UK-based homegirl Carmody really hits the sweet spot when it comes to satisfying melodies, crisp, textured vocals and straightforward, honest lyricism. You may know this massively talented vocalist and songwriter from collaborations on fellow British artist Tom Misch’s debut EP Out To Sea, as well as the recent album, Geography, sold-out shows in the London area, or a whole slew of solo work that will soothe your weary, end-of-summer soul. Her most recent release, Catching Blue, is an ethereal, soul-stirring five-piece EP that feels every bit as heartfelt as her previous work.

Covering topics like depression and grief, Carmody takes an unapologetically honest take on human existence with Catching Blue. For example, the song, “Being Without You”, outlines the emotional impact of losing someone important to your life. Her insights are super deep and priceless:

“I read that grief is what love becomes when someone dies. It really got me thinking about death – how words feel completely inadequate when you try to comfort someone and how after a while, there is an idea that you should move on. In my music, people are often saying to me to write something happier; and although I have done, I’m just more comfortable writing in my ‘blue’ territory. This song is kind of my resistance.”

Catch our exclusive conversation with this gloriously real artist, where we talk about working with a wide range of humanness, the writing process and how to self-care on days when the creativity doesn’t flow as easily.

So where are you from originally, what’s your personal background?

Well I’m from South East London and I’m a songwriter. I also run music workshops for people living with dementia. I’ve always loved music, my Grandma looked after me a lot when I was younger and taught me how to sing. My parents are both psychotherapists, which is probably why my songs are all quite biographical, open and honest, to the point it gets me in trouble sometimes.

How did you first get into music? Where you always drawn to this form of expression or did it develop later in life?

I first got into writing songs after a bad breakup, while I was studying English Literature at Sussex University. I’d always sung, played guitar and written poetry, but it was only after an achy heart that they found a place in each other.

Who are some of your biggest influences musically, either past or present?

From the past, it has to be Judee Sill, Joni Mitchell, Joan Armatrading and Leonard Cohen. At the moment, I’m really into Big Thief, Haley Heynderickx and The National.

One of the pre-released singles off your recent EP is the emotional ballad, “Being Without You”. Can you describe what this song is about?

Yes, it’s actually about death and the grieving process, which is quite a heavy topic for a song. But my friends, who set up and run a charity called The Good Grief Project, wrote an article in which they said that grief is what love becomes when someone dies. So the more you love, the harder you grieve. I’d never thought about this exchange before and it really inspired me to try and write about it. I sing about how words feel completely inadequate when you try to comfort someone who is grieving, the struggle to find something to say in the sympathy cards, the difficulty (or reluctance) people can have to really step into the world of loss and expose themselves to feeling something with that person, and how, after a while, there is an idea that you should move on. I guess in my music people are often saying to me to write something happier, and although I have done in the past, I’m just generally more comfortable writing in my ‘blue’ territory. So this song is kind of my resistance and I explore that alongside grief in the chorus lyrics too.

What’s your process generally like as far as writing and recording? Are you more structured with it, or do you tend to “let it flow” more?

I make it quite difficult for myself as I prefer writing the melody and lyrics all at the same time. I can never really work out the melody without having the lyrics as well, which sometimes means the flow is quite interrupted. Voice notes are my life line and when I’m writing by myself I often record some ideas then go for a walk and listen to them and see what stands out. Then, if I’m not working with someone, I’ll do a rough recording on Logic, then think about where to take the song next.

Overall, would you say you prefer collaborating with other artists or do you favor writing and recording on a solo basis?

I really enjoy collaborating. It can be a more exciting process and I don’t lose faith quite as quickly, ha! I’ve also learnt a lot from working with others and, even if we don’t use the song, I feel like I take something with me from the session inspired by their different methods of creating. But there are some songs that are so personal I feel like they need to be written alone, and that’s an important process too and one I enjoy, particularly on those rare occasions when it just flows out of you.

You recently worked alongside Tom Misch on his album Geography. What was that like? Are you, like, friends? 🙂

I always love working with Tom, his approach to songwriting feels intuitive and incredibly inventive. I helped him with the lyrics on a few of the songs in Geography – it was a very fun and interesting process, we really worked hard on ‘Movie’, interrogating and altering every line until it all really fitted together. And yes we are friends, ha!

What about your lovely EP, Catching Blue. Can you tell us the concept behind the release as a whole? Was it different in any way getting this together as compared to your previous work?

Catching Blue is about five different kinds of sadness, dealing with loss in its various forms. Through this project, I learnt that I could write about more than love; I’ve covered a lot of new ground, subjects I never imagined I could be singing about – such as depression, grief and two songs where I explore whether my love for songwriting is strong enough to work in such a mentally challenging and saturated industry. These songs have taken a long time to come to fruition, there have been countless versions of the production and mixes to get it right. I’ve also co-written some of the tracks, so it feels more collaborative as a project and it took me out of my comfort zone (chord and melody-wise) which can only be a good thing.

Artwork from Catching Blue

On days when you feel kind of stuck creatively, what do you do to sort of get out of that and self-care?

I find exercise really helps to pull me out of those low days. I’m also a big talker, I think being open about how you’re feeling and speaking to people in a similar profession can be really soothing. I also read a lot of poetry. There are so many amazing writers out there who find the words to describe what’s going on in my mind in ways I never could.

Finally, any parting advice or words of wisdom to girls or women, either in music or just everyone?

Trust your gut. The music industry is full of people who believe they know what’s best for your art. Surround yourself with people who bolster your individual creativity, rather than try to change it. For women, and I need to take this advice myself: go to jam sessions, say yes to things you feel you might be under-qualified for and occupy spaces (production, sound engineering) that have historically been dominated by men.

Thanks, Carmody!