By BRUCE DENNILL
Durban-based singer-songwriter Carmen Rodrigues has released Let It All Go, her debut full length album, recorded and produced by Marc Skarda from October Sun Productions. The tracks reflect an energetic blend of rock, indie and pop styles. Carmen’s band consists of Carl Bense on drums, Chris Krause on guitar and Craig Tavares on bass. Let It All Go is available now on all digital platforms.
“Influence” is a loaded, often misunderstood concept. An artist may sound similar to another but have no knowledge of them, or be a super-fan of someone whose output is completely different to their own. Who or what was the artist, album, song, era or scene that initially mapped out the road to you becoming a musician?
Adele first influenced me years ago when she first came out with Chasing Pavements and then Someone Like You. I realised then that she understood exactly what I was going through, without her evening knowing me. If that is what her music could do for me then, and if that is what music actually can do for people, then I have to do the same! That has influenced me in my writing about my personal relationship experiences – putting words together with music, manifesting into a song, helping people through music.
Has that changed over the years? If so how and why, and what are you currently exploring?
It hasn’t really changed. I have always loved Adele and I think I always will – as an artist, what she has gone through, and how she has developed within herself, moved on and matured. There is also Anna-Marie, who is the more party side, a bit more pop and dance. She has written songs like Ciao Adios and Friends that I really enjoy because it’s so in your face, a fun and sassy kind of way of telling off the person who has hurt her. It’s just so well written and well expressed.
Jessie Jay – her vocals are just incredible. The runs, the riffs and the control and the range are something that. as a vocalist I am inspired by, to reach those golden sparkling levels.
Pink! Her realism, her messages, her power, strength and courage. She is not afraid to be exactly who she is. Take me or leave me honey! She has shown me that anything is possible.
Freddy Mercury, a phenomenal artist, has shown me that he was so misunderstood, and it took people a while to understand him and accept him. He is a legend that will live on forever. Somebody To Love is one of my ultimate songs. There was a stage I couldn’t sing it without crying.
Kelly Clarkson has an incredibly beautiful voice. I relate to her, that other side of me. She is real, that homely girl who has a bubbly personality, but been hurt. I’m still that little girl trapped inside that adult body. I enjoy her style of music. Look at her now – soaring!
I enjoy a combination of all types of genres. I am a chameleon, influenced by them all. I loved Missy Elliot growing up. She is so funny, with her quirky sounds in her songs, all that fun stuff. I also enjoy singing a little touch of opera, rap, rock, pop, dance, reggae – all sorts, even this African-style genre called Goom, and electronic dance. Anything to get the people partying and having a good time!
I am currently exploring my own sound, which is indie rock, but I look at it as a washing machine genre, with all the colours of clothing together, and you don’t know what is going to come out. I’m on a beautiful journey. Life is short: live it!
Name one song you wish you’d written. What makes that song so important?
There are a few. One that has stood out for me was made famous by Bonny Raitt, and Adele covered it: I Can’t Make You Love Me. It’s so perfect. It explained exactly where I was stuck for many years in my life, in this hole, that I couldn’t get out of, not feeling good enough, not feeling wanted. Anyone I thought I could have a relationship with was totally wrong for me. I wished they would love me, but I couldn’t make them love me and couldn’t make them the right person for me.
Which aspects of your music do you prioritise? For you, would you rather have that your lyrics, your melodies, or your vocals or instrumental work are the most memorable parts of your songs?
Lyrics are the most important. The words of Adele’s music touched me and I want to do the same to others. I listen to people’s words, to the meaning and the emotions.
The music industry is not longer a single-narrative operation. For you, what is the best way to get your music from your head to potential listeners? Please comment on digital means (from social media to full streaming and download distribution), playing live (how often, where to whom) being a cottage industry (eg selling CDs from a box in your car) and any other creative channels you’ve explored.
I perform on my own about four nights or days a week at restaurants, private functions, corporate functions. I am also a vocal coach and teach during the day Monday to Friday. Our band has only been together for about 10 months now, and on average perform about two gigs a month. Just for the exposure and experience, the band entered a competition and won Battle of the Bands in March 2019. We market on all types of social media: Facebook, Instagram, Google Play, iTunes, Spotify, Shazam, Tidal and Amazon.
In terms of the above, is there a gap between what you envisioned and what you are experiencing now? Does it matter, and if so, how do you close that gap?
I was doing the best I knew, writing songs and singing for the public. Then I have a very special man, Kevin, to thank. He heard me sing and offered his sponsorship and guidance. He has put a team together: Warren, an agent, at Plug Music Agency, the recording of my album with Marc Skarda at October Sun and Marc as the manager our band. I’m so blessed and so grateful.
What is the story behind Let It All Go – the genesis of the songs, the people involved, the muse behind its creation?
Let It All Go – which is my debut album, took me six months in studio with my producer and co-songwriter and a couple of boxes of tissues to dig deep, face the truth and literally let it all go. The songs on my album are all about my personal relationships; what I want and what I don’t want. Run Around and Enough Is Enough are songs about what I don’t want anymore. Then you get Marvel Love, which is a song about what I really want in my life. But the main thing overall is a song explaining what I know, and that is the song called Pure. Don’t change who you are for anyone, be pure you! There is a different kind of message in the title track. This song explains seeing how everyone’s heads are buried about 99% of the time on their phones, even when they are watching TV, at a social with friends or even at a live event. The insecurities of missing out, never being enough, checking and matching with everybody else’s profile are mostly fake. Rather put aside the phones and enjoy the moment; capture that idea or that moment in time in your life where you are standing listening to a song or to a friend in front of you. Let the music wash away your pain and let it all go. It’s the music that has helped me the most. I hope that it resonates with everybody.