Jack Carty, from Bellingen, NSW, Australia, but now based in Sydney, is a singer songwriter who’s to date released two albums and two EPs. He’s received critical acclaim across Australia, and has toured consistently around his home country, as well as the US and Canada. Steve Holley recently got to talk to Jack.
Hi Jack, firstly a big thank you for the chance to ask you a few questions.
It’s a total pleasure, thanks for having me.
You are really starting to gain popularity back home in Australia, and have a new album ‘Home State’ just released. What can UK audiences expect from your music if they are just starting to discover you?
Sometimes I feel like I am the least qualified person in the world to answer this question – being so close to the music and all. Generally in this day and age where everything is so accessible I try to encourage people to go and have a listen for themselves and make up their own minds. I’ve always been fascinated by song-craft and lyrics in particular, and I think my music reflects that. I had a lot of fun playing around with production on this album, too.
Previous albums have received critical acclaim at home but maybe not been as commercially successful as you may have wished, what are you expectations for the new album?
‘Home State’ came about really organically and I’d already recorded about half the album before I realised it was something I was going to release. So for the most part it was a really joyful, fun and playful process and I didn’t really have any expectations on it at all, other than making sure I was proud of every second and got to release it on my own terms. I’ve been bloody stoked at the response since it’s been out there in the world! It’s all been a bit bonkers really.
You have built up quite a following for your music by touring at home, in the States and Canada. Have the years of travel and live shows changed the way you write your music? Do you tend to write on the road ?
Spending a lot of time on the road has definitely changed the way I am as a person, so I think, by extension, it must have changed the way I write music, too. I’d like to think I’ve become more considered as a writer and learned to trust myself and my instincts more. I still think most of the best songs come from those ephemeral moments of inspiration that you can’t fully explain, but I’m a lot more comfortable now playing with them and refining them and letting them stew a bit before committing to any one angle or structure. I do write a lot on the road. Being in unfamiliar places tends to heighten everything and I’ve met literally hundreds of incredibly inspiring people and musicians along the way.
The new album is produced and engineered by you and even has you playing most of the instruments. Does this mean you prefer to work alone are are you collaborative by nature?
I’ve been wondering about this myself lately. I think ultimately I prefer to work collaboratively with people I trust and respect. As I mentioned before, at first I didn’t even realise I was making an album – I was just demoing songs in my apartment and trying to learn as much as I could about what worked, and what I liked and found interesting. Once I realised there was an album in there, I wanted to prove to myself that I could bring it to fruition on my own, in a way that I was proud of. The way it turned out, and the reaction to it has all been really empowering, but I’m ready to collaborate again now.
You left your original management team before this album. Was that a conscious decision to strike out in a new direction ? How risky did you think that was?
Yes it was decision. We’d worked together for a number of years and released 3 albums and 2 EPs together, but it became clear that there was a disconnect there between where I wanted to go and where they were capable of heading. I never thought about it as being risky, I thought of it more as step forward. They are great guys and we still get on today, which is great.
From what I have discovered in research, you are quite a prolific writer. How do you manage to filter through your material to decide what makes the album ?
This was one of the hardest things in making ‘Home State’ on my own. After spending literally hundreds of hours recording almost every part for a collection of songs, it was tricky to see the wood for the tree’s at times. Generally though, I find most of the whittling-down happens naturally, through the recording process and understanding what sort of album I set out to make in the first place.
Now Jack, having gained a wife since the last albums, congratulations by the way, does the thought of touring not hold quite so much appeal as before? Do you find yourself musically inspired by you marital bliss?
Hahaha! Thank you! It has definitely changed the way I think about things and the dynamic of being on the road. But I have been well and truly bitten by the touring bug and I still really enjoy it. It’s nice to have something bigger than myself to be doing it for. It’s definitely inspiring, and it’s also freed me up to be more creative in a lot of ways. I think somewhere in the back of my mind I had worried that it would damped my drive to write, but it’s done the opposite.
Who inspires you in style, is there anyone in the UK at the moment who is exciting you?
I’ve been (and am still) inspired by heaps artists over the years. Some of deepest discography-benders I’ve been on would be for: Ryan Adams, Elliott Smith, Bright Eyes and Conor Oberst’s solo stuff, Sufjan Stevens, Bjôrk, Paul Kelly, Josh Pyke, Gillian Welch, Death Cab For Cutie, Neil Young and Radiohead – but that is by no means a comprehensive list. I toured The UK with Blair Dunlop earlier this year and thought he was bloody brilliant – a really intelligent, thoughtful writer with a lot of depth and soul. Great band too!
This album has a real central thread to it and is that rare album that seems to feel instantly personal. How do you think it will translate to live audiences?
So far so good! It’s a strange thing writing songs that are often quite personal. I’ll sometimes get people telling me that a lyric relates to them – like they had the same thought but never wrote it down. That is the most incredible thing and has happened at some point pretty-much everywhere I’ve played in the world. Turns out we aren’t all so different after all. I think context is really important in communicating these songs to a live audience. The bigger picture is in the subtleties, so they need to be able to shine.
Finally, and thanks again for answering my questions, what do you hope the future holds looking past this album, or are you a day to day planner?
Cheers! It’s been fun! I’m heading into the studio next week to start working on some new music (which I am really excited about) and next year is already looking like a huge one touring-wise. I hope to be able to continue making and releasing music that I’m proud of and I believe in, and getting out into the world to play it. It’s already a dream come true – so I want to keep the dream going and growing.
Thanks Jack and all the best with the album, I love it.
Find Jack Carty online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Jack’s touring around Australia at the moment, and you can find further details on his official website. Buy ‘Home State’ here.