By Nicholas Jason Lopez
After her 2020 EP ‘After Midnight’ was released to high praise, one Callie McCullough has mostly used 2021 as a year of perspective and celebration.
Ask her and she’d likely agree the highlight of this year was getting to film the music video for her favorite track “No Good Way” at Revival House, an old Canadian church that was converted into a live music venue. The urge to create after a long, cold lockdown in her hometown spawned the idea to film it there.
The ‘After Midnight’ EP itself was recorded in The Tracking Room and The Sound Emporium, as well as in producer Dustin Olyan’s home studio, the Tone Distillery.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to speak with the Nashville, Tenn.-based Americana singer-songwriter about what she has been up to lately and more.
Music Bugle – What was your goal for the “No Good Way” music video?
Callie McCullough – If we are being totally honest… the “No Good Way” video sprang about at the end of an intense lockdown back home in Canada and it was really my way of just taking a step towards getting my life back… but then, it became something beautiful. When I envisioned it – I saw the video as a tip of the hat to the way we had brought the song to life in the studio and I wanted to honor that stripped-down and intimate instrumentation. Our video shoot location Revival House in my hometown of Stratford, Ontario, Canada was what really brought the magic. It is hands down, one of the most beautiful venues I have had the privilege to make music.
Music Bugle – Looking back on it now, what does the ‘After Midnight’ EP mean to you?
Callie McCullough – The ‘After Midnight’ EP is my first step into the world as a solo artist after years of touring in various bands. I’m so proud of this record and the way that we made it. It felt at the time almost like an act of rebellion to ignore what the “Commercial Country Industry” was pushing and just go off and make something beautiful on our own.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Nashville, Tennessee to someone who has never been there before?
Callie McCullough – Well, it is a crazy town! I’ve been in and out of Nashville since I was a teenager, so I’ve seen a lot of changes. Sometimes, the duality of all the musical magic and musical heartbreak still mystifies me. It is a special place. I will always be thankful that I made the move, but sometimes, you have to protect yourself a little from the side of it that feels like a machine… at least I do.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Callie McCullough – I mean, most days, I’m still trying to figure out what my style of music actually is, to be honest! I think trying to put art in boxes is counterproductive, so I’m really just creating freely now and letting the songs come to life, however feels right, so I guess you could say that I’m excited by the fact that there are no rules – or at least if there are, I don’t subscribe to them. There is so much incredible music in this town bubbling beneath the surface and that is really inspiring!
Music Bugle – What creative advantages do you feel come with being a singer-songwriter?
Callie McCullough – As an artist, having the ability to express yourself and tell your story for me is the root of the whole journey, so having the ability to bring your stories to life is a big part of that.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs were the hardest to write?
Callie McCullough – The ones that never made it into the world! (Laughs) I feel like for every one song that gets fully realized, I have about 20 that never fully got there…
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Callie McCullough – Well, it has been a struggle, can’t sugarcoat that. All of my tour dates and shows disappeared overnight and my album came out just as the world was shutting down so the timing was difficult. On the bright side, we did create some videos that I am really fond of as creative works and after eight years of traveling and living 1,000 miles from home, I had a chance to really spend some time with my family – and that was the silver lining, without question.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Callie McCullough – I’ve got to shout out some of my friends – that “great music bubbling beneath the surface” that I mentioned before! Right now, I’m listening to a lot of Elliott Blaufuss, who is an awesome funk/soul artist here in town. He’s just so groovy. Glenn Thomas, who is one of those old-soul type folk singer-songwriters originally from Rhode Island. I think he just has such original lyricism and I’m a huge fan of Erin Enderlin. The woman writes a mean country song!
Music Bugle – What has been your biggest challenge lately?
Callie McCullough – Well, this is completely unrelated to music, but my time at home on the farm inspired me to get back into gardening and my flowers, herbs and tomatoes are thriving, but I gotta tell you… I can’t get a cilantro plant to stay alive for the life of me! (Laughs)
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Callie McCullough – “The world needs you to be you, because you are the only one.” I try to remember that…