Carson Henley

12th Annual Pop Album Vox Pop Winner

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Record Label: Self-Released

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Home Base: Seattle, WA

Genre: Pop

Categories Entered: Best Pop Album

Work Submitted: 100 Hours

Artists Featured: Carson Henley

Label: Self-Released

Who are your influences?: Stevie Wonder. Donny Hathaway. James Taylor. The Beatles. Pretty much all soul music, in general, gets me going. I am also a big fan of the following current artists:   Jamie Cullum, James Morrison, Marc Broussard, Kings of Leon, Sara Bareilles, and Adele. Songwriting, musicianship and artistry are the things that move me to admire the work of certain artists, past and present.

Describe your nominated work: 100 Hours was a true “going all in” moment. I didn’t have a ton of money to make an album and was going through a bit of a songwriting block at the time that I came up with the idea for the project. I really wanted to test myself as an artist, so I gave myself 100 waking hours to write all of the songs and record all of the major parts. I didn’t know how many songs would result from my efforts.  I didn’t know if I was going to succeed. However, I was forced to really open my mind creatively and just let my musical instincts take over. I am so happy with the album and how everything turned out. It is truly my proudest work to date as an artist.

Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording?: Honestly, everything was just “real”. I didn’t have time to think about production really, so I stuck with the basics for the instruments and focused on making the tones of the record embody what I wanted “my sound” to be at its most basic level.

Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned?: EVERYTHING was a happy accident! I mean, I had 8 hours to record drums and bass together, and then a full day to record guitar, piano and vocals. So, imagine calling musicians to come and play on the record without them ever hearing the songs, and having to QUICKLY learn the songs on the spot. They then had to adjust their parts on the fly as I tried to express what I THOUGHT I wanted for the song. The whole premise of the project was so time-restricted and spontaneous, that it makes me wonder, in retrospect, how we even accomplished it. Somehow, the music gods were with me and it all just came together beautifully.

How did you raise the funds for this project? How long do you expect it will take to recoup your out-of-pocket recording expenses?: I raised funds by working and gigging, and also working…did I mention working? HA…I saved as much money as possible and took every gig I could in order to pay for the album.  I am hoping that I will be able to recoup the albums costs in the next year. Keepin’ these fingers crossed!!  I want to do another record after all!

Why did you choose to submit this work to The 12th IMAs?: Well, 100 Hours is something of which I am really proud. I couldn’t just pick one song to submit because I feel so strongly about each of them on this record. So, I thought “Why not just submit the album?”

What’s your definition of success and how will you know when you’ve achieved it?: Success for me is to be able to continue to do music for the rest of my life and be able to play at different venues around the nation/world. I would know I have achieved this goal when I am able to stop singing in the middle of one of my songs and let the crowd finish singing the rest. I don’t care if it’s for 50 people or 50,000 people. That, to me, is success.

How will you leverage your IMA honors to achieve your career goals?: To be nominated for an IMA is such a great honor and I think that it can really give credibility to an artist. It says to those in the industry that you do have talent and it has been recognized. Gaining respect from people who work in the industry is one of the most difficult hurdles to clear in music.

Who’s sitting in your audience and what makes your fans unique?: Other than my parents and my sisters? No, honestly, I feel that my fans could not be any more supportive than they already are. Some come out to every show I have!  It means the world to me. I think what makes them unique is that they are so cool…SERIOUSLY!  I have even become friends with many of the people that started out as fans of my music. It sounds a bit strange, but it’s true!

What is your guilty pleasure on the road? Any close calls or mishaps while on tour?: The WaWa market. I don’t know why I love that place so much, but it is truly a shame its not on the west coast. As far as close calls while on tour…things have been pretty safe and I’ve had good luck so far. *Knocks on wood*

Who are your musical heroes & influences?: (What I said in question #1): Stevie Wonder. Donny Hathaway. James Taylor. The Beatles. Pretty much all soul music, in general, gets me going. I am also a big fan of the following current artists:   Jamie Cullum, James Morrison, Marc Broussard, Kings of Leon, Sara Bareilles, and Adele. Songwriting, musicianship and artistry are the things that move me to admire the work of certain artists, past and present.

Are there any songs you wish you wrote and why?: *Disclaimer – Most of these songs listed below are written/performed by current artists. This is mainly because putting the entire Stevie Wonder and Beatles song catalog and telling you why I wish I wrote these would have been a touch overkill. I also find peace in the fact they were written before I was born…or at least before I started writing songs.

Jeff Buckley – “Last Goodbye”
I had to pull this song up and play it while I was writing this just because I needed to…I love this song for so many reasons. It has some of the coolest chord changes throughout the entire song, and Jeff sang such an AMAZING vocal line. Then that BRIDGE, it just rips! Finally a musical interlude before the chorus…well, technically I don’t think he even sings the same lines twice – so there really isn’t a chorus. How can you make such a fantastic song that is catchy without a repeating chorus? Wow.

Jamie Lidell – “Another Day”
This could possibly be the happiest song on the face of the planet…just TRY and play this song without smiling. Impossible. For any of you who write music or lyrics or poems or other stuff…writing about happiness or making a happy song is really difficult without a healthy topping of cheese (from the can of course). This song is the epitome of dairy-free happiness and I wish I had thought of it sooner than Jamie did.

John Mayer – “Gravity”
This. Song. Is. Perfect. Lyrically. Musically. Everything is Perfect. John Mayer you are a genius and thank you for this song. I don’t really know what else to say. It gave me chills when I first heard it.

Ray Lamontagne – “Let It Be Me”
Ray kinda blows my mind sometimes…he has the ability to make some of the most amazing songs and they are all so simple. His voice is absolutely mesmerizing and powerful. This song is so beautiful – it makes me hold my breath just so I can hear everything.

Kings of Leon – “Use Somebody”
It really is such an unbelievable song and hook. Not to mention the line that everyone loves, “ya know that I could use somebody.”

Dave Barnes – “Grace’s Amazing Hands”
Such a beautiful idea for a song. Great lyrics. Great songwriting. Just Great…

James Taylor – “September Grass”
I’m a big fan of songs that tell a story and make me feel “in” the song…this is one of those songs.

What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans?: Hmmm I have very eclectic musical taste. I really love the Eagles of Death Metal and Mutemath. Also, on the other end of the spectrum, jazz singer, Gregory Porter, is in heavy rotation for me right now.

How do you discover new music? Do you buy music or are you content with streaming?: I usually discover new music through just wasting time on the internet or through my music nerd friends. It’s almost a competition to see who can turn someone onto their next musical obsession.

I actually stream music a lot, especially when finding new music. With new bands/artists, I want to make sure I like the album before buying it. Then, if I’m digging the record, I’ll definitely buy it. I really do want to support great artists whenever I have the financial means to do so. When I do like something, I shout it to every person I can (it’s my way of justifying the streaming).

How will musicians make a living if fans continue to expect music to be free?: I don’t necessarily think fans expect music to be free. But, artists need to understand that 5-10 bucks for a CD isn’t going to change their bank account in the long run. Turning a fan into someone who will come to every show and bring 10 of their friends and then attack the merch booth afterwards WILL affect their bank account. Most fans want to support artists they love. The trick is getting them to help spread that love to all of their friends and more!

What don’t fans/audiences understand about the music industry today?: Mainstream radio is single handedly KILLING the musical tastes of the general public. Just to make a long, complicated process short and sweet to understand, Radio can be seen as a legal payola system – or as they call it “sponsored airtime.” The more money you pay, the more spins your song is going to get. So why don’t we hear the thousands of amazing smaller/independent artists out there today? Because they can’t afford to be heard. Big labels have big money to blow on their flavor of the month. I just wish they would pick different flavors and back higher quality artists.

Are digital singles/EPs vs. full albums the future?: I think that the industry has been moving in that direction only because the amount of “quality” full albums being released are fewer and farther between. No one wants to pay 10 bucks for 12 songs when only 2-3 are worth playing more than once. As an artist, if you focus on making a quality record all the way through, people will buy it. (See Adele’s 21)

Finish this sentence: The music industry is…impossible to predict.

What do you have in the works for the upcoming year?: I am starting to draw up the blueprint for a new record!