An interview with Cary Judd

You have a unique method of creating a live sound — how did it develop?

A few years ago I was playing in a band, all the guys I was playing with were great musicians and friends, but also in other projects. I was ready to tour and not have a day job and live and die by my music, while their mindset was to stay in L.A. and find a record deal which is a waste of time. I started doing solo shows. At first it was just me and my guitar, then one by one I started adding things that filled out the sound so I wouldn’t be just another guy with a guitar. It worked out well because I started getting a much more enthusiastic response from people than I did even with a full band. Over the course of the last 2 years of tour it just evolved itself into what it is now, I guess it was just born out of my need to do more than strum a guitar.

What prompted you to explore music writing?

It’s hard to explain, but I don’t think anything prompted me, I’ve always just known that playing music was the one thing I would do, I guess in a sense I was always a writer, it was just taking the time to develop that, which I have to add is a never-ending process.

Why did you decide to perform solo, as opposed to performing with a group?

It kind of goes back to the first question of just having a better time of it solo. I think it was my drive to do more than just play clubs in one small area, it’s hard for me to be musically on the same page as anyone, so rather than having the headache of trying to get along I just decided I’d just put it all on myself, which though it’s more of a challenge and not as safe, it is more rewarding.

What inspires you?

It may sound corny to say, but real life. All my songs are autobiographical, I think that’s where I find the most inspiration for my words. I also feel inspired by a ton of other artists, a lot of the time I’ll be listening to someone else that I look up to and I’ll get an idea for a song, it’s always totally unrelated to the song I’m listening to, but for some reason good music opens up a door inside my mind.

This sounds funny to say, but there have been some funny instances where drugs helped too, which I should explain….as you can imagine sitting in a car for hours at a time on the road, I’ve developed a bit of a chronic pain in my back. As it turns out the meds they prescribe for that kind of pain kind of tweak your mind when you’re on them. For some funny reason 2 or 3 of the songs on the new record were written while under the influence of such drugs. I can’t say I encourage anyone to take drugs in order to write, but I do tend to take advantage of whatever state of mind I’m in in all other instances, so why wouldn’t I take advantage of this?

What do you value most about the live setting?

I love the risk involved. Because I play solo I can be as spontaneous as I want. Sometimes I’ll have some ridiculous idea half way through a song, and there’s nothing to stop me from giving it a try, it’s funny, it’s either a huge success, or huge mistake, but that keeps it interesting, I don’t mind making mistakes live, it always makes for good stage banter.

What did you try to accomplish with your new album, Looking Back From Space?

With this record I think my main goal was just to be happy with the final outcome, to really truly make the record I intended to make. My first record was just a way for me to have my songs captured, though I’m still proud of it. It turned out that as I grew as a live performer my shows ended up being more produced than my record, which was funny because I was afraid when i was making that record I wouldn’t be able to ‘play it live’. This time around I didn’t give myself any kind of limitations, I just filled out the songs however I wanted, knowing full well they’ll have their own sound and evolution as I play them live.

What have you learned from recording the album?

I think I’ve learned about myself as a songwriter, I always have this underlying fear of writers block. Every time I write a new song, I think, “man, that’s it, I won’t write anything else worthwhile”. With this batch of songs I feel like I’ve proven myself wrong, and I’ve learned to have a little more confidence in my writing.

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