INTERVIEW: Corrin Campbell on reimagining of her early songwriting and how she’s been making the best of this quarantine
In these unprecedented times, and as most states are in some state of reopening, it’s allowing people to see a little bit of a light when it comes to their art. In the majority of my recent interviews, that’s really shown through and is on track with what Corrin Campbell chatted with me about when we spoke last week. For several years, Campbell worked within the Army and would grace the Warped Tour stages as well as playing overseas with a large active unit fan base. Now though, Campbell is no longer tied to the Army and has been releasing a pair of singles every month with the intention of dropping them in a Greatest Hits dual disc to kick off 2021. A year that is sure to bring tons of incredible music and hopefully many band’s return to the road. As well as doing a double disc of both orchestral and electronic remixes of several of her tracks handpicked from her previous releases, Campbell disclosed that she is working on some new original music as well. Find our chat below!
Since you announced the release of the record for January, you’ve been releasing the pairs of singles that you’ve been working on. I know that there was obviously a big change in your life with finishing your time working with the Army but when did you really start exploring the idea of revisiting your past tracks? When did it really start coming together?
Corrin Campbell: When I got out of the Army, I felt like I wanted to kind of have a new statement to say when I came out of it. It was kind of a rough transition going from the Army to not being in it. Obviously like the salary, but also having a camaraderie with my fans who were all active duty. So I went into a little bit of a confusing period where I was wondering if I should do it under a different band name and just trying to find my own voice. But it was a lot of the same music. So it was like okay, I need a refresh. So it was probably about two years ago that I was like, okay, let me just find myself again. I think the best way to do that is to release the music that I felt the Army had kind of hijacked from me. Just the narrative and releasing of stuff. And revamp that kind of with the two genres that really have influenced me alot outside of the rock world. Which was the orchestral and electronic music.
How was that, to kind of explore that in the studio? Maybe some of these songs weren’t able to fully say what you wanted to say with them. Or maybe marketed a different way. How was it to revisit some of these tracks, some of these tracks came out seven, eight years ago. How was it to approach those tracks in these different settings, orchestral, the electronic side?
CC: Well, all of those songs were recorded without any military influence. They were personally recorded so they didn’t necessarily have anything to do with the narrative. But the way it was spun when they released these different things. With all of the association of the military, I just kind of wanted to reset it. So I think that was really where I was like, okay, I’m not just going to release other rock versions of this. Because I still have the right to have the originals out there, but that’s where I felt, like okay this gives me an opportunity to kind of give these things a new voice by releasing these other versions. It was actually really cool for me to have that opportunity to be like okay, this was almost self prophetic when I wrote this ten years ago. Because a lot of my songs are about confusion of self and finding your way through difficulty. Even though I wrote the songs before that happened so it allowed me to see it through new eyes, something that had happened in the past. And moving forward from it. That’s why I really felt that rearranging them gave me the opportunity to do that. Instead of revisiting what they meant ten years ago.
When you went into the studio, and started looking at these tracks, were there things that really surprised you in looking back at your old songs or maybe something really new you tried in the studio that wasn’t a thing in the past when you were first producing these songs?
CC: Yeah, I think especially “Find Your Way” which was the first single. That was one that really stuck out to me because when I wrote it, I was obviously ten years younger. So that was more about coming into adulthood and when I looked at it again, I was like gosh, life is really just continued lessons in development. So that was the one that particularly stuck with me because it wasn’t even necessarily going the way I thought this would go. I was actually looking at doing an acoustic creative take and just was going to do guitar and vocals. Then I was like okay well gosh, if I’m really looking at my work, looking at the lessons to be learned, these are kind of the roots. And the remixes, that was kind of a side project. The orchestral version was born by the idea of doing an acoustic record then I started just really listening, getting into a lot of Bassnectar and David Guetta and even Zedd and Krewella. Just felt that they were doing something futuristic almost. They were representing digital music, and just really pretty music. So what I did is like an artistic flair on the future and did this orchestral version. So that’s just kind of helped me figure out the whole thing. So that was kind of where that went.
And you talk about those influences now, like Bassnectar and Krewella. But you’ve played shows with artists and bands of so many different genres. From being overseas but also doing a lot of the Warped tours, in later years it was becoming something where they had more electronic music on it but looking back at 2013 and this time coming up till now, was that the kind of music that you found yourself listening to back then? How do you think those influences have really changed from when you were first putting out music?
CC: Yeah, that’s kind of the year that the Spotify Stage started becoming a thing on Warped. And I was looking at how these scenes kind of merged with similar messages. I also toured a couple years after that on Warped with M4Sonic who is an Australia based electronic artist. I just really loved everything he was doing. Five Knives was also on that tour, I really loved what they were doing. I was kind of surprised at how hard that stuff could hit because I’m obviously such a rock kid. So that was when I really started getting exposed to it. And it was like gosh, these things are totally influenced by rock and they can hit really hard. I could totally tour with them, even though I have a totally different vibe to it. And so that was kind of the inspiration that came in there.
Then I’m sure this album was something that was done before we went into this quarantine time. In re-exploring these songs, have you found yourself working on some new original music because of being back into that creative process? I’m sure you never really left it but in this time of quarantine, I know we’re starting to come out of it a little. I know particularly in Nashville, it’s really starting to re-open but have you found yourself exploring writing some new original music in this time.
CC: Absolutely, obviously the pandemic has created more introspection in this time. You can look at yourself and what you love, but it was kind of the plan to put out this Greatest Hits to kind of bide time a little bit for me to write a rock record. And really let these narratives marinate. Kind of marinate and develop into the next thing that I have to say. So I was already kind of planning on doing that but with the pandemic and isolation and then also a lot of the recent eruptions with Black Lives Matter and looking at our social structure. That’s really influenced a lot of the stuff that I’ve been writing. I’m excited to be able to share that even though it will be a bit delayed. The goal is not necessarily to be timely but there is a lot of reflection that I’ve been able to kind of take the time to absorb and look at with my own eyes opened. This dynamic of human nature. I always try to write about that kind of thing anyways but I’m really excited about the new art that has come out of this time.
Then from what I know, the Greatest Hits album is planned for January of 2021. So it’s going to be coming out right at the beginning of 2021 and I’m sure after all the events that have happened in 2020, especially with live music not being able to happen. Not being able to tour, having some tours have to be canceled in the middle of them and I’m sure a lot of records are going to be coming out of this. Bands trying to play their rescheduled tours, touring yourself. I’m sure you had plans to of course. Do you have any ideas of how you feel like 2021 is going to look for the music industry considering the time that hasn’t been able to happen in 2020 for artists?
CC: Right, yeah, I’m actually really excited. I’m planning on doing a live DVD once we can all be within six feet of each other. I actually wanted to hire students from Belmont which is a local music college here and actually record a live version of the orchestral and really bring all that together. I was looking at doing a tour in the UK in October but obviously that’s being moved. So my plan is to kind of tour on this stuff, more in a reflective way when we do get to tour. I’m looking at venues that are more like dance clubs then typical rock venues. And just be basically a narrator, singing it still, but be a narrator for a party. And hopefully celebrating the release of all of this drama when we can all gather again. Then the rock record I’m hoping will be about a year from now, six months after that. So hopefully the way that these singles are rolling out kind of gives people ways to experience something that feels new and fresh throughout this year when they’re sitting around and they can’t go anywhere. So hopefully this gives them something exciting and new to do and then kind of wrap it up with these orchestral and electronic versions. Then it’s a new year, something new to say and that’s kind of my plan as of now.