Vanessa Carlton talks life after “A Thousand Miles”

Megan Hix

Singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton, who catapulted to fame in 2001 with “A Thousand Miles” and “Ordinary Day,” will perform at the Parish on Saturday. Carlton caught up with The Daily Texan to talk about touring, motherhood and her new album, Liberman:

The Daily Texan: How’s your tour going?
Vanessa Carlton: It’s been probably our best tour so far. I think the shows have been really good. We mostly play Liberman, and people seem to really connect to the new record, so it feels good.

DT: This album is more mellow than much of your previous work. What inspired that choice?
VC: We wanted [the album] to feel dreamy, almost watery. I think working with [producer] Steve Osborne was a huge part of that, because working with his aesthetic is kind of eerie and beautiful. It’s not an autobiographical record by any means and I wanted the sounds to match that.

DT: How long did it take for Liberman to come together?
VC: It was tricky in the beginning to get the sonic palette right. We tried a few different things, but once we got it, it was the best feeling. We recorded the majority of it in England, so I had to go over there a couple times before we got it right. It was just [Osborne] and I in the studio, so it was pretty intense. 

DT: How has motherhood impacted your music or how you go about planning a tour?
The majority of the album was written and done before I got pregnant, but having a baby on the road is a whole new game. I think this has been a total experiment to see if I could do it, and it’s kind of working, which is great because it means I can perform around the country and still keep my family together.  From here on out, I’ll probably only go out for three-week spurts and then go home. The other way [my daughter] really affected me is in the performance every night. When you become a mom, there’s something about it that makes you very much in the moment. Your baby doesn’t care about your stupid problems, they’re just these pure little beings that want to connect with you. 

DT: Initially, how did you approach writing new material after “A Thousand Miles?” Was there added pressure to write another hit?
Honestly the way I look at that is I kind of pretend it didn’t happen. This tour is not a nostalgia tour for us — we play mostly new material. [“A Thousand Miles”] was almost a different lifetime ago. I understand people know that song and love that song, but if they’re still connecting with me now, it’s not really about that song anymore. The people who do come to the show just to hear that song often end up connecting to the new stuff, and that’s good. I feel no obligation to fulfill anyone’s expectations from that earlier era. I’m 35 years old. I’ve grown up. I’ve moved forward. 

DT: How do you think location, whether it’s recording in England or moving to Nashville, impacted this record?
Working in England is really incredible, because you’re kind of in the middle of nowhere. It’s very isolating, in a good way, for an artist. You live like a monk — all you do every day is work on your project. There’s something somber about the record, and I think that really reflects the tone of where we were. Rainy England is a feeling on this album. Nashville is a different thing. We played anything we could get our hands on to create the tracks and to cut the songs in a way that really linked in with what I’d done in England. I think your environment absolutely affects the kind of music you’re making, at least to a certain degree.

DT: Is there a song you’re most proud of or that was particularly difficult to write?
I love the story of “Matter of Time,” because it was such a quick and natural recording. and my husband plays with me. I had written the song on piano, and it just didn’t sound right. I asked him to play guitar, and he did this finger picking that was really beautiful. It just made the song. When I started singing over it, it just sounded so good. We ended up taking the first take. It was one of those magic moments in the studio.

Who: Vanessa Carlton
Where: Parish
When: Saturday, Jan. 30
Price: $20