Carrie Elkin makes music from chemistry
Carrie Elkin has had many career choices – acrobat, circus performer, biochemist – but has settled on being a musician.
It’s a good thing she did, or else she would never have been invited to play the Canmore Folk Music Festival, Aug. 4-6.
“I’m so looking forward to being there,” said Elkin, in an interview with the Outlook. “I’ve heard really amazing things about the festival and the people at the festival, so that always excites me.”
From Austin, Texas, festival organizers heard the up-and-coming country music star play at an event in Memphis in February.
“I’m glad those events worked, because they loved it,” she said. “I’m coming with my full band too, which is exciting, I don’t get to do that often enough.”
Elkin will actually play three festivals, three weekends in a row, while in Canada, including a festival in B.C. and the Calgary Folk Music Festival. In November, she’ll return for a Home Routes tour.
“It’ll definitely be the most time I’ve spent in Canada, and I’m excited about it, because it’s one of those places that we really want to be playing,” she said. “Y’all are nice people.”
Music has always been a part of her life, she said.
“I grew up singing in church, and there’s always been a gospel influence in the songs, and I grew up listening to a lot of musicians that focused on harmonies – like the Beach Boys and Simon and Garfunkel,” she explained. “When I get to sing with my band that’s a treat, because I have harmony vocalists with me, and that changes the vibe of things – that’s what you hear on the record and what you’ll hear at the festival.
“I really think it’s like a mutt, it’s a mix of a lot of different influences. Growing up I listened to some ’80s pop and some Ozzy Osbourne and a lot of folk music.”
Ultimately, she confessed, all her songs end up being love songs.
“As far as the songs go, I’d say a lot of them are relationship-based songs – every song is a love song – no matter how deep you try to hide it, it always turns into a love song in some way,” she said. “I tend to view the world and situations other people are going through and really try to imagine their story and write songs from their point of view.
“I have a lot of songs from the male perspective too – I don’t know how accurate I am with that, but I try.”
When Elkin went away to university, music somehow got away from her, and she had to rediscover it.
“I never really considered writing songs until I was in college and I was really missing music a lot, because it was such a part of my life when I was younger,” she said. “Someone convinced me to buy a guitar, and I wrote 13 songs and dropped out of school and recorded my first album. It was an absolutely terrible album, but I knew it was something I loved to do.
“I gave it a shot for a little while and ended up going back to school and was an organic chemist for many years, and then one day I woke up and realized I needed to be playing music, it was the place where I felt the most real and was being true to myself.
“The first songs I wrote – when I was taking anatomy – I definitely talked about body parts,” she joked. “But no, not since then really. Apparently I use the word heart a lot, but that’s as far as I go.”
Five years later, Elkin now wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve been having an amazing time since and have been on the road full-time for about five years,” she said.
With five albums to her name, Elkin has toured often, gracing the stages of South By Southwest and Lilith Fair. Her newest release is Call It My Garden, her first with a music label, Red House Records.
To hear her music, visit Elkin’s website at carrieelkin.com
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