Beyond the Surface: Singer-songwriter Eileen Carey on Following Her Path to Music and Giving Back

Beyond the Surface: Singer-songwriter Eileen Carey on Following Her Path to Music and Giving Back
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Award-winning singer-songwriter Eileen Carey was named 2017 Crossover Artist of the Year by New Music Weekly. Breaking down the barriers between country and pop, Carey is currently promoting her flirtatious feel-good new single “Good Bad Girl.” She’s a recipient of the Producer's Choice Award for 2016 Female Country Artist of the Year at the Los Angeles Music Awards, as well as an award from industry-driven Independent Music Network awards.

How do you find inspiration for the music? Is there somewhere deep within where the inspiration comes from? It’s said that when we’re most connected to our true selves - for example, some of the best songs were written in minutes. What’s your take on that, do you feel that in those inspirational moments you’re most connected to your true self? Have any songs come to you in that way, with such ease?

My first recorded song That Town came to me as that moment of inspiration and completion you speak of. Ideas come from everywhere today. I am constantly seeing songs in my daily tasks of life. I write what I see, hear and feel in the world around me. I often jot down little notes to myself about what I want to write about, or things I see or think. But rarely does the moment of channeling the music in a sudden finishing epiphany happen in my process. It is all more a process with me.

Do you have a daily musical process?

I do! I work on my career every day. Ideas come to me and I first write them as a story. My songs are not particularly personal, they are mini movies. Then I decide on a co-writer and it goes back and forth until we feel it is ready for the studio--that the music and the lyric truly sing. This is how I have always done it. Also, though I live in California, we record the basic tracks in Nashville. The studio players often make arrangement suggestions changes to my producer and their thoughts are reflected in the track I will sing to. Then my producer Travis Allen and I bring in a studio vocalist to sing the song so that I can hear what they do with it. After the track is sung by me for first takes we further make adjustments to the vocal melody and the lyrics.

When did you know you had this gift of music and how did it manifest for you? How did you start to do the human discipline it takes to channel your gift, hone it and bring it forth?

I learned to play drums as a kid! Don’t do it much anymore but do have a set of drums in the house, and do work out on them on occasion still. But I knew music was my life’s direction when I came to Los Angeles years ago to study film while working in hotel management. I would hire musical acts and realized that I could do what they were doing, and so I went after this career I am now a part of! All the elements I have studied, film, art, music and business have combined to make me the artist I am today. I have always been a disciplined person. Don’t know where it comes from exactly. Probably my parents. I sung and acted in grade school and in the community. Music came very naturally to me but, I came west to Los Angeles to study acting and theater. I believe in study and craft, and really wanted to be a film director. That is how I came to Los Angeles with a business marketing degree. I didn’t think you could make a living with music until I had the executive chore of booking the talent for the hotels.

There are divine moments of serendipity, where a catalyst opens the door that leads to the path we’re meant to be on, the one where we live out the fullest expression of our true selves. What was that moment for you and how did it happen?

There are actually two moments that I could describe that were catalysts. While I was booking acts at the Sheraton and realized I could do what I was booking; and the first time I heard my first single That Town on the radio! I knew I was capable of writing and singing songs.

What inspired this blog series was seeing an old friend who has a special gift of music, but didn’t choose that path, who, 20 years later, isn’t living the life he thought he would live. People who make music and get to travel the world doing so are a rare example of a life where one is able to honor and channel their gift of music. What are your thoughts? And do you feel you’re consciously living the life you thought you would be living?

I don’t know if this is brash, but yes, I do think I am consciously living the life I was meant to live. I was lucky though as well, my husband was very successful in the restaurant business which allowed me the freedom to follow my gifts; but it was with little doubt for me where I belonged once I heard That Town on the radio. I think you have to make yourself who you want to be.

I’ve said in that blog post about living the Mozart life, that it may be a tougher road to choose, but you’re fully living your true selves. Do you resonate to that? You did not choose the 9 to 5 path.

Yes. But I did the 9-5 for years. As I said, my booking job at the hotels convinced me of my true creativity which brought me to sing, write and perform. Funny enough though, I can say I actually turned down a more senior executive offer by the hotel chain to sing.

But to embark on this path you chose, was that difficult? Because you didn’t know you would get here.

I think that some things are just a part of who you are, and there is little choice but to follow those things. I never think much about failure. I think “difficult” is a matter of perspective. Things that are worth accomplishing take effort. I didn’t have to know that I would be successful only that it was my “true self” that you speak of. Music was “me” so to speak.

How did you know that this is your life path, your calling? How does someone know when they’re on the correct path?

I believe each person has to find that “know” and act on it when they do “know.” It can be elusive. As I have said, I was fortunate enough to have people react positively to my music from the start.

What is your idea of success, especially on the path you chose?

Being good at what I do is my idea of success. When I see people enjoy my music I feel successful. But also, and equally, to be able to do what you love to do while maintaining a family life, friendships and your other passions. To live life fully! Be open to growth. Change!

Life gives us catalysts, a release valve, which often is our lowest point in life that allows us to push up to the next, hopefully better chapter. Like a desert, wilderness period in life, that helps raise our consciousness and stay true to yourself and your own path. What was that low point for you that helped you push yourself further, evolve and do better, and what did you do when you had that epiphany?

My faith, my drive, one door closes another opens. I always look for the positive in things, no matter how low I get. I don’t know where it comes from. I think some people who are especially good at what they do, have that faith in themselves and their paths.

It’s been a tough time for music, losing many of its legends or those we grew up with whose music was our soundtrack. What are your thoughts on time, how it seems to go by faster each year. Perhaps it’s made you reflect on what you want to achieve in the time we’re given here? Do you think about time much and what you want to achieve in the time we have?

All the time! I have so many things that I want to accomplish. That is why I have a go-for-it attitude. That is one of the messages I carry. As for losing some of our greats, I think it points to how exhausting it can be to be constantly in the limelight. Artists have had to live their lives of celebrity wherever they are

Unlike any time in history, we’re in an overwhelming digital era. There is so much detritus, noise and schadenfreude. What’s your view on that, and how do you find quiet in this era? What do you do to connect with your Higher Self, your true self? Do you have a day you unplug for example? How do you ground yourself, focus on your own life path and purpose?

My faith. I am a Catholic and honor that. Not just religion though, but my faith in my path. I love being on the stage. I love making music. I love be able to help people and animals. It is how I find and reside in my “true self.” Hope that doesn’t sound cliché, because it just happens to be the truth. Also, for the past 15 years I have trained as a kick-boxer. That is another part of my “higher self” my meditation and my escape into myself. Animals, family, meditation are all the tools that I use to keep myself centered.

I’m a firm believer in giving back, to be of service in some way, to use our time most wisely, can only help us in the end. What are your thoughts and do you try to help others, even in the smallest way.

I never feel like I am doing enough to help others despite my years of donations, fundraisers and hands on involvements. Maybe it is a bit of Catholic guilt (laughs), but truly I am so blessed in my life that it would be a crime not to lend a hand where it is needed. I do have my passions. I’ve been doing homeless fundraisers for years. I was the Spotlight Artist for the Annual Summerfest on Venice Beach for the Make A Wish Foundation, for years of supporting that organization. And I am involved with the animal rescue community in Los Angeles. In July of 2015 I hosted, along with Morgan Fairchild and Karn Myers of FixNation, a huge fundraising show at The Autry Museum. But where I really get to be of service is in my Music Mom Blog. That is the place where I get to share my experience and faith on a weekly basis with people who are musicians and parents. It is a place to discover news, resources as well as my take on things parenting and music.

What advice do you have for people who have the gift of music, but don’t know how to start channeling it, to develop that gift and bring it out?

I think you have to dive in! Got to get your feet wet! True about most things in life, you must continually fine-tune your craft as well. As I have said, I am a fan of study and practice. Not only the music, but the business side of your gift too.

What do you do to help pick yourself up when you’re feeling down, and help you stay the course? Is there a song you play that inspires you when you’re needing some inspiration or to pick yourself up?

No particular song but certainly music helps. But, I like going to the gym. Again, I have trained in the art of kick-boxing for years. The gym is one of my favorite pick me ups! But as I mentioned before an attitude of gratitude goes a long way to keeping me emotionally healthy. I have a full family life and I have my cats and dogs. Animals make a huge contribution to my positive moods.

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