Artist To Watch: Colaine

emilytreadgold #8, Features

Colaine's new song "baby steps" is something we can all relate to, those little wins in a relationship that can feel so frustrating. Her honesty and vulnerability really bleed through her shimmering melodies and we only see great things for her as she continues to grow in her journey as an artist. We talked to her about her big move to LA, the inspo behind her writing, and the album she's obsessed with right now.

How do you decide when a song is going to be released?

Colaine: When I met my producer, I knew I was going to come out here nine months later, so I was like, let's just stockpile songs. Maybe it'll be in an EP, maybe it won't, so when I go out there, we'll release it. We picked from a. Ton of demos and unfinished things. You just have a feeling; you just kind of know. This was the first song we made together; it was crazy, it just clicked. We shared a lot of the same influences, and we just built off each other. This song felt like the best to release first because we made it first. It's the first installment of the last year of my life. 

What is "baby steps" about?

Colaine: This song is about a strained relationship and wanting to be closer, but not sure if it's the best thing. In my case, it's about my parents. We're doing a lot better now, but I didn't tell them I was pursuing music for a long time. I didn't feel like opening that can of worms. The relationship was already strained, and adding, "I want to be a pop star and not use my degree" doesn't usually help those relationships. I just kept it to myself. That was the first thing we covered and unpacked. Then, the rest of the songs were just unpacking things that made me who I am. 

What's the biggest difference between the LA Music scene and the Nashville music scene? 

Colaine: Nashville is so much smaller, especially in the pop community, especially in hyperpop and experimental. It's more tight-knit, and there's a sense of community, and I'm still really close with those people. I feel like people just don't show up to shows as much here. Here, it's a little more about internet growth, which isn't bad, but people seem to be more focused on growing with content than shows. I could be totally wrong; that's like a generalization. I just think the city is so big that if I want to go to a show, it's like 50 minutes from me. It's spread out, and the community is spread out. This is a harder place to live, so I think people are more in survival mode. I try to look at it in a less cynical way. It's just different because it's really big. I'm still really new. 

This is the first song you're releasing as an LA artist. What's your plan for this year?

Colaine: For me, it's about getting these songs out that feel like me because then I'll feel ready to collaborate with other people, and then I'll be able to grow. It's all written by me; I don't have co-writers on any of this; I want to grow as a songwriter, and I think this will help with that. I need to meet more people and go outside more, and I think when people can see what I do, it'll make those interactions more fulfilling.

What has been one of the biggest challenges for you?

Colaine: Money, obviously money, is this big one, but also not giving up, persevering, and staying grounded in the reasons that I do it. I was talking to my mix engineer about if you were offered 3 million dollars to never make a song again would you take it? No, this is what I love to do; it's what brings me joy; if no one ever heard the songs I made, I would still make them. I don't want to get caught up in the bullshit Olympics of social media and numbers, and everyone deals with that. With TikTok, if someone sees my song and one person follows me, and they really love my music, that's better than something blowing up; I want a slow burn. Eyes on the prize. 

I think musicians get so angry at social media and blame it for their problems, but it's a nice way to build a community.

Colaine: I have my days where I do my "If it was 1980, I wouldn't have to do this," but what sucks about social media is I don't want to get on TikTok and make thirst traps to my song about my complicated relationship with my parents. There's something uncomfortable about that, but it is a tool, and I try not to take it too seriously. It's something I wouldn't have had back in the day. Some people act like they're better than that, and that's not me. We all do things that are uncomfortable and unfun to make it happen even if we don't want to. 

I hate that. Do you want me to say you're better than everyone else because you're not on social media? What artist have you been into this week? 

Colaine: I have loved Ethel Cain and been aware of her, but I hadn't listened to Preacher's Daughter all the way through, and I knew it was going to be an event. I was having a weird day, feeling anxious; I came home from work, poured myself a glass of wine, and said, "I'm going to listen to Preacher's Daughter all the way through." I didn't know she produced everything herself; it's literally all her; everything she has out was done independently. It's so haunting, but it's so beautiful. The referencing songs in other songs and the songs sound different in the context of the album.

No one is doing as detail-oriented albums as she is. It's crazy how much she put into that. I care deeply about albums, and sometimes I love singles and not their albums, but people complain about music that they just need to go find. It's not hard. 

Colaine: Since the pandemic, the kind of music and the albums we've had come out have been more cohesive, and we're seeing a return to going to art for comfort. Noah Kahan's folky sound being mainstream, people are returning to folky, simpler stuff looking for authenticity and rawness. Everything feels like an advertisement; we're in a weird, tumultuous time, and people want intimate stories with a simpler vibe. 

What keeps you motivated?

Colaine: What else would I fucking do? Not even in a cynical sense, but I literally have one life, and I get to do with it what I want. This is what I love, and it comes with a lot of shit that sucks, but I'll deal with that because this is what I love. You have to get back to the meat of what it is. I'm here because my twelve-year-old self loves this, and that's who I am when I write songs.

What's your best piece of advice to anyone who wants to pursue music?

Colaine: Trust your gut, and stay the course; if something feels wrong, it's because it is. Know what you value and what you want and don't let anyone change that.

Keep up with Colaine on Instagram, Spotify, and TikTok.

Emily Treadgold

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