Caitlin has been a friend to the VoiceBox Live team on Twitter for a long time, she often pops in for a chat and joins the banter. I’m not sure who introduced her to me but I’m glad they did. Her voice is rich and pure and although she is classically trained she sings in many genres so you never quite know what to expect! The only thing you can be sure of is that whatever the genre it will be beautifully sung.
She was born on the beautiful island of Anglesey but brought up in England. She returned to Wales several years ago but these days roams the canals of North Wales and North West England living on her narrowboat.
I asked Caitlin how she started writing songs:
“I started writing poetry as a young child which then sort of developed into ‘poems with melodies’. It wasn’t until I joined a band in my late teens that I realised I was actually writing songs. I was asked to write some lyrics to a melody that the rest of the band had written and it all just fell into place.”
So what inspires her songs?
“I have been singing since I was about five years old and I’ve always loved reading and writing poems, so it seemed like a natural progression to fuse the two. As a young person my ‘songs’ contained the usual fare of angst-ridden teenage woes, unrequited love (of which there was much!) and quite a lot of ‘what’s it all about’ and ‘oh woe is me’ type of stuff. I know…lame! 🙂
Indeed, I was an introverted child and prone to many hours of pensive sitting.
“As an adult….life inspires me! The rich tapestry of life with all its ups and downs.”
The process of growing and maturing, of experiencing love, loss, pain and joy provides an infinite well of inspiration. I also love films, books, poetry and art. I’m particularly interested in myth and folklore and I use these tropes and metaphors in many of my songs. Equally, a piece of writing or even a moment in a film will inspire an idea for a song. Ultimately I am motivated by a desire to continue to improve the mastery of my craft and most importantly, to touch people with my music. My co-writer Neil Harvey is an amazing composer in his own right and working with him always motivates me to raise my game! He’s a hard taskmaster!
Interestingly I no longer write poetry! I can’t do it anymore without it turning into a song.”
And musical influences?
“Ooh how long have you got?! So many I hardly know where to start! My earliest influences really came from my parents. My mother is a wonderful singer and my dad can really hold a tune too! They loved all kinds of music, particularly classical, jazz and swing.
“We listened to everything from Tchaikovsky to Louis Armstrong.”
My mum was (and is) a huge movie buff and loves the golden age of Hollywood musicals so I was introduced to the likes of Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra and Doris Day very early on. I also grew up listening to Michael Jackson, Abba, Blondie, Dolly Parton, Annie Lennox, Clannad, Cyndi Lauper, Whitney Houston…just excellent singers and artists. I must give a special mention to Barbra Streisand whose voice was literally on a loop in my bedroom as a young girl. I used her incredible talent as a yardstick to measure my own ability! I’m still trying to meet her exacting standards! These days I listen to lots of different stuff from the incredible soprano Dawn Upshaw to soul music, rock, country and Café del mar.
In a nutshell my musical tastes are hugely eclectic and I love to sing and listen to everything!”
So, how did Caitlin come to work with Neil Harvey and Lynn Holt?
I’ve been working with Neil off and on for most of my adult life. We met through mutual musician friends and I worked with his band every now and then. We just found that we worked very well together and were very much on the same page artistically. We decided to write some songs together and it’s just developed from there into a tight partnership. Neil is a very accomplished musician and composer. He constantly challenges me (in a good way!) and makes me raise my game.
Lovely Lynn (Pip) Holt came to us from an advert I placed on Bandmix. I had put a call out for musicians to join me with a view to playing live to promote our second album The Promise and Lynn answered the call! Again, as soon as we met we just clicked. Lynn is a lovely person and a smashing musician.
I read in Caitlin’s biography that she has composed for film/TV and media so I asked her about this:
“I have been involved in the entertainment business since I was fifteen and I’ve done a lot of different things including acting. In my guise as an actor I got to meet various producers and film-makers. I was asked one day to compose a soundtrack to a corporate video and it went on from there. Neil and I have done quite a few of those. We’ve also done some animation soundtracks and short films. Credits include: London Tourist Board, Canary Wharf Docklands Development, two short films for Mersey TV, a Pinewood Studios based animation company and the feature film Lark of the Morning.
Yes, the song of the same name from my album Siren’s Song was composed for the film (which is still in pre-production)”
I wondered if Caitlin had time for any hobbies:
“I’m an avid reader and will read anything and everything. I particularly like Gabriel Garcia Marquez. His novel Love in the time of cholera is a favourite book, I must have read it a dozen times. I also love Toni Morrison (Beloved is such an excellent novel), Umberto Eco, Ian Rankin and of course all the classics. Jane Eyre is like an old friend. I also like non-fiction. Christopher Hitchens is a fave as he wrote with such wit and intelligence. Oh to be that articulate! I love films too but I don’t watch so many these days as I often can’t get a signal on the boat and rarely go to the cinema.
“I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t seen any of the Lord of the Rings trilogy or the last four Star Wars movies!”
(Don’t be ashamed Caitlin……neither have I!)
I like to play chess! I’m woefully poor at the game but I just pretend I’m Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair….always helps.
I absolutely love to cook and I make a mean sweet potato and spinach curry. I was a pretty rubbish cook for many years until I started feeling under the weather a lot. I decided to learn to cook healthy meals and I discovered a real passion for food along the way. I try to keep fit mainly in order to work off all the food I’ve made! I go running along the towpaths where I’m moored and do a bit of yoga on the boat. Bit difficult to do yoga on a narrowboat but I do my best.”
And what are her hopes for the future?
“As I mentioned earlier I am keen to move more into synch licensing and Neil and I are looking into submitting some of our work to other artists to record. We have some tracks that we are working on for that very purpose. I’m also working on more Celtic-inspired music and we have some new songs that we’re hoping to release on an EP around Easter time at which time we’d like to go out and play live to showcase the new work. It would take too long to do another album so we’ve decided to try and put out new music more regularly from now on. That’s the plan anyway and you know what they say about best-laid plans! I very much want to resurrect our ‘Boat Sessions’ idea which was to film some acoustic cover songs on the boat and put them on YouTube for all the lovely people who’ve so kindly supported us. I ‘m very keen to get people involved in the creative process in some way and we are working on ways to make this happen. The chillout music is still on the go with another offering from Aura (ft moi!) out as soon as possible. This new track is a huge departure from the Celtic music and it’s quite exciting!
“Thank you so very much for inviting me to do this interview.
The Voicebox Live Chronicle is a hidden gem itself!
Without folks like you Grimniens, the world would be a much poorer place”.
So what food shall I compare Caitlin Grey to? It has to be strawberries and cream, heavenly!
Sample tracks from Caitlin’s latest album The Promise:
“I have had a moment to listen to the Parting. I’ve not listened to Caitlin before strangely enough, I was actually deeply moved by her lyrics and vocals. My God she is incredibly talented, I can’t find words to do her justice. Wow. :))” Grimnien
Follow Caitlin on Twitter: @GreyCaitlin
Visit her website here:
Thank you Caitlin Grey for sharing your fascinating story with us – and for being our friend.