Having performed in Broadway productions during her minor years, Carly Eden's no stranger to the stage. The South New Jersey native began her music career as a classical concert pianist, but turned to soft rock/pop when she got older and decided she wanted to tell her own story. Pleased with the satisfaction she felt after writing her first song at age 11, Carly made it her priority to attend songwriting workshops and sing. Her determination fueled hard work, long nights, agents and vocal coaches that eventually paved a tuneful path to New York City. Now, at just 20-years-old, the easygoing songstress is in college, but also prepping for her first EP. Below, Carly shares her excitement as we discuss her entertainment background, education/training, and musical inspiration.
ALIYA FAUST: Amidst pursuing music, you're also studying at New York University. What's your major?
CARLY EDEN: I go to Gallatin [School of Individualized Study], which is a school within NYU where you can create your own major. They call it a concentration. So I just named my concentration. It's called Music and Business in Society. It's kind of like an amalgamation of song writing skills, drama, and I'm taking a music business course this semester because I'm dealing with contracts now and having an entertainment lawyer, I want to be able to know everything that's being thrown at me and not just be the artist like, 'Ok, you have have 50 percent of everything.'
There are so many stories about that.
I know. I want to learn lingo. I'm also interested in the human aspect of music and civic culture. I don't want to just write. I want to affect people and get a message out.
You've been performing since you were a kid, but at what point did you decide you wanted to pursue music as a career?
I have been singing always, but when I was like nine, I went to an acting camp and I loved every aspect of it. It had singing and dancing. But I was like, I want to do this. So my parents took me to an agent in New York and while I was doing the Broadway thing, I loved it, but at the same time, I wanted to have my own voice. So at 11 or 12, [I had a vocal coach] and I wrote my first song. Ever since then I've just been writing and I love performing, and I was just like you know what, this is really what I want to do. I missed a lot of high school going to New York, to so many workshops and Broadway stuff.
That's cool. Now you get to go to college in New York, the hub of entertainment.
Yeah, I get grades for doing what I love. It's awesome!
Does your family have a performing background, too?
My dad's a dentist. I've gotten him into musical things. He watches The Sound of Music with me instead of football, at this point. But my mom has a music actress background. And my aunt was actually a country singer. She was putting together a CD in Nashville; she used to do all that. So I guess I get it from that side. And I sing with my sisters a lot.
Your songs are really deep. At 20 years old, where do you draw your stories from?
I used to get hit with these ideas in high school. Especially in math class; that was my most inspirational point. I would just be like, 'Can I go to the bathroom?' and go write a song. But, sometimes I just stop and think about things in random ways and I know that whatever I'm feeling at that point, somebody has probably felt before or is feeling right now. So I try to phrase things to where it's not like, 'I'm feeling sad.' Instead, 'I'm feeling sad, but here's another way to look at it.' I kind of look at it as abstract, so it's more apparent to everyone.
So any person listening can take it their own way?
Exactly. And sometimes it comes through the most random things. One of my songs, I was in the park with my friend and he went over to a squirrel and was like, 'I'm watching you, watching me, watching you,' and I thought that was a good way to put that, so I wrote a song and it starts with those words. It was inspired by a squirrel.
Ok, so like the squirrel, most of the songs you recently performed at Rockwood Music Hall had a story behind them and one of my favorite's was "Cheers." Can you tell me a little about where that came from?
I was in a relationship at the time and it was so complicated. I was all moody and hasty and teenager-y, but there were good things happening to me at the time. I had just got accepted to NYU and I wanted to make the relationship better because it shouldn't be something that was bringing me down. So I was like, why don't we just look at the good things that are happening and stop dwelling on the past and stop taking everything so seriously? That's not life. You want to live life to the fullest and be your happiest. So you know what, let's clink glasses right now and talk about everything good that's happening. It inspired me not only in that kind of relationship, but also in how I interact with my family and people in general.
Now, who are some of your music inspirations?
My mom, when I was growing up, she had me listen to everything. I was listening to Heart, Led Zeppelin, all of these people my friends have never heard of. But also modern music. In my songs, I love to be fun and quirky, kind of like Regina Spektor and Ingrid Michaelson. But I also love the lyricism of Joni Mitchell and Carole King. I love to riff, so Christina Aguilera, power houses like her and Beyonce. I love the freedom and ease that people like Idina Menzel and Corrine Bailey Rae sing. And I love bands like Cold Play and The Script, where the vocals are featured and they're amazing, but the instrumentation is also awesome. I started out as a classical pianist (even though I don't use the piano to write a lot, which is weird), so…
Wow, you do a lot. You just encompass music.
I try, I love emerging myself in it.
How would you describe your music in three words?
I kind of term it as bringing poetry to music, so introspective, fun and smooth.
What's the status on your upcoming EP?
[No title yet]. I'm working with a producer and engineer in New York. We have two songs down. Some from the performance at Rockwood I did. Right now, it's kind of a collaborative effort because I'm working with some different writers from my school and outside. It's going to be about 3-5 songs and it'll be released on iTunes and Spotify, Souncloud and all those places. No date yet, but hopefully by the end of Spring 2014.
January 29: The Bowery Electric
March 23: Rockwood Music Hall