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Cady Groves Is Turning Tragedy Into Triumph
Friday, May 23, 2014

Someone who is prone to judge a book by its cover might take one look at Cady Groves and think she’s just another cute 20-something pop singer. What they’d end up missing out on is one of the more incredible life stories in music today.

Back in 2010 Groves was a buzzed about pop artist on RCA. She played the Bamboozle Festival, and was on her way to making a name for herself. Her journey, however, became more than a little bumpy.

Label upheaval pushed her to the side, eventually causing Groves to ask for, and in turn be granted, her release. Her career issues, however, have paled in comparison to her personal woes, as a bad relationship nearly made her quit music altogether, and just a few months ago one of her brothers tragically passed away. He was the second of her brothers to pass away, the first being murdered six years ago.

No one would have blamed Groves if she had decided to go to a dark place, but instead she Instagrammed every big smile she had, and Tweeted all of her emotions for her entire fan base to read.

During a break from one of her recording sessions, I caught up with Groves to find out what’s been inspiring her positive spirit, and get some insider info on the music she’s working on now that she’s moved to Los Angeles, and is living an indie artist’s life.

Adam Bernard: Before we get to the serious stuff, I have to know, what is your current relationship status with Taco Bell?

Cady Groves: OK, the current relationship with Taco Bell, I would say it will always be “It’s Complicated,” and that’s mostly because I can’t ever decide between Nachos Bell Grande with extra queso, or those crunch wrap things, or the Chalupa. It’s all complicated because sometimes I eat them all, but then I feel mortified, so I really don’t know what to do about it yet. We’re together, but sometimes I’m not happy. That's all it is. It’s always there, it’s the one that will never get away, which I love about them.

Adam Bernard: A lot of people describe life as a roller coaster, but your life seems like the kind of roller coaster that would be deemed too dangerous to allow people to ride on.

Cady Groves: Seriously, every one who I meet, within the first 30 minutes of talking to me they know everything about me, and then they’re like, “Why have you not written a book?” I get asked why I haven’t written a book like ten times a week, and it’s so funny because I’m like, “Because that would take me like sitting down and writing a book, which I’m not gonna do, so that’s basically your reason.”

Adam Bernard: You’ve been through so much, both personally and professionally, yet every time I see a picture of you you’re flashing a huge smile. What’s been the constant in your life that’s kept that smile on your face?

Cady Groves: You know what’s crazy is there really is not a constant in my life except ... I’ve been through some crazy stuff, and if I sit and think about my life I’ll get depressed. If I let myself look back one day, one week, two weeks, I just can’t do it, because my thing right now, honestly, and I’m not one of those people that would ever push religion on anybody, and whatever anyone believes in is theirs, but I kind of rediscovered God in my life a couple years ago, and that really saved me in a way that ... I don’t know ... I don’t make it to church every Sunday since I moved back to LA, and I’m not reading The Bible every day, but there is a relationship there, and it kinda makes me feel whole. I think people just do what they need to do to get by, and that’s what I need to get by.

Also, one of my brothers was murdered six years ago, and my life stopped when that happened, and I spent five years of my life becoming a terrible person, not to other people, but to myself. I didn’t love me anymore, and I was just so sad. My other brother just died about a month ago, and when he died, it’s so weird to say this, but it brought me back to life.

When my first brother died it killed me, and then when (my second brother) died it brought me back to life because at his funeral all his friends were telling all these crazy stories about how he was like the funniest person they ever met in their entire life, and I got jealous while I was sitting at the funeral just broken down, because he was my best friend on the whole planet, everyone knew it, and I was just sitting there crying, thinking wow, I want to be that person for other people. I want to be funny, and I want to tell people stories, and I want people to remember me (in that way). It kinda just woke me up, so for the last month I’ve been this whole new person, and I’ve just been trying to go with it.

Adam Bernard: So if we’d had this conversation eight weeks ago you’d have been totally different?

Cady Groves: Yeah, and honestly, I don’t know if it’s cliche to say, but I wouldn’t call myself an artist, because I feel like calling yourself an artist means you make a lot of money selling things that you do, and I don’t, so I could say I like to make things, and people who tend to make things, I think they change constantly, whether they want to or not. It’s just kind of inevitable.

So yeah, I’m different than I was maybe even yesterday. I kinda live whatever I’m feeling, but eight weeks ago for sure. That was right when he died, and I would have been very sad, and I would have been kind of confused, because I literally sat for a week, and I was scared. I was like, what is this gonna do to me? Am I gonna get worse than I was last time? What’s gonna happen right now? I finally just was like, you know what, I want to be the coolest person ever for anyone that I meet, and I want to make people feel important, and pretty, and happy, and I want to share what I had to go through, so that anyone else that, God forbid, has to go through it, doesn’t feel so freakin broken.

Adam Bernard: I love that. That’s absolutely amazing, because there’s a whole other flip side you could have gone to. You mentioned religion, and going to church, and I was going to ask if you’d ever looked up at the sky and been like, “OK God, haven’t you kicked me in the stomach enough?”

Cady Groves: Yeah, I did that, actually, on Twitter a couple weeks ago. I have not let myself deal with my brother’s death yet. It’s not a place I’ve let myself go. I’ve just been killing myself with work. I’ve done like two studio sessions a day. I’ve been in the studio for 14 to 16, (even) 18 hours every single day since it happened because I refuse to feel it right now. I know that’s not OK forever, but it’s OK for now, and it’s what I need to do right now to get by, and to create what I need to create, and do what I need to do, and he would be proud of me for that, but on Twitter the other night ...

I’m so open on Twitter with everyone, and with anything that’s going on in my life, and I finally was like, you know what, I’m so mad right now. I was just kinda like, I’m sitting here thinking I want to freaking call my brother. This is so stupid, I just want to call him. I just was so frustrated, and I kinda was like OK, if he can see me down here suffering why would he not show himself and be like, “I’m here for you?” If someone can see me down here, where are you to help me? Why is nobody ever looking down and being like, “Hey?”

I just got really really frustrated, but it was kind of cool because it was one of those moments of weakness that even the next day I looked back and read (the posts) and was like whoa, I’m stronger even after yesterday.

Adam Bernard: Do you think your 73k Twitter followers view you as a pillar of strength having seen you go through all this?

Cady Groves: You know I’ve heard that. I've heard that from them, and that confuses me, because I had this conversation with Debby Ryan the other day. She’s a Disney star, and she’s my best friend in the whole world. I hang out with her a lot out here, and I was like, “You know what’s funny, everyone’s like ‘You’re the strongest person I’ve ever seen. I cannot believe that you’re always so happy. Are you hiding it? What’s going on? You’re so strong.’ It’s funny, everyone thinks I’m strong, Debby, but what makes me strong? The fact that I got up every day after it happened? What else am I supposed to do? I’m not doing anything. It doesn’t make me strong to wake up every day, because I have to do that.”

She was like, “Yeah, but Cady, you’re not just waking up every day.” She’s like, “You’re waking up, you’re still living like the craziest things that can happen to someone, and you’re doing it, and they see that, and they see that you’re not letting it destroy your life, because in all actuality it probably could.”

She kinda made me see it. I didn’t see it as strength, I saw it as just getting by.

Adam Bernard: At a certain point getting by is a sign of strength.

Cady Groves: Yeah, and that’s what she told me, and I was like well, OK, I guess I kind of get that.

Adam Bernard: One recent tweet you posted said that the past six months have featured some of the scariest moments, and most hopeful moments, of your life. Give me both ends of the spectrum. I think you kinda of already mentioned what scared you the most, that concept of what’s gonna happen to you emotionally, but what’s been giving you the most hope?

Cady Groves: Lemme just be real, I haven’t ever said this on Twitter, but I don’t care if people know, I was basically engaged to be married. I was with someone in Kansas, but it was not the path that I was supposed to take. He didn’t want me to do music. I hadn’t written a song in two years. It was not a good relationship for me. It was very sad. I was not a happy person because of that person, and I was so beaten down that I didn’t have confidence anymore, because of that relationship, and I didn’t think I could make music anymore, and I left RCA while I was with this person, and I asked him if I quit music if he would stay with me.

It was so hard. I felt like I had to quit music to be able to be with him, and I was willing to do it, which is so stupid. Like, what was I thinking? I left RCA because things weren’t working out, it had nothing to do with him, and then I quickly realized that he wasn’t going to be with me forever. He maybe would have stayed with me forever, but he wasn’t gonna be with me forever, and I didn’t want to be with him at all. I needed to be with music forever. That has been my constant. That has been the first love of my life, it will be the last love of my life, and I felt so guilty for cheating on music for so long that I was just like oh my God I have got to go back to California. I have got to go. Of course I was not supported in that position by him. My family wanted me to get away from him, and go do it.

(He and I) did not end on good terms. I came here to follow the dream again, and I don’t even care if I have a label yet, I’m freakin doing it, and I’m so proud of myself that I was strong enough to get out of that situation and come here. That was scary, because I came here, and I had no money, (this was) four, five months ago. We were just booking my own stuff, and you build up, and now I’ve written three great songs, and people are talking, and I’m getting better sessions.

It’s really cool, and I feel like for the first time in six years I’m earning my reputation in the music industry again, because for so long I was stamped with the, “Oh, it’s this RCA pop artist, she’s probably just like all the other ones,” when I’d go into a writing session. Now it’s like, “It’s this unsigned girl. Look at these songs she’s done.”

I want to make my own path right now, and that’s been very very scary, but it’s also very hopeful for me, because music became monotonous to me. Music used to be my escape, and then it became what I wished I could escape, and now it is my escape again, and that is the best feeling in the world. It makes me want to cry just thinking about it, the fact that I can make music now, and it’s real, and fun, and different, and just me.

Adam Bernard: It sounds like even though the jerk of an ex may have influenced you to leave the label, you wouldn’t have been all that happy staying there.

Cady Groves: No, no, I want to make the point he was not reason I left RCA. He had nothing to do with that. He couldn’t have swayed a decision like that. What I’m saying was after I left RCA I was willing to quit music for him. I had left RCA, and then I was like I’ll quit music altogether, too. I won’t try to get with another label.

The reason that RCA and I parted ways, it just wasn’t working out, and I would never speak ill about RCA, and that’s something I’ve always been very adamant about. I would never want any publication to say I don’t respect them 1,000%, because I’m still best friends with my A&R, Rani (Hancock). She’s amazing. I text her every day. I still send her every song I make. She helps me so much out here. She’s my girl, and she always will be.

I don’t know, it didn’t work out, the stars didn’t align, and at the end of the day it’s my fault, too, because I am not a pop artist. I’m meant to be something different, and I was trying to put myself into a bubble, and you just can’t tame Cady Groves, I guess.

Adam Bernard: When you say you’re meant to be something different, what direction do you see your music going in?

Cady Groves: My new songs, I’m so freakin excited about (them). I think six of my friends who I’ve played them for have cried. I’m like ah, yes! It makes me so happy, because I’m evoking something. It’s the “Holy crap, this makes me feel way too much, I’m kind of uncomfortable” sort of thing.

I’m gonna give you three references of what the music sounds like, and you mix it all in a ball of clay, and this is what you’re gonna get. It’s the One Direction song “Story Of My Life,” mixed with Kacey Musgraves, mixed with the band Fun. It’s really weird, but it’s so cool.

Adam Bernard: What’s your level of desire right now to release an album?

Cady Groves: My desire to release an album is probably about six years, eight years, in the making, so I’d say up there. I want it worse than I ever have. I made a great album with RCA, unfortunately it never got released, and it’s just sitting in my email, so that sucks. The best part about that (however) is I’ve never wanted to release an album more (than) right now, and I think I’m making way better music now. Maybe not better music, but music that’s more true to who I am, so I would say yeah, it’s way up there. I would like to release an album.

Adam Bernard: You certainly have the fan support at this point. I know in the MySpace days you’d email fans, and now on Twitter you’re incredibly open about your life. What’s been the most positive aspect of being so open in this way?

Cady Groves: I would say there are so many. I’m not open for the ... it’s not like I want to be that open, I have to be. Sometimes I think a person like me, I’m kind of a funny person, like the life of the party, but then when I go home I’m like the most reclusive person I’ve ever met. So there are two sides to me that are completely different, so I feel like sometimes I have to be open, and tell everyone what’s going on in my life, because sometimes I’m not talking to anybody, and that’s not a good thing, so I kind of think it (out loud) on Twitter constantly.

I don’t know if that’s good, but I think it has brought me closer to (my fans), and it makes them feel not alone, because they know that someone else feels that way, and it also sure as hell makes me feel not as alone a lot of the time, because if I tweet something that I think nobody will understand, that almost seems cryptic to me, they’ll write back and be like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe you said that, I feel the same way,” and then I feel not as alone. So it’s great, it helps everyone involved, I think.

Adam Bernard: Switching gears a bit, I read you have a degree from a culinary school. What’s your specialty?

Cady Groves: Everyone knows me for loving chippies and dippies. I do love me some chips and dip, so I love making guacamole, but I love love love making like basically Thanksgiving dinner. I love making Thanksgiving feasts. It’s my favorite. Brussels sprouts, bacon, and just everything. Homemade rolls. It indulges my feeling of nostalgia, because I do miss ... I think a lot of people in their 20s start to recognize, and miss, their childhood a lot. I think about my childhood probably more than I should, but I miss my grandpa, and I miss my brothers, so the feeling for that is cooking. It brings a feeling back to you, and a time, and a place, and that’s kind of how I indulge in that, I guess.

Adam Bernard: How are you not a thousand pounds at this point?

Cady Groves: {laughs} I don’t know. I’ve just always been a little nugget.

Adam Bernard: Finally, if I pull up next to you at a stoplight, what am I going to hear you singing in your car?

Cady Groves: Oh my God. A Shania Twain album is in my CD player right now.

Adam Bernard: Nice, and I’m glad you said CD player, because I’m an old school physical product guy.

Cady Groves: Oh yeah. I go to Amoeba Music all the time and buy old country albums circa like 2001, and I listen to them all the time.

Adam Bernard: So you basically go to the used section that’s buy 3 get 1 free.

Cady Groves: Yup, and those are like my gold mine. I love them all.

Interview originally ran on Arena.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 2:17 PM  
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