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A revealing interview with Carina Round
Being an independent solo artist since separating from Interscope has been
a struggle for Carina Round, but it’s been a freeing experience said the
singer/songwriter from England. Round released her latest album
Tigermending early last month on her label, Dehisce.
Round has previously toured with Annie Lennox and currently she is not only
opening for Tool front man Maynard James Keenan’s project Puscifer, but she
is also a touring member of the band. Next for Round, a set of tour dates with
Tears For Fears and planned headlining shows.
My ear received the pleasure of hearing Carina Round’s soft toned British
accent during a revealing phone interview as she opened up about being a
female in the music industry, her teenage ways, working with Puscifer,
becoming an independent artist, her different genre styles and more.
How did you become connected with Puscifer in 2009?
Well, I was living in L.A. and I received an e-mail from Mat Mitchell, who is
Maynard’s partner in Puscifer, and he asked me if I’d be interested in being a
member of the live touring band. I was a little skeptical at first, but I was aware
of the fact that whatever Maynard was in prior to that was always really good.
So I listened to the music and I loved it, so the rest is history.
Are you a multi-instrumentalist? You played guitar in “Green Valley” on
Puscifer’s new album Conditions Of My Parole.
I can find my way around different instruments. I write songs on piano, but
I’m not really a piano player. Sometimes I like to explore unknown territories
because it makes my hands go to different places and it makes me play
different chords. On the Puscifer record I played guitar, on tour I play
mandolin or banjo.
You just released a new solo album last month, how's the feedback?
Well, I mean the one main difference is that I made it almost completely
independently without help from a label or different companies. It takes a lot
longer mostly because I have to see if funds are available. I can choose who I
work with, there’s no rules, there’s nobody saying “the chorus should be
stronger or you can’t work with this person.” It’s been a really freeing
experience for me in that way. As regards to feedback, since it’s been
released it’s so personal to me and my connection this time with the fans is a
step away from one to one because of social networking and seeing people
after shows. When somebody comes up to me and says “it’s a really beautiful
record, it made a difference in my life” or “I really love these songs” it strikes a
personal chord with me because I had such an intense time personally
making this record.
Working with Billy Corgan on “Got To Go (LA Song)” from your new
album and his stance on promoting independent releases, did he
influence your decision to become an independent artist?
Billy didn’t directly have an influence on it, but seeing artists like him and
Maynard and not just them, but thousands of other artists making the choice to
go independent is a really inspiring thing to see. It has been a big struggle, but
when you’re signed to a major and they go the route they take, it’s a struggle
then too. Everything you do to make a record, every single thing costs
thousands of dollars and when you’re an indepdent artist it takes a long time
because you have to wait for the funds to be available. It’s been a really great
step for me to be opening for Puscifer because that is priceless. It’s the most
priceless way to be able to promote the record.
You co-produced your new album with Dan Burns and had a lot of say
with your past albums. Do you have any plans to be a music producer?
Yeah, that’s a dream of mine—to be able to produce someone else’s record.
I played a big part in how those records came out and it wasn’t such a far
stretch from this record. I would love to produce another artist’s record, I
would love that challenge.
Have you ever experimented in different genres of music?
I did do a couple songs with a hip-hop producer in New York, it’s fun and I
really enjoyed it. For the most part with other hip-hop songs and producers
when they have you sing it’s usually just a hook and chorus and it’s a little bit
boring. I did write a couple songs that was just a hip-hop backing and I wrote a
song over it and it was pretty cool. I have a band with a few musicians in L.A.
that we do for fun, that’s pretty heavy and I love it. I also put out a record with
my other band (Early Winters) early this year which is kind of like an old
country outfit. I try to keep my music as diverse as possible so I don’t get
bored and I think it just makes my own work more interesting after the fact.
The more experience I can get doing other stuff, the better my solo stuff is.
What kind of a teenager were you?
Oh god, that’s a funny question, I’ve never been asked that before. I was a
horrible teenager. I did start setting fires at one point, I was a fan of that for a
little bit. I never really spent that much time at school, which is probably not
surprising. I was a very, very lazy kid. Probably because I was constantly
listening to my teachers tell me that I would never reach my potential. I would
lock myself in the music room at lunch time because I didn’t want to hang out
with any of those fucking losers that went to my school. And that’s where I
think the reality of actually being a musician came to be. I always wanted to be
a singer, but it never really occurred to me that I could play an instrument.
During those times when I would lock myself away from the monsters at my
school, I would pick up a bass guitar, that was actually the first instrument I
played. Then I started having trombone lessons which is ridiculous… and just
no, (laughs) no! Never gonna use that!
Did you ever have any schooling on vocals?
I never had any vocal lessons. There was a time when I was on tour when I
signed with Interscope, I wasn’t really sure how to adjust my voice too well on
tour and my voice went a couple times, so I decided to go to a vocal teacher to
see if there was warm up exercises I could do before I went on stage. I have
seen a teacher a couple times to help me maintain my voice.
What do you think it takes to stand out in the world of female artists?
How do you define yourself from a highly populated male vocalist world?
That’s an interesting question and pretty loaded, it’s really hard for me to
answer that question. It’s actually a really great question because I’m always
torn between yes, I’ve been treated differently for being a female in this
industry, but also I never wanna be the person that walks into a room with my
vagina on my face and get treated differently. The only way to really stand out
is to try and do the best you can do and be the best you can be without
concentrating on gender so much. When I first started as a female vocalist,
nobody wanted to hear it, especially in the UK where I started out—it was all
dudes in bands playing music. I think right now, with how the industry has
changed and opened up a lot, there is more room for not so narrow minded an
issue because radio is not the only way to hear music anymore. It’s more
satisfying to discover artists in different ways. I think because of that, people
are tending to find the kind of shit that they like themselves without being fed
music through the radio. There are stereotypes still, but I try to get through that
by ignoring it, not in the sense of pretending it’s not there, but I think the only
way to overcome that kind of thing is to be aware of it, but not to give it too
much attention to the point of where it’s actually taking more precedence than
the art and the music.
How do you define yourself personally as far as music and style?
It’s really hard to feel comfortable until you absolutely find your own style in any
way. I didn’t find my thing or my style visually until I was way into my twenties.
Then I finally found the clothes that look good on my kind of body or what I feel
comfortable in or how I liked to do my hair or what shoes to wear. It wasn’t
until that point that I could walk to a place wearing this shit and it just looked
natural on me, it just looked like my skin and I think that’s a really important
aspect of image that it just seems like you’re supposed to be wearing that,
you’re supposed to look like that, nobody can go through a rack of clothes and
chose a bunch of shit that normally you wouldn’t wear, which happens a lot.
|For The Fans, By The Fans. Look Beyond The Mainstream.
|"I would lock myself in the music room
at lunch time because I didn’t want to
hang out with any of those fucking losers
that went to my school."
|"I’m always torn between yes, I’ve been
treated differently for being a female in this
industry, but also I never wanna be the person
that walks into a room with my vagina on
my face and get treated differently."
|"People are tending to find the kind of
shit that they like themselves without
being fed music through the radio."
The key is finding your style yourself and then just going with it, when you see someone that’s comfortable in their skin you hardly notice it.
What can fans expect from the Puscifer show, will it be a split show?
I can’t say anything about the Puscifer show because it’s exteremely specific to the way Maynard wants it to be and on top of that he’ll fucking
change his mind at the last minute anyways (laughs) so who knows.
What can you say about your set?
For the Pusicfer shows, I play the same set every night. Even though the songs are the same, the performances are always different. I choose my
set depending on what I think the audience is going to be. I’m doing shows at the end of the year with Tears For Fears and that will be different from
the Puscifer show. We’re not playing for a bunch of heavy screamers with Tears For Fears. The songs with Puscifer are kind of darker, heavier
songs. It’s my dream set to do a half hour of the weirdest darkest songs, then get on stage and go play with another band.
Do you have a full band together for your solo stuff?
I’m lucky enough to be able to play with just Jeff Friedel and Matt McJunkins [Puscifer, Ashes Divide] on my solo project. It makes it much easier for
everybody because they’re already on the tour, so I don’t have to carry around a bunch of band members.
I've always kind of wanted you and Shirley Manson or Tori Amos to do a song together. Is there anyone you’d like to work with?
Tom Waits would be amazing to work with him. Jack White would be really fucking cool.
What’s next for you?
I have a project campaign to try and help fans that want to see me more on tour. Fans pledge on the site and it raises me enough money to do a
headlining tour. I'll be in the U.S. in July, and August I'm going out for three and a half weeks with Tears For Fears. Plans to go to the UK in
September and October.
Visit and Connect with Carina Round:
Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube