Hemming readies her first full-length album in collaboration with Linda Perry

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If you were a fan of Make It or Break It: The Linda Perry Project, you will remember Candice Martello as one half of Omar that eventually became a solo act after out songwriter/producer Linda Perry saw the potential in the the duo’s singer/songwriter. Now under the moniker Hemming, Candice is releasing her first full-length album on Linda’s label, Custard Records, on July 24. The self-titled effort includes the track “Vitamins,” which Candice wrote while on the VH1 show and part of what won her the record deal.

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While on Make it or Break It, Candice also came to terms with her sexuality, essentially coming out on national television within the confines of Linda’s studio. The similarities Candice and Linda share both personally and musically have inspired a perfect partnership, and Hemming’s album is a lush, layered collection of rock songs written before, during and after her time on camera. 

We spoke with Hemming about relationship building with Linda Perry and her hurts-so-good single, “I’ll Never Be the Man For You.”

AfterEllen.com: What’s been happening for you since the show?

Hemming: It’s been like a weird time because after the show was filmed, I wasn’t able to talk about it for a year. We filmed the show and I knew it was all happening, but decided to come back to Philadelphia and work at the same bar I’d worked at for a year, and just not really talk to anybody about it. I would forget that it even happened. I’d call ’em up being like, “Did this really happen?” They’d be like, “Yes, Candice. The show hasn’t aired yet. You have to wait for the show to air.” So that was the first year, sort of. Then we recorded the record and that was awesome. We did that pretty fast. And then I went on tour with Rachael Yamagata, which was amazing, and I’ve just been playing shows, as many shows as possible.

AE: How has it been to work so closely with Linda and building that relationship?

Hemming: It’s great! I mean, she totally took me under her wing. We get along really well. I don’t know what it is about our personalities but I’m not really scared to talk to her about stuff and she’s very good at just voicing how she feels about things. We have the same kind of quirky dark sense of humor. It was a lot of fun in the studio.

 

AE: How did being on the show help give you a higher profile than going the traditional route?

Hemming: I mean, it’s all happening fast—faster than what it would have taken for me to do it without any help. And I really wasn’t proactive about my solo career. We went on the show as a band and all my solo stuff was just—it’s what I truly love to do, but I just did it for myself. I barely played any solo shows. I would just write a bunch of songs. So I never really envisioned suddenly having a label for that. I really did need someone to produce me and someone to make me kind of believe in myself in a way. It was incredibly beneficial.

 Hemming Editorial 8 (cr. Linda Perry)photo by Hemming

AE: Are the songs on the album completely new or were some of them partially written before the show?

Hemming: I came to the studio with 25 or 30 songs that I had already written and we kind of just went through all of them and just picked out the ones that we both agreed were the best. Some of them are around five years old. Some of them are old, and then there’s the song I wrote on the show, and songs I wrote post-show, so it’s a mixture of old and new. In a way, the whole thing is kind of all about—it’s cohesive in my mind as a giant chunk of my life and now I feel as though I’m taking a whole other step in life.

 

AE: What was the inspiration for the single, “I’ll Never Be the Man for You”?

Hemming: Unrequited love, in a sense. You’re trying to do everything and it’s that realization that no matter what you do, you’re just never going to be the right person for that person. It’s kind of a crushing thing to figure out and you either stop what you’re doing or you keep doing it. It’s kind of that. It’s about the realization in the unrequited love sense.

AE: Is it fair to say it’s kind of about crushing on a straight girl?

Hemming: [laughs] Yeah, you could say that. To me, if you want to get really literal with it, yeah. But I think it goes beyond that. I think it’s more universal than that in that I wouldn’t want to pigeonhole it.

 

AE: Your next tour is with Chris Cornell. How will that tour be different from the one with Rachael Yamagata? 

Hemming: I haven’t met him yet. But Rachael’s tour was perfect for me. She’s kind of the same musical style in a way. She sings sad songs and the crowds really responded to my music very well. I think the crowds will respond to be me in the same way for Chris because he writes pretty dark, sad songs and you know, we’re both doing solo acoustic. I don’t know, it’s going to be different because I’m going to be traveling on a tour bus instead of following a Sprinter in a Sedan, which is what I did for Rachael. [Former bandmate/current manager] Nick [Fanelli] drove 10,000 miles for that tour because I have a license, I just never use it. So that’ll be different, on a tour bus. And the venues–on Rachael’s tour, they were clubs—and they were big clubs. Those were the biggest venues I ever played, with Rachel. We played the Troubadour sold out which was crazy but these venues are giant seated theaters that are models for good acoustics so it’s gonna be a different vibe. But I’m very excited about it.

 

AE: I love the album art. Can you tell me a little bit about who made it and what the idea was?

Hemming: I designed all the artwork for the whole thing. We were trying to think of covers and we had one of my friends do some really beautiful photography we were gonna use but I don’t know—Linda felt like I was disconnected from it and she knew that I could draw and stuff and had a design background. So I got this mysterious call from her one day and she was like, “Okay, I want you to draw a picture of yourself, a house and a tree.” I was like, “What?” She was like, “That’s all I’m going to tell you, that’s what you’re going to do, and that’s going to be your cover.” I was like, “This is so stupid.” I tried it, and that’s what I came out with. I was so angry. [laughs] I texted her—I was just so frustrated—”This is stupid! What does it have to do with anything? What is this?” And she’s like, “It’s fine, kid. You don’t have to do it.” And I’m like, “I did it, here it is” And she said, “It’s perfect.” I was like, “What is this?” She’s like, “It’s a child psychology test.” It’s a psychology test they give to children and in the end, the way you draw the size of yourself compared to the house compared to the tree or how far it is, it says something about your home-life or yourself in some weird way. I don’t know what mine says about me but I don’t want a psychiatrist to analyze. [laughs] I just went with it and designed the rest of the album artwork just based off of that. I feel good about it. I’m glad she made me do that because it feels like mine. It’s art that I made.

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AE: I’m sure it feels like a long time coming for the album to finally come out and to play all the songs live. What are you hoping for?

Hemming: I hope people like it. [laughs] Music has helped me so much throughout my life, I just want that for other people. It would be amazing if my music did that for other people. And, I don’t know. It’d be nice to keep doing this. For me, these songs are so old, I’m ready to work on the next record. At some point, a headlining tour of some sort—that’s kind of the next step, I think. And to be able to tour with the band, that would be great. Because I do love playing with a band and actually recreating what the record sounds like. I don’t mind going out solo and I don’t think that the songs lose a ton from that, but it just feels more rocking and fun when it’s with a band.

 

AE: Do you already have plans to start writing and recording again?

Hemming: Not yet. I’m constantly trying to write, all the time as much as I can. My writing is so sporadic. The songs on the record are from since I even started writing songs so, you know, the second record’s always the hardest, is what they say. I’m trying but I want to get back into that. I want to be back in the studio and I want to start making new stuff already.

 

Hemming’s album is available for pre-order now.