Carly Thomas has been calling London Ontario home for the past several years, but for most of her early life, home was wherever her father’s business took her. Born in Thailand, raised in Argentina, France and several places across North America, her broad cultural experiences have given her a deep well to draw inspiration from. Learning guitar as a youngster in Argentina it was a dean at her school in Buenos Aries who encouraged her to put on a show for the school, giving her the confidence to perform in front of people. Performing in her teens in Paris and later at folk clubs in New York, Thomas gained even more experience performing and refined her writing skills, even spending some time taking creative writing courses at New York’s The New School University.
Recently Thomas returned from an extended trip to California and agreed to talk to 519 about her experience there and new music in the works.
Tell us about going to California.
I went out there to do a quick sort of visit and do some writing out there and then Chris McCready my guitarist came out there and we decided to do some shows. That turned into the opportunity for me to stay out there and that allowed me to network and set up relationships that would allow me to keep going back there and explore the writing world of L.A. so it was a lot longer than I planned but it was really amazing. I met some people that really support, promote and appreciate singer/songwriters. I made some connections with people to get out on the west coast a bit more. I feel like that’s going to be a good move for me to start spending a lot more time there.
Were you feeling things were getting a bit stale at home?
No, not stale, but I think especially in music for me for my own creativity and personal growth there’s always the question of what’s next.
Do you think your upbringing affected this thinking? Did moving around a lot growing up make you more curious and willing to explore?
I think it gives me a unique edge in terms of being comfortable in a lot of movement and change, yeah, and knowing that’s what it’s going to take in order to reach more people. There’s nothing really tying me down to one specific place. I have family that I love but I’ve sort of created my life in a way that I can jump at any opportunity that presents itself. While it was really nice to stay in one spot for a while and develop some relationships and work on my craft, there comes a time where you have to take it more seriously and extend your reach a bit.
Do you see yourself moving to California?
I see myself basing myself more on the west coast and coming back here to Ontario a couple times a year and also focusing on Europe as well. Wherever it’s more open and I’m appreciated is where I want to be.
Do you find that the west coast is more open to your music because of it’s folk roots?
I do, I find that there’s more embracing of artists in general, especially in California. And I think that once we are able to surround ourselves with like minded individuals we thrive. That’s why I’m wanting to be out there more because it feels like the roots are getting watered more there than other places. That’s not to say that it’s bad here, it’s just different.
Any interesting stories from your trip?
I was having a day where I was questioning if I was doing the right thing. I was wondering who was listening to my music and if I was reaching anyone. So I was playing a new song for a friend from Austin, Texas I had just met through other friends and she asked me if I was on Spotify. I said yeah, I’m all over, so she looked me up and said, “Oh God, I didn’t put it together, I’ve been listening to your song “By Your Side” for the last 10 years since it came out. I just randomly found it on a playlist and it’s a song that means a lot to me!” “I can’t believe this just happened!” She had no idea it was me singing that song and it was a super cosmic moment for both of us. It was a message from the universe to me that I’m on the right path and I’m reaching people.
What do you think of streaming services like Spotify? I heard the other day that the founder of Spotify, Daniel Ek is worth 2.2 billion dollars U.S.
I need to read that article. I was just talking with a friend the other day who said that when someone buys a CD at a show, that’s the equivalent of what I make in a year from streams. Music is such an important part of our culture and our lives, if people don’t buy CDs or T-shirts at shows, independent artists like myself can’t survive, so it’s really important for that support. Spotify is good for reach and accessibility to music which is important but it doesn’t necessarily help the funding of what it takes to make a living creating music.
You’ve been in the studio, are you working on your next album?
Yeah, so I’ve been working at the Sugar Shack here in London with Kyle Ashbourne and we did a few songs live off the floor, a few new ones that I’ve been playing live for a while but I just hadn’t recorded them, so I wanted to capture the live element. I have a lot of stuff in my pocket ready for release so there’s going to be a lot of new stuff coming out in the next couple months. So we did that first and actually yesterday I was there working on some vocals for two new tracks that we’re working on and so far it looks like we’re going to release them as singles and I’d really like to follow that up with a full length album.
For the latest news on show dates and other info check out facebook.com/carlythomasmusic.