Carlton: Inspiration, Touring

Photo courtesy of Jesse DeFlorio

On Mar. 18, Vanessa  Carlton’s “Liberman” tour will bring her to City Winery in Ponce City Market. In anticipation of this event, the Technique spoke to the singer to learn more about her career and new music.

Carlton’s mother was a pianist, so she grew up with a musical influence. She studied at the School of American Ballet from the age of 14 with the intention of joining the New York City Ballet.

“For me it was either NYCB or nothing … It’s a narrow and ridiculous attitude.  Honestly, I think I just never wanted to leave New York City. It’s the best city in the world. When I was turning 17, I started really retreating into myself and re-thinking my career.  I knew I was going to quit dance and put college on hold to try and make it as a musician. I just knew I had to try.”

She was always interested in music; the first time she wrote a song, she was nine. She even wrote the sheet music for the song. Carlton “called it the waterfall.  It was an instrumental piece.”

Being chased by a herd of cows, Carlton says, led to the weirdest songwriting experience so far in her musical career. Her coolest experience in this industry was touring with Stevie Nicks.

Her newest musical ventures “Liberman” and “Earlier Things Live” brought about a new tour.  Carlton’s explanation of inspiration behind “Liberman” creates a beautiful fantasy that draws one further into the lyrics.

She said the “themes are mostly about knowing your place in the network of the universe. We are part of something huge. Follow your instincts. Connect to your environment and to
nature. Heal.”

Carlton worked with Steve Osborne on the album but said that the challenges surrounding the album creation were related to achieving the perfect sound palette. Once that was settled, “it was about execution.”

Her favorite song in “Liberman” is “Blue Pool,” the fifth track on the album for which she has all the writing credit. Carlton was also able to give the story behind “House of Seven Swords.”

“It was a story, a message for my brother. He was about to graduate college, and I knew he wanted to take big risks and go out on his own, and that song and that tarot card is about knowing that you are a sword with many sides to your blade. All these sides make up your character. And we decide who we are.  We don’t have to be born into things.  Custom build your life,” Carlton said.

The release of “Liberman” was postponed due to the birth of Carlton’s daughter. This places Carlton in the category of a touring mom, so she schedules her tours around her family. Her husband is also a musician, so they are able to pick on and off weeks to tour and be with their daughter.

“There is no manual when it comes to being a touring mom. … Family is number one to me, and I’m lucky that I get to structure the tour like this. It’s more expensive this way, but we make it work,” Carlton said.

Carlton has been to Atlanta a number of times, but her favorite memory is related to her experience here with her daughter.

“I love Atlanta. … My favorite memory is pushing my new baby around through a park that had shooting fountains for the kids to play in.  It was during that thick heat of summer and everyone was happy and cooling off. Sid was five months old, sitting on my lap and taking it all in.”