Cara Salimando: Interview
Upon first meeting singer/songwriter Cara Salimando, her petite, fairy-like demeanor gave me the impression she was an introverted musician, dedicated solely to her art, rather than the glimmer and hype offered in the pop music industry. At the time of our meeting, Cara was signed to Universal/Motown, a major record label. I was introduced to Cara at the BMI winter party in 2010, by someone we have both had the pleasure to work with. Previous to meeting Miss Salimando, I was already a fan of her music, specifically her addicting single “Dust”. I was expecting to be starstruck, but graced with her timid charm, a tattoo and earrings that displayed our mutual love for anchors, and her warm smile, I was instantly at ease. A year and a half later, following major career changes and life experiences for song inspriation, I decided to ask Cara for an interview, to which she kindly accepted!
(Me at far left, Cara second in from the right)
Alyjah: You recently left a major record label (Universal/Motown) for an independent label. What lead you to making that decision? Do you think moving to a new label has had a positive or negative effect on your success?
Cara: While this may appear to be what happened, it isn’t. I was signed to Universal/Motown when I was 17, so about three years ago now (I’m 20). I made a record, and unfortunately timing wasn’t on my side. Universal/Motown folded in May of 2011, before my record came out. A lot of smaller artists were dropped, other more established artists were transferred to other labels underneath the Universal umbrella. I was dropped. However, I was lucky enough to have signed an amazing publishing deal earlier in February of 2011 with Glassnote Music, one of the most successful independent labels right now. They had just started their publishing branch “Four Song Night”, and I was asked to come in and play a few of my original songs for them. I am signed to Glassnote/Four Song Night as a songwriter, not a recording artist. Right now, I am mostly working “independently”. Of course, I’m getting a lot of help. I still have my team, my manager, co manager, booking agent, business manager, with the addition of the Glassnote family pushing me in all that I do related to songwriting. I’d say the change has been more liberating. I feel more in control of the work I put out now, which is a good thing.
Alyjah: Your music has brought you across the States, and even across oceans. What has been your favorite ‘vacation’ you’ve taken for a performance?
Cara: I loved going to Europe opening for 100 Monkeys. We had 3 days off in Paris and I really loved it there. Also, I’ve been doing some songwriting work in London for Glassnote, and I always look forward to going back.
Alyjah: If I’m not mistaken, you toured with Ingrid Michaelson? What was that like? Did the experience contribute anything to your songwriting/performing?
Cara: Yes, in 2010 I opened for Ingrid Michaelson and Mat Kearney. It was my very first tour, and it was pretty indescribable. Up until that point, I hadn’t even considered the possibility of going on a tour, and all of a sudden I found myself on a tour bus. I was super spoiled, getting to go on a bus my first time out. I met amazing people on that tour, Ingrid’s band are all wonderful people and we’ve stayed friends. I found that I definitely work up to my full performing potential while I’m on a tour. All of that “practice while doing” was helpful.
Alyjah: You obviously are buddy-buddy with the piano! For how long have you been playing? I took piano lessons about a thousand times, and always quit after a few weeks. I’ve never been someone particularly talented at patting my head while rubbing my belly, so piano is much too difficult. Do you find that piano came naturally to you?
Cara: I’ve been playing piano since I was nine. I was never a “practicer”, I’m still not. I ran through a lot of teachers before I found the right one for me. I didn’t want to learn compositions (although now I do), I just wanted to learn how to write basic piano parts. When I was 13 I met my math, Gregg Zubowics. He is this crazy amazing rock guitar and piano player. He’s also one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever come across. He taught me everything I know.
I guess the idea of playing piano came naturally to me. I always loved messing around on a piano. When I was little (maybe 6?) we had just seen the play “Cats” and I played “Memory” ‘s main melody line on the piano when I got home. My parents were “impressed”, although maybe they were just being nice.
Alyjah: What other instruments do you play?
Cara: I play ukulele and I’m learning to play guitar, sort of.
Alyjah: For me, a hefty portion of my songs are inspired by my relationship. Are you more of an “I love you soooo much” songwriter, or more of a “Screw you, you weren’t even that hot” type of writer?
Cara: I’m just really sentimental, and emotional, and I think I express that in most of my writing. I’ve never written a straight up “I love you” song, aside from “Even More” which is quite old at this point. I don’t think relationships are black and white like that. Mine haven’t been. Most of my songs are me reflecting on whatever specific occurred in a certain period of time, but I think I divvy up the blame for whatever went wrong (or right) pretty fairly. At least, I try to. In Bookmark I acknowledge that I was an idiot, although most of the song seems like I’m pointing my finger. I’m not. No one is 100 percent right or wrong in mostly anything. And I know that, now. So I’m not sure. I don’t know if I’m intentionally leaning one way or another, I try to express the full situation.
Alyjah: You come off as someone who likes Zooey Deschanel. Am I right or wrong?
Cara: A few years ago you would have been more right than you are now. I like her as an actress in a few films, I think she’s super cute, but I think I’m over my honeymoon phase with her.
Alyjah: What would be your ideal career successes?
Cara: Write songs for other artists while maintaining a successful career of my own. Be able to pay my bills with my income from making music. Buy my parents a house, or something, to thank them for all the money they’ve invested in me over the course of my life.
Give Cara’s beautifully haunting song, “Bookmark” a listen:
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