Vanessa Carlton opens up about new album ‘Liberman’
Earlier this month Vanessa Carlton released her fifth studio album, “Liberman.” The pop star, known for her upbeat hits, takes a new direction with this latest release. A much more acoustic and raw sound permeates from the airwaves. Her melodic voice resonates beautifully alongside the ringing chords and whimsical tones. Vanessa was kind enough to speak with the Campus Weekly earlier this week about her new release. Here is what she had to say:
SMU Campus Weekly: What originally inspired you to become a professional musician?
Vanessa Carlton: Honestly I kind of fell into it. I was training to be a ballet dancer and I was incredibly devoted to that. I was at a school for ballet, but I started skipping classes and that’s when I started writing music in song form. I had written music my whole life but that changed when I was a teenager and started to imagine this dream of maybe making a record of a song.
CW: Was it difficult making the change into a life that pursues music professionally or was that more of an easy transition since you had the artistic side of you already?
VC: It’s stressful. You want to turn art into your work in a way that supports your life and turns it into your livelihood; it’s stressful because it’s hard. There’s no straight line. So I think turning myself into a professional musician took a lot of effort and stress, but once you get a publishing deal, you get an advance so you’re able to buy a house, so you’re definitely on your way.
CW: Do you enjoy touring or do you prefer making albums?
VC: The shows are the best part of touring for sure. If I could just be myself on each stage, that would be rad, but there’s a lot of in between that’s really hard, and I’m not a road dog. There are some people that are just built for the road, and I’m really not, but I’ve made it work, and this “Liberman” tour in particular has been our best tour.
CW: Are there any specific places you’ve really enjoyed performing?
VC: I always love playing in New York. We had a great show in Seattle, a great show in Vancouver, and I liked a little Pittsburgh show we did. There’s a lot that were good. I would say, in general, playing in the U.S. is pretty great. People here love music. When they come out to see me they’re really there to experience something.
CW: Do you have any stories from the road you’d be willing to share?
VC: I have a really gross one, but I’m not even going to share it. So, regretfully, no.
CW: Your new album “Liberman” I was reading that it was named after an oil painting that you got from your grandfather?
VC: Yes, it’s named after my grandfather. Liberman is his original name, and I didn’t know that until a couple years ago when my mom told me it was Liberman. It was always Lee to me, my mother’s maiden name is Lee, my middle name is Lee, so this whole time I kind of had this fake family name. I didn’t know he changed it from Liberman to Lee after the war because he wanted to open a showroom in New York, and he thought that he would have a more successful business with a less ethnic sounding name.
CW: So do you draw a lot of inspiration, at least for this album, from family?
VC: No actually, the reason why I ended up naming it “Liberman” is because my grandfather was an oil painter and I have one painting of his that hangs in New York, which is where I lived before I moved to Nashville. It hangs above my piano in a place where if you’re playing piano, it’s all you can look at. The color is a really psychedelic palette, and I really wanted a variety of this music for this record, which I really wanted to be like a dream record. For the album, I was kind of writing music to the colors of that painting and I was really honoring that work of his as well as bringing my family name to light, which was a really cool idea, I thought.
CW: So with this being your fifth studio album, do you think your sound or your style has changed with each album or have you followed one path with your sound?
VC: Oh it’s definitely changed, I mean if you listen to “Liberman” compared to my earlier work it probably sounds like a different artist, and I kind of am a different person. We change so much in our twenties and I’m 35 now. I think I felt a lot of pressure to come up with some sort of pop record for my label because I had been sold and marketed as a pop star to a certain degree at the beginning of my career. I kind of went along with that, but I don’t make a very good pop star and it’s not really the sound I think that I, in my heart, loved. I mean, I love pop music but those earlier records were very much me trying to figure out who I was and very much trying to please the label. When I left the major label system in 2010 that’s when things started getting good and that’s when the music got more authentic.