Carrie Welling is a very interesting folk / Americana artist, who is nowadays living in Nashville. She was born in Maryland and grew up in Germany, though, and still got close familiar connections to my home country. On top, parts of her earnings as an artist are gained by her active Patreon community. On top of that, Carrie released her debut album High Heels & Heavy Things this year, so that there were a lot of interesting topics during this December 2020 interview with her. Hope you enjoy it!
Flyctory.com meets Carrie Welling
FLYC: Hi Carrie, thanks for joining me for an interview. How would you describe your kind of music to people who are new to your music?
Carrie: Thank you so much for having me! My music has definitely changed and evolved over the years. I wrote my first solo EP when I was in the midst of a lot of major life transitions and I was still finding the courage to trust my unique voice and style. Now, with my debut album, High Heels And Heavy Things, I finally feel ready to share the real “Carrie Welling” stories. High Heels and Heavy Things is a collection of empowering songs that speak of vulnerability, self-healing, and hope. I recount my struggles with change from an early age, channel all the heartbreaks, and share how self-love and giving myself the permission to heal has saved me.
FLYC: What was the first time in your life when you felt you want to become an artist and songwriter?
Carrie: My Dad played guitar, and I can remember sitting on his bed mesmerized while he played. He’d say “Carrie, write a song to these chords!” There’s actual footage of the first song I wrote with my Dad at six years old called Teachers.
FLYC: You spent your childhood in Germany as a “military brat”. What kind of memories do you still have to the country?
Carrie: So many! Germany was amazing. I remember being in love with the nature that surrounded us and being so intrigued by the culture. My parents would take us skiing in the Alps, which seemed completely normal at the time. It wasn’t until I moved back to the States that I realized how incredible it was to actually experience skiing in the Alps as a child! I also think the culture and movement in Germany became a huge influence in how I learned to experience and understand the world. I credit those years with my desire to become a better, more well-rounded songwriter.
FLYC: Do you still speak German, by the way?
Carrie: My sister still lives in Leipzig, Germany, and when I visit I try to speak with her because I know she won’t judge me. It’s so hard to retain a language when you don’t use it regularly, and I lost a lot of my German when I moved to the States because I just didn’t speak it. But I like to make the effort when I’m in Germany, so I usually have a glass or two of wine first… I find that makes the language come back easier (or it just calms my nerves around my German-speaking friends!).
FLYC: I found in your bio that you were planning to tour the Netherlands and Germany in spring 2021 – which might now be delayed due to the pandemic situation. How did Covid-19 in general impact you as an artist?
Carrie: Oh it impacted me in so many ways! My 2020 looked a lot different back in December of 2019. When the pandemic hit, I was definitely overcome with disappointment and grief over the loss of tours and gigs that were booked. Those experiences are so crucial to your opportunity and growth as an artist. It was really unfortunate, but it forced me to go down a different path because I had no other choice. Everyone had to! Once I accepted that, my life made some pretty incredible turnarounds – mostly because my Wellos (my fans and friends who support me via Patreon and social media) showed up and have been a complete godsend. The online live show world and audiences have been incredibly engaging, especially during these trying times. I think they needed the music and the escape just as much as I did. The key is to be creative in your virtual live shows!
FLYC: You already mentioned your very interesting way to connect to your fans – and also to have a professional music career: you are very active on Patreon, where people can support you. How did you get to the idea to the idea to use that way of support?
Carrie: Such a great question. I’m weirdly grateful for 2020 because it forced me out of my comfort zone. I learned how to properly use socials in order to promote my music, connect with fans, and make revenue as an artist. I had actually started my Patreon about three years ago, but it didn’t really start to boom until the pandemic happened. People were looking for ways to support their favorite artists, and so my team and I steered them toward Patreon. I absolutely love it! It holds me accountable to always be doing things, even non-music related activities. As many of my fans know I’m an avid yogi and yoga instructor, and I give away two free Zoom yoga classes to all my patrons each month!
FLYC: Please tell us a bit how it works. I saw that, depending on the level of support, you are even automatically on the guest list for your shows?
Carrie: Patreon is a subscription-based platform, similar to streaming services like Netflix, but what makes it unique is that you support an artist that you love so they can make more art for YOU. There are different incentives depending on what tier you sign up for, for example, the automatic guest list for a show is one of the top level Patreons. I LOVE and I’m so grateful for them! But even if you subscribe at the lowest level, you still get things like “Patreon Zoom hangs/games and chat” and “Yoga Zoom Classes”… and of course you get to hear all the new songs first! I love connecting with my Wellos and this is a platform that allows me to do so on a really personal level.
FLYC: You have over 100 Patreons, who are supporting your work. That also gives you a lot of potential to interact with your community. Have there been some special memories with your supporters you like to share?
Carrie: My Patreons (aka my Wellos) have become my friends. Each and every one of them! I actually just got back from a trip to Maui visiting with two of my fellow Wellos. Some of my favorite memories as an artist have come from getting to know fans and supporters and forming new friendships. That’s why I love the Patreon Zoom Hangs!
FLYC: You founded the Patreon support after you released your debut EP in 2015. Tell us a bit about the EP, please.
Carrie: The Edge EP was very special to me because it was my first real album as a solo artist. I was in a band for years in NYC called The Vanity Belles. We had such a great run, but like bands sometimes do, we broke up. Soon after I ventured to San Diego, California. I was feeling a little lost, having just moved across the country and unsure of my next move, and so I’d sit by the Pacific Ocean everyday just thinking and pouring those emotions into my writing. The EP was born out of that period of time. I finished and recorded it when I moved to Nashville. The Edge is my transition period – a tipping point in my discovery as a solo artist.
FLYC: Does the EP maybe have a song you especially like?
Carrie: The first song on the album is called Getaway Driver – that’s probably my favorite because it gets the best reaction from the crowd. People tend to roll down their windows and scream, I’ll be your Getaway Driver!!! which is so much fun! There’s nothing better than hearing the crowd sing your song back to you.
It took you quite a while to publish new music. Your following single, Good to Me, was available four years later. What were the reasons for the quite long “publishing hiatus”?
Carrie: Music is like that. I believe some songs are meant for certain albums and sometimes you just write them too early. Good To Me was written first and it prompted the birth of the new album. I realized it had to be the theme of the next record so I waited until I wrote the complete story.
FLYC: You very often hear that Nashville is especially challenging for female artists. What are your thoughts about it?
Carrie: Nashville can definitely be a boys club, but you just have to make sure to surround yourself with the right people and be true to yourself. I think now more than ever women are thriving in music and starting to be recognized. I was thrilled to see so many female artists nominated for Grammy Awards this year.
FLYC: Good to Me received quite good receptions. What is the song about?
Carrie: This song was certainly Good To Me. I wrote it with Eric Holljes from the band Delta Rae. I came home from working late at a restaurant that I’d been at for quite some time, exhausted and feeling pretty down from working a job that wasn’t serving me anymore. I wanted to just do music. I wrote myself a note on a bar napkin that night that said I’m Gonna Be Good To Me and left it on the kitchen table. In the morning, Eric found it and said, “Let’s write this song!” So we did.
I was afraid to write it because I knew I was going to have to get deep with this one and be super vulnerable. I forced myself to be real about how difficult it is to be good to yourself sometimes, and how I would shame myself for not being where I thought I would be by now. But that’s the key – for us all to be kind to ourselves, and to trust you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. More importantly, if we’re good to ourselves then we can be good to other people – and pay it forward. After I wrote Good To Me, I took a leap of faith, quit my restaurant job and went on a year tour all over the country. Doors started opening and people started listening. It was exactly what I was supposed to do, and I haven’t looked back since.
FLYC: A song I especially liked is your first release in 2020, the quite rocking Settle Me Down. Would you like to share the story of the song with us?
Carrie: Thank you for liking this song. It’s an ode to some of my biggest inspirations – Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raiit. I wanted to start the record off with a groovy, fun tune. This song is the product of my military brat upbringing. I never really had a “home” and my life wasn’t very normal growing up. I was forced to move and leave friends behind and find new ones in every city, which was really hard. But on the flip side, it also taught me to roll with the punches and keep following my passions and dreams no matter what. Once I started embracing my story I found peace in it but it has definitely been a struggle finding a steady relationship. Whoever finds me won’t be able to Settle Me Down – they’re going to have to join in for the ride!
These single releases are all included in your debut album High Heels & Heavy Things. Why did you select that track as the title track?
Carrie: I felt like that name best encompassed what the record was all about. The change, the vulnerability, the heartbreak that we all go through as humans. The struggle of trying to appear to have it all together as the weight of the world bears down on us… I’m walking on high heels holding heavy things. It’s also about letting go and releasing past baggage to become a better person, which is a theme that threads through many of the songs on the album. Owning up to my mistakes and looking towards a brighter future.
FLYC: Is there any track you especially like on the album?
Carrie: Happy First is one of my favorites to play LIVE. It’s a sad little diddy.
The artwork of the album cover is quite colorful. You are in the waves with a pink sky in the background. Did that have a special meaning to you?
Carrie: The artwork was done by one of my favorite local artists here in Nashville – Kelly McKernan. She also did the artwork on my EP cover, and always does such an amazing job. We sat down and I told her what the record was all about and the sort of energy and vibe I wanted for the cover. She then listened to the album start to finish and this is what she came up with.
FLYC: I guess that your debut album is a very special moment in your life as an artist. From writing the songs, recording them, presenting them on stage – is there any moment during the creating of “High Heels & Heavy Things” you still especially have in mind?
Carrie: There were so many great moments. One that sticks out was tracking my song I Don’t Want To Be Friends. It was strictly a guitar song at first, but when we finally got in the studio to record it, it turned into a piano ballad. My producer, Eric Holljes, wrote the piano track on the spot and I sang over it in the same room, live. It was definitely a magical and organic studio moment.,
FLYC: Regardless when you can in fact tour Europe next year – how is a Carrie Welling live show alike?
Carrie: I’ve been touring Europe acoustically – just me, my guitar and my songs. One day I would love to do a full band tour!
FLYC: Last, but not least: if you think about being back in Germany for touring, is there anything you especially look forward to?
Carrie: I love all of Germany! The people there are such avid, loyal music lovers and treat all musicians with such respect. It’s truly humbling and inspiring as an artist. I’m looking forward to connecting with new people, exploring places I haven’t yet seen, and playing in more beautiful cities!