The Nashville-based electro pop princess sits down with Milk.



CAPPA Talks Honest Lyrics, Her 'Queen of Hearts' EP, And SXSW

CAPPA is at a crossroads: the more honest and vulnerable her lyrics gets, the more magnetic and magical her music emerges, but it comes at a cost—she’s exposed, and once it’s out there, there’s really no going back. Thankfully, she’s OK with pushing herself to the edge of her comfort zone, and we’re all ears—this is the stuff pop dreams are made of, and we’re counting ourselves lucky that we can merely bear witness.

As an independent artist based in Nashville, Tennessee, CAPPA has her work cut out for her, but she’s more than willing to go the distance (and then some). On the heels of rave reviews for her most recent EP, Queen of Hearts (out last September), CAPPA is gearing up for more recording, more music, and more performances—starting with SXSW (catch her showcase today at The Brew Exchange if you’re in town). We caught up with her just before her trip down to Texas; peep the full interview below.

Your Queen of Hearts EP came out last fall—what has the reception been like so far? I’d love to hear a little more about it.

Yeah! I was gearing up for it for a while. I released a couple of singles starting in the summer and was kind of debating—since it’s such a single world nowadays—just doing singles or doing a whole EP. And it just kind of made sense to do an EP, since I wanted to put everything together onto one project, because I love it when other artists do that, that I like. So I released it in September, and it went great, I’m totally independent, so I was doing it all myself, but I ended up doing a full US tour supporting it. I got to play like 40 dates, going to LA and New York, it was super fun. It went great. People seemed to love it. Entertainment Weekly did a couple of features on it, as part of “9 Big Breaking Artists in November,” and some of my favorite artists were in there like Alex the Kid and Xylo. So it was cool as an independent to be alongside them.

More broadly, where do you get inspiration for your music and what inspires you when you’re putting songs together?

Yeah, that’s a good question. It’s kind of always different, I write about breakups a lot and how much guys suck, which is pretty common. But it’s really about what I’m going through, and I’ve been writing since I was really young, around seven years old. So I was going through a lot of genres, figuring out what I wanted. And I started getting into more of the pop world, ironically enough when I moved to Nashville. A lot of the indie, underground pop scene here influenced a lot of what I was doing and I became friends with some guys making awesome beats in their bedroom and I just wanted to make vibe-y pop music. I love Broods, and some bands like that, that are pop, but the lyrics are great, the stories are great, it sounds different, and it’s not something that would necessarily be in the radio, but it’s still pop in its own right.

This may be a funny question to answer about yourself, but what do you think makes your version of pop super unique? How do you stand out from all the other stuff from there right now?

It’s always hard because there’s so much music that it’s always a little bit of a fight showing that your music is different than anyone else’s in a similar genre. What I always like and look up to in other artists is an honest story and honest lyrics, when you can tell who an artist is through their music. So I feel like that’s what makes me different, or is what I’m always aiming for—I want people that listen to my music to feel like they know me and can imagine hanging out with me, to get the whole world I’m creating in my music, rather than creating something that’s catchy. That’s what I strive to do.

Do you feel like the more honest your lyrics are, the scarier it is to release your music to strangers that you’ll never meet and who are hearing things about your life that are really intimate?

Totally. Some of the ones that are even more intimate I haven’t released yet. In writing sessions I always end up writing with a bunch of guys, because it’s kind of a male-saturated industry some of the times, especially in the beat and song-making process. So a lot of the writing time is awkward, because it’s hard to be honest sometimes about what you’re going through. But I think that’s with anything, the more of your heart and yourself you put into your music, the more you’re going to like it and the more other people will like it, also.

Yeah, a lot of people listening can empathize and they’re glad to hear that they’re not alone.

Oh yeah, totally. For example, Jon Bellion. I love Jon Bellion and I feel like I love him so much because his lyrics are insane; from the stuff he says, I’m like “I cannot believe he just said that,” but I may not even relate to it, but I so appreciate that he’s being honest.

Yeah, I feel like that’s the bravest part about being a musician. I can’t imagine what that’s like to have other people listening on such an intimate level.

Yeah, totally, even with writing on your end. You interview people and you have to be able to have an honest viewpoint in order to be able to write a story about a person that you’ve never met, that takes a lot of vulnerability also.

Yeah, it’s a cool space. So are you working on new music right now?

Yeah, I am. I’ve been working on new singles for a while now, and a bunch of features in the works also. So hopefully, around spring, I’m shooting for April to have something out, but it depends. I’m working on making a whole world of stuff right now. I’d like to get it out as soon as possible, but I want to make sure it’s right. But yeah, I’m really excited to release something new, cause especially nowadays, there’s so much new music to consume all the time, that you can’t go months without releasing something.

Do you feel like your personal style influences your music at all, or vice versa?

Yeah, totally. Well, I grew up in a pop-rock art scene growing up, like bands, rock shows, and mosh pits. That was the world I grew up in and that all my friends were in. I only wore all black until super recently; now I’m trying to branch out a little bit. Pink is my color, ironically enough, I just think it looks cool in photos and branding stuff, I like the whole image of the pink. But my personal style is usually all black, I mean I worked at Hot Topic when I was like 16! I think that is a little bit in my music, I try to keep it away from the bubblegum pop-y world, since I have that background, so I try to keep it more real. In terms of personal style, I think it’s super cool when an artist looks like how they sound. It makes me understand them so much better. I think fashion speaks worlds in the music industry and in personal artists, I think it’s so cool what you can do creating a world for your music through your pictures and music videos. It’s really cool to see what people do with it, it’s just a whole world of self-expression. Especially now, with the Internet and the access that musicians have to do all that stuff.

Totally, and because of all the visibility we have, you can see millions of photos of a musician before you even hear one of their songs. So everything you wear or do is taken as a statement, even if it’s not meant that way. It’s just part of the whole package.

Yeah, absolutely.

What are your goals for the rest of the year, and more long term, for your career in general?

Shorter term, I live in Nashville now, but I’m going to spend a month or two in LA, just to work a bunch with producers that I’ve been wanting to work with for a while out there. So working on music, and getting some different aspects into it. That’s the short term goal in putting some singles together, and long term, I want to be touring full-time. I’m working on creating the whole world for all the music I do right now. I love how Melanie Martinez has a whole world behind everything she does, so I’m kind of working on doing that also. So hopefully, as I start releasing new singles, that becomes more and more apparent.

That’s so exciting!

Thanks, yeah, I’m really excited about it! It’ll be cool, I’m only independent, so sometimes it’s a little harder to pull off, but I’m pretty excited to see what I can do with it.

Images courtesy of CAPPA

Stay tuned to Milk for more from the front lines of SXSW.

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