At 22 years old, Southern-California girl and singer Colbie Caillat dropped her first single “Bubbly” in 2007. It went platinum after selling about 1.5 million copies within seven months of its release.
Caillat is currently on tour for the 15-year anniversary of her debut album from 2007, Coco, and she played Charleston’s Riviera Theater last month.
The two-time Grammy winner caught up with City Paper recently to talk about her luck with Myspace, her battle with stage fright and her upcoming solo album.
City Paper: How did you get into making music?
Colbie Caillat: Since I was a kid I was always singing. I woke my family up in the morning singing at the top of my lungs. My parents were in the music industry. They told me that I should learn how to play guitar and become a songwriter and take piano and vocal lessons. I did my first guitar lesson when I was 19, and that’s when I wrote my first song. I realized writing was so therapeutic. It was just the coolest feeling.
That’s really where it started: I just loved singing and my family encouraged me to develop the tools. My dad is a music producer and was one of the co-producers on a few of the Fleetwood Mac albums [like Rumors]. My mom worked with him at the studio, and they’ve started companies together, so I had their knowledge.
CP: Your debut 2007 album Coco got its start through Myspace, which is so retro.
Caillat: It was so different back then. It was the very first social media, I’m pretty sure. My friend started me a Myspace page, which I didn’t know anything about at the time. And the songs that he had put on my page, they were just demos that I had done in a studio [down the street that my dad’s friend owned]. And then because of that people started listening, and that’s how I got a record deal. That’s how I recorded the first album [Coco]. I was 21.
CP: I can’t even imagine what was going through your head when it all took off.
Caillat: For me, I had stage fright. I didn’t want to entertain people. I liked singing in the studio or in my bedroom. And so luckily, my friend put the songs on MySpace, because I don’t know how far I would have taken it on my own. Everything fell into place. I still have [stage fright] today, but I know how to manage it. And I know how to embrace it, but still I’m never just excited to go sing for someone. I have to talk myself into it and I have a pit in my stomach.
When I was younger, it was really hard because, [soon after] I wrote my first song, I got a record deal. And I [went] on tour that same year, and [had to] learn how to be on TV and in front of people — I would want to cancel. I was like crying on stage with nerves. After a couple of songs, I’d get more comfortable. And then I’d be like, ‘[The audience is] so sweet, what am I scared of?’ It would be like starting over every time.
CP: It somehow never gets old listening to songs about love. Why do you think that that is?
Caillat: Everyone has been in love and everyone’s experienced heartache. We can all relate to it. Yet somehow we feel like we’re alone. Then you hear a song that someone wrote about their experience, and you feel connected. For me as a writer, it’s therapy. As a listener, I know songs have gotten me through so many hard times.
CP: Tell me about what you have been up to since your last album in 2016, The Malibu Sessions?
Caillat: I started a country band actually called Gone West. We released an album [called Canyons] in 2020. Although it seems like I went off the grid, I actually did a different project. And now, since we released that album, I’ve been working on my own solo project, which will be coming out this year.
And I’ve experienced a lot of change and growth in the past couple years. The band I was in, [Gone West], we broke up, and I ended my 10 year engagement with my fiancé. So I’m in the dating world. I feel like I am this whole new adult. I’m writing about all those life changes and how it’s the greatest [yet] it’s been hard at the same time.
CP: Do you ever struggle with the thought that there’s nothing new to say when it comes to making music?
Caillat: Absolutely. Actually [the] Simon and Garfunkel song “Cecilia” is about that — in the perspective of a love story. It’s [about] how you can write a song or get an idea, and then it goes away. And then you wonder if you’re going to ever write a song again. Someday you do. And it feels so good.
Find Colbie Caillat’s remaining tour dates here.
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