Happy Feminist Wednesday, Callaghan- can you introduce yourself to our Bettys?
Hello! I’m Callaghan. I’m a singer-songwriter originally from the UK, but have lived in the US for the last 8 years. I’m currently living in Los Angeles where I've spent the last year writing and recording my brand new album which was just released on August 31st.
How you got started in your craft?
I grew up listening to and playing music from when I was really young, so music has always been a big part of my life. I wrote my first song age 14 so I could enter a songwriting competition on BBC TV. I got on the TV show and that really gave me the confidence to keep writing and performing and I haven’t stopped since!
Why is feminism important to you and your work?
As a woman in the music industry it’s hard to ignore the fact that male and female artists are treated differently. Women are scrutinized differently for their age, looks and personal lives. I was living in Nashville at the time when the “tomato-gate” incident occurred - when a male radio consultant suggested at a conference that building a radio station playlist was like making a salad - the men were the lettuce and the women were like tomatoes. The suggestion was that you need a lot of lettuce and just a sprinkling of tomatoes. I've also been advised in the past as a songwriter not to bother writing for female artists because there were so few of them signed to major labels that getting a cut was much more likely writing a song for a male artist. It’s a worry that an entire century on from being given the right to vote, the female voice and female point of view is still not getting the level of exposure in popular music that it should be.
I don't let that negativity affect what I do creatively, but take inspiration from the fact that more people are speaking out about it now and pushing back against those kind of attitudes.
On a personal level I continue to make the kind of music I want to make and write the songs I want to write, in the belief that if I can get them to as many ears as possible the people who hear them will connect with them. I wrote a song called When You Loved Me after an 85 year old friend told me a story about her first love in Manhattan in 1940. I was told that a ballad like that will never get played on modern radio. I put an acoustic video of the song up on Facebook a year ago and it’s been viewed millions of times and shared tens of thousands of times by people who connect with it.
What do you do to avoid feminist burnout?
It’s great to see the strong female artists out there at the moment, and I think the general public are a lot less obsessed with youth and image than the industry makes you believe. Particularly in my genre of music where I’m writing songs with stories, emotions and drawing on real-life experiences that hopefully people can relate to, I always try and focus on the music and being as honest as possible through my songwriting.
It’s an empowering feeling to write songs and perform them for an audience. Whatever’s going on in the industry or the charts, or with the latest musical trend, if I can hold the attention of a room full of people for 90 minutes and make them think about something or feel something then I know I’ve done what I’m supposed to do as an artist.
Whats your favorite self care practice?
I find it really good to switch off from everything now and again - away from the computer, social media and everything electronic. It’s hard to put your mind in a creative zone unless you give it time to breathe. I enjoy yoga and meditation, but even something as simple as going to bake a cake can completely put my mind in a different zone for a while.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in your field?
I think my advice to aspiring songwriters and performers is to stay true to yourself. There are so many trends out there in music and people can often try and tell you how you should look or sound, but you have to be honest with who you are as an artist, not worry what other people are doing, and always trust your gut instinct.
How can we support your work?
You can find me online @callaghanmusic on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’ll be back in the UK on tour in November to promote my new album - all the tour dates are on my website at www.callaghansongs.com