An interview with Hillary Capps and Anthony Farina.
New York based singer/songwriter, Hillary Capps, and producer/songwriter, Anthony Farina, are buzzing after having just released their very first full-length album The Wishing Forest a few days ago. While Hillary’s fairy-like voice lends itself perfectly to the albums’ classical jazz and pop influences, she conveys a horizon of emotions with an utmost sense of honesty. The catchy melodies, enthralling lyrics, tight musicianship and running theme of “wishing”, fills the album with a range of moods and colours that originate from Hillary’s childhood and take us on a spellbinding journey across time, into the mysterious and secret land of a child’s hopes and dreams.
2013 must have been a very busy and exciting year! You’ve just released your first album on the 21st of January. How did it all start?
Basically, we picked up where we left off with the ‘Maybe in the Morning EP’. We learned a lot from that record; it gave us a sense of what we wanted to do next and how to go about it. We continued writing new songs while we were promoting the new EP and got to a point where we had enough new material, that was all very cohesive and focused, to make a new album. From there, we saved up, did our research on when and where to record and who we wanted to involve, and went into the studio in June 2013.
Anthony, you produced and co-wrote the album. You play the guitar on the record and live on stage. How did you guys get together to co-write the album and what’s the song writing process like?
Hillary and I have been working together for over 3 years now in multiple musical endeavors. She’s the type of singer and person you dream to work with because she’s extremely positive and on top of that, an incredibly skilled vocalist. You just know she’s going to nail it every time. She also has such a unique timbre and innocence to her voice that you can’t help but to smile when listening.
For me, co-writing and producing this album all in all was an incredible and humbling experience. We had great musicians on board and we wanted to keep this record sounding organic and natural. We wanted to bring back the days when synthesizers weren’t always blaring in our faces and get back to our roots – good songs, engaging lyrics, and live instruments. The tracks are very personal to us but we also wrote songs people could relate to. There always seemed to be a presence of love, or lost love, longing or desperation, and I think Hillary does an amazing job at strongly conveying these emotions. We’ve all been in moments where we are elated or devastated and we wanted to connect with our audience. In terms of the writing process, we’re constantly challenging each other. I’m extremely critical and I tend to write fairly quickly. I feel that being in the moment is important to the process and creates an honesty in both the lyrics and the pacing. I will basically bring an entire song to Hillary and say, “What do you think?”. We’ve been known to duke it out during the process (not physically, ha) but when we work through it, songs like “New Melody” come about and it just so happens that it’s the single for the record. Also, coincidentally we both wrote a ukelele/voice song a few weeks before recording that ended up starting and finishing the record. This release sounds great and I’m very proud of it. Looking forward to touring and getting these songs out there this year!
The album was mixed by Michael Brauer and Ryan Gilligan at the famous Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village, and mastered by Eric Boulanger at the Mastering Lab LA. What was it like to have such talented and respected people working on your tracks?
The music industry is a crazy thing. We feel very grateful and lucky to have had Michael and Ryan on the project, but it didn’t actually start out that way. We spent a long time researching who would be the right person for the mixes and collecting contacts. We finally found someone who seemed like a great fit and was interested in the project and we went into the studio thinking he was the guy for the job. After we had everything recorded, the arrangement fell through, which was so disappointing and discouraging. It was hard to see at the time, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because that engineer ended up recommending Michael and Ryan at Electric Lady. They made the process so smooth and easy for us. And they just got it. They really understood the songs and the vibe we were going for. They translated everything we had in our heads seamlessly, and took the recordings we had done at Vinegar Hill Sound (in DUMBO Brooklyn, NY) and really brought them to life.
Earlier this year you released two singles from New Melody and Pop Star, as well as a music video for Pop Star. How would you say the response has been?
The response has been great so far! It’s very exciting. The “Pop Star” video was recently premiered on ARTISTDirect, a very well received online media entertainment company that gets thousands of views per day. The video was featured on their home page for a week next to artists like Katy Perry, Eminem, and many more. Both “Pop Star” and “New Melody” have been featured on popular blogs and in magazines several times. People look forward to hearing those songs at our live shows now, which is pretty cool. Excited to get the rest of the songs out there soon!
Yes. The title appears in the song “Storybook” on the album. The line in the song goes “Give me your hand, follow me down the wishing forest, and dream as you please, here everything is at it seems…”. The Wishing Forest is actually a real place in my Dad’s backyard in Vermont. I’m not sure when the tradition actually started or when it was dubbed the wishing forest, but when I was little my Dad used to take my sister and me into this specific cluster of trees, and we would pick a spot and make a wish. I found that a common theme throughout the album was wishing for things, in one way or another, so the title seemed like the right choice.
The album is lively and showcases a whole range of interesting moods and colours. It’s both musically and lyrically captivating. Who would you say are your greatest influences?
Hillary: I have a lot of musical influences in both pop and jazz especially. Sara Bareilles is a key influence of mine. Adele, Ingrid Michaelson, Maroon 5 and Norah Jones are as well. I would also say The Beatles and Ella Fitzgerald.
Anthony: I’m kind of all over the map. I really enjoy Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Frank Sinatra, The Police, Michael Jackson, etc. As to the contemporary Pop world, I’d have to agree with Hillary – Sara Bareilles is probably my favorite female songwriter out there right now.
Throughout your musical journey what would you say have been your biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge that almost any artist entering the music industry encounters is exposure – getting seen and heard. With the support of our PR company, specifically our publicists Amanda Pelletier and Beatrice Bugnosen, we’ve been able to get our work out there on a bigger level than ever before. But there’s still a long journey ahead. It’s all about being patient, persistent, and gradually growing and building it up.
What kind of advice would you give to young upcoming artists who are striving to succeed and who want to stay true to themselves?
There are always going to be people who believe in what you’re doing, and people who don’t. Not everyone is going to love your work or be on board with it. It doesn’t mean that you’re doing anything wrong, it just means you need to find the people who do believe in it, and surround yourself with those people.
Do you have any exciting plans for this year? Will there be a tour?
Yes! We are planning to play at SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas this March. We also plan on doing a selection of showcase dates outside of New York in cities like Buffalo, Nashville, Atlanta, and LA over the summer.
Where do you see yourselves in 5 years time?
Hopefully doing the exact same thing we’re doing now, on a bigger scale! In 5 years we would both like to be touring the US and Europe and making records full time. 🙂
Hillary Capps and Anthony Farina chose our #SundaySessions this week! Listen to them here.