How do you usually write the lyrics of your songs?
Tarah G. Carpenter (TGC): The lyrics come really naturally. It is a burst of emotions, usually anger or sadness. I get lost in my thoughts, and it all feels like a big flash. I like to use a pen and a paper and feel my wrist get really tight, because I try to write as fast as my thought process. I spill it out as the inspiration comes and when it is over I put the pen down, put the date, time and location and I let it sit for a while. Depending on how I feel I could come back to it the next day or a few weeks later, with a guitar and add music to it. I don’t change anything because I don’t want to change the first emotions I felt. It lasts only a few minutes, it is very intense, i don’t know when it will come but if I am alone and at my place I am usually in tears. If I am in the transportations, then I try to keep my tears in! ha! I don’t push it. If I lose the inspiration, I trust that it will come back some other time, but I can’t be given a subject to write about. I need to feel eery word and moment of the experience I am writing about.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing in songwriting?
TGC: Everyone has a different way of writing and depending on your preference and genre, it really depends. For me, and my style, it is authenticity. I tell my stories and my thoughts. Those are my emotions and you can’t really judge them because this is how I feel. I would not judge someone for expressing themselves about how they felt about an experience in their life or their take on a special event. I try to stay out of points of views, and If i do express myself about something I try to make sure that i am only expressing MY self and MY experience. I don’t do metaphors or rhymes. It is not my thing. I like to understand where everyone is at and what I find beautiful is someone who can truly express themselves and all of their emotions. I am not talking about whining 🙂 or complaining 🙂 . Just acknowledging and embracing what makes us human. There is no such thing as weakness. I think that being sad about something beautiful has some strength, as long as you own, understand and accept your emotions.
In my opinion, the most important thing in songwriting is being honest with yourself and your writing. Don’t try to write something beautiful. Do it because this is how you feel, no matter what type of writing it comes out (poetic or not)
Joey Southern (JS): A purpose and meaning!!!
Are you ever scared of revealing aspects of your personal life/experience to strangers through your music?
TGC: I used to be. This is why I had a hard time performing. It took me a minute to deal with friends going through my lyrics and “making fun” or teasing me because they realized I was not as tough as they thought I was. I don’t care anymore. As a matter of fact, it happens rarely, but if it does, I look straight in the eyes and explain the song one more time and ask. “Are you going to tell me that you have never felt this before?” 99% of the time, People can relate and don’t laugh anymore. If anything they agree, and listen to the song!
Writing, is my escape and therapy. My songs tell you about the real me. There is no hiding in what I write, and this is why sometimes it is harder to perform to an audience who can actually hear and listen to my vocals! I have not shared the lyrics of my songs for the longest time because I wanted people to come up with what they had caught. Recently I started sharing the lyrics because too many people have asked for them and told me that the songs mean so much more to them now. So I guess I am still dealing with the whole revealing aspect 🙂
What is the best lyric that you ever wrote (the most meaningful for you)?
TGC: I like “Human To Be” it is timeless. It is about loving yourself despite what people may think, say of you or even if they don’t understand you. You are responsible for your life, if you let people get in the way, you are wasting it. “Dare to be yourself, to kiss and love freely. It’s your right as a human to be, to love.”
Another one is “Unbalanced” – “Why set boundaries when, we can be united as humans and not States and why fight for land when we could share or expand cultures. Why become the best by destructing others perfection does not exist, I want to make you think because we are unbalanced. Listen back to John and try to imagine what we hoped once and forgot why can’t we just let it be, like we once believed..”
It’s not the best, I am sure that I have others that may be more meaningful but that is what comes to mind now. 🙂
What inspired “Linger”, part of your latest album/EP “64 Women”?
TGC: ‘Linger‘ is a song about boredom. I noticed one day that one I am bored or getting impatient, that I tap a tempo with my hands or feet and it is that main riff. ‘Linger’ is about being bored and not having sufficient funds to do anything about it. Having dreams and hoping to be discovered because you have no other means to make things happen.
And “64 Women”?
TGC: The songs are not related. I write about events in my life or thoughts that go through my mind. Emotions etc.. I don’t have a general topic for the EP. It is more like a general state of mind or moment in my life that the EP is a part of. ’64 Women’ is the number of women who were incarcerated at the downtown immigration jail at the time I was in. I was coming back to LA during thanksgiving and the immigration officer had believed that I had overstayed my visa by one day, the last time I was on the territory. I could not prove that I had not, so they had me stay in a room for hours with no track of time, and overnight. Because it was overnight, they took me to that immigration jail in downtown where I waited for hours again without being told anything, and being treated like a criminal. After a few hours which I am guessing was the next day I meet other women from the jail. We talked a little bit and one of them told me that there were ’64 women’ in that jail. She told me a few fun stories about some of the women, it was very touching and fascinating to hear about all of those women from all ages and all ethnicities. I wanted to dedicated this EP to them.
Do you remember the day you wrote “Numb KIller”?
TGC: I wrote ‘Numb Killer‘ in the back seat of my friend’s car. We were headed to Ventura to go paddle boarding, it was a beautiful day. The terrorist attacks at Ariana Grande’s concert had just happened and they were mentioning it again on the radio. We briefly talked about it but my friends had moved on to another topic and I got stuck thinking about it and picturing the kids who were there. Then that flash came ( the inspiration I was talking about above) and I can’t say that I tried understanding the assailant because I never will, but I was imagining what he had seen before blowing himself up. I wondered what urged someone to go though such a terrorist act, hurting people in general but in this particular moment, children, having dreaming and being inspired by their favorite artist.
Is there a link/a common theme among the songs of the new album?
TGC: No, not really.. the only link ever in all of the albums and EP’s are the true stories and emotions of each songs. I sing about moments that were lived, and emotions felt. What I mean by that is that I don’t come up with stories in order to write a song. I also don’t dramatize or exaggerate to make it more intense. 🙂
What is the best suggestion your producer gave you?
TGC: I don’t have a producer.. I mean, Jason Orme co-produced the EP, and also the last one. By co-produced means that he sound engineered the EP, played the lead guitar, and mixed it. Jason definitely helped shape the sound of both EP’s, arranged a couple songs. In ‘Half Middle Child Syndrome‘ for instance Jason changed the drum beat of “Pay To Play“, which totally worked. It sounds more groovy and we were able to add some percussive sounds to it. Jason comes up with great addition and suggestions of backing vocals but he does not change the music or structure of the songs. This is why Jason and I work really well together. He does not want to interfere with the creative process or mess with the original intentions. He helps shape everything to make it sound like a full, finished song, and does it perfectly. I love working with him. When we are in the studio, we just really focus on the recording. Time is money;) I don’t like getting off track. If you are not involved in the recording or the part that is being recorded, you are really welcome in the studio. I don’t like to mess with that work vibe when we are trying to get something done. Recording is actually really boring if you are not the one recording so it is easy to distract the other people by talking to them. So i have learned overtime to politely say no to anyone who wants to hang 😉 Jason and I talk briefly while a song is bouncing or we are waiting on the computer to do something really. other than that we are actually pretty deep into the process. I can’t think of a suggestion that he has given me that I can share.
We shared on the road stories for sure but music tips or career advice.. I don’t think we have ever talked about this. I don’t remember asking him about that.
He did suggest to make the song ‘Hurt‘ longer, so I wrote a second verse to it that same day, which is rare because I never touch my songs once they are written. I actually remember not being into the idea in the first place but I thought I’d keep an open mind and see if I can. It actually was really easy, I got back into the mood and the emotions quickly and I wrote that second verse that I am pretty happy about. The song sounds great and I have already had a few people commenting on that second verse! So that really worked out. 🙂 Jason never comments about the structure of a song but he really enjoyed ‘Hurt’ and wanted to be able to listen to a little more of it. I wanted to keep it short kind of like PJ Harvey’s ‘No Child of Mine’ .
What are your plans for 2019?
Coralie Hervé (CH): We are preparing our European Tour in France and UK in September.
TGC: I can’t believe we are already mid 2019! Time is flying! We are currently getting ready for this Euro Tour, like Coralie mentioned. I am working also on a documentary of the band and being an independent band and women in the Rock music industry. I hope to release this really soon. It will be a docu-series following us in our adventures and bringing our friends into the mix:)
I am also working on the new songs for Tarah Who? for a new EP next year, and we are working on another project as well called Jane Gray Black Orphan.
JS: Being the newest member of Tarah Who? I have the most homework. Tarah has an extensive catalog of songs that I have been learning for the upcoming European tour. Along learning new material for Tarah Who? I have been busy writing bass lines for Jane Grey Black Orphan as Tarah mentioned. A real treat considering I get to break out my chest of pedals to experiment with. Videos to come on the @jane_grey_black_orphan Instagram!!!
To conclude the interview a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes to your mind:
- Define in one word your album “64Women”: CH: Different. / TGC: Intense. / JS: “64 WOMEN” – Explosive.
- The best show you ever played: CH: – I like to play Tarah and Joey so each show for me is great, I particularly loved the our last one of 2018 at the Satellite, LA. / TGC: With this line-up, I really enjoyed our show at the sugar mill in Tarzana. Not pretentious venue, staff is amazing, all the bands were nice, and stayed to support each other, packed room, good money, our friends YUR MUM from the UK were part of this show and they were a blast to be around. / JS: I agree with Coralie!!! Our last gig of 2018 we played with amazing bands and met a lot of new fans!!!
- The one thing that you must have in your backstage: CH: Water for sure!! / TGC: Quiet time for myself. / JS: My towel to wipe off all my sweat hahaha!
- The soundtrack of your childhood: CH: I’ll say Disney movies. / TGC: Alanis Morissette ‘Jagged Little Pill’ lol! a lot of emotions and realizations, romantic and pissed off! lol! / JS: The first six 311 albums.
- Your favorite song lyrically speaking but not written by you: TGC: This is hard! I have a lot of songs in mind.. Justin Bieber, ‘I m sorry’ ? Just kidding..I feel like there were so many from the 90s, Pearl Jam, PJ, Alanis. I would have to go with Alanis because this is who I could relate to as growing up. Take any song from JLP. They are all amazingly written and produced in my opinion. / JS: Ænima -Tool.
- Last question is “unusual”, we want to know your best relationship advice: TGC: Definitely communication and honesty. To yourself and to your partner. If you are not happy as a couple anymore, don’t lie to yourself, break up and be with someone else you can be happy with. It is very selfish to stay with someone because you don’t dare to break up or because you don’t want to be alone or whatever it is. Yes, it might break your partner’s heart, but I am sure that you can come up with a ton more excuses. Truth is your partner’s heart will get better, but wasting his or her time during your indecision is unrecoverable. If you truly care about that person and you do not want to be with them anymore, out of love, let them go. They might not see it this way, but at least they will have the opportunity to find someone who really wants to be with them. I always find it interesting when people dramatize the end of a relationship. It is actually really simple when you think about it. You guys tried. It does not work. You move on. It is OK! And if you think you still have feelings for that person, TRUST me! You don’t want to be with someone who does not love you back! So move on too! Accept that it does not go both ways, you WILL find someone that you will want to be with and who ALSO wants to be with you. It IS that simple and you will feel the difference. But you have to be open and available for this to happen. So… don’t stay stuck with the wrong person! / JS: Be honest and open. The truth hurts sometimes, but having an open communication between two individuals is key to growth and overall success.