Storyteller, singer, and songwriter Lauren Calve released her Wildfire EP yesterday which can be streamed HERE. Wildfire is a six-song EP that blends blues and Americana, guitar, and lap steel.
Watch the “Better Angels” Lyric video
Calve filled us in on the inspiration behind her new EP Wildfire, her guitars, and more.
You have a new EP, Wildfire, which released yesterday. What was the inspiration for the EP, and the writing and recording process?
A collection of personal, family, historical, and literary stories inspired Wildfire. This EP features a personal love story—one failed and one successful, a family member’s story of sacrifice and joy, a speech on the eve of the Civil War, a poem by Maya Angelou, a Muscle Shoals documentary, and an excerpt from a Woody Guthrie biography. All of these pretty disparate sources inspired the songs on Wildfire. The songs were written over the course of the past three years and they were all recorded a little over a year ago. I recorded the EP with a five-piece all-female band as well as a few additional guitar players. I also co-produced for the first time and learned a tremendous amount.
The single, “Better Angels,” and the accompanying video are very telling during our current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. What inspired that song?
I wrote “Better Angels” two years ago after listening to a radio interview with Jon Meacham. He was on NPR talking about a recently published book in which he referenced Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural address on the eve of the Civil War. In his address, Lincoln had hope that the “better angels of our nature” would bring the country together again. His words were timely then, and they’re especially timely today. Now, the “better angels” are the people who are putting their lives on the line for us every day during this crisis.
The people shown in the video all have a connection with you. Share with us the filming process for the video.
The lyric video for “Better Angels” didn’t involve any film, but rather a collection of photos taken on my phone. The way that all the photos came together was pretty serendipitous. The moment I walked out of my front door with the intention of taking photos of essential workers, my mailman, Anthony, approached my house. As I explained the concept for the video and took his photo, the Chief of Police, also Anthony, drove down my street to hand out toilet paper. I repeated the same process with him while a UPS truck driver parked to sort packages ten feet away from us. Andrew, the driver and delivery person, was nice enough to pause and let me take his picture, as well. I couldn’t believe my luck. I didn’t even have to leave my block to take photos of the essential workers in my life. It was as if the video was creating itself.
As to your background in music, when did you start your musical journey, and what was your first musical instrument?
My musical journey started when I was very young with my love of singing. Mariah Carey was my favorite singer; I loved trying to imitate her vocal runs and insane range. My first instrument was the flute, or the obligatory elementary school band instrument. Though it wasn’t my passion, I loved the technical aspect of playing an instrument. It also gave me a deeper appreciation for melody. I had the Pocahontas songbook notated for flute that I played almost every day. It was the first time I felt the thrill of making music that I loved with my hands, not just my voice.
Who were your musical influences that inspired you to pick up the guitar and play?
I started playing guitar in 2002 when I was fifteen and was probably influenced to do so by the angsty girl pop-rock artists of the time: Michelle Branch, Avril Lavigne, and Vanessa Carlton. Thankfully, pop artists back then were actually playing instruments in actual rock bands! Seeing women singing their own songs, fronting their own bands, all the while singing at the top of their lungs was all very inspiring.
What gear are you currently playing?
My Gibson LG-2 American Eagle is my workhorse acoustic guitar. It has a smaller, parlor style body, but a surprising output in volume. It’s turned out to be the perfect guitar for my needs. When I play with my full band, I use a lot more gear which I love. In addition to my acoustic guitar, I play a Lap King lap steel guitar and a Gibson Les Paul out of a Fender Blues Jr Amp. To push my little amp a bit more, I use an AC Booster pedal as well as reverb and delay pedals to add more depth of sound.
What do you hope your fans take away with them when they listen to your music?
I hope that people hear the growth in this record compared to my last two. I’ve definitely grown as a songwriter, arranger, and producer; I hope that shows in Wildfire. I also hope that people connect with the stories in the songs. Some are more personal than others, but collectively, they all feature universal themes of love, relationship, disillusionment, fear, and hope. There’s a little something for everyone in this record!