By Sonia Schnee | Posted Thursday, February 8, 2018
Northern NJ singer-songwriter Carlsea (aka Chelsea Carlson) has taken on a new sound -- and a new stage name -- with the release of her upcoming single, "Windows." Read about her exciting transformation, and Coffeehouse Tour of New Jersey, below.
What’s your name? Where are you from? Where are you based now?
Tell us about your upcoming single. Where did you record?
I’m so excited to have a new single coming out soon! The song is called “Windows” and is one of the most meaningful songs I have written. I recorded with a producer I met through the Women in Music Network, Chrissy Tignor. She is a professor at Berklee College of Music, which just so happens to be where I went to school, so we actually recorded up in Boston. It was a lot of fun to get back into the studio, work with Chrissy, and revisit my old stomping grounds.
How would you describe your sound? How does it compare to your past work?
2018 is my year to try out some new music and experiment with new genres -– so while my previous releases have all leaned towards rock music, “Windows” and the new music I’m working on definitely are more modern, electronic, and pop-inspired. I’m all about not boxing myself into one thing, and I’m so excited to be stepping a little outside my comfort zone and trying my hand at pop music.
What inspired you to take on a new sound and stage name?
A lot of things inspired the change. Changing my sound was something that was a long time coming. When I first started seriously writing and performing music, I was like sixteen-years-old and in the thick of my hippie stage (we all have one) -– and for a long time, I wanted to stay true to the original vision I had for myself back then: classic rock musician who played “real” music. Of course, then I grew up! And I realized there is a lot of “real” music out there, and I was totally closing myself off to new possibilities by trying to preserve this teenage vision of myself. When I stopped trying to stay within the “rock and roll” parameters, I ended up writing a lot of new music -– and it felt really great and natural to be writing for myself without any limitations! I’ve known for a while that these new songs were leading me in a new direction sound-wise, but it wasn’t until last year that I really figured out what that direction would be. When I realized things were going to change so drastically, I figured I wanted to mark the occasion... new sound, new name! And so “Carlsea” was born!
Who are your influences, musically?
I am influenced by a lot of musicians, but I would say my new sound is mainly influenced by alt-pop musicians such as Aurora, Sia, and Lorde, and singer/songwriters like Christina Perri and Sara Bareilles. My absolute favorite musician at the moment is Aurora, who is a Norwegian singer/songwriter who mixes elements of traditional folk music with electronic music. I think it’s so awesome to take two genres that are so totally different from each other and make something cohesive and unique. That’s definitely the sort of thing I’m going for with my new music -– keeping the lyrical content and storytelling but against the new backdrop of electronic music.
How did you get started with music? What’s been your personal journey?
I come from a very musical family, so music has always been a huge part of my life! I suppose I formally started playing music when I was in fourth grade –- which is when I started a “band” with my cousins and began writing songs. I was involved in all sorts of music activities throughout school and ultimately went to Berklee College of Music for Professional Music and electric bass when college rolled around. Since returning to New Jersey in 2011, I’ve been doing the whole singer/songwriter thing! I’m lucky enough to have performed at over 100 venues and festivals all along the east coast, have worked with amazing producers and musicians, and have released numerous singles and a full album. I've performed in bands and as a solo artist, spoken at conferences, had my music played on radio stations across the country, and run plenty of open mics and songwriter circles. I'm also a music teacher and really focus on not only teaching my students to be skilled musicians but also how to survive in this crazy world known as the music industry. It’s been nearly seven years (holy crap!) and a great journey so far, but it’s really only just getting started!
Are there any artists, bands, or producers you’d love to collaborate with one day?
If I had to pick one person I’d love to collaborate with, it would be Sia. She’s one of my favorite people in music because she’s been relevant for YEARS but flew under the radar as mostly a songwriter. And then she was able to break out and be a pop artist and icon of her own at like 40-years-old without ever even showing her face. I feel like she’d have a lot of interesting advice and stories to share with an aspiring artist like myself, and of course she’s a fantastic songwriter. She’s able to take these really dark lyrics and themes and make them songs you can dance to. It would be awesome to co-write a song with her!
What words of advice or encouragement would you give to someone who wants to follow a similar passion, or is maybe facing obstacles similar to what you’ve faced?
My biggest piece of advice is to work hard. Get out there are perform, write songs, meet people, have an online presence, and PRACTICE :) There is no such thing as “getting discovered” anymore. You have to be in it to win it, so get out there and show everyone what you’ve got!
What’s next on the horizon for you? Do you have any shows/tours coming up? Plans for the next album?
Right now, I’m currently in the middle of my Coffeehouse Tour of New Jersey. I’m only about a third through, so there are plenty of shows on that lineup still to come -– Espresso Joe’s (Keyport), Green Planet (Point Pleasant), The Fine Grind (Little Falls), Inkwell (Long Branch), and Gainville Cafe (Rutherford) to name a few. I’ll also be returning to Havana in New Hope, continuing my shows with NJ Transit’s Music in Motion, and more performances to come!
Currently, my big release will be my upcoming single, “Windows,” but I am already starting to lay the foundation for what will be my next EP. I have a lot of songs that I am so ready to record and share with the world.
Finally, how can people find you online?
My official website is http://www.carlsea.com and you can get to all my social media from there. Or you can just follow these links...
(Youtube and Soundcloud are still operating under my real name for the moment.)
You can also access my old releases as Chelsea Carlson on Bandcamp, Spotify, Itunes, and pretty much anywhere music is sold!