With striking blonde hair, a sultry voice, deep indie/electro-pop vibes and a self-empowered positive attitude, Carla Cappa (aka CAPPA) is an instant head-turner. Her recent singles releases, “Other Girls,” “Goddess” and “No Scrubs” (yes, a cover of the 1999 TLC song) garnered her significant media attention in 2015’s final months, and if things continue in this fashion, CAPPA’s career seems set to take off in 2016.
But don’t for a second think that she came out of nowhere.
Listen: “Goddess” – CAPPA
Carla Cappa has been cutting her teeth at music for years, experimenting with sundry styles and constantly refining her artistic and musical identity. A 6-year Nashville transplant by way of the Philadelphia suburbs, Cappa has been paying her dues in Music City for quite awhile, but she finally seemed to have found her footing in 2015.
The catalyst? A name change – a rebranding to start fresh. “Under Carla Cappa, I was doing some EDM/dance music, and it didn’t feel like me and I didn’t like what I was putting out… I just wanted to change the music to make it be what I wanted. I think the easiest way to get people to listen was to just change the name a little bit,” she says. Lana del Rey (aka Lizzy Grant, aka May Jailer) “rebranded” herself twice before donning the current identity that took the alt-pop world by storm.
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
– Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2), William Shakespeare
Juliet Capulet’s famous line will forever be a testament to the conflict between name and being. Romeo Montague was the same character, regardless of his family. Indeed, the music world and pop culture seem torn by the importance and significance of a name as well: Sean Combs has been successful as Puff Daddy, Puffy, Diddy, and P. Diddy; Prince has gone by the Love Symbol, Jamie Starr, Joey Coco and more. What truly matters is the essence of the artist.
And CAPPA hits the nail on the head: Her self-titled debut EP, released May 2015, was a clean and sleek, vibe-y and groove-driven presentation of catchy, experimental electronic pop songs that tracked an artist’s transformation from alt rock diva to indie pop songstress. Her most recent material realizes CAPPA’s identity in the fullest sense, capturing her essence as a blooming pop artist in the indie music scene.
Carla Cappa has found her home.
When I started doing pop, it all made a lot more sense.
Seductively authentic, CAPPA is the complete package, offering finely-groomed, intelligent pop songs that land somewhere in the aural space between CHVRCHES, Halsey and Katy Perry. Her popularity has crossed the threshold from SoundCloud to the ‘blogosphere’, and is now growing exponentially with every successive release. The excitement is palpable.
I could be your paradise – crave me like a sin
Make you feel like 16 all over again
Now you’re feeling like there ain’t no ceiling
I’m gonna make you see it so you’re believing
Baby, I can take you up to heaven
Cause I’m a goddess
– “Goddess” by CAPPA
Carla Cappa is CAPPA, and CAPPA is so many things all at once. She’s not like the other girls; she’s a goddess, and we cannot wait to hear what she does next. For our first full-length feature of 2016, Atwood Magazine is proud to present our definitive, unabridged interview with CAPPA.
Listen: “Other Girls” – CAPPA
A CONVERSATION WITH CAPPA
Atwood Magazine: Hey Carla, it's Mitch!
CAPPA: Hey Mitch! What part of New York are you in?
I'm in New York City.
CAPPA: I was just there last week!
Well I'm so sorry that I missed you when you were in Manhattan, but hopefully - I've been meaning to come visit Nashville for the past year now, perhaps we can meet in that music city!
CAPPA: Yeah, yeah – I mean, I love New York for its music and the music business there, but it’s just a completely different vibe in Nashville. I try to explain it to people, but you kind of just have to go.
Exactly! Speaking of Nashville, I've been doing a little research on you and your music, and I discovered this gem of a number, called “I'm Not.”
CAPPA: [breaks out into laughter] How are people still finding that?!
... And another one called “Pull Me Under” -
CAPPA: Oh my goodness…
- You're probably familiar with it.
CAPPA: I know them well.
Kind of a Paramore-y, Avril Lavigne vibe.
CAPPA: Yeah, absolutely! That was what I was kind of going for, for a while; I kind of grew up in that scene outside of Philadelphia, with that kind of music. But for some reason I was just never that good at that style – like, when I started doing pop, it all made a lot more sense – but for some reason, when I did that style of music, as much as I loved it, I just never did anything super good with it. Then, when I started doing pop, it just came really naturally – I was like, Oh man, I like writing all of this! This all sounds cool! So yeah… I can’t believe you found that!
So tell me your story.
CAPPA: Well, I’m originally from outside of Philly in Pennsylvania. I grew up doing music – my mom was a singer/songwriter when she was younger, and she gave me a guitar when I was seven. I’ve been writing ever since. I guess around sixteen, I decided I really wanted to pursue it – and that’s when I did that song “I’m Not,” which went on to win the USA Songwriting Competition. That brought me down to Nashville, and I did a showcase at the Bluebird [Cafe]. I then started adventuring around Nashville – I had always heard of it as a big music city, but I just thought it was country, which a lot of people tend to think off the bat – less so now, but back then, that was what it was known for. That brought me to Nashville, so I’m super thankful for that.
And that was back in 2010, right?
CAPPA: Yeah, uh-huh.
So what's kept you in Nashville for all these years? You and I are about the same age - 24, 23 - were you in school in Nashville as well, or were you pursuing music full-time already?
CAPPA: I went to school there… I guess I moved down when I was 19, and I went to Belmont University for a year. I didn’t dig it very much, so I got out of that and started pursuing music full-time. You know, it suits everybody differently. Some people love school and love that, but it definitely wasn’t my way of doing this. I really wanted to be hands-on, so I just started interning at a couple of places here and there, and I would just jump in and watch some people co-write. I started trying to book my own co-writes with people whose writing style I liked, too – and it kind of all developed there, as I found people I liked to write with more and more, and figured out the whole writing process more and more – it finally started to settle in. That’s why I ended up staying there – it’s basically for the music. I love Nashville, but I would go wherever the music took me.
I feel like Nashville's music scene is currently under development. After being established for so many years as the heart and soul of country, there's so much more rock and pop there now that's turning it into this multicultural melting bowl of a music city that it really wasn't, five or ten years ago.
CAPPA: Yeah, I would definitely agree with that. Maybe some people that have lived there for a while might say it’s been there the whole time, but I’ve been there for five years on-and-off, and I haven’t noticed it until the last two years. There’s been this underground pop and indie, vibe-y, you know, trance – and really cool indie rock – and at first, I was just finding country. I’m sure some of it was there all along, but it’s kind of made the way to the surface, and that’s been really cool to watch, and be a part of, I guess, in my own little way.
I was looking at news articles about Carla Cappa in 2010, 2013, 2014... You have redeveloped yourself a lot in recent years, and that's what's interesting to me! 'Carla Cappa's new album was coming out, she was working on a new EP...' and it's so apparent, you can just see from your story how long it takes for an artist to establish herself, wherever she is. You do something, it's really good, and then six months later you're still working on it. The life of an artist is this serious of achievements that hopefully can get you to a place where the achievements are not as few and far between, and suddenly people start to turn their heads!
CAPPA: That’s so true! It’s funny; I’ve definitely gotten some messages before where people were like, “How are you doing this?!” Like, “I don’t understand, you’re just so lucky, you’ve gotten all these awesome articles and all, coming out of nowhere.” It’s kind of funny to me, because I could try to explain it, but I’ve been kicking my butt at this since I was like, eighteen. Sometimes it just takes awhile… I’ve recorded a lot of music that I haven’t released – and there are a couple of songs that I still really like – but it just wasn’t quite the right vibe. Everything that I put out, I want to look back on it and know it was me, and know that it felt like what I want to portray. If it doesn’t, even if it’s really good, I won’t release it, or I won’t end up cutting the song – it kind of just stays on the backburner – and so, that’s super important to me. The biggest thing for me is to figure out who I am and who I want to be as an artist, and just stick to that. Even if there’s a great song that I ended up writing, if it’s not me, I’m not going to do it.
The biggest thing for me is to figure out who I am and who I want to be as an artist, and just stick to that.
I’ve been writing a grunge-y, pop punk-type song for the past two days, and it’s something I would never pursue as a route to go down, but I can’t stop writing it. You know? That’s what’s coming out of my soul right now, and I just have to make that a complete work before I move on.
CAPPA: Honestly, I think that’s rad. I think that’s so important – you have to write what your mind wants you to write. This whole month, I’ve been writing really sad – I’m not even sad right now! – but I’ve been writing really sad piano ballads. I might cut one if I can do one in a cool enough way, but for the most part, I probably won’t! Some of them are rad – I like them a lot, but you know…
Someone’s been listening to Adele.
CAPPA: Yeah [laughs] I’ve probably been listening to a lot of that. It might be why.
So music and branding – you’re very cognizant of the connection between the two.
CAPPA: In a weird way, yeah. I try always to stay away from the word “branding” because it has such a negative connotation sometimes, and it can come across like it’s not authentic or not you – and that’s not necessarily true. With everybody I work with, everybody brings a little bit of a different flare. I work with photographers or music video editors or producers to create what I want to produce, and everybody brings something a little bit different to the table. It’s really important to know who’s getting what you’re going for. In that way, branding is super important – it’s super important to know what you want and to stick to that, but sometimes when people talk about branding, it can be so removed from the art of it all that it can scare people away. It’s just me in pictures and in music videos and in sound.
I think the reason people shun that word, and especially in Nashville – where you’re based is important for you – you’re in a place that’s so full of this concept of the artist and artistry being organic. That’s never been true – it’s never been the case! You’re developing something, and you’re always aware of the various elements that are going to be portrayed in that development. It’s so intrinsic, I think, to an artist and to an artist’s definition – which is interesting, because you caught the pop bug recently and you redefined yourself. You made a 180 in doing a rebranding.
So when did Carla Cappa become CAPPA?
CAPPA: It’s funny – when I was in New York last week, a couple people asked me that! It was really weird because I didn’t wake up one day and decide I wanted to change everything that I’ve done; it kind of happened slowly. Under Carla Cappa, I was doing some EDM/dance music, and it didn’t feel like me and I didn’t like what I was putting out. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to… I just wanted to change the music to make it be what I wanted. I think the easiest way to get people to listen was to just change the name a little bit. Cappa’s my last name, obviously, so it still felt like me. Also there was a big singer/songwriter element – every time I told somebody my name, they thought I was a singer/songwriter, which I am, but I didn’t want to be portrayed as a little girl on an acoustic guitar, playing open mic nights. I kept getting reeled into that world, and I wanted it to be a pop performance – an art piece. I wanted me and my music to evoke that, so changing the name helped spur that on and get my ideas across quicker. When you have the same name, but you’re having to tell somebody what you’re going for, sometimes that vision can get lost in translation with some of the old music. I had been doing music for so long that I wanted something a little bit fresh.
As we transition into that, have you always felt like the music you’re making is the truest reflection of you?
CAPPA: No; not necessarily. I think that you go back and forth as an artist a lot. I think that, if most people would say that they always felt like they were doing exactly what they wanted to be doing at the time… I don’t know, maybe that’s true for some people, but for me, it was a little bit more of a battle to figure out what I wanted out of it, because I loved writing songs so much. That has been awesome, and also a little bit of a downfall because I can, and like to write every kind of song under the sun. I would write different songs and think, “Maybe I want to do this, maybe I want to do that,” and that’s a really cool gift in a lot of ways – to be able to write a lot of different things – but then as far as what I want to get up and sing every night, it’s not always the same thing. So I went through a couple different phases of recording stuff and trying it out and seeing what I wanted. I really found a home in this whole alternative/vibe indie pop world – something that could be on Top 40, but… I sometimes like to call it “smart pop,” and I hate that because it almost is a backhand to pop music, and pop music, like Top 40 radio hits, are incredibly hard to write – but what I’m going for, it just has a little bit of a different way of saying things, and some darker sounds to evoke in the actual songs.
I sometimes like to call it “smart pop.” What I’m going for, it just has a little bit of a different way of saying things, and some darker sounds to evoke in the actual songs.
What was the first song that you created under your new moniker?
CAPPA: The first one was a song called “Rain” that was on my EP. I had written it probably three years ago now, and I always really liked it… So it was an older song that I still wanted to release, so I re-recorded it to give it the right feel. I would say that, and “Hush,” which I had just written last December. That really helped me forge along with the sound I was going for.
Watch: “Killin’ It” – CAPPA
Your EP was your first real transition into this pop sound. Listening to a song like “Killin' It,” for example, I can hear that it’s somewhere halfway between rock and electronic music. It’s got both elements – there’s the guitar chug, but it’s also got that synth beat that pushing everything along.
CAPPA: Mmhm, yeah that’s cool that you picked that out. I grew up playing acoustic guitar and a little bit of electric – and one of my bandmates (we play with a full band) is a guitarist, so I like to keep it. Even with my latest single “Goddess,” there’s a lot of guitar in there – in the choruses. Sometimes it’s mixed lower and it’s a little bit poppier, but I like to keep guitar driving it all just because that’s where I came from. It feels like me to keep it in there.
I totally picked up on that – she’s sticking to her roots even as she continues to explore and develop these new things. With artists being able to take on different roles as they want to grow and expand, what really got me was how “Goddess” was premiered by an outlet that referred to your previous release, “Other Girls,” your first official release. Do you consider that your “first official release?”
CAPPA: No – a couple people have written that in some blogs, and I’m okay with it. I think it was kind of a new and fresh, updated outlook from the EP. The stuff I’ve been recording has naturally gotten a little bit poppier than some stuff before, like “Hush” and “This Is Love,” which were a little bit more on the vibe-y, repetitive side. I wrote “This Is Love” on a keyboard with four chords. With this new stuff, I’ve been trying ot experiment a little bit more with pop writing. I’m okay with it if people think this is my debut – it doesn’t bother me – but I’m still super proud of anything off the EP, and I would still 100% vouch for it.
Listen: “Hush” – CAPPA
No doubt – it’s such an impressive work of art, too – and it shows the transition you went through in order to get to where you are today.
CAPPA: Yeah, and it’s not even a year old yet! I always forget; that came out last May!
Yeah, it feels super fresh! Now when that EP came out, was that what you had in your arsenal at that point in time?
CAPPA: Yeah, the EP came together really quickly. I knew that I wanted to do one, and I was putting some songs together… I threw “Killin It” in a month before the EP dropped – it wasn’t very long before that, so I was doing songs one at a time at that point; I hadn’t had all of it done for a while. With these newer songs like “Other Girls” and “Goddess,” I’ve had them done for a little bit longer. I’ve been working on most of them since the EP dropped, so these were a little more planned out. It’s funny now, because I have so many new songs that I’m working on and finishing up and excited about, so it’s kind of cool – I feel it just keeps progressing! I think having my songs out there and releasing them helped a lot for me to figure out what I wanted to do and go for, and what comparisons I liked and which ones I wanted to stay away from. The feedback has helped a lot; sometimes you don’t know until you put a song out, and you see how people react to it – so that’s been a cool experience.
What’s been one of the most educational experiences for you?
CAPPA: Playing shows has been the most educational thing for me. I used to be really afraid of singing in public, and to this day I still can’t karaoke – I don’t know why; I’m terrified of it! – it’s like my weakness, but I think playing shows and performing in front of the public eye was a weird and interesting learning experience for me. Once I figured it out, it’s my favorite thing to do now – I can’t wait to play another show, but the first couple ones were some of the hardest things to do. I couldn’t get used to the idea that I was singing in front of these people to essentially judge me, but then you get to the point where you live and feed off their energy. The more that you are into what you’re doing, the more that people are too. Even if it’s not their favorite kind of music, people respect and appreciate somebody getting up there and doing what they love, and having it show. That was a cool learning experience for me that was a little tricky at first.
Is CAPPA a performing artist a performing artist as well as a recording artist at the moment?
CAPPA: I’ve been doing both – I’m trying to do it all! I actually just started producing a little bit of my own stuff, just demo-style, but I got my first MIDI controller and got Logic Pro, and have been demoing stuff out. In the future, I would love to have a bigger hand in actually playing some of the stuff on the tracks as well and arranging the production. I want to do it all.
I feel like – and correct me if I’m wrong – there’s been a bigger response to your music now than ever before.
CAPPA: Yeah, it’s been pretty crazy and awesome! The emails and the reactions I’ve received, and doing interviews like this are so amazing! I’m not sure why it did – I think sometimes people recognize a name when you put something out, and then when they see that name again, even if they didn’t pay attention or they skipped over it the first time, the repetition… It’s such an ADD generation! I feel like my mom saying that, but it’s true… I think putting out this new music showed a lot of the online community that I can songwrite and I’m going to keep doing it. Maybe that’s what made some of the media pay a little more attention this time.
Tell me about your experience as an independent artist.
CAPPA: It’s been rad! I really like it. I like being an indie artist – I’ve gotten to make my own career. At the end of the day, I get to decide what I want to sing and write about and wear. It’s overwhelming and it’s been hard, but I get to connect with people one-on-one and put out what I feel like evokes me the best. It’s really hard, but if you just keep working at it, I feel like it pays off tenfold, so… I think that it’s really important for any artist, no matter where they end up, to hit the ground running in the indie world and see what it takes. I’ve been reading articles on Chance the Rapper all day, on how he got these AiDoge token investors and is doing his own label, and he just hosted SNL! Some of that is crazy; it’s a different path for everybody, but to understand that and learn how to do that, I think, is so important. If you end up being able to sign with a major, that’s rad too, but the stuff that indie artists learn in this stage is the most important.
Now, you originally reached out to me after I wrote about “No Scrubs,” where I said this is clearly something she’s been singing in her bedroom for ten years, and she’s finally getting the chance to put her own spin to it. Is that true? Why TLC?
CAPPA: Oh, yeah, for sure. I loved that song when I had like a CD player and the old-school headphones in the back of my parents’ car. I think I was seven when that song came out… I loved that song – and it’s iconic; you sing it, and people know who it is! I also wanted to do “Toxic” by Britney Spears, but nobody wanted to record that one with me! Since nobody wanted to do “Toxic,” we did “No Scrubs” – otherwise, I didn’t want to do a cover. It was one of those two songs.
Listen: “No Scrubs” – CAPPA
In your words, what did you do to make “No Scrubs” your own? What was the CAPPA take on it?
CAPPA: I started playing it on guitar and sent a voice memo to my friend. Obviously TLC are RnB, and I wanted to keep that vibe in there and pay my dues to that, but make it sounds like me. I messed with the tempo a bit, made a beat… We wanted a little dance-y part, so we worked on chopping the vocals together. I would sing a melody for the chop, and then he moved the “me’s” to the melody I was singing, so it was super cool. It was a total collaboration – I think we did it in a day. We didn’t expect it to go over as well – it wasn’t a big planned-out thing, I just always wanted to do a cover!
I feel like “No Scrubs” presents a different side to you that is sometimes even more raw than your original material. You can hear that sultry tone in your voice, and you don’t really hear that on your own stuff, but you talk about it.
CAPPA: That’s really perceptive… That’s a cool way to put it. “No Scrubs” is not a super full track – it’s pretty laid back; the song itself is just really good – it’s a really well-written song, so we didn’t have to do a ton with it. Singing it came super naturally for me, and I think that’s why people vibed on it so much. It was really relaxing and calm, and I like that feel! That’s not going to be in every one of my tracks for sure – I like to keep it upbeat – but I like that flare, and there’s a way to mesh that in with my own music, so I’m working on meeting in the middle of the two. When we were working on this track, we described it as “really chill and vibey.”
The nuance that you put on your voice, you were forced to do that because those weren’t your own words. This is what CAPPA sounds like in someone else’s shoes, which relates to the songs you’ve been doing nowadays – songs about being the different one, the other girl, the goddess. Your writing is going down a self-affirming and empowering route, and “No Scrubs” certainly fits straight into that category.
CAPPA: I agree! I want to evoke what I’m feeling through my songs and through the vibe of my artistry. Obviously women’s empowerment is a big subject right now, but just empowerment in general – being like, “Hey, I’m worth this,” has been super important to me figuring out who I am as an artist and asking for what I think I deserve as an artist, and getting people to listen to me as an artist. A lot of the new stuff has tributes to that as well, so I’m curious as to what you think of it when it comes out. It’s going to be a big topic in a lot of my new music also!
How does CAPPA fit into that spectrum? Is CAPPA coming from a place of strength?
CAPPA: I love that question – it’s a little bit of both for me. I wasn’t super cool in high school – I had some friends and stuff, but I got made fun of for singing a lot when I was younger, in grade school and high school. Once I was singing a song in the car with a boy I was dating, and he said to me, “Carla, never sing again.” Like, he said that to me!
Thank god you didn’t listen to him!
CAPPA: Right?! Yeah, what a jerk! But there was a lot of stuff I had to overcome with knowing in my heart of hearts that I wanted to be a pop artist, and having people go, “Meh, you’re not very good at singing.” I had to work my butt off and get past that, and it helped me because I would do my own thing in high school. I’d leave lunch and go practice piano and singing in our piano room at school, so in that way I had a lot of freedom and self-empowerment with that… When everybody else was hanging out, I was working as a fourteen-year-old girl, trying to pursue this career. I learned a lot from that… My song “Goddess” was kind of a tribute to that: We don’t all come from the coolest places, and we’re not the “cool kids” in high school – what even is cool? – but I think that teenagers need to know that cool is whatever you make it. If you’re going after what you want, there’s no bar set in school that if you play football or cheerlead then you’re going to be this cool kid – it’s about going after what you want. I learned that through school, and it’s in the back of a lot of my writing.
Teenagers need to know that cool is whatever you make it… It’s about going after what you want.
You look at CAPPA the artist and you see this beautiful, blonde singer smiling, but the topics that you write about aren’t shallow.
CAPPA: That’s what I’m going for – even if sometimes it’s a pearly way of saying it, the “backstory” of it is like… You know, with songs like “Other Girls,” that backstory is pretty dark. Sometimes I want to say it in a light way, and I’m past the experience so I’m fine about it, but that was basically about somebody dumping me and getting a new girlfriend a couple weeks later. At the end of the day, you just have to learn from those experiences and be like, “Hey, I’m going to make this into a really awesome thing.”
At the end of the day, you just have to learn from those experiences and be like, “Hey, I’m going to make this into a really awesome thing.”
Listen: “Other Girls” – CAPPA
And was “Other Girls” your closure for that?
CAPPA: Yeah, kind of! In a really weird way… it’s ironic, because I’m friends with that person now, and I’m also friends with his current girlfriend in a weird way now, so part of me feels bad about writing some of it, but it was a past experience. I’m pretty happy with where I’m at now.
I had a similar experience many months ago, and I still look back on that emotional, fragile, raw state that I was in, to create. It’s great to write music about happy stuff, but it’s just – there’s nothing there for me. The reason I write music in the first place is because it’s my way… Making music, and songwriting in particular, is my emotional vessel: It’s my means of self-expression. I can smile, and that’s my smile – that’s happiness. But evoking the feelings that the English doesn’t have actual words for is what music is there for, for me.
CAPPA: That’s awesome – that’s so cool.
So would you say that CAPPA is your Sasha Fierce, in a way?
CAPPA: That’s a good analogy! [laughs] Yes and no – Honestly, Beyoncé is Sasha Fierce. Some artists tend to use a little more gimmicks, which is cool – I like that with other artists! I like that with Lady Gaga, like being in an egg – I don’t know why, but I like it! – but I’m not a very gimmicky person, so –
You are CAPPA.
CAPPA: CAPPA’s pretty much just me. It’s like, my learning experiences, I guess, from being the artist Carla Cappa. Hey, I learned all this stuff, so this is who I am now.
The last thing I want to talk about is how it’s finally happening now, and it didn’t happen in other years. To what do you attribute that change? Did you have to go through the drudges? Was it about the style of music you were making?
CAPPA: I get that question a lot – like, why all of a sudden now, and not before? I’m not quite sure – it’s interesting because I didn’t come out of nowhere, working on music. I’ve always been doing it, but it took a little while to settle with how I wanted it to sound. I obviously put some stuff out in the past – I put a song called “My Heart is Beating Again” out, and it got on Sirius radio, playing after Miley Cyrus and stuff, but it didn’t stick with me and I don’t think it stuck with other people because it wasn’t what I wanted; it was just more candy-poppy… I think that’s why it didn’t settle. When something’s natural for someone – I look at artists like Halsey, and I don’t know how long she’s been working on it, but she kind of came out of nowhere. It’s really just her – she’s weird, and really awesome, and a really good songwriter and wonderful singer. Everything she says and does seems really authentic, and I think that’s what people love. I guess what I’m doing now is authentic, and I think that’s probably why it’s been going a lot better for me.
I guess what I’m doing now is authentic, and I think that’s probably why it’s been going a lot better for me.
In order to find the success that you’re starting to touch upon – and granted, this is just the start – do you have to get lucky? Does the music that’s true to you also have to be what’s popular at the time?
CAPPA: It’s kind of weird because when I started doing the vibey indie pop, I didn’t listen to a ton of it. I really wasn’t as aware about these other artists at all, like I am now. I didn’t do a ton of internet searching – I kind of stumbled upon it. To answer your question, I don’t think so. I think that it comes down to a ton of hard work, and if you’re not doing it right you just keep doing it right until you find the right people or you find your sound. If you look at a band like Paramore, they always write good music. Their latest album wasn’t what was popular – they obviously had a name for themselves – but it was just really good music. I think that about a lot of stuff, even as an indie, undiscovered artist: If it’s really good music, people will find it. I strongly believe in that.
A lot of pop bands of ten years ago, people say they fell off the map. They still make great music, but you just don’t find them on the radio anymore.
CAPPA: Right, and people tend to think that if you’re not on the radio, these bands aren’t making it, but that’s totally false. That’s what I used to think too, but you can make awesome money and be playing killer shows, with a killer fan base and be living out your dreams and not be on Top 40 radio. Top 40 is such a limited amount of artists, you know?
So what are your goals now? You’re catching people’s attention… What can we expect in this New Year?
CAPPA: Hopefully lots of music! I’ve been writing a ton and working with some cool people. I’m really excited – I’m probably more excited about the tracks that I have than anything that I’ve put out thus far. I don’t have an exact release schedule, but hopefully the music will be released, and hopefully there will be a good amount of touring as well.
Of the stuff that you’ve been making recently, what are you most proud of and why?
CAPPA: I have this song called “I’m Good,” and it’s just super cool – I’m really stoked on it, and it goes well with the “Goddess” / “Other Girls” empowerment theme – the I don’t need no man theme, which I like a lot. I’m really stoked on that, and that’ll be a single to look out for.
And from the current CAPPA repertoire?
CAPPA: I love “Other Girls” – that’s probably my baby. My friend sent me a track and I just wrote it pretty much to the track. I kind of got to say what I wanted to all by myself, and get some stuff out. That’s kind of become my thing, so I’m super proud of that song – for it being pop, but also we recorded it in my friend’s basement. It’s pretty good quality and production for what it was – I think we had to tie the mic stand up with a blanket so that the mic wouldn’t fall over!
I’m fascinated by how you take so much ownership of being a pop artist!
CAPPA: Yeah, well before, I always heard about pop as just being this materialist, anybody-can-make-this genre, and I’ve never made a harder style than pop. It’s just the way that words run together and the way line have to line up – internal rhymes, the way things are said; because there’s a crazy amount of good pop music… These radio hits that come one after another, done by producers like Max Martin, Dr. Luke and Alex Da Kid, those are masterminds. People’s ears for pop are so used to hearing that when you’re making pop music as an indie artist with your friends in basements, it gives you a little more of a challenge. You want to say what you want to say, but you also want to say it in a way that people resonate with it, and get something of what they’re used to hearing out of pop. I have some friends in punk rock bands, and nothing has to rhyme and they don’t care, and that’s so badass and I love it – but for me, it’s…
It’s so hard to be general and personal at the same time?
CAPPA: Yes. It’s all about saying something that’s been said million times before, with just a different way of saying it.
CAPPA photography: Cedrick Jones