Though a great fan of electronic music for as long as she can remember, Caroline McLavy’s first experiences were in the more rock and roll end of things via her involvement in running rehearsal rooms and working in a studio. It was no surprise then that her Electrostatic had a hedonistic fusion of rock stylings with electronic sounds. With a new release and more new music in the pipeline we caught up with Caroline to find out more about her and her music.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s the story behind Caroline McLavy – the artist – and how would you describe your sound?
I’ve been writing songs for as long as I can remember but would call myself an artist more than a ‘singer songwriter’. I left school at 16 and got a job at a rehearsal rooms/ recording studio/ label in Leicester. I spent a good few years learning and devising my first album Electrostatic which took two attempts to complete, but when life gets in the way it gives us the chance to write new songs and new stories with a little more depth and perspective than the naive 16-year-old me would have been able to contemplate.
Electrostatic was first written by myself with the engineering musical composition of my friend Mark Spivey. I lost my studio for a while when the company I worked for moved premises. After a writing break I brought the demos I had recorded previously to Richard Henderson of Digital Bass studio (who had his built before my studio) and together we produced the album to a commercial standard.
I worked with some amazing talent, but I always intended to go on as a solo pop artist. I would label myself as more electro pop than synth pop. I want to write good catchy pop songs that you can sing along to, something that has meaning on different levels, so the listener can choose how they want to hear the song. As a visual brand I would say art pop with a bit of a ‘sciencey’ theme if that’s a thing.
What motivates you and inspires your music, aesthetic and vibe?
Sometimes inspiration can come as quick as a flash, triggered by an event or a thought process. Other times it’s carrying an underlying feeling with me that seeps steadily into a concept. I can’t say one method brings about better songs than the other, it just translates into the personality of the song.
I think it’s the vibe I’m looking for the most. I spend most of my time trying to make the music sound like it does in my head. Most of my music or videos or other creative processes seem to start with the ideological vision that I then set out to achieve. It never works out how I imagined but part of the process is allowing it to grow into its own skin. It’s a balance, I love that.
You spent a few years around rock bands when you owned a rehearsal studio, but your music is very much electronic in nature – how did that come about? Did you make the conscious choice to do something different?
I already had electronic music fused to my DNA long before I started working in the rehearsal rooms – I had no choice! From the moment I heard the opening sequence of Can You Forgive Her? by Pet Shop Boys, my fate was sealed. I don’t really know what it is about that song but when I hear it, it’s like fuel.
I felt a bit separated at times being so musically different from the rock, metal and punk bands I spent most of my days with. It made me accept my differences as an artist and even as a person to not really fit in with my peers. I suppose that gave me more license and determination to not compromise on who I wanted to be. That said I think there’s a fair few grumbling bass lines that came from the influences around me.
Over the last year or so you’ve played a number of festivals, aimed at very difference audiences such as indie, rock and synthpop – how did you find that?
It was difficult as a synthpop/electropop artist to get live performance experience when small venues tend to stick the general ‘live music’ genres, so I took the plunge and started playing open mic nights and then rock gigs and festivals. I did have to develop a hard shell when sandwiched between all the acoustic acts but on the whole it was received well by the audience as something ‘a bit different’ although I can’t say they all got it.
It’s so much easier to relax when performing to a synth loving audience; I feel like we have the same foundations. Recently I played a Pride Festival, and that has a different vibe to it again. I have noticed some electronic open mic nights appearing on the scene now – I wish I had had them when I started out!
You’ve got a remix album coming out soon – what’s your inspiration for this? And have you got any surprises lined up for us on the album?
I think remixing plays to the strengths of what electronic-based music is. I met so many amazing artists last year. Being able to actually work with them and hear their take on my songs has been the inspiration really. A couple of the tracks have already had airplay: Parralox remixed I never thought, which is available on their Holiday ‘17 remix compilation, and more recently, I’ll take my chances, remixed by Real Experts, which was played on Artefaktor Radio – Pop Perfect Show.
Nature of Wires remixed Don’t Wanna, which I’m very excited to say I will be performing with them as a guest appearance on their upcoming shows in Coventry, Birmingham and London this spring. (On the Ohm From Ohm tour.) The remix album, comprising 7 out of the 11 original tracks on Electrostatic will be launched mid-April. Before that in March, I’m releasing I Never Thought. It will be the original along with the Parralox remix and an instrumental. I see it as a bridge between the two albums.
What’s up next for Caroline McLavy? Is there more new music on the horizon, other projects?
Currently, I’m working on a new album. It’s now starting to have a really decent song profile. I’m also getting together a list of live dates, including some festivals, so I’m hoping to incorporate new songs into my live set later on this year.
Thanks for talking to us, we look forward to hearing the new material and hope to catch you at some of your upcoming gigs this year!