Earlier this year, Callista Clark made her first trip to the UK where she appeared at C2C Festival in both London and Glasgow. In addition to her first introduction to the British audience back in March, since we last spoke to her, she has released her debut full length album “Real To Me: The Way I Feel” (available HERE through Big Machine Records).
During her second visit of 2022 to London, whilst she was opening up for Brett Young on his European tour, Jamie caught up with Callista to get the latest on her return to Europe, her first full-length album and getting ready for the holiday season. It’s so nice to have you back and have you here for the second time this year. “I know. In a way it feels like I was just here but in a way like my dad had said to me, it also feels like it was two years ago, so it’s crazy how that happens.”
You did some shows in Europe first before the UK leg of this tour. I saw that you were in Stockholm and Norway, were these brand-new places that you didn’t get to see in March. “Yeah, they were brand-new to me and all so beautiful, as is the one we are playing tonight. It’s so gorgeous and I had never seen this venue before, but they are all new venues for me as a matter of fact that are all so gorgeous. The architecture of these places and when we are walking around the cities has been great and so gorgeous.” Going back to the start of the year, you effectively opened the whole festival at C2C as you had the first set on the stages during the afternoon which is really cool to think of it that way on your first trip over here. “It was super cool and for the two other nights, I was playing on the pop-up stage in the middle of the arena and was the artist before the headliner where it was just me and my guitar. It was the craziest thing because I was watching Brett (Young) play on the mainstage thinking this is so fun, then all of a sudden, it’s like OK now we’re on you! The lights are on you, and you have ten minutes to play whatever you want to play for these people then get off, but it was awesome.”
For these shows opening for Brett, it’s just you and your guitar once more, like when you were here in March where a lot of people had commented on how much presence you had on stage where you were on you own. I’m hoping that you do want to make coming to see us a regular thing so is the goal for future trips to be able to bring a band over as the next step? “Absolutely! This time I was able to bring my bass player as he is my tour manager too, so he is able to experience everything and see all of you guys first hand, but I definitely hope to be able to bring the rest of the band. What I will say though is that you guys do an amazing job of being an incredible audience, I don’t think it would matter if I was up there a cappella as everyone is just so engaged as they would be for anyone else which is very special.”
I think we had talked about this before you got to play in March about what you had heard about the audiences, but it was the first time that you got to actually experience it for yourself, does playing in Europe really live up to it being so different and amazing? “It definitely is. I was told how everyone is super excited because when artist get to come over here it’s a huge deal and everyone wants to go, then I was also told how people are super attentive but there is that thing where everyone is dead silent. They are just standing and looking at you, where at first you aren’t sure are they excited or are they waiting to see someone else, then by the time I’m done with my song and it’s the appropriate time to clap or cheer, everyone is so ecstatic and so excited. Then the second you come back up to the microphone they are dead silent again, so everyone is very respectful.” The other thing was that back in March you had only put out the “Real To Me” EP so people would have only heard the first five songs, but you obviously got to play some of the next five songs that would be part of the full album. Looking at “Real To Me: The Way I Feel” and the ten tracks collectively, were the second group of songs written around the same time and in the same process as what we first heard from you, or did you start on them after the EP was done? “It’s a mix of everything. There is one song on the album called “Sad” which I wrote last year and is probably one of the newest ones. When I found out I was getting to do “Real To Me” as a whole album, I was trying to think of things that went with that vibe which are classic sounding but still very young and new lyrically. It’s been interesting to hold onto certain things that I have written and am just as excited about but to wait for them to have their own moment because all of these went together really well and whatever project number two is, will be different.”
How involved were you with all of the ideas and putting the finished project together? From the EP how those songs moved around, and the later songs were integrated so, like you said about the flow of the project was that something that you a lot of input into? “Yes, I would say I am involved quite heavily in everything that has to do with this project. When we got of these mastered, I was definitely the person to be like OK, we are starting here and we are going to go to this one, this is in the same key as this one and any way that it would transition. It is different to the setlist that I would play live but it’s about keeping it flowing nicely as if someone clicked on through a streaming platform that was listening to it top to bottom.” Since we had the full record, you’ve put something else out for us. There is always a bit of debate amongst people over here about when it’s acceptable to start getting into the festive spirit properly and Christmas songs should start to be played but I genuinely only learned a few days ago that this song isn’t a Bon Jovi original. Over here that version of “Please Come Home for Christmas” is the one that people will associate it with, but I would guess that the Eagles version is probably the one that more people know Stateside. For you, when you decided you were going to be recording a Christmas track, what was it about this classic that made you settle on cutting this? “Firstly, I feel like I should start by saying that Christmas is a huge deal to me and my family because my grandparents own a Christmas Tree farm so it’s sort of all year round for us when I’m at home. I grew up listening to that song and it was always my favourite, it’s the classic rock and great vibe. Mt brother used to sing it when we would go around and play shows, so I knew it top to bottom and when I got asked to do a Christmas song immediately it was this one and this was the only one that I wanted to do. For the holidays in our house, the Christmas tree farm opens on Thanksgiving Day and for me anytime after Thanksgiving for sure. Have at it and do your thing but give Thanksgiving it’s own moment because it’s very special to us.”
It’s so lovely to have you back and I know that there are people coming to this show and that have been to the other shows who were coming to see you. People are obviously here for Brett too, you know he’s a very tall man that is the king of country ballads who everyone loves too. “They love him. I’ve seen that first hand and obviously I have seen him perform quite a few times in the States at different venues, then seeing at C2C back in March where everybody just freaks out about him here. I hadn’t toured with him officially before, but we did all the same shows on the same nights at C2C in March here and I’ve done a lot of different industry things like rounds and label type things because we are on the same label. Him and his crew are super nice and helpful, so it has been so much fun.”
The debut album “Real To Me: The Way I Feel” from Callista Clark is out now and available HERE through Big Machine Records whilst you can also find her version of “Please Come Home for Christmas” at the same link.