Known by many for collaborating with Brandi Carlile and having none other than Dolly Parton as one of her biggest supporters in addition to her being one of the most prominent artists being involved in Song Suffragettes which is The Listening Room Café’s acclaimed weekly female only songwriters round in Nashville, it is no surprise that Candi Carpenter is a name you regularly hear as an artist that people are very excited about and definitely want to hear more from.
The year 2021 looks set to be a big year for Candi with a long awaited first trip to Europe (which she is really excited about) including appearing at The Long Road Festival scheduled for the end of summer and an even more anticipated extended project with new music of her own also on the horizon later this year. However, her immediate focus is on her exciting project with one of our own from the UK, as along with another great lyrical craftsmen Josh Doyle who is originally from Kent, the duo has come together as Church of Roswell.
There have already been the first two singles from Church of Roswell with their debut five track EP on the way in the spring, so I recently caught up with Candi over Zoom where amongst sharing our appreciation of both Starbucks coffee & the genius that is Ricky Gervais, I got the lowdown on this project in addition to what else is on the horizon for 2021.
Whilst many of us have found the last year challenging and restrictive under the pandemic, Candi has experienced the effects first hand after catching and recovering from the disease herself: “It was such a strange situation. I have a boyfriend and we have a roommate who had both been exposed to me but neither of them has had it even though I did. We did a really good job with staying away from each other and sanitising everything. I mean I really didn’t leave my room unless I had to’ like to take a bath or something but we were really careful. We were so careful leading up to it, I have a really bad immune system, I got sick when I was four and it just destroyed it, so I knew when this happened that somehow, I was going to get it. I was very lucky, all I did was just slept for two weeks. I could barely move and had no energy, my oxygen levels stayed fine, I lost my taste for about an hour but for me it really felt like the flu and now you just really worry about our parents. We were supposed to do a Church of Roswell livestream for Amazon which we had to postpone. It was a bummer for so many reasons, but it screwed up all of the plans for the single release of “Rocketeer” and I woke up with that hot and cold chill all over your body. I went oh no! My boyfriend jumped on it, it was 6am and found a place that did rapid result testing. He went and got in line for me, stayed out in the line for three hours until they opened where it’s cold because it’s winter and he was stood in that line full of people with COVID and he didn’t get it.”
Whilst in the UK we appear quite a way off live music returning in any capacity, things are not quite the same across the pond and people are able to perform to an extent with some restrictions in place. “I have a regular show that I haven’t advertised at all, it’s not the kind of thing that I would be doing last year or the year before but its cover songs at a hotel. I felt really safe there and now that I’ve had it, I really do feel safe, but no one comes anywhere near me, I’m off to myself in this really huge lobby and just kind of singing for people that come in. I took it because I felt like I was getting rusty and didn’t want to go back out on tour when I haven’t played anywhere for a year. There will be my first impression overseas and I feel really lucky to be getting to do anything anywhere, anything where I’m at risk of coming into contact with anyone I have cancelled because I don’t want to be part of the problem.” Right now the focus is on her new project with one of our own, British singer-songwriter Josh Doyle where they become “Super Golden” as Sister Candi and Brother Doyle of the Church of Roswell who are set to follow up their current single “Rocketeer” (Listen HERE) with their debut EP in April so Candi gave me the backstory of how the duo began to enlighten a congregation: “Josh and I were both signed to the same management company for the same time. He had been there for almost a decade and I had been there for almost eight years, we wrote a song together about four years ago in my living room and that song was “Rocketeer” which is our current single. We had no plans to start a band after the song was finished but I loved the work tape so much, I played it in my car and I just knew there was something special about that song. It was my boyfriend that said that Josh and I should start singing together, then we planned the writing retreat together where we wrote “The Witcher” and “Love is a Killer” which are two of the songs that are going to be on our upcoming EP. There was something almost telepathic about the way that we wrote songs together, where we would look at each other and sing the same thing. It kept happening and I’ve never experienced anything like that in a writing room. We actually plug in when we write! We set up all of our studio gear, mikes and plug guitars in, then pretend that we are inside the record as we are writing it, then listening to it as we go and that was the magic of how this EP came together. Josh is from Ashford in Kent, so one of the things that’s so special about Church of Roswell is these two different perspectives from people that grew up with two different kinds of tea!
The EP is due out in early April and with the first two tracks already being greeted by very positive feedback, what else can people expect to hear on this record and how does it feel about being able to get this project out there? “It’s hard to pick a favourite song because I think I am more proud of the Church of Roswell EP than anything that I’ve ever put out. It’s really an unfiltered representation of where Josh and I were when we wrote it, where we were in our lives and I think we’ve come a long way since we wrote it. Speaking for myself as I can’t speak for Josh right now, but I was in a pretty low point emotionally and in my career when we were writing it. I think creating those songs helped me find my way out of it, music usually does. Being able to listen back to what we’ve made, I feel like it’s a perfect time capsule. It was so cool getting to record with The 400 Unit, those guys are phenomenal and they really elevated every single track, they had ideas that blew us all away. It was produced by Alden Witt and Peter Shurkin. Peter is a joy to work with in the studio, he’s really uplifting, fun, keeps things moving and nothing ever got stuck or stagnate then Alden just the same way, he’s one of the co-writers of all of the songs and he’s like our secret band member.
Church of Roswell having more of a lean towards Americana will open the door to a different market that may not be familiar with Josh and Candi as solo artists. For people that discover her through this avenue, will they feel a difference in sound when they hear her own material (apart from the obvious observation that Church of Roswell involves a man stood next to her) and for her longstanding fans are they likely to see different themes to what they are familiar with? “I went through a lot of changes in my career as a solo artist over the last year and a half or so. I rebuilt my team and decided to go a different direction with my own record that I’m working on now. I think Church of Roswell is a north star for listeners to see where I’m going next. I was on a very commercial country trajectory and I love commercial country music, but I also want to be able to take lyrical chances and say things which I believe in that might be controversial or a little left of centre. I want to truly and completely be authentic with my lyrics and the way I tell stories where I’m going to be brutally honest. I need to make that record that my mom and dad are going to be unconfutable listening to! I’m excited to start releasing my own music. The team I was working with before always wanted to sit on singles and not put them out. I only put out three songs in seven years, one of them was pulled down off Spotify by the label, I was just getting really frustrated with not being able to create and release art so there is going to be a tidal wave of music hitting everybody really soon! I’m working on a single right now that I wrote with Kalie Shorr, Alden Witt and my roommate Jess Adams called “Sex, Drugs & Country Music”.” Candi mentioned that Kalie Shorr was amongst the co-writers on the single that she was working on and the two of them have regularly collaborated particularly with Shorr’s acclaimed 2019 album “Open Book” but more recently the pair created what thanks to going seriously viral through TikTok is set to be Kalie’s new single “Amy” “I wrote that song with her just last week with our friend John Caldwell. Kalie and I have been around each other the whole time COVID has been around so we’ve been exposed to each other from the beginning and been able to write in person because of that. I was there with her when she posted the video and it only had a couple of hundred views, then seeing it grow by the thousands every second that we checked back. It was pretty surreal to watch it together. It’s brutal but it’s honest and as a songwriter it’s our job to help the artist tell their story whatever that may be!”
The enigmatic (and often mischievous) personality and raw honesty in the storytelling of Shorr was how I first really came to know of Candi based on their friendship and association with Song Suffragettes, but we talked about what it is about this feisty lady from Maine that allows the pair of them to collaborate comfortably and with so much freedom. “I think we have experienced a lot of the same difficulties, ups and downs in our lives and in our childhoods. I think having that in common gave us the emotional space to talk about it with each other, the more we talked, the closer we got and the better we became to understand one another. When I’m writing for Kalie or Kalie is writing for me on each other’s projects, we know when the other person is saying something safe or trying to sugar-coat what happened and we call each other out on it! We hold each other accountable and I think because of that I often write my best songs with her. She knows me inside out and vice versa. Really I do feel like she is a sister and I want to see her succeed just as much as I want to for myself, every victory she has feels like one that we are sharing.”
Then finally looking ahead to the end of the summer when we hope the situation will be looking very different to how it appears right now, Candi is (finally) set to make her first trip to our little island which she is very much looking forward to: “I have never been overseas. Somehow, it been kind of crazy, anytime I have had a show booked in another country it has been cancelled for a horrible reason. I have a track record of this, it has happened constantly to me. I was supposed to go to Norway and open for Tim McGraw which I was so excited about, but it disappeared so when I booked the Song Suffragettes tour, I called my mom and said nothing is going to stop me this time, I finally going to the UK! I have roots in the UK, my ancestry is European, I’m really fascinated by history, especially the Victorian era and learning about it. I just can’t wait to see the buildings, the architecture and the places where these historical events that have always fascinated me actually happened. I like to be around things that are older than me and my life experiences, I think it’s humbling to remember that the planet and civilisations have been around a lot longer than we have.”
The current single “Rocketeer” from Church of Roswell is out now (Listen HERE) with their debut EP soon to follow. To find the latest news and updates on the EP release, check out their Website and follow them on TwitterFacebookYouTube & Instagram. Candi Carpenter is set for her long-awaited first trip to the UK in September where she will be appearing at The Long Road Festival in Lutterworth (Information and tickets HERE) and The British Country Music Festival in Blackpool (Information and tickets HERE) with further dates expected to be added which you will be able to find out more in due course on TwitterFacebook & Instagram.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks