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An Interview with Carina Messier

Cover of Nowhere and No When by Carina Messier.
13 November 2021

Los Angeles based artist Carina Messier (CM) creates stellar dream pop of the highest order, and she no doubt frequents Griffith Observatory. I mean, it is plain to me that Carina is named after the Eta Carinae Nebula and Messier objects. Her/Their identity is a complete mystery, but her beautiful tone poems bear more than a passing resemblance to The Lost Patrol and The Lovely Intangibles. No photos exist other than the album art, which is why I used it for this interview. Thank you, Carina, for taking the time to answer my questions.

EK: When did you start in music? What in your background influenced you the most?

CM: I started dabbling in music at a very young age. I loved film music and picked up the guitar as my first instrument. I had an uncle that played clarinet professionally, who introduced me to the whole world of orchestral and experimental music, which largely influences my music today. I would say I was influenced most heavily by my immediate family, having parents who were artists themselves!

EK: Do you play any other instruments?

CM: My main instrument is guitar, however I can play some basic piano and some other obscure instruments, which can all be heard on my EP, Nowhere and No When.

EK: Have you played in other bands?

CM: I have not played in any bands professionally! I always thought it was something I wanted to do, and as I got older I realized the best way for me to express myself creatively is through my own work as an independent artist. I do have wonderful friends who are always willing to help me out when I need it and are ready to experiment ! If I need something very specific (like a percussion or rhythm part), I’ll call in someone that can do it much better than I can.
EK: Do you write all your own music, or do you collaborate with others?

CM: I do write my own music, but I always enjoy getting ideas from other musicians. Receiving input from a few other trusted individuals can sometimes be crucial to giving a song what it needs to be great instead of just OK. I value my friends’ opinions in particular and take their suggestions into consideration before making any final decisions.

EK: Have you ever played live?

CM: I have only played live a few times before, but I am hoping with the release of my EP, so long as the pandemic subsides, that there will be some live performance opportunities in 2022!

EK: Did the pandemic inform your writing for this EP at all, or were the songs fully formed before that?

CM: The pandemic actually acted as somewhat of an inspiration for me to write this album. I wanted to capture what it’s like to feel so lost in such a crazy and chaotic world – which many of us have been feeling for the last 2 years almost. The pandemic was almost a crucial part, I would say, in giving this EP the specific sound that it has.

EK: Given that you are the composer of your music, what influences you the most?

CM: In terms of creative ideas, everyday life is my main influence. The daily struggle of a person that feels they don’t fit the “mold” of society is a huge part of that – I think we all have those sorts of feelings at some point or another in our lives. Some people struggle with it their whole lives. I feel very close to that struggle as someone who grew up a little differently than others around me, and as someone who continues to grow apart from the mainstream both in daily life and musically speaking.

EK: Do you find that other forms of art like film or literature find their way in as influences?

CM: I always loved film music in particular, anything with a big orchestra and sweeping melodies. Because I gravitate towards this kind of music when I’m just listening, I think there are definitely some cinematic characteristics that appear in some of my music. Some of my favorite artists to listen to are Vangelis and Morricone!

EK: Let’s talk about your new release. How has the fan reaction been?

CM: So far I have been very happy with the reaction from others who have listened to this release. I feel that the music is doing what it was intended to do in terms of making people think about how it makes them feel. Even if they aren’t quite sure how to feel about it, I think that is a good sign! I’d love to just be able to make others feel something, even if it’s not exactly what I feel when I’m listening to it as the creator. With that being said, I’d always love to get this work out to even more people and get their thoughts!

EK: Did you produce your own music, or if not, who did you work with?

CM: Some of the songs you hear on the EP have been produced by myself, and some others, by very close friends that are more skillful than I!

EK: How do your songs come together? Lyrics first and then music?

CM: My songwriting process can look very different from song to song, but most commonly I like to start with the music. The music then inspires the lyrics. Sometimes they come together all at once and sometimes it’s piece by piece and can be a very time consuming process. More often than not, I have maybe a verse and chorus all done and then I really have to work to construct the rest of the piece – but every once in a while I can catch myself in a music writing “flow”, and turn out a fully fleshed out piece in an hour or so.

EK: What are your biggest musical influences?

CM: It’s a little difficult for me to pinpoint specific artists that have influenced my work – I am more influenced by genres like progressive rock, atmospheric pop, avant-garde jazz, etc. It’s almost like there are so many musical ideas swirling around in my head that what comes out is a concoction of obscure and experimental sounds influenced by centuries of music!

EK: Some of us hear a loose resemblance to Lost Patrol. Did you ever hear their music before releasing your own?

CM: I did not know of Lost Patrol before creating the EP, but after giving them a listen, I can definitely hear some cool and subtle similarities! I will definitely be looking into more of their music in the future.

EK: What are your plans for the future with respect to live shows or creating new music?

CM: I have no plans to stop creating music anytime soon! I have had such an amazing experience with Nowhere and No When and I’m ready to write, record, and release more music in the near future. Depending on the state of the pandemic and world, I am hoping to do some live shows in 2022 for this current release!