Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Music journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie artists. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
There’s oftentimes a negative feeling towards pop music from the purveyors of other musical genres. Singer-songwriter Caleb Hawley, however, has been known to cover a pop song or two during his sets, including LMFAO’s hit “Sexy & I Know It.”
“It’s actually really clever music,” he says of the ode to ego, adding “I actually love all the music, for the most part, on pop radio. It’s almost like sometimes I have a love-hate relationship with it, though, like I understand Auto-Tune, and I understand that people are used to hearing it that way, so that’s the way they need to have it, but then you go and listen to an old soul record and yeah, this person is killing it, and there are no computers, and there’s something great about that.”
That old soul is what inspired Hawley’s fourth album, which is due out this fall, as the self-titled effort is the result of his listening to artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Otis Redding. “I was extremely into that music,” he explains. “I’ve always loved it, but it was basically all I listened to for the last two years. I was like, I want to write in this style. It seemed like a fun thing to do, and I’ve always loved the production with the bigger arrangements.” Because of this stylistic choice, Hawley says, “Most of the record is like a throwback, like a Cee Lo, or Mayer Hawthorne type of thing. I had a lot of fun making it.”
The first single off of his soulful, eponymous, album is “Little Miss Sunshine.” The song was inspired by some things he saw his niece going through at school. “I just wanted to pass on the advice to her, as well as anybody in her age group or up, more specifically focusing on high school and middle school, which were crazy, horrible, years, just to be who you are, and use what you have. Those are like the ultimate conforming years, and I never really did that, which I’m happy I didn’t, but I know that I wanted to pass on that little bit of advice to her, as well as anybody in that age group, because when you look at it in the end I feel like a lot of the people that were once kind of the nerds, who were maybe just a little bit weird, just trying to be themselves, maybe they weren’t super cool in middle school, or high school, but they turned out to be the people really doing something with their life later on.”
The subject matter fits Hawley’s soulful singer-songwriter style perfectly. Ironically, when he first picked up a guitar, the genre was just about the last thing he wanted to perform.
Raised by parents who played children’s music, Hawley received his first guitar at the age of 12. It was also at around that time that his parents began taking him on an annual musical pilgrimage. “Our family vacation would be to go to this Winnipeg folk festival,” he remembers. “I actually wasn’t really into it.”
Other styles of music were at the forefront of Hawley’s mind, as he notes, “When you first start playing guitar, I’d say 90% of the time you’re learning Metallica, or Nirvana, or some kind of metal, so I was way into metal, and I had to hear this folk music.” A funny thing happened during those trips, though, Hawley started to get influenced by what he was hearing.
A few years later his talent would land him at Berklee College of Music in Boston, at which time Hawley also made his first trip to New York City. “The first time I came down to New York I was like, just the energy of the city, it really grew on me in like two hours, so I was like, when I’m done with school I’m coming here.” In 2007 he finished school, made good on his promise to himself, and has been living in NYC ever since.
While in NYC Hawley has experienced more than just the usual singer-songwriter lifestyle that so many musicians in the city know. Hawley took a chance and auditioned for American Idol, and made it through quite a few rounds before being sent on his way after the top 50 were whittled down. Scotty McCreery took home the crown that season, but Hawley says, “It was a really fun experience. I met awesome people doing it, and obviously it was a really crazy month of my life that was really exciting.”
Not the only member of his household to have a brush with TV fame, Hawley had a front row seat when his wife, Samantha, was asked to “come on down” and be a contestant on The Price is Right earlier this year. She ended up playing a special, big money, version of Plinko which could have netted her the most money the show had ever given away, but she fell far short of the big prize. Post-show, however, Hawley may have taken home the best prize imaginable. “Afterward, Drew Carey found out I was a musician and played my song over the loudspeakers,” he remembers. “It was a really cool day, definitely, and we still got $1,500 bucks, and a watermelon knife.”
That quick cash and watermelon knife are nothing to LMFAO at, but the next Hawley TV appearance will more than likely star Caleb, and his soulful singer-songwriter sound.
B-Listers are a select group of artists that were featured in my Artist Of The Week series that ran every Monday from April of '06 to April of '11. All of these artists have two things in common; extreme talent, and a flight path far too under the radar for my liking. They took on the title of B-Listers as they embraced being featured by me, Adam B. Check out the AOTW Archives for all the interviews.