Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fans helping to support Chicago musician


Chicago-based singer/songwriter Edie Carey feels connected to her fans - and not just because they show up for her shows.

Her new album, "Bring The Sea," as well as her last two CDs, were funded entirely by her fans. "Bring The Sea" also features appearances by guest musicians Shawn Mullins and Glen Phillips.

Carey will perform Oct. 14 at The S.P.A.C.E., 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston. Also on the bill is Rose Cousins.

The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door, available at

I had the chance to talk to Carey, who is originally from the East Coast, about how she decided to turn to her fans to fund her musical projects.

Q - Do you think the Chicago music scene is still thriving?

Definitely. I have a great fan base and they are very loyal, but I'm still new here. I only moved here two years ago.

Truth be told, I'm on tour most of the time so as far as being plugged into other artists here, I can't say that I am. But I think the music scene here is amazing and it's so varied. Also, everybody comes to Chicago, whether you live here and play music here or you tour through here. Nobody skips Chicago.

Q - Do you feel even more appreciated because your fans are funding your music?

Yeah. I'm sort of amazed. This is the third time I've fund-raised this way to make a record. The first time I did it was in 2003.

With the state of economic affairs at this point, I was not expecting to raise very much money at all. And I actually raised more than both other times. Before, I had 150 people donate for me to raise $16,000. This time, 250 people donated to raise close to $19,000.

I was just blown away. It makes me feel a lot more connected to the people who come to my shows. And I write a hand-written note to everybody who donated. It takes a long time, but it's worth it, because they went out of their way to help me.

So yeah, it's a really nice way to connect to people, on a deeper level than being able to give them my autograph after a show.

Q - It seems that something like this shows that fans really want to hear more of your music.

I think that was the thing that surprised me the most the first time I tried to do a pre-order campaign. A few artists were doing it back then, but now it is so prevalent.

I felt kind of embarrassed at first. But what was amazing is how many people were thanking me for the opportunity to be part of the process. And I was like, you're thanking me? What?

I sort of get it more now. And I support my artist friends as well when they are making their CDs. And that's so fun to be part of that. It is a cool feeling to have a cause and a effect in that process. It's pretty cool.

Q - You've seen a lot of changes in the music industry. Have they been for the better?

I think so. Just to have as much autonomy as artists are able to have now and to be able to accomplish as much as they can without the big machine is kind of remarkable.

In some ways, it's great, because you have access to so many avenues to get your music out there. But it's really overwhelming, and it's also flooded the market.

Anybody can make a CD now. It gluts the market a lot more. There are so many of us out there trying to make our voices heard. But I would choose that any day over people not being able to do what they want to do for a living.

Q - A number of guest stars appear on the new album. Did they offer to be on the album or did you reach out to them?

I had lived in Atlanta for three years, so I knew Shawn Mullins as an acquaintance and I sang backup on a couple of projects he worked on as a producer.

And then I did a cruise for singer-songwriters, and Shawn was playing on it this past year. We wrote a couple of songs together on the boat. In fact, one of the songs he wrote is going to be on the new record. It's a really cool song. It's one that I couldn't sing believably. It's much better sung by a man.

We just collaborated and got to know each other a lot better. When we were on the boat, I was like, "Want to come sing on my record?" We recorded it on the cruise. My producer was with me, so we just had our equipment with us.

And Glen Phillips, I got to know through that same writing session. He came and sang on the boat as well, on a very rocky day. Both of them were a little queasy.

Q - What do you think they brought to the album?

They are both just great singers in completely different ways. Shawn has this really throaty kind of male voice.

And then Glen has this pure, incredibly clear, beautiful voice. It was really fun.

Q - What kind of goals did you have for the album?

This is my seventh record. I think you sort of learn that there's not going to necessarily be this moment where you have arrived. I don't really know what that means anymore.

I have friends who are much further along in their career path than I am. But my hope is that I will reach more people with it. I feel like a lot of these songs would be great for film and TV.

So many artists, especially those going the independent route, know that is where our bread and butter can be. I suspect if I weren't doing music, I'd probably be working in film. I'm so passionate about film. So I love the idea of marrying those two things.

Q - You taught yourself how to play the guitar. How do you think your musicianship has improved over the years?

It's shifted. I've been a singer kind of my whole life. I've always loved to sing. I did some classical voice training, and then I had to unlearn a lot of what I learned in order to be a folk singer.

But I didn't start playing guitar until I was almost 19. So I approached all of my songs initially with the tiny arsenal of chords I had at the time.

Over the years, I've gotten much more comfortable with my guitar playing. I've had a lot more fun approaching songs musically before anything else.

I'm never going to be a guitar virtuoso, but there's never been my intention. It was sort of, let be get proficient so I can get my point across. There's part of me that would love to tear up a sweet solo, but I'm OK with that.

Q - Are you looking to call Chicago home for many more years?

I hope so. My husband is from here. He's from Glenview, so he grew up here. I just totally love it.

I grew up in Boston, and I lived in New York for 10 years. I just feel like this city is the best combination of the history and sort of humility of Boston. People don't really have attitude here, which I really love.

The first time I ever came here was in 1999 when I was on tour. I was like, "This is my city." Who knew I would end up meeting my husband and moving here? But it really feels like the right place for me. I feel so at home here.