Carrie Lane is not the type of artist who can be put in a box. The singer, songwriter, curve model and video maker relishes in wearing many hats and seems to find the space in between the boxes far more interesting than the boxes themselves. Lane’s sound and persona are thoroughly modern. She’s finely tuned into the happenings in pop culture and social media, and that awareness extends naturally to her career. Her upcoming EP “California Freaks” is out June 23, and she hopes the album will take listeners on an emotional journey that explores the middle ground of relationships.
Recently, the New Jersey native modeled in Target’s #RealGirls body-positive campaign, and took the opportunity to speak out against the industry’s warped standards of what qualifies as “plus sized.”
Inspirer caught up with Lane, who’s been busy promoting her album and its new single, “Think About It.” Here’s what she had to say about her new music, how she defines “cool pop,” and what she thinks about being labeled a plus sized model:
Your EP “California Freaks” is coming out so soon. How are you feeling?
It’s crazy. I know artists say this all the time, but most people who aren’t in music don’t realize how long it takes for it to come out. Generally, there’s a lot of time between when you finish something and when people hear it. I finished all of these songs by November/December of last year. It feels like this whole hurry up and wait situation because I want everyone to hear it so badly. So, I’m excited, but at the same time, it’s super nerve wracking. Because you’ve been holding this thing close to your heart and close to your person for so long. And you’re going to put it out there. It’s like your baby! What if people don’t like it, or don’t respond to it? So it’s a whole rollercoaster of emotions. But the general emotion is excitement!
And what are the themes of the album? What can we expect to hear from you?
The songs are different tales of heartbreak. I like to write about stuff where I’ve messed up. And stuff that’s not always the easiest to talk about. I feel like pop music is turning in a more realistic direction. Generally, when you listen to pop music, it’s either these songs about love and how amazing love is, or they’re these super heartbreak songs where everything went wrong. But nobody writes about that middle ground — about the struggle of all the different complexities; when something isn’t working, or when you want something to work, and it shouldn’t. There’s all this grey area and hardship. And there’s a responsibility as an artist that you have to take and write about these things. It’s not always you as a victim. You never hear songs that are like “I cheated on him,” or “I broke this person’s heart.” So I try to tap into themes of human emotions, and things I’ve messed up on. The music has kind of helped me cope, so hopefully, these songs help other people cope with things they’ve gone through, and maybe even the mistakes and missteps they’ve made as well.
I want to hear about your upcoming single “Think About It.” What inspired it?
“Think About It” is, out of all these songs, the roughest and most raw. I feel like when something doesn’t go my way, I try to find a numbing device to cope with it. And it’s not always the healthiest. It’s about turning to alcohol to avoid dealing with the emotion of being heartbroken. It’s about the experience when you think you’re over something or somebody, and you’re just going about your day. You’re thinking, “this doesn’t hurt anymore. I wake up and it’s not the first thing I think about anymore.” But then the second you put something in your body — whether drugs or alcohol or whatever it is — you instantly go back to that stomach ache of missing that person. You realize you’re not really over it. I know a lot of my friends have gone through it. I’ve definitely gone through it. You’re like “I’m so strong, I’m so over this!” And then the second that substance hits your body, you’re like “hmm, wait maybe I’m not really admitting to myself where I’m at with the situation.”
My advice in that moment is “it’s ok to not be ok!” That might not be very comforting to someone who just wants to move past the pain. That’s a little bit of the theme of the music I’ve written. It’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to live in those emotions. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is sit with an emotion that’s unresolved or uncomfortable. And I think the first step of getting to a good place after having those emotions is accepting the fact that you’re not ok. That’s the long and short of what the song is about!
You’ve mentioned that Lana Del Rey and Amy Winehouse are two of your biggest influences and that you’re drawn to “cool pop.” Can you tell me what “cool pop” means to you?
People always ask me what’s the difference between mainstream pop and the music I write. I feel like mainstream pop is converting now a bit. But I think cool pop is the underbelly of what people want to say, versus what actually needs to be said. And I think both Lana and Amy were masters of taking you to a place where you’re in the emotion with them. But those aren’t always emotions you want to confront. You don’t necessarily blast their music in the car because you want to feel free. You blast it because you want to feel something. For me, feelings and emotions, and being taken on that journey is what defines cool pop.
Where do you hope to take your career if not to Top 40 Radio?
Some people assume that indie female pop artists want to stay independent because they want creative control. Or they want to be this movement of “I don’t need mainstream or a major label.” I don’t subscribe to that. I want to sign major. I want to tour major. I want to do mainstream radio. Because if you say “screw the man, screw these big companies that reach millions of people” you’re kind of selling yourself short. You can do certain artistic things on your own, and get to a certain level. All that stuff is great. If someone believes in you enough to put you on a bigger platform, you might have to give up a little artistry. But if you’re able to become iconic, or make yourself big in the industry, then you’re able to kind of use your voice independently. People think you get signed as a major artist and you become this puppet of what society wants you to be. But the people who are truly iconic — like Prince and David Bowie — took that status and power and spread their own message. And that’s something I definitely aspire to do.
Do you see yourself moving towards music exclusively, or do you want to continue to wear several hats and be a multimedia artist (video, modeling, etc.)
I think I’ll never be able to escape the fact that I love having my hands in everything. I want to be a music recording artist. That’s 100% what I want to do. But do I want to incorporate that into doing some sort of fashion line down the road? Totally. Or do I always jump in whenever I’m shooting a music video, and also direct? Also yes! I think as an artist, I like to be so involved that I’ll always wear many hats. That’s who I am.
If you could choose any artist on earth to collaborate with, who would it be?
If it’s dead or alive, it would be David Bowie. If it’s only alive, Bruce Springsteen.
You’ve said people make a lot of assumptions about you based on the way you look. If you could reveal one unexpected thing about yourself, what would it be?
A lot of people don’t realize I graduated high school 5th in my class, I was a Science Olympiad, and I went to NYU. I’m not just a smart girl, I’m a nerdy girl. I enjoy being an intellectual and learning. Because I’m someone who left a major university to be an artist, and because I’m a curvy blonde model, people just assume there are rocks in my head. It’s always so funny to hear people like, “you were studying childhood education at NYU?” and I’m like, “yeah, I’m a nerd, dude!” People are definitely surprised by that!
You’ve talked about receiving criticism because you’re a “curve” model who is in reality, of average size. What do you do to stay positive?
I try to educate people about what the industry standard is as opposed to what I believe in. Sometimes when I call myself a curve model or a plus sized girl on social media, people get offended. They think I’m saying that someone with my body size, a size 8, which is way below the average-sized woman in America, is plus sized. I don’t see myself as plus sized. I’m simply expressing an industry term, the same way I’d say I’m a lifestyle model or a commercial model. That’s how I categorize the stuff I’m posting on social media, even though I think it’s ridiculous that an 8/10 is plus in the modeling industry. I’m just trying to educate people about the industry itself so I take an intellectual, educational standpoint. It’s great to be like “everyone is beautiful and everyone looks different!” I think everyone knows I believe that. The deeper issue isn’t that I say I’m “plus” on social media. The deeper issue is why is my size, which is four sizes smaller than the national average, considered plus? Why is that the mainstream concept? What is that telling people?
Will you be going on tour to promote the album, and if so, when?
In July, I’m going to be going to be playing two shows with ROZES, who co-wrote my album: the first is in Los Angeles on July 7 at The Resident DTLA, and the second is on July 8th at the House of Blues in Anaheim California.
In July, I’ll be announcing fall tour dates, so people can look out for that!
You can listen to Carrie Lane’s new EP here: