Little did anyone know when the cute blonde from Malibu hopped on stage to rock the crowd with an unexpected freestyle before a Game concert at UCLA that they were witnessing history in the making. However, that is exactly what was happening. That moment inspired California native Colette Carr to chase her dream of dedicating her life to music. Armed with a razor sharp tongue and rhymes for days, this underground sensation exploded onto the pop culture landscape self-made video for her song “Back It Up” – produced by the Cataracs – which conquered the competition in the coveted MTV-U Freshmen video poll. That milestone was followed by no less than 100,000 mix tape downloads landing the hip-hop phenom on Billboard’s Uncharted chart. Before she knew it, she was making cameos in label-mates LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem and Far East Movement’s Like a G6 videos. Teaming up with producer wunderkind Frankmusik, Carr explored her melodic side with songs like “Primo” and “No I.D.” and toured Canada on the Cherrytree Pop Alternative Tour opening for LMFAO. One of the hardest working women in show biz, Carr shows no signs of slowing down and has been hard at work on her upcoming album, “Skitszo”. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Colette to get the scoop on her musical roots, the creation of her debut album and what the future holds for this superstar on the rise!
To give everyone a little background on you, where did you grow up and what are your first musical memories?
I was born in Studio City, California. That is where my first memories of music come from. I remember being on the patio when my parents were throwing a party. I was dancing around and I fell in love with music instantly as a child. There were so many different sounds as they were listening to Greek, French and Turkish music. Then we moved to Malibu where I was a big tennis player and started to listen to music that wasn’t my parents. That is when I discovered rap music! The rest is history! [laughs]
Who were some of your influences in rap? There are countless styles but what did you gravitate towards?
The first rap album that I ever even heard about was Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic.” I was on the playground, the monkey bars, with my two homies when one of them said, “I can get tickets to the Dr.’s concert!” I thought, “Why would a doctor be having a concert? That is so weird!” [laughs] Then I listened to his CD and learned about Eminem and even more of the West Coast artists. Then I started gravitating toward Wu Tang Clan and The Notorious BIG. The floodgates were open at that point!
What drove you to make music your career, as opposed to taking a different path?
As I mentioned, I was a tennis player and I was really competitive. I was going to go pro but then the doctor told me I couldn’t because of a back injury. I was heartbroken, lost and confused. At that point, I was just hoping that whatever I was supposed to do would find me. I snuck into a Game concert with my sister and the MC there asked if anyone there knew how to freestyle. Of course, I was like, “No way! I am not going to go up there!” My sister kinda pushed me and said, “Do it! You are so good at it!” I jumped up and I freestyled! I knew right away that I wanted to do music for the rest of my life! [See the video – Click Here!]
That is pretty awesome. Were you nervous at all when you jumped on stage? I can’t imagine having the balls to do that!
I definitely didn’t have the balls! [laughs] But no, I wasn’t nervous at all. It felt very natural. Everyone was chanting for me afterwards and I thought, “Holy S-H-I-T! This is amazing!” I told my parents immediately the next morning what I was going to do with my life. They were super supportive of me making music and I have been doing it ever since!
How did things progress from that night you hit the stage to freestyle and the point we are at now?
After that, I made a music video and it went to number one on MTV. Then I got hit up by a bunch of labels and I decided to go with Interscope because most of my favorite artists were there. I jumped on the Cherrytree [Records] shows in London and El Adobe. I played a few shows on my own, lots of Jeffrey Sanker Parties and I was on the LMFAO tour where we performed for 15,000 people a night! Since then, I have been making more music videos, more music and those are the bullet points!
For those not familiar with you at this point, how would you describe your sound?
Oh, artists love putting labels on their music! [laughs] I don’t really know how to describe it. A lot of people say that it is like Eminem and Britney Spears had a baby and dropped it on its head! It is very pop one minute and then hardcore rap the next. It is very literally my personality in verses and my stories too. I guess I would describe it as Colette Carr.
You are currently working on you album “Skitszo,” due out later this year. What can you tell us about the album and the process of putting it together?
Putting an album together is like mastering the Rubix Cube! You have to make sure that everything is aligned. I have been done with my album for a while now but it is not completed in my head. It’s not finished. As soon as I was done with it, the pressure kinda changed — the atmosphere. Now, I feel like I have been making even better music, it is more fun and I would say stupid because I am just fucking around and I love it! It just comes out representing me better than making a song that I have to show a bunch of important people that I have to hear about it when they don’t like it, if you know what I mean. It was a lot of pressure and drama. Now that I don’t have to deal with that, the music is coming out really interesting, I must say. It doesn’t make any sense! I can’t wait to throw some of the stuff that I am making now onto “Skitszo” and have a combination of all the stuff.
What has been the biggest challenge in creating the album or for you as a songwriter?
I don’t have too many problems as a songwriter because I am writing about my own experiences and I am staying true to myself. I feel like if I were putting on an act or trying to be something I am not, it would be extremely hard. I am writing about, “What happened last night?” Or, “What did this boy do to me really?” And I am really open and honest, so they really tend to come out really naturally. I was fortunate enough to get hooked up with some amazing producers, so making the album has been a great experience. The biggest challenge has been the traveling, not being able to sleep, people cancelling or waiting around! [laughs] For the most part, it has been all good vibes and hopefully the energy I have put in shows through.
What is the writing process like for you. Do you have a particular approach?
I do actually! I only write on the spot in the studio. I typically only work with producers that make beats on the spot. I always have a hand in the beats because I don’t expect people to understand me 100% and I help guide it there. Then it’s crunch time and I write the lyrics on the spot! I usually only give myself about 20 minutes because I know that after that I know the producers start getting tired or hungry! [laughs] Ya know what I mean?! [laughs] It is a lot of pressure and that is what I like about it. It kinda reminds me of tennis — the adrenaline that comes with having to perform on the spot! That is my routine!
You just mentioned the external pressures of making an album. Is there internal pressure on your part to hit a homerun on your first time out?
No. I am not really focused on hitting a homerun. I am not focused on making hits as they say. Like I said, there is a lot of pressure from industry people, fans but mostly from myself. I like pressure so I am not complaining at all! I just want to make music that represents me. I think it is more of a movement than a song that they remember. Hopefully, the music correlates with who I am and it inspires some people to light the world on fire.
How does performing live compare to being in the studio? How do you approach it and is it anything like tennis?
No, it’s not at all like tennis. TMI but I used to have stomach aches and major diarrhea before every match. That is a little piece of information that only your Icon vs. Icon has! [laughs] It is weird because I don’t get nervous at all before I go on stage! It is so much fun! It is kinda like asking a kid if they are nervous before going on a roller coaster at Disneyland. Sometimes kids are and that is cool but I am the kid who says, “Why the heck would I be nervous! This is awesome!” That is exactly how I feel before I go on stage. I just look at all the people and get excited to let them hear my music. It is the best and I love it! Much less diarrhea now! [laughs]
You just released a video for “Like I Gotta Gun” and it is pretty awesome. How much fun was it to shoot that video?
It was super awesome! Shooting that video was the most fun I have had out of all my videos so far! We shot it in Malibu. It was great because my best friend was there, along with my sister and a bunch of her friends from USC and I have known Talkboy TV for a minute. It was like working with friends and everyone was so laid back and they understood the vision. Ya know, sometimes you try to bring your ideas to a producer or a director and they give you treatment. When you read it, you are like, “Where the heck did this come from!” [laughs] This time, it was exactly what I wanted and exactly what I had said on the phone. The whole process was really refreshing for me! We did exactly what was in my head which I have never really done except for “Back It Up.”
You came from the underground, so to speak. How do you feel social media impacted your growth as an artist?
I wouldn’t want it any other way. I am really excited, as an artist, that I get to talk to my fans every day with things like the Cherrytree Chat or they can listen to my radio show. The radio show is me messing around with a friend and the fans know exactly who I am, there is no act. If they were to see me on the street, I wouldn’t be nervous even if I am rockin’ pajamas and a flannel because they know me so well! It is an underground music where it is more than the music. It is something to believe in, the whole be yourself movement and I really encourage everyone to follow their dreams. I talk to my fans every day. Everyone has different problems or issues and I try to help them along. That is the whole goal with this music thing — to help people! Kinda like Bono or Angelina [Jolie] or all the goodie-goodies that do a great job! Goodie-goodies meaning that they do great work. That connection with the fans is amazing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My fans are the shit! They make me dope videos and cool artwork. Sometimes I will even see someone doing some dope artwork and say, “Hey, you should draw this, this and that for this video!” They say, “Oh, that’s a great idea!” I don’t know any other artist that interacts with their fans like that but I do because they are so cool. None of them are really creepy, except for a couple! [laughs] My fans are really fun and we have a lot of great conversations. They teach me a lot and I hope I teach them a lot in return. It is cool because they can give me their honest opinions on each song. For example, a lot of them love “Like I’ve Gotta Gun” and some a little disappointed with the videos because of the nipples! [laughs] I just do me, we talk and it’s awesome. That’s the bottom line — They are fucking awesome!
You had a lot of cool stuff happen to you since you started your career in music. Is there something that jumps out at you as your defining moment?
Without a doubt, it was jumping on stage at the Game concert, simply because that is where it all started. I also loved the moment where I walked out on stage for the first time when I was touring with LMFAO to do “F16” when we were in Montreal. For me, that was a very special moment.
Have you ever had some sort of “Spinal Tap” moment on stage where something totally unexpected happened to you?
Almost every show! [laughs] You wouldn’t believe it! Most people couldn’t handle most of the shit that has happened to me! I have been on stage and the power has gone out! There I stood with thousands of kids in front of me with no mic and no music! The kids started booing like it was my fault! I started fuckin’ around with them and it was right after that whole J-Lo thing had happened, which was similar. She started booty shakin’! I asked, “Is this what I am supposed to do?” And I started shakin’ my ass and they went insane! [laughs] I feel like kids that would have overlooked me as, “Whatever, it is some white girl rapping,” might have thought, “Oh, she is dope!” Anyway, the power came back on and the song started playing from the beginning, so I had to do the whole thing again. That was a little awkward because I was almost done before everything shut off. The kids were into it though! They were singing along and their hands were up, so it ended up being a good thing. That is what I always look for, the good things in each performance. Then there is the case of the wrong song playing and that has happened several times! It is always interesting! ALWAYS! It is never easy, breezy! [laughs] I gotta tell ya, I am not good with fog machines. Sometimes they crank them up and I can’t breathe. For those performances, I am on auto-pilot! Those are my favorite crazy moments because I don’t even know how I function! I literally feel like I have asthma, it is horrible. Think of trying to perform “F16” in front of thousands of people and you can’t breathe because of the stupid fog machine! It’s bad!
Do you feel there are any misconceptions about yourself at this point?
I talk to my fans everyday, I think most misconceptions are squashed immediately. I just did a song with Frankmusik called “No I.D.” where we UStream’d the sessions. The fans got to watch me make a song, write the lyrics and sing the chorus. They were like, “Oh my God! Colette is a really good singer! Fuck all those people that said she couldn’t sing!” Right there, we squashed a bunch of potential misconceptions as I wrote and sang right in front of them! I don’t really like misconceptions or misunderstandings, so I tend to get rid of them immediately! People are entitled to their fancy opinions and if they are not really into it, they can talk to me or they can carry on. I don’t really care! Like I said, I love talking to my fans and that is what it is about for me.
What does the future hold for Colette Carr?
Hopefully, I get to the point where I can really help people a lot. That is what I ultimately want to do and this is the ultimate platform to do that is where I see things going. I don’t want to be modest about it. I feel like if you aren’t afraid to throw it out there, it just might happen.
“If I can see it, then I can be it,” like R. Kelly said.
I know I can!
Where is the best place for people to catch up with you and follow your adventures online?
I am always on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s facebook.com/colettecarr, @colettecrazy on on Twitter and CocoCarrCarr on Instagram. Remember there are two “R’s” in Carr! There are so many new apps coming out, it is hard to keep up! I will always let people know on Twitter when I am going to be on the Cherrytree Chat because that is where we can really connect. I am definitely there to talk, so I give everyone my undivided attention! We listen to music on Cherrytree Radio and comment on it. It is more than an interview when I talk to my fans, it is like hanging out with friends — with a little more safety of course, as sometimes you get the occasional crazy person who asks to lick my toes! [laughs]
Anything I missed before I let you go?
No! I really appreciate you taking time to chat it out. I am glad to hear you liked the “Like I Gotta Gun” video! It was so much fun to make. The song was even more fun to make and the people involved were amazing! Again, thanks for the support and helping to keep making it go!
If you ever need to promote something, just let us know. We love ya!
Thanks, that would be amazing! Take care!
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.