We all have our past, we are all defined by things that happened in our lifes, and one way or another, we are telling our stories while we’re going down that road called ‘life’. Some of us write those stories down, others paint or draw them – and then there are some who tell their stories through their music, like London based singer/songwriter Catia Carina Vieira Teixeira, better known as Carina T, who agreed to tell us about a few chapters of her story. This interview is about what made her the musician she is today, what life is like as a musician, wife and mother, and about influences you might not see while she stands in the spotlight.
kms/ Tell us about how you came to the point where you are today. What was the moment that made you a musician?
Carina T/ There was definitely a turning point, a defining moment that brought me where I am right now, which was three years ago when something very significant happened in my life. Music was present for most of my life, but always as a hobby. At some point, due to life circumstances, I didn’t even have the chance to do it as a hobby. But music always lived inside of me and was always something that I wanted to do… However, I was too afraid and did not have enough confidence to pursue it. On top of that, during a phase of my life, pursuing a more conventional career in science absorbed almost all my time. There was always another degree to achieve, another project to finish, a deadline to meet… So, music was being eternally postponed. Three years ago, a life changing experience led me to a deep reflection on my life, namely about what I had done and what I still wanted to do in life, and I felt inspired to sing again.
kms/ What are your projects at the moment? Any new releases coming soon?
Carina T/ At the moment I am finishing up recording my first EP, which I hope will be done by October. I will release a third single (entitled “Bucket List”) in August. We are now creating the story line for the music video. I am having a lot of fun doing that, because this song is very meaningful to me. It is about the things people want to do before they die, the dreams they want to accomplish… I can’t wait to release the song!
kms/ Who was/is your main influence?
Carina T/ It is difficult to mention only one main influence, but if I really had to point one, I would say Alanis Morissette. The albums “Jagged Little Pill”, “Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie”, “MTV Unplugged” had a big impact on me when I started singing at the age of 15 and many of the songs are still very meaningful to me. For me these albums are intemporal. I started to listen to them in the 90s and I think I will listen to them until I die. But I do have other influences, such as Jewel, Skunk Anansie, U2, Queen, Radiohead, Pink, Sia and more recently Florence and the Machine and Aurora. Also, although it might not be apparent, I am highly influenced by Portuguese pop and rock music (for example, Rui Veloso and GNR).
kms/ Do you have a team for your productions? Are these the same guys for every project or does it depend on what you do?
Carina T/ So far I have been working with the same team, which is a very small team: one songwriter, one producer who also plays most instruments in the recordings (sometimes we have session musicians) and I. For the music videos, I have been working with the same Director. I really love my team and I feel very fortunate for working with these talented people. In fact, the project Carina T is not about myself, because I am only a piece of it and the visible face of it. Carina T is all the amazing people that make it possible.
I am open to work with other people in the future though. I am reaching a point that I have a more clear idea of the sonority that I want for Carina T. However, I want this sonority to have quite different expressions from album to album. So working with different producers in different albums might be important to achieve this goal.
kms/ Are you satisfied with nowadays distribution ways? Do you feel that as a musician you get the proper amount of recognition or money for your effort?
Carina T/ I think that nowadays it is probably easier for independent artists to distribute their songs, due to the availability of so many online platforms. But artists that are not signed to the major labels are still in huge disadvantage. The fact is that you can put your songs out there, but if you do not have proper promotion nobody will ever know that you exist. Promoting a song as an independent artist is very difficult. For example, promoting a song through radio is almost impossible, because most radio stations only play songs of artists that are signed to major labels. If songs are not played on the radio, most people will not bother to even listen to them. So, my answer to your question is no. As most independent artists, I don’t feel I have an amount of recognition or money in line with my effort. Although I am not focused on recognition and money (as I believe being the case with many artists), the fact is that at the end of the day we all have bills to pay. The journey to be a singer and a songwriter is one of hard work, little recognition and little money.
kms/ Do you feel that it’s possible to be a wife and mother while still pursuing a musicians career at the same time? What are the major issues you face in your situation?
Carina T/ Becoming a mother is the most life changing experience and for me it coincided with the time I decided to take music more seriously. Being a mother is the most special experience, but also a very difficult one. Pursuing a music career is also incredibly difficult. So going through these experiences at the same time can be challenging sometimes. For example, when I filmed the music video for the song “Too Real” I took my son with me to Sussex, so you can imagine how challenging it was for me to film the video with my energetic son running on the cliffs! Also, musicians do not usually work the conventional 9-5 working hours. Gigs are not usually at nursery hours, so there’s a lot of planning that needs to be done in advance. But this is not specific to a career in music, because there are plenty of jobs that pose these same challenges. So, what I can say is that it’s not easy to pursue a music career while raising a family, but it’s definitely possible with the right amount of motivation, effort, and time management skills.
I think that the most difficult part is the public exposure involved in a music career. Because with that exposure comes a lot of criticism and negative judgement. We need to be strong emotionally in order to avoid this negativity to affect us. Because the truth is that if I let myself to suffer because of negative comments, this will affect the most important part of my life, which is my family. In order to be the best mom that I can be and the best partner that I can be, I have to be emotionally well. In order to achieve emotional wellbeing and peace, it’s important to filter information.
kms/ Describe your record process for songs you create. What’s the usual way from idea to finished song?
Carina T/ My own songs start with the lyrics. The topic for the lyrics comes up as a result of direct personal experiences. My songs talk about things that happened to me and had a very big impact on me. I wrote one of my first lyrics when I experienced bullying and was completely devastated. So, one of the songs of my next album is called “Bully”, which contains all the things that I wanted to have told this person, but did not have the courage to. I wrote lyrics for another song in a moment that the health of a very special person to me was deteriorating a lot. I knew the end was coming, but I wasn’t able to accept it. So, I wrote the poem to help me deal with the suffering I was going through. The very first song I wrote all by myself (lyrics and melody) is called “Hidden dream” and it’s about the passion that I have for music, but for such a long time I did not have the courage to act on this passion and to pursue this dream. I felt I should play it safe and pursue a more conventional career. But the truth is that there was something that was missing in my life. I was happy but I did not feel entirely fulfilled. In sum, all the lyrics I write are related to something that impacted me emotionally.
Regarding the melody, I improvise singing along a sequence of chords, usually in the guitar. I then adapt the lyrics to the melody created. The final stage is to work with my team to make it a full production with all instruments and arrangements.
kms/ Is there anything you would like to add to your repertoire right now? And while we’re at it – is there anything on your personal list you want to achieve in the near future?
Carina T/ I used to play an instrument called “Cavaquinho”, a small Portuguese string instrument, which is similar to a ukulele. Some years ago, I had guitar lessons and now I want to resume them. Not because I want to play guitar on stage, but because it helps me a lot to write my songs.
The second part of your question is really interesting, because my next song is called “Bucket list”, so it’s about those things people have on their personal list of goals. So, in my personal list for the near future, I want to tour! Sorry, it’s all related to music right now. I can’t help it! Well, I can add going to Brazil. I have family in Brazil that I have never met and I love “Bossa Nova”.
kms/ What is your drive and motivation to create music?
Carina T/ First and foremost, my motivation comes from the desire to connect with people. My songs talk about experiences or situations that affected me emotionally. Probably many people go through similar experiences and the songs might resonate with them. I would like people to hear my songs and to feel supported, listened, empowered, inspired… After all, we are all humans and we all struggle and sometimes little things like a simple song can bright someone’s day (at least this is my experience when I listen to other artists’ songs). Sometimes I think “I feel the same, but I would never be able to put it in words so well”.
On the other hand, there is the performance part involved in a music career. The first time I performed live I was 15 years old and I will never forget what I felt… I performed in a quite big club/disco in Madeira island and I remember entering the stage, the special effect smoke being released and I thought “I really love this… this is really amazing”. The connection I felt with the audience is really difficult to put down in words. I never experienced this specific kind of feeling in any other situation in my life. For example, I sometimes give talks on conferences about mental health. I surely do like it, but it is emotionally different. Performing live makes me focus on the present moment and forget the dark side of life. Performing (and music overall) makes me feel alive.