Photos and Words by Dillon Matthew for Daily Trojan Newspaper
In the span of her burgeoning music career, 18-year old Carlie Hanson has transformed from a normal girl from Wisconsin to a budding pop sensation with viral singles reaching over 50 million Spotify streams and spots on multiple nationwide tours with artists like Jeremy Zucker, Troye Sivan and Gnash.
On Wednesday night, she opened for pop singer Troye Sivan at the Greek Theatre as part of his “Bloom” Tour.
Hanson’s stage presence exuded confidence as her setlist was ideal for the upbeat, dance-filled atmosphere. The Daily Trojan sat down with Hanson to talk about her career so far and her plans for the future.
Daily Trojan: You played your first live show a little over six months ago. Where are you today as a artist compared to then?
Carlie Hanson: As an artist, I’ve grown into a more confident performer since my first show back in May. I remember that night. It was my birthday. My family was there so obviously I was nervous but, surprisingly, having them there singing every word to every song made my worries disappear. Now that I’ve been on these tours, doing this every night, I approach the stage with nothing but excitement. I’m at a point that I never thought I would be at.
DT: You’ve been on your first few tours since late September. What has it been like to play multiple shows every week?
CH: It’s way better than going to college. That’s what all my friends are doing. I used to work at McDonald’s. The fact that I can play shows every night and make a living out of that is unreal to me. It’s been nothing but fun and new experiences.
DT: It seems as if you’ve built a great network of artists and other musical influences since moving out to LA. What has it been like having a support group that includes notable pop artists like Troye Sivan?
CH: Troye is the only major artist I’ve gotten close to. It’s amazing learning from him, now being on his second tour. He’s really an inspiration to me. I haven’t really met a ton of other artists, so I’m kind of figuring it all out as I go.
DT: In an interview with Paper Magazine you said that you keep a journal with you to jot down possible concepts or ideas for future songwriting. Have you had any recent inspiration while on the road?
CH: Before the “Bloom” tour, I was touring with an artist named Jeremy Zucker. Every day we would be on the road for almost seven hours, just driving constantly so I would always be jotting down ideas. Unfortunately, some people broke into our tour van and stole a lot of gear and my bag, which had my journals in it. Obviously, all of the thoughts and ideas are still with me but having it written down helps. I haven’t really been thinking about formally writing and recording songs as much now that I’m touring.
DT: Who are your current favorite artists, and which artists are you currently listening to?
CH: Justin Bieber is the biggest inspiration for me and I grew up with him, One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer. I was definitely that girl who loved all of them, but my mom is really into Nirvana and some hardcore metal bands like Five Finger Death Punch. I think that was the first band I ever saw live.
DT: An interesting first concert to say the least.
CH: Yeah so, I have that Rock inspiration/taste. However, I like the 1975 and a bunch of rap too. Lil Skies is this new rapper who I like a lot.
DT: Do you take inspiration from other genres even though the songs you write are labeled as pop?
CH: I’m going to be putting out an EP soon and while it’s still pop, it will have a lot more guitar instrumentals, which has come from my current obsessions with indie rock and alternative bands. But also I love rap and there are some songs that go harder with urban, trap beats that all flows together really well. It’s gonna be interesting!
DT: A little under two weeks ago you released a new single called “Toxins”, in which you talk about an unhealthy relationship that came along shortly after moving to a new place. A few lines that resonated heavily with me were the lyrics “my iPhone might be bad for my health, but when its dying, feel like dying myself”. Do you think that technology, like smartphones, plays a huge role in relationships today?
CH: For sure! It’s what our life is now. Especially within the music industry there’s this strive to connect with anyone and everyone all the time, which I don’t love because I’d rather be present and talk with people in real life. It really is an addiction, but I also have a love-hate relationship with it. I love memes, YouTube, and talking to people I can’t immediately be with but I feel like eventually I’m going to need to take a break from it all for myself. It’s something everyone should do.
DT: As an 18-year-old, you have your whole career ahead of you. Do you have any specific goals or places you’ve always wanted to play?
CH: I love Justin Bieber. One day I want to meet him, but the obvious dream is wanting to play Madison Square Garden. But, c’mon, when am I gonna meet Justin Bieber? He’s the reason why I’m so into music and here today.
DT: You recently had a song in the soundtrack for “Sierra Burgess Is a Loser.” Did you write that song for the movie?
CH: No, I wrote “Goodbye” about a year and a half ago. I had the song done for a while and my manager somehow got connected with them and it was put into the soundtrack! They said it really fit the themes addressed in the movie. Unfortunately it’s not actually in the film, and when I finally watched “Sierra” there were so many spots where it would’ve fit.
DT: “Goodbye” seems like one of your most honest songs yet, not only because of its slower tempo, but also your vocals. Was that influenced by the lyrics and tone of the song?
CH: Pain. It was gloomy outside and I think we wrote it in someone’s garage. I didn’t have a song like it that showed off my voice in that way. I don’t really know how it came about, I wasn’t in a relationship or anything but my heart was broken for some reason.
DT: As someone who is the same age as you, I relate and understand the motifs of our generation, rebellion and strive to just “do our own thing”. Do you think that the demographic of your songs is primarily people of our own age?
CH: I definitely think that the songs I write are primarily for audiences of our generation. I find myself talking about my friends a lot in my music, and taking stories from their lives. I think it’s because I’m young and this is just exactly what I’m going through. Plus, I just continue to strive to make music that I would like to listen to.
DT: Where does Carlie Hanson go from here?
CH: I just want to keep being on tour! I’ll be putting that EP out soon, and I’m going on tour with Gnash after this tour with [Sivan] ends. After that, I’ll be going to Thanksgiving dinner and headed to Christmas. Might chop my hair off, dye it a different color, so keep an eye out!