American singer/songwriter Rob Carona released his debut EP “Drive” in 2015.
Inspired by the likes of NEEDTOBREATHE, Gavin Degraw and Keith Urban, the Nashville-based artist released his last single “Down To The River” in March. The new single talks about letting go of his own failures and fears.
“I went through some pretty crazy times this past year with a new move all the way from California to Nashville. With a new baby on the way, a job offer that fell through, and leaving our friends and family behind… I had hopes that somehow, some way the adventure was going to produce some measure of success in my music career. It was one of the most challenging times of my entire life and I felt even more pressure because my last album was all encouraging people to pursue their dreams no matter what. I felt like I had to prove something,” explains Carona.
“Down To The River” is now available on all major streaming platforms.
Introduce yourself. What’s your story?
Well…. hello my name is Rob Carona. I am a singer/songwriter and a native of San Diego, CA recently moved to Nashville. I was kind of a loner as a kid but got cool when I picked up the guitar and adopted the spiked hair/bleached tips combo…those were the days. I have an amazing wife of 8 years that has since corrected my fashion choices and three beautiful and fiercely independent daughters… You can follow our adventures on Instagram @robcarona.
What did you grow up listening to?
I’m all over the board on this one. When I was a teenager, my older sister was really into country music so I heard that all the time. I didn’t have any musical tastes of my own then so I just started listening to that… Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Clay Walker… good old 90’s country. In a strange turn of events, maybe a rebel thing I don’t know, the first CD I actually bought on my own was Pearl Jam.
What got you into music?
So this is where it gets a little weird. It wasn’t MTV (oh my god I am dating myself with that reference), or even the radio… my mom had a Yanni, yes YANNI, album that for some reason I could not stop listening to. I would steal it out of her CD player and listen to it on repeat. It was just so different… cinematic and moving. Of course I got made fun of at school for even mentioning that. That album is a big part of why I started learning piano and writing songs.
What gave you the confidence to become an artist?
I am a strange mix of quiet and reserved, but never lacking confidence in anything I like doing. Even when I was just learning how to perform, I never had a fear of the stage or what people thought of me. Being about 18 when I started to play out, the attention from the female demographic didn’t exactly deter me either. I eased into performing as an artist by singing a ton of karaoke. Seeing the response from the crowd and winning a contest here and there gave me a sense that at least people didn’t hate the way I sounded.
You grew up in San Diego. How was it like to live there? Did San Diego influence the music you’re making today?
Imagine a mythical land, where the weather is always 70 and sunny, hanging out on sandy beaches eating the best Mexican food on the planet. Yeah that was my life. The San Diego music scene was a huge influence on me. I was a bit of a square peg because I was trying to do country (it wasn’t quite cool yet), which didnt work in a town full of beach bum, coffee shop, singer songwriters. I was playing sets in the same venues as Jewel, Jason Mraz, and Jack Johnson. The vibe was chill and artsy fartsy… so I began to test the waters outside of the country genre in order to make an impact. It really stretched my musical boundaries and I am so glad it did. It really made me the songwriter I am today, one that can flow easily between different styles like pop, soul, country, and rock.
You are now based in Nashville. How did this city change your creativity?
Nashville was always this place that I knew I should go but was too comfortable in San Diego… I mean can you blame me? Finally made the move about two years ago with my wife and three girls and it’s been an eye opening experience. I was used to the LA music scene so I wasnt coming in totally naive but still it’s that same feeling of being thrown into an ocean of a million other artists running the same race. I have been definitely challenged to write at much higher levels than ever. If anything, Nashville has challenged me to remain authentic to who I am as an artist and the sound I want to produce. There are so many artists here that are chasing the cookie cutter pop/country sound and they all sound alike… All the songs are the same. I capitalized on the country sound for a long time and it’s so ironic that when I got here, I decided to switch things up.
Can you tell us about your new single “Down To The River”? What’s the story behind this record?
“Down To The River” came out of a realization that I had to do some “letting go” of my failures and fears. I have a strong faith in God so I used the theme of baptism and a soulful gritty sound to make it hit home. There isn’t a person alive who isn’t holding on to something they shouldn’t be…something that is holding them back. This is my anthem to allow people to surrender and see what’s on the other side.
Watch the “Down To The River” video here.
What do you like to write about?
For me everything is an option… I pull from my own experiences, or maybe a character I create in my head, but a lot of times I let the music take the lead. Whatever I start playing on the guitar or piano usually has an emotion attached to it… so I just go with it and let the music tell me what the song is about. If you were a fly on the wall you would probably think I’m crazy because I just mumble any word that comes to mind as a I play… no rhyme or reason… but when I land on something that fits, I run with it.
You released your first record in 2015. How did your sound evolve since then?
I received really great response from my 2015 EP “Drive” and it definitely had a pop/country sound… but even so there was still this nagging feeling inside that I wasn’t truly committing to and exploring my unique artistry. I was trying to stay “marketable” to the mainstream country market. Coming to Nashville was eye-opening because I found that a lot of publishers were just a little confused by my songs and production. I decided with this project to really commit to the sound I felt was most authentic to me, which is definitely a more gritty, soulful, sometimes gospel sound. “Down To The River” is a great example and there are other songs on the project that go even further into this style. I am excited to be working with a producer and players in Memphis.
How would you define music?
I would go so far to say that music is at the core and the very essence of our existence. I’m gonna get really nerdy here but even the colors we see are a frequency on the sound scale…so we can literally see music not just hear it, and each one of the atoms in our bodies vibrate at a frequency… It’s why music is so emotional.
How do you listen to music? Do you listen to the lyrics first, or melodies, or production?
I try to take it all in first - as a songwriter it’s difficult to just enjoy music because it’s my craft. I can get lost focusing on one aspect and really not just experience the song. It’s usually the production that catches my ear first, the soundscape is what makes me interested to keep listening for the lyrics.
In your opinion, what makes a good song?
It’s all about authenticity. I’m good with any genre as long as the song isn’t “forced”. A clever lyric isn’t enough. I want to be moved. It can be raw or really produced, but I want to feel what the artist felt when writing it.
What does music make you feel?
I choose to listen to music that inspires me. In my world of raising three beautiful daughters, it gets crazy and overwhelming. Music is my energy and I use it to stay hopeful, engaged, and in touch with the deeper parts of myself.
In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?
Woah, getting deep here… Um I guess I would have to say that I hope that in this world of social media and political climate, that people make and intentional choice to connect one on one, face to face, and heart to heart with others, especially those that aren’t like them or ones that don’t think like they do. No one side is completely right and has all the answers. We are not liberals or conservatives, we are not straight or gay, we are not christians or muslims… We are humans. When humanity comes first, we can move forward on the issues.
Any upcoming project?
YES! With the release of “Down To The River”, it was my goal to follow up with an EP. I am currently in production with about 5 other songs that are probably going to be a big surprise for people that know me and my previous music. I don’t have an exact release date as up until about a week ago I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to afford to complete it… but thanks to an amazing new friend of mine, I’ve been blessed with a budget to get it done.
What’s your purpose?
To eat as many tacos as I can without working out and never gain. Wait… I am not fulfilling my purpose well. Okay but seriously… It’s my hope that my art and the way I live my life can be and inspiration and an encouragement to others. I don’t get to be here forever so I hope when I’m gone, someone can have a better life because of my time on this planet.
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