An interview with Vanessa Carlton


AE: With this new label, did you feel like you had more freedom than you had in the past? What was it that drew you to working with Razor & Tie?

VC: I didn’t meet them ‘til I was finished with the record. I’d kinda given up on things — myself and labels and — I just don’t know if I do it very well. But I cut ties with all labels on this record and I self-funded it.

For whatever reason I would get to finish lines on projects and I would just end up with something different than what we started with, and I just didn’t want to do that anymore. And I take full responsibility for that, I made those decisions.

I wanted the record to come from another dimension, I wanted to protect that. I wanted to create a bubble for it and so the way to do that is to become your own — I funded it myself. So if we needed something, if we needed more tape or more time or whatever, it would just be up to me. It was just the most amazing environment I’ve ever worked in.

I would be the shittiest CEO of a label because I would just tell artists “Sure, whatever you want! Sure!” What freedom I was able to give myself and the rest of the team.

AE: The artists on the label would love you, of course.

VC: I would get along real well with artists.

And Razor & Tie — I needed to create this first, and then whatever relationship I ended up having with any label in the future, which would commence with Razor & Tie, would have to be based on what I’d already created. This is the direction of the rest of my life, this is the beginning of — I woke up. This is it. This is the beginning of a whole new path for me, in a certain way.

AE: Last year at Nashville pride you announced that you are bisexual. What made you choose that time and use that platform?

VC: The whole situation was so pure. Maybe I’m naïve, but I had no idea that it was going to go — which I’m fine with — beyond the exchange I had with the crowd. When I play, I’m in the moment. You’re having to engage with the people in front of you. It just organically felt right and it wasn’t something that was calculated.

In a way, I was a little disturbed by what happened only because I didn’t want people to think it was some kind of exploitation. It was a really honest moment, so [Laughs] I just didn’t realize it was going to go on to the Internet, which, I’m totally fine with that but it wasn’t some sort of formal — you know what I’m saying?

AE: Yes. Have you found that gay organizations or publications have taken a greater interest in you now? Or does it not seem any different? Because I feel like the LGBT community has always enjoyed you.

VC: I don’t know. I’m a pretty private person, and the more you share about yourself the more people will feel like they can connect to you.

AE: In my experience, when we’ve written about it on, our readers are excited about it because they like you already and they feel like “Yes! She’s on our team!” So it’s good for them, but I could understand that it might be strange for you if you feel like people are exploiting it.

VC: No, I don’t feel like those people are exploiting it at all. I feel like to make some sort of formal announcement about yourself is — that’s totally fine, too, that’s just not what I did. I love that. I love that. If people feel like their closer to me because of it, so be it.

AE: Have any of the songs that you’ve written been about relationships with women?

VC: I’m sure.

AE: Do you ever write songs about specific people, or do you wake up from a dream and you have this inspiration? How does it usually work for you?

VC: It’s different. That song was a rarity, “Carousel.” A lot of this record was inspired by two books, Watership Down and A Brief History of Time. I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time crafting lyrics as I have on this record. And it’s not so much about “me, me, me.” I mean, obviously it’s coming from my perspective, but it’s not just about a relationship. It’s not that kind of record. It’s hard — you haven’t heard it.

AE: [Laughs] I know.

VC: I really look forward to people hearing it.

AE: You tweeted about the song “I Don’t Want to Be a Bride.” Is that still on there?

VC: Yes.

AE: That’s such an interesting song title. Could you tell me a little bit about it?

VC: I never hear that message sung to me by anyone else. You certainly hear a lot of men say that they don’t want to get married, but it’s the same. It’s the confines of expectation that come when they feel — particularly women — from society, a shame.

Because I think that I’ve just turned 30 and I’ve never felt so curious, I’ve never felt so awake. So much change and that’s when you get hit with this pressure of “when are you getting engaged and married?” and I feel like it’s so unfair. And I feel like you don’t have to trade this curiosity and liberty chapter of your life for love. You can have it all. So it’s really about — I believe in great love. I really do. And I also support marriage. If people want to get married, they certainly can. But I don’t want to be a bride.

Rabbits on the Run comes out June 21.