For any Taylor Swift fan, the name Caitlin Evanson is about as common as the word “music” itself. Caitlin was the highly entertaining red head up on stage next to Swift that often had a fiddle on her shoulder or a microphone in her hand singing back up vocals. And for those who aren’t Taylor Swift fans, then you better prepare to become a Caitlin Evanson fan.
Caitlin is one of the most talented and fierce musicians in the world; a bit of a hidden treasure at this point. Caitlin is a woman who can own the stage like only the most elite performers can, play a variety of instruments like her life depended on it, AND she can SING. Couple that with some wicked cool song writing skills and you really have a true force to reckon with. Country Music #CMchat got to sit down with Caitlin and catch up with what she’s doing these days….
How is life treating you these days?
Life is treating me more than well. Surfing, hiking, living, loving and deeply enjoying new roots growing in my life.
You bring such a raw, genuine feel to your music, where do you pull your current inspiration from?
I am probably one of the happiest people you could meet. And sometimes I wonder if its because 90% of my songs are sad. I am a big believer in cleansing. And I think I subconsciously take the sadness and wield it into something enjoyable to share, rather than to take it out on people around me. Make sense? Also, one of the best things I’ve ever been fortunate enough to do, is observe how the masters do it. All the writers I worked with in Nashville, of course, Taylor, and all the greats I will never stop listening to, that make a song haunt the airwaves forever. Have you ever just sat and thought about the song “Hotel California”? And what that story would look like, made into a movie? What a story. There is a natural stream of consciousness in that song. A flow. You feel it when you listen to it. That’s what I want inspires me these days.
You’ve had a highlighted background as a part of Taylor Swift’s band, how has that helped you with moving forward to the next phase of your career?
You can’t help but live in a sort of parallel universe, when you tour for years at a time. Especially for a world class household name. You can’t rewrite history. You can’t help but have many consider this as your life’s “title” after you’ve done it. All things that I could never have fully understood until I stepped out to plant seeds and grow this new life and music of mine. Processing an 8 year incredible whirlwind takes time. But what I am gradually learning is that I got to be a part of music history. Something that put my own ability and magic on the map. And I am so grateful. Being a special gear in a big machine is exhilarating and sometimes exhausting, in the best way possible. I am also gradually learning that I now have a massive and almost endless amount of memories, emotions, roller coasters, triumphs and terrors to draw from for my next million songs. Books and books, story upon story. And that fuels my creative fire.
You’re an accomplished instrumentalist, what is your favorite instrument to play and naturally…why?!
When I was 4, I saw a violin concerto performed by Itzhak Perlman on our tv at home, in Seattle. I pointed to the screen and basically said, “That’s what I want to be”. My dad was a classical guitar guru, so when he heard this, a tiny violin was in my hands the next day. I was screeching my way through “Twinkle Twinkle” before my parents could put in their earplugs. Violin is like breathing to me. It’s just something I’ve always done. It was also one of the lifelong most difficult things I’ve done, so its all the sweeter for it. It is an instrument that demands my undivided passionate attention to detail and perfect pitch. One tiny roll of a pinky in the wrong direction is the difference between a good and bad performance that day. I can almost hear it speaking to me sometimes, “If you’re not going to love me deeply, don’t waste my time. Pack me up”. I have always needed that kind of challenge. I respect it and it continues to change my life every time I pick it up. And especially these days. As a musician, I can’t help but reinvent and renew what I am, as my environment changes. Violin, it is.
How would you classify your sound?
As an artist, I am always “classifying my sound”. If you heard my first self titled record from about 13 years ago, my “sound” would be a lot like Evanescense. That’s what I was into. Today? I would say organic. I lean into Ingrid Michaelson, Patty Griffin, Foy Vance and Colbie Caillat. But I have to laugh as I even say this. Because that still isn’t “me”. I guess you could say I adore their songwriting and vocal inflections. But I also love Nine Inch Nails, Hozier, Iron And Wine, Haim, Drake and God knows what else. I never know how to answer that question. So there’s my answer, haha.
Favorite song you’ve written thus far?
As an artist/songwriter, my favorite song is always “the one I finished today”. Every time. So today, its “Little Parts Of You”. There will be a “bedroom session” version of it on my soundcloud soon. On a day I don’t finish a song? I usually come back to the silly, less introspective ones. Like, “Why Ya Do Me Like That”. I have always had a thing for a simple catchy melody with a happy pop-vibe with a mean jab of a lyric. There’s a “bedroom session”, of that song on my soundcloud. (Caitln Bird).
Your musical crush? And would they be your dream collab? If not….who?!(Snuck an extra question in this one…oops!)
Can there be 2? One, MACKELMORE! First of all, he’s from Seattle, my forever home. Second, he made me fall in love with music again and listen to it in a way I hadn’t in years. As a musician, melodies and chords free flow pretty easy. But lyrics stump me. Really good ones. And his were astounding to me. As a violinist, I was so captivated by all the perfect string stacks and and instrumental moments weaving through the whole thing. I feel like they cared so much and put everything they had into it, with such a family vibe. Two, Ingrid Michaelson! When it comes to haunting harmonies and painfully true-ringing lyrics, she’s my go to right now. I love her live personality and her brilliance when necessary, and her simplicity in the appropriate moments. The “Lights Out” on vinyl doesn’t stop spinning in my house. Embarrassing? maybe, but sometimes I just play my violin to “Open Hands”, like 10 times in a row, alone…in my house. Okay. Anyway….
Favorite music related memory?!
12 Years ago, I was in Rome, playing fiddle for a small country band for a month long USO Tour. I imagine the rough parts of that city are pretty dang rough. My bandmates and I wandered into an area that felt pretty rough to us. I heard what sounded like “O Sole Mio” playing on a violin down the street. I followed it around the corner and found this little kid. I think he was maybe 8 years old. He looked pretty beat up, and had a couple euro in his open violin case. I applauded and held out my hands. To this day, I can’t believe he did this, but he handed the 3/4 size violin to me, and I knelt down and played the chorus of “Hey, Jude”. He lit up and started singing along, in a thick Italian accent. I dropped a few euro in his case and handed him his violin and walked back to find my bandmates. It’s funny, I never told anyone about it. Asking me to have a favorite music related memory is like asking me which breath in my life was my favorite to take. So I’ll stick with this one for now. 😉
Is there a method to your madness in terms of approaching songwriting?!
I think some writers can work up tears and evoke a lot of emotion out of thin air. For me, that’s like trying to sneeze. I’ll never be able to make it happen. So I’m the type that just goes about my day, constantly toting a heavy bag full of notepads, and pens (because hand-writing is still so therapeutic to me), yoga clothes, towels, phone, keys, ear buds etc. I look like a spaz most of the time because I make sure I remain open when an idea comes and I stop what I’m doing, and write it down. Or else, it goes away and never comes back. I guess I kind of liken it to a giant rain cloud that follows me around, randomly dropping melodies and lyrics wherever I go. I hate that it always wakes me up at 3am. And if I don’t record it, its gone in the morning. My writing life is a mountain of puzzle pieces, waiting to be put together. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Any secret talents?
Besides a tri-pod headstand in yoga class? Nope. Once a middle child, always a middle child. If I find that I have a “hidden talent”, it doesn’t stay hidden for long. I have to show it off, be it x-ray vision, or a double jointed finger. Everybody! Look what I can do!
Coolest fan moment that’s happened in the last 3 months?
I love it. There’s been drawings, paintings, print-screened tshirts with my face on it made by a fan, every pastry in the shape and color of anything and everything on tours, songs, videos, letters, ice scuptures and everything else you can and can’t possibly imagine for all of us. When I read “I started playing the fiddle because of you”, in tweets etc, it never gets old. That one is always a favorite. And in the last 3 months? Well, I’m not sure if yall are familiar with Jencita Vargas, but she has done nothing but support, help, promote and love my own tiny and developing artistry since she started following me on Twitter. She is becoming quite the artist promoter in her own right. Check her out. I greatly appreciate everything she has done to promote my last youtube videos and live shows in San Diego.
To see Caitlin in action check out her “bedroom session” video for ‘Why Ya Do Me Like That’ below:
And to see her make the most of a power outage on the Taylor Swift RED tour, check out her fiddle solo below:
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