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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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July 2010 - January 2013
Callaghan Wants You To Be Historic
Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Booking tours where she performs in the homes of her fans, Callaghan has experienced no shortage of memorable moments. Her upcoming album, A History of Now, is inspired by such moments, and not just from her life, but from everyone’s.

Due out April 7th on her own label, Green Town Music, A History of Now has the Nashville, by way of London, singer-songwriter looking at the idea that we are all currently writing our own history, because in every moment we are living history.

In anticipation of the album's release, I sat down with Callaghan, whose music is a mixture of pop, adult contemporary, and Americana, to discuss some of the deeper inspirations that brought about her desire to write about this concept, as well as whether she feels technology is helping, or hurting, our ability to live in the moment. On the lighter side of things, she also revealed a foiled plan she had to sightsee on the way home from a tour, and the hookup she’s still looking to get via social media.

Adam Bernard: Let’s start by talking about your upcoming album, A History of Now. First off, I love the title. It sounds like you’re embracing living in the moment. Would that be an accurate description of the feel of the project?

Callaghan: Yeah, living in the moment, and kind of just enjoying all the aspects of life; the good, the bad, the highs, and the lows, living in the moment and embracing it all.

That whole idea of A History of Now came from how interested people are, it seems, these days, at looking back at what their ancestors have done, and where they come from, and all the stories they told, and how fascinating it is to us now, but at the time, to those people, it was probably all quite ordinary.

That’s what I feel like everyone is doing now, we’re all living our lives, and we’re all writing the story that one day people will maybe will look back on and be fascinated by.

It’s just trying to get the most out of every single moment in life.

Adam Bernard: Was there something that happened in your life that triggered this idea?

Callaghan: I suppose I’ve always been interested in looking back in family history, and my mom is very into the whole Ancestry.com, looking back into where we came from, and that kind of thing. A couple of years ago she actually found some cousins of mine who live up in Michigan. They were related through my great great great uncle, who moved over here in like the 1800s. She tracked down these cousins, and they’ve come out to shows, and I’ve stayed with them, and they’ve become good friends.

My grandmother turned 90 this year, as well, so that’s another thing that makes you talk to the older relatives, and hear about what it was like when they were growing up, and things that they went through.

Adam Bernard: Tracking down relatives can be an risky proposition. Just because you find someone you happened to be related to doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get along, or that they’ll even welcome the phone call.

Callaghan: Right. Yeah, absolutely. It was weird because my cousin was also trying to track down her side of the family at the same time, so they both kind of met on the Ancestry website, but you’re right, you never know.

It’s weird because you meet people that you’ve never seen before, have no idea about, are complete strangers, and yet you know in some way, way back, you are related, so it’s an odd kind of feeling, but I’ve been lucky.

Adam Bernard: Going back to the concept of living in the moment and embracing everything that goes on, with social media and smart phones, and people taking pictures of everything, is society doing a better job of documenting the history of now, or are we missing out on living it?

Callaghan: Hmm, that is a very good question, because yeah, it does definitely dominate so much now, and as a musician you feel like you have to be involved in a lot of that. Social media is a place where so many people discover music and share it, and to be a musician these days I feel you can’t really exclude yourself from that, but on the other hand it does take up a lot of time, and you can feel like, like you say, you’re not out there living life, and having those experiences, you’re worrying about whether you’ve taken a photo of it or not.

I remember seeing a video of Steven Tyler, he did an impromptu session at The Bluebird (Cafe) here in Nashville, and rather than a lot of people just watching in the moment, and being amazed that oh my God, Steven Tyler just finished singing his songs, everyone in the audience had their phone out, and were watching it through the screen on their phone. I thought, oh wow, that’s an interesting look at maybe how slightly disconnected people are from the world because they’re more plugged in to what’s being posted online, and that kind of thing.

I guess with all these things there are good things and bad things. On the positive side it really helps me connect with my fans, and I definitely wouldn’t change that for anything. People share photos from the shows, and I can share comments with them, and run things by them, and get their opinion on things. That kind of connection, I think, is really amazing. Twenty years ago there was a huge barrier between the musician on stage and the audience, so I quite like that those boundaries are less now.

Adam Bernard: Speaking of your connection with your fans, A History of Now was fan funded, to the tune of 170% of your goal. One of the really interesting parts of fan funding is coming up with the backer rewards. Did the reaction to any of your backer rewards surprise you?

Callaghan: I was surprised how quickly stuff went. To hit 170% of the goal was just phenomenal, and really showed me how dedicated the fans were, and wanting to get involved.

The first thing that went within about five minutes of putting the campaign up was a night of karaoke with me. I wasn't sure if it would go or not, but that was the first thing that someone snapped up, and that ended up being a lot of fun.

One thing that seemed to go pretty well was the artwork. I’d offered to do pieces on canvas, like painting on canvas. If someone gave me their favorite song lyric I said I’d take that lyric and turn it into a piece of artwork on canvas, (the piece would be) how I interpret that lyric. I thought maybe one or two people would do that, but I think we ended up with eight or nine people doing that, so that was an interesting project for me because I’m definitely not (that kind of) artist. It was a real challenge coming up with a different thing for every one, and getting all my paints out. It was a lot of fun doing that.

Adam Bernard: Is there anything you thought up as a backer reward, but were too nervous to try?

Callaghan: I don’t think so. We were quite careful in planning what we were going to offer, and because I know a lot of my fans quite personally, as well, I had an inkling of what certain people might want, and what they might connect with. I was able to tailor it to a lot of the fans.

There are some people who do things like, “Go on a date with the artist,” and I didn’t do anything like that.

Adam Bernard: Don’t you have a husband who might get upset about that?

Callaghan: {laughs} Yeah. I was talking to one of my friends who’d also done a Pledge campaign recently, and she said she did a double date with her and her husband and the fan and her partner. I decided I’m not going down that road.

Adam Bernard: For this album you worked with the legendary producer Dennis Matkosky (whose credits include Diana Ross, LeAnn Rimes, and Keith Urban). How did his working process change your working process?

Callaghan: The great thing about working with Dennis is we seem to kind of think in the same way. Quite often while we were in the studio we’d be tracking a certain song and I’d be thinking, “I’m not sure if the bass part should do that there,” and I turn around to say it to Dennis, and those words would come out of his mouth. He was always, it seemed like, right on the same page as me, and heard things in the same way, so it was amazing to work with him.

For writing, as well, it’s been a really great writing partnership. We wrote five or six songs together for the album. He's just a very easy person for me to write with. The songs come really easily, and I guess so much of that has to do with how you see the world, and the energy between you, and whether you’re on the same page, and Dennis and I definitely seem to work well together.

Adam Bernard: I imagine you’re an easy person to get along with, because you also do annual cross-country tours where you perform in people’s homes, so I don’t see you as someone who’d be judgmental, or demanding.

Callaghan: No. I’m in a good mood a lot of the time, and it’s partly because I get to do what I love for a living. I’m just having fun a lot of the time.

Going to people’s houses for the tours has been amazing, and that’s partly one of the reasons the Pledge campaign worked so well. I’ve done so many shows in people’s houses, and made a real connection with them, and their friends, and spent time talking to them after the shows, and really getting to know people. Now when we go out touring, quite often we’re in a city and someone will say, “Hey, if you’re coming through, come stay with us.”

We’ve made really amazing, and genuine friends all across the country, and so much of that is down to the house concerts. You get to meet some really wonderful people, and make some really good friends.

Adam Bernard: Your car could break down anywhere in America and you’d have someone you could call to crash with.

Callaghan: Yeah, exactly! That’s pretty cool, especially for a country this big. Maybe that’s why we’re not so worried about the car. It has 309,000 miles on it now. Unless we break down in the middle of the desert, we’re probably alright.

Adam Bernard: We have to get the make, model, and year of that car, because that’s an impressive number.

Callaghan: It’s a Toyota 4Runner, 1996. I keep tweeting Toyota in the vain hope that they might say, “Oh, yeah Callaghan, you can have a new Toyota for your next tour,” but so far no luck.

Adam Bernard: Speaking of tours, your biggest move was the one you made to America four years ago. Is there anything about this place that you still just can’t get used to?

Callaghan: Good question. I guess I still never get my head around the size of the place. Even though I’ve lived here for four and a half years it still amazes me just how enormous the distances are.

Last year, when I was doing the coast to coast tour, and it went from Key West up to Seattle, on the way back we thought we’d stop at Yellowstone, and Mount Rushmore, and we’d see all these places. We had three days, or four days, to get back to Nashville before I had to go off and do more shows. So four days, that will be plenty of time to do a nice leisurely road trip. I typed into Google how far it was, and it was 39 hours for the drive. {laughs} So there was no time to stop, we just went right past everything. We saw all the signs for Yellowstone out the window, but couldn’t stop. It’s things like that I still haven’t quite got my head around. It’s just enormous.

Adam Bernard: Other than dealing with the enormity of it all, what’s the most lost, or out of your element, you’ve felt here?

Callaghan: I don’t know. I’ve not really felt out of my element here. I’ve been amazed at how welcoming everyone’s been, and how at home I feel. There are things from the UK that I still miss, like my friends and family, and that kind of thing, and certain food over there, but I definitely feel like I’ve been welcomed with open arms.

Adam Bernard: You mentioned food. Which dish do you miss?

Callaghan: I miss good fish and chips. I don’t think you can get that other than in the UK. Chocolate, as well. I miss British chocolate, but I think in some ways it’s a good thing that my supplies are limited, because I have a really bad sweet tooth, so it’s probably good that there’s an ocean between me and the British chocolate, it stops me from eating so much of it.

Adam Bernard: Finally, you spent 39 hours driving home from a tour. What’s the most embarrassing thing you might have been caught singing along to during that, or any other, drive?

Callaghan: {laughs} Wow, you’re really getting all the gossip! There’s probably too many to mention. My musical tastes are pretty varied. For driving I like listening to some chilled out stuff, but I also like listening to some good driving music, and maybe a bit of Def Leppard. I’ve probably been caught singing to a bit of “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard.

Adam Bernard: I did not imagine that would be the song. That’s awesome!

Callaghan: Oh yeah. It’s great to drive to, especially on long open road, you can crank up the music.

Adam Bernard: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Callaghan: I’m gonna be touring a lot this year to support the release. There are lots of dates coming up on my website, CallaghanSongs.com. People can get some free music from that site, as well. There’s a five track EP that kind of gives people an introduction to my music, and the album will be available for pre-order soon.


Interview originally ran on Arena.com.

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