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Interview: Crimson Calamity
Tell us about your new EP “Wild Card”
Our EP ‘WildCard’ is made up of five singles that we released over the last year and change plus a bonus song. We recorded the EP with a female lead team of Gena Johnson as the Producer/Miix engineer, Rachael Moore as the Sound Engineer and Kim Rosen of Knack Mastering as the Mastering Engineer. We also tracked most of it at a female owned studio here in Nashville called MOXE.
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you both be doing today?
Mallory: I got into music because of my grandmother and aunts on my Dad’s side of the family. My grandma Ruby played the piano entirely by ear, and my Aunts Judy, Jean and Joan often sang together in a trio similar to The Andrew’s Sisters. So I started tinkering on the piano when I was about 3 and my Grandma taught me a few things but insisted I be thrown into piano lessons. I took classically for 12 years but very much got into rock and roll as a teenager and picked up the guitar enough to write my own songs. I don’t know what I would do without music as I don’t feel I’m cut out for much else, but I think I would possibly work on the production side of the entertainment industry, or definitely in the educational side of the arts.
Lauren: My family is super musical so it’s been a part of my life since I was born really. I grew up playing piano, taking voice lessons and doing theater. Mallory and I actually met in college where we both studied music and acting. If I wasn’t performing as an artist, I think I would still be in the music business in some capacity, maybe a music supervisor. I could also see myself being an interior designer or makeup artist… something creative for sure.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Lauren: I love hiking with my dog, cooking with my husband, reading and hanging with friends over some cocktails. I got into creating and editing lyric videos for other artists in 2020 and I’m really loving how that is another channel of creativity for me. I have always garnered inspiration from reading books, listening to other artists and watching TV and film.
Mallory: Traveling, spending time in nature, tapping into my spirituality, and spending time with people I love. I recently got back into Yoga and it brings me a lot of peace to practice. I love writing music outside of our genre to keep things staying fresh in my mind. I also love to just veg out and watch movies too. Especially with Lauren, with some charcuterie. and a good cocktail. ;)
How long has Crimson Calamity been around?
The idea of Crimson Calamity came to us in late 2013 when we wrote two songs inspired by the Wild West Sharp Shooter, Calamity Jane for a monthly songwriting challenge we were a part of. The challenge was to write a song about a historical event or person and she seemed like a character with a
wealth of stories to tell. We had already been collaborating quite a bit on our solo projects, touring and writing together, so it seemed like a natural evolution. We really solidified the band in early 2014.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Our band started in Los Angeles but we made the move to Nashville in 2016. We feel like both cities have an influence on our sound. There’s a bit of the Laurel Canyon/ wistful 1970’s vibe but with true, old school Americana roots. Nashville has helped us be even more intentional with crafting a song and our goal is to continually make those roots grow deeper.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
When we wrote the two songs inspired by Calamity Jane and that in turn sparked the idea for the duo, so we decided to use her as our namesake. We are big fans of alliteration and the early songs were murder ballads and drinkin’ tunes. The imagery that Crimson Calamity evoked was exciting. A little hellfire mixed with a lot of harmony. We just really loved the idea that women can be sultry AND be badasses.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
One favortie was our sold out show at The Hotel Cafe in LA before moving to Nashville. We felt so much love in that room and it was a perfect book end to our Los Angeles chapter. We have been able to go back and play there since and it will always have a special place in our hearts. The scenery of shows in places like Park City Utah or Vermont in the fall are also very memorable.
There have been so many wonderful shows and moments over the years, we feel very lucky to do what we do and we are looking forward to being able to get back on the road more in 2022.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
We love a listening room… The Hotel Cafe in LA is one of our all time favs as well as Rockwood Music Hall in NYC. There are lots of venues we would love to play but our bucket list venues are The Ryman Auditorium here in Nashville and Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. We are really itching to get over to Europe and The UK as well.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
There are SO many amazing artists that inspire us and that we’d be honored to be on a ticket with but off the top of our heads (and hearts) The Highwomen, Grace Potter, Her, Harry Styles, Gary Clark Jr, Jamestown Revival, Jason Isbell, Stevie Nicks
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
It’s important to hone your craft AND your busines acumen. When you understand how to run your business like a well oiled machine you will be so much better off when you start adding team members. Really dive into understanding and curating your brand and don’t sign a contract without a great lawyer. Practice every day. You can’t really over-rehearse.
If we were to give our younger selves any advice it would be to take up space because we are worthy of a spot at the table.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Lauren: There is space for artists of all ages so don’t stress about getting older (and wiser) so much.
Mallory: Done is better than perfect, but great is better than basic.
Of the songs on “Wild Card” which one means the most to each of you and why?
Lauren: I think at different moments all of the songs on WildCard mean a lot to me but I would have to say Ghost edges the others out by a fraction of a hair. The concept of the song resonates with me on a deep level but I am also just so damn proud of how the recording turned out. It features the incredible Zane Carney on guitar and we wrote it with Shayon Daniels and Nicci of Jenga Productions in LA. The music video had an amazing team and turned out so beautiful. It was directed by Mike Darling and features some incredible Nashville dancers, Anna Gustafson and Kittrell Poe, choreographed by Lizzie Clark.
Mallory: picking a favorite is difficult. I love them all for different reasons. Sowyn Song is definitely a contender because it came from such a specific season of my life. WildCard is special because it reminds me of my momma and how she’s never given up on love. Due West makes me miss home and every time I sing it, I’m singing it for my family and friends in Utah.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
It depends on whether or not we are playing with a full band or an acoustic set but, full band, our song Fool’s Gold is one of our favorites to play. My Best friends is the song that is probably requested the most.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Our creative process varies. We usually come up with concepts and bring them to one another. When we co-write with other artists its always a unique experience as well. Sometimes the melody comes first, sometimes its a hook or a lyric. We love to tell stories so we are inspired by books, TV, film, our own lives and the lives of those around us.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
The overarching message in WildCard is one of hope and that is probably what we want to impart overall. We don’t necessarily think about it when writing individual songs because you could really put yourself in a box creatively by confining yourself like that, but we tend to be optimistic, hopeful people so that comes across in our art.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
We are also best friends so we have learned how to communicate with one another in a way that is effective and caring. We usually try to compromise if we disagree and if there is an issue to work out, we discuss and don’t bring our egos into it. We know we can either choose growth or stagnation and neither of us are fans of staying stuck. Nothing is perfect of course but there’s no
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We are very ready to explore our new music, continue writing and get back in the studio. We have plans to tour overseas when able and safe. We would love to throw a spotlight on our podcast The Liner Notes with Crimson Calamity! You can download episodes wherever you do your podcast listening and you can follow us at @thelinernotespod on IG. We do interviews, performances and reviews with up and coming fellow artists… an audiocapsule if you will. You can also follow our band on TIkTok, IG and Facebook @crimsoncmusic