Friday, October 16, 2020

Singer-songwriter Car Astor joins host Janeane on KUCI 88.9fm


Drummers turned exceptional singers are a small fraternity. Dave Grohl, Iggy Pop and Karen Carpenter are some percussionists, who found their true calling as vocalists. The beguiling Car Astor is on her way to joining that exclusive club.

The striking Long Island native grew up behind a kit. “Since I was 13 I was a drummer,” she says. “I never thought I would become a singer. I always assumed someone else would be singing but I had to do it.”

But necessity is indeed the mother of invention. “I was writing all of the music in a band and the singers weren’t all that great,” she says. “I couldn’t find anyone else. I was frustrated and I gave it a shot.”

Wise move. It’s evident that Car Astor found her calling while listening to the anthemic and atmospheric “Green Line Killer.” Car Astor’s voice soars over the dense pop gem. Car Astor possesses a mix of subtlety and power. The charismatic entertainer knows when to pull back but is also capable of delivering that sonic punch to the gut during “Green Line Killer.”

“When I wrote the lyrics for that song it was about the experience of falling in love,” Car Astor says. “I wanted to capture that elusive feeling.”

Each of the five tracks from her EP “Ties,” which dropped in 2016, are filed under love songs. “I don’t usually talk about my feelings but I write songs about love,” Car Astor says. “I like writing that type of song. I try to get personal. Every lyric has a purpose.”

Car Astor came of age listening to such ace wordsmiths as Neil Young, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, and Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks. “I love the way each of those artists writes a story,” Car Astor says. “I love the imagery. I love music. I was obsessed with No Doubt, Paramore and Avril Lavigne when I was a kid.”

Car Astor

on her new album

you say you love me…but i don’t believe you

i’d like to tell you about my new album, you say you love me…but i don’t believe you.

this is an album about me falling in love with my best friend, and the very tumultuous and painful journey we’ve had together over the past few years. It’s an album that in many ways is the opposite of everything i’ve released on the internet so far. it’s also an album that forced me to see myself more clearly, whether i wanted to or not.

for a long time now, i’ve struggled with this internal conflict of being a very naturally shy and introverted person, while simultaneously trying to fulfill the strange draw to what most would consider a very extroverted career. when i was younger, it would have been a nightmare for me to somehow jump into the future and find out that i’d be a singer / performer. i hated attention so much as a kid, that i would cry when my family would walk out with my birthday cake and start singing to me. so, as you can imagine, i’ve had a tough time battling these conflicting parts of myself while trying to meet the demands of being an artist in today’s world. seeing myself in the mirror freaks me out, so you can only guess how much worse filming a music video feels.

when i first started playing music, i put myself behind the big drum kit, knowing i would be hidden behind the cymbals and my other four other band mates. when i started playing guitar, i purposely bought the biggest one that i could find - in hopes that it would cover up my body from being seen. and when i finally began singing, i chose a three letter name to hide my identity, wore bright white contacts to hide my eyes, covered my skin in layers of feminine makeup to hide my face, and did loud, aggressive production on my songs, so that i could hide my voice. i couldn’t ever seem to commit to being fully vulnerable and accepting myself for who i was. i thought that i was forcing myself to grow into a confident outgoing “artist” but was actually over-compensating for how i felt internally, and was building up many layers of a calculated front that were covering me up. i didn’t let myself be aware enough to know that these layers existed, let alone know how to peel them back.

that all started to shift the night that i wrote the first single “everything stays unspoken”. i was deeply caught up and consumed by the emotional relationship with my best friend, so much so, that for the first time in a while, i began writing without any sort of purpose. everything was completely un-calculated. i wasn’t trying to make a “good pop song”. i didn’t overthink the lyrics, worry about how my voice would sound, or worry about how people would perceive any bit of it. i was just in a deep sadness and needed an outlet. it was the first time in a while that i had used music for what is it’s most special quality - to heal.

i wrote nearly every night while navigating the intensity, pain, and toxic situation i was living through with my best friend. i started connecting with music more than i ever had, and every day i found myself getting more brave and open. when i wrote “i’m scared for the day that i meet her” I knew it was so lyrically blunt that if it was released, it would definitely taint any potential romantic relationship i would have in the future. i even found a connection to a song written in the seventies called “without you” that spoke to me just as much as my originals.

through this, i saw myself changing in other ways too. i ditched the scary white contacts, started becoming more comfortable with my face, body, and self expression, changed my name back to the nick-name i had growing up, and even got a smaller guitar (lol). the honesty in these songs allowed me to find those layers, and start peeling them off, and for the first time in a long time, i began to feel so free.

i’m still figuring all of this out though, and i’m not perfect at it yet. there are still parts of me that are scared for “you say you love me…but i don’t believe you” to be released. but rather than running away from it, i’ve been learning to embrace the fact that there is nowhere for me to hide in this group of songs. my voice is dry and upfront, unedited and imperfect. my guitar playing can get a little sloppy (if you listen to the whole thing you can find a wrong chord or two). i’m nervous that the songs can feel a little country, a little emo, a little folk - very different from the dark dancey pop songs i was releasing last year. but given all of those fears that are lingering, this is me in my rawest form, and i’m happy that it exists.

About Car Astor:

Car Astor, is a 24 year-old New York native who was thrust upon the scene in 2016 under the moniker SEE when her music video for “Potions” went viral (currently over 7 million views) after premiering on Her EP Ties was produced by Brad Wood (Smashing Pumpkins, Liz Phair, Veruca Salt) and established her uniquely lush blend of raw feelings, pop, and everything real.

Now referred to as the consummate singer-songwriter, Car Astor, she has broken the convention of genre. Lyrically, her new material is Car in her most vulnerable form; focusing on life's ebbs and flows—including romantic breakdowns and unexpected emotional fissures—and the leaps of faith people take in order to pursue happiness.

Car Astor is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and has performed at various Pride festivals across the country.

Track by Track

Everything Stays Unspoken :

“Everything Stays Unspoken” was the first song that I wrote for this body of work, and it ended up completely shaping my musical journey for the year or so afterwards. I remember it being really late at night when I started writing it, probably three or four in the morning, so I was kind of falling asleep and I never had any intention to use it as an actual song that I would release - I was truly just using the moment as a therapeutic way to get out my feelings.

Oddly, I think that lack of pressure allowed this very raw and vulnerable side of me to come out, and it was the first time in a while where I wasn’t over analyzing every choice musically and lyrically that I was making.

Looking back now, I’ve realized that for a while I had felt pretty bogged down by feeling a pressure to fit into a certain genre, or match the style of music I was making to what I wanted to look like visually. “Everything Stays Unspoken” broke that all down as I ended up writing something that felt a little folk and a little country - and with that I felt so FREE.

Lyrically speaking, this song is about this connection that I had with my best friend that was very confusing at the time and was never openly and honestly discussed between the two of us. Whenever we saw each other, the energy would be so intense and undeniable, but for years we were stuck in a place of not saying how we felt because we knew it would disrupt the other relationships in our lives. A lot of this song was me asking questions I wish I could ask her directly and wishing that we didn’t have those walls up.

Without You :

When I first heard “Without You” (Harry Nilsson’s version) it was a very very hot NYC summer day, and I was in a local restaurant near my apartment, waiting for the food I’d ordered and cooling off in the AC. It might have been the combination of the residual heat and the fact that I was a little high, but I swear it seemed like the world stopped when I heard this song. I know that sounds super over dramatic, but it was one of those indescribable experiences where music really hits you in a special way. It’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, and I knew then and there that I wanted to find a way to cover it.

I looked up the song when I got home later that afternoon and saw that Mariah Carey had covered it in the 90’s. In a few articles that I read, she funnily enough had a very similar experience to me while hearing Harry’s version of the song while in a restaurant, and reading that felt like a special coincidence to me as Mariah Carey grew up in my same town on Long Island and went to my high school - she was the town icon in a way.

I tried out a few versions on the piano and guitar but I didn’t love anything in particular until I was in the studio with some artists on my label. Someone brought out their Omnichord and I felt like it was the perfect match for the way I wanted to record the song, so I stayed at the studio late after everyone had left for the day and quickly figured out the chords and recorded it in an hour or two.

I’ve been hesitant to record covers in the past, but I’m really happy that this song worked out and doesn’t feel any less special to me than the original tracks on this album.

Buzzing Bees :

I had the guitar part for “Buzzing Bees” for a few months before I was able to fit the right lyrics into it. I was bored of myself and trying really hard to write anything but a super sad song, and knew that the guitar part sounded pretty happy, so I tried my best to fit a sweet love song into it without getting too ~emo. I wrote about the summer that I fell in love with someone, and something that really stuck out to me from that period of time was nature and the outdoors, because we were spending most of our time at different parks around the city. The quick guitar part combined with a really cool delay effect that the engineer/mixer Zack put on the vocal, all kinda ties together that “buzzing” feeling for me. At the end of the song I originally had an idea for some type of string arrangement, and in the original demo decided to use my voice to map it out. It turned out to be a happy accident because I really liked the way the vocals felt doing all of the parts, so I kept it for the actual recording! 

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