-shirt.
She was crying and said: “You just saved my life. That song saved my life. Thank-you so much.”
It wasn’t so much the words, but the look in her eyes, behind the tears, that touched Carly deeply.
“Wow! That’s what it’s about. That’s what music can do.”
When Carly has doubts, or has a low turnout to a gig, those tearful words will ring in her ears and validate the path she has chosen.
“That’s purpose enough, right?”
Of course, Carly has had amazing gigs, amazing turnouts and accolades as well…but it’s those intimate moments of touching a life that feeds her to keep going, no matter the odds.
The Process of Being a Fan
“I got really tired for a bit…doing show after show and grinding it out.”
Carly wanted to reconnect with her love of music.
She went to shows, expanded her horizons by listening to more artists, and took the perspective of a lover of music again.
“I got inspired again by that.”
Pressing pause on your career can be risky, but it can also be a major boost to creativity.
Unless you have silence, you can’t have an original thought. An artist can be so absorbed in the daily flow of information, that it becomes overwhelming.
For Carly, that pause was a chance to fall in love with creating good work again. That “childlike wonder about it.”
She was also taking in mental notes on what she could incorporate into her own sets.
“You are dissecting the show, being inspired by it.”
She would pause and look around at the crowd and see how it was connecting with people. That’s a magical experience that can be lost if you are always on the stage.
Her venture into the crowd allowed her to re-activate those feelings, which made her an even better performer.
The Star Wars Album
At first, there was a sense of urgency to produce a new album with her co-producer Kyle Ashbourne.
Carly felt pressured to create new songs, and she just threw new songs into the mix, without a master plan.
Things were not working out. “I really didn’t do the work here.”
On the last day of recording, Kyle, another Star Wars fan said: “Let’s just pause. Come have a beer with me and talk.”
They talked about the project, and he said: “You will come back strong. Return of the Jedi.”
While the rest of the project was long distance, because of the Pandemic, “this album was about the process of making it, for me.”
It wasn’t about the destination of becoming a Jedi, it was about the enjoying the journey to getting to a finished product.
A year after that pint and conversation, when Kyle sent the final mix, it was titled: Return of the Jedi Mixes.
Stay With Me
One of the most powerful and brave moments in the new video Stay With Me is a pan to the scars on Carly’s arm.
“It was an intentional decision to put that in.”
Carly decided to be vulnerable as an artist and went all in.
“It goes back to visibility and representation of people who might be going through the same thing.”
Carly doesn’t know what the effect of showing that pain will be, but for her, “it was important to relate, be heard and connect with people. Part of what saved me was music. It’s been a lifelong struggle, depression and mental health.”
While that taboo has recently been lifted, it’s understandable that some still don’t talk about it.
Let’s take a moment to realize how brave one can be to be open and transparent about such topics.
Forgoing their reputation, they are concerned with the greater good.
Not all superheroes wear capes.
“I didn’t talk about it for a long time. It’s that gift to be able to connect with people. I want to be responsible enough to say: I’m not going to hide a part of me.”
For Carly, those pre and teen years of moving from a small town to Buenos Aires in Argentina was a “culture shock and I had a hard time coping with that.”
Cutting was a big part of who she is, even if it is something in her past.
“If I can help people who are similar, just by relating”, then she can make that same difference in a person’s life as the woman who bought the t-shirt.
Honour The Past Version of Yourself
Carly once said it was important to honour the past version of yourself.
“Even writing Stay With Me, it was healing for me and I needed to process stuff. It was just this way to express a moment I was feeling.”
Going back to her teenage years, cutting lined up with when she started writing songs.
“It was my way of expressing myself when I didn’t know how. I was just growing into who I was. Music is such a healer and can save lives. It saved my life in so many ways.”
Music has given Carly a purpose greater than herself. “People need it, especially now, to connect and feel less alone.”
One of Carly’s favorite quote is from Ani Di Franco writing about a personal moment in her life, sharing it and have others relate to it…it’s purpose enough.
I Remember You
Without maybe knowing, Carly’s purpose is to reach out to those who may not feel heard or have lost hope.
How We Survive started with two women who lost a child by suicide.
“I was very honored to be a part of that.”
Edward Platero created a very touching video for the project.
“I’ve seen it affect people who I’m close to. I’ve also been in a place where there was a fear where I could take a different turn in the way I was coping with things.”
Carly’s contribution might seem small, but as we saw with the t-shirt sale, it might also be that tipping point to allow someone to fight the fight for another day.
Songs of Love & Loss
Every time the wave crashes
And I get hurt
My body learns
But my heart
Trying to lighten
If Carly ever finds true love, what will she sing about?
“I sometimes make this joke at my shows: Do I keep getting into heartbreak situations because I have to write about it?”
We all have an inert desire to be loved and to love, and for that, Carly will have years to explore that complex emotion in all its facets.
For the new album, “it’s a pretty cool mix of styles.”
From Dark Pop to the Americana Vibe, it will surely surprise you and awaken the Force within.
Front Row Club
The new album was crowdfunded and if you contributed, you could be a part of the Front Row Club.
Apart from getting the music and some merch, you could also get some hand drawn postcards from Carly with whatever inspired her in that moment.
It is a way to connect personally with her fans, in a way that few artists do.
Fantasy Rock Band
When asked to create the ultimate fantasy rock band, an exploration into Carly’s deepest inspirations, she chose the following:
Vocals: Joni Mitchell
Guitar/Vocals: Maggie Rogers & Brandi Carlile
Bass: Este Haim (“I just started listening to them.”)
Drums: Don Henley
Carly has chosen to be an open book. While unsure of her calling at first, her drive and passion is to connect with those who share a common bond.
It doesn’t take too much effort to find that bond and connect with both her music and Carly the performer.
She embodies the Rebel Alliance, going against the Empire as an independent artist, but making a difference in people’s lives.
She may even win you over to her style of Americana singer/songwriter.
That’s the Force she possesses.
Connect with Carly
Writer: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. His Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their days jobs with out of the box advice from Ted Talk Speakers, Best Selling Authors and other interesting Entrepreneurs and Creatives.Share this :