Indie rocker Carina Round is at once candidly honest and yet hauntingly mysterious. Her music, inspired by the likes of Kate Bush, Patti Smith, Tom Waits, Radiohead and Neil Young, has repeatedly won her a coveted place in the hearts of some of the biggest producers around.
Born in Wolverhampton, England, Round was raised by her single mother but says it was her grandfather who inspired her musically perhaps more than anyone else.
“He was a jolly old man with a big belly who would fix things in the garden and belt out ‘Indian Love Call’ at the top of his voice, which was sensational,” she remembers. “I would just follow him around spellbound and dreaming about what it must be like to be able to do that.”
It wasn’t long before the young talent made a bold move to find out exactly what it would be like to be able to do that. Round dropped out of college and moved to the nearest big city, Birmingham, to pursue music. After four years of putting in her time, she released her first record, “First Blood Mystery” on an indie label in 2001 and then self-released her second record, “The Disconnection,” which landed her an offer from Dave Stewart and Jimmy Iovine to sign with their joint WME/Interscope Records.
Though Round resisted the cross-pond move to LA for a while, she says she eventually thought it would be beneficial to live near her label. And that’s when everything changed for her.
“I literally went from making a record in someone’s back garden in Wolverhampton to working with massive producer Glen Ballard in his studio in Hollywood,” she gushes. “It was like moving from Earth to Mars. I can’t even begin to explain the differences, but maybe you can imagine. It was certainly a massive change and very confusing and exhilarating!”
Since then, Round has continued to work with names like Dan Burns, Dave Stewart, Brian Eno and Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan.
“I have known and worked with Dave Stewart for 10 years or so, so I have learned a great deal from being around him when he is working. He’s very open and not too precious, so that makes for a very lighthearted, creative atmosphere. I have had a tendency to be really precious and too attached to things when I write, so being around him can create such a relief,” she explains.
“The collaboration with Eno came through Dave. Speaking of being precious, Dave sent me the demo file and said, ‘Write something haunting to this by tomorrow’ in true Dave form, and in true Carina fashion it was five years before I took the finished mix of ‘Secret Of Drowning’ to his studio and said, ‘Listen to this.’”
Round says working with Corgan was also very fluid, a lesson in precision, adding that he practically laid down a double guitar part in two takes without ever second-guessing himself. Likewise, she says Burns blew her mind open and gave her a new confidence in her abilities to produce.
“He is very open to me taking the reins when I am trying to achieve something specific,” she says. “A great producer and a brilliant engineer.”
Collaborating with this list of who’s who in the music industry, Round released her latest record, “Tigermending” earlier this month, and now she’s in the middle of a PledgeMusic campaign to hit the road with it. This isn’t Round’s first interaction with Pledge; she ran a successful campaign in 2011 for the 10th anniversary re-release of “Blood Mystery” and now she’s engaging her fans through the platform once again.
“I think the reason it works so well is it is really a very intense artist/fan communication platform above all else,” she explains. “Plus you have the extremely hands-on staff at Pledge making sure you all don’t forget about each other, and because it’s so personal, everyone involved is so committed – artist, fan and Pledge – everyone wants it to work, unlike older ways of releasing where there are so many third parties that by the time the record is out nobody knows or cares who’s making money.”
With touring in her sights, Round hopes to hit as many cities in the US and Canada as possible. She’ll also be touring the UK and several major European cities, as well as visiting Japan with Tears for Fears this summer.
“Who knows,” she says. “If we raise enough, perhaps I can actually take over the world!”
Carina Round’s Touring Must-Haves
-A good pair of headphones/in-ears – “There’s not much privacy on the road so anything that gives you your own headspace when you need it is a must.”
-A good book – “Again, headspace. Stimulation. Last tour it was Haruki Murakami.”
-Notebook and pen – “’Cause I’m old fashioned and like to feel the words in my hands.”
-Sweats and flats – “When I come off stage after three hours of performing, I need to be in something comfortable.”
-A juicer – “I would probably die without one.”
-A yoga mat – “For yoga and beating off unruly llamas.”
-A cooler – “After-show food is more often than not stuff that makes you feel like crap. Not having access to healthy snacks for me takes life from great to rubbish very fast. Maybe if you’re lucky you’re on a bus with a fridge.”
-A sturdy but sexy pair of heels – “For stomping and balancing when using guitar pedals.”
-Eight pairs of other shoes – “Just in case.”
-Capezio tights – “My trusty companions.”
-A swimsuit – “Just in case there’s a pool or sauna in close proximity.”
In My Personal Bag
-Emergen-C/Vitamins/Wellness pills – “I can’t get sick. This stuff puts me in a good state of mind of ‘I’m not getting sick.’ Your state of mind is an important thing on the road!”
-Eucalyptus Oil – “A miracle for all mankind.”
-Layrite Pomade – “These bangs don’t stay up on their own. Holds like wax, washes out with water.”
-Rosewater Spray – “Always in my bag. Spray it on your face = I feel better than I did two seconds ago. Plus it smells nice. Always a good thing on tour.”
-MAC makeup remover wipes – “I try to kid myself I’m an adult by waking up without last night’s makeup on as often as possible.”
-Japanese menthol eyedrops – “They BURN SO GOOD! Exceptional for hiding sleepless eyes.”
-Xanax – “For preventing sleepless eyes. Sometimes it’s hard to sleep in strange hotels and moving busses.”
-Earplugs – “You just do.”
-Razor and tweezers – “Nobody needs to see that.”
-A good quality roller case – “For holding all of the above.”
On My iPhone
-Voice Tutor – “I use it to warm up every night before a show.”
-Yelp – “Saves lives.”
-Xpense TRKR – “To TRK Xpenses.”
-PledgeMusic, Facebook, instagram and Twitter – “Because as an artist, it’s important to be in touch with your fans constantly.”
-Rdio – “For much music happiness.”
-Google Maps – “What sense of direction?”
-Voice Memos/Simplenote – “In case of no notebook and pen.”