Hill Country News Interview by Christine Bolanos
Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 10:11 am | Updated: 11:34 am, Wed Sep 21, 2011.
CEDAR PARK — Her fans say she mixes sugar with grit to “bring life to the stage” by night and is a graphic designer by day. Karen Chisholm is an award-winning, emerging musician who regularly performs at The Dig Pub in Cedar Park. Together with her band who she says bring the performance aspect to her sweet lyrics, Chisholm offers locals the perfect blend of adult contemporary, alternative, pop, folk and easy listening. The mother of two recently answered some questions for readers.
When did you know you wanted to be a musician?
It was about 10 years ago that I became a musician but I’ve been a songwriter all of my life. There’s a difference between songwriters and musicians because some musicians never write songs. Being a musician really didn’t interest me until I got a guitar. I’m mostly a melody writer but I also write short stories. I would also hum – I would almost call them jingles. Sometimes I’ll make lyrics.
What’s the inspiration behind your music?
A lot of times I’ll write when something is bothering me to try to comfort myself and I’ve been doing that since I was a very little girl. I like to take life’s negative things and try to put a happy spin on it. When you are in chronic pain and you’re a songwriter, you want to write about the pain, but I thought, I can’t write six albums about how much pain I’m in. I’ll observe things in life and it’ll inspire me. Like watching my children talk to their friends. A couple of my songs were inspired by other peoples’ lives.
Why these specific genres — adult contemporary, alternative, pop, folk, easy listening?
The interesting thing is that since I’m a songwriter I don’t have a specific genre. Performers have a certain genre. I don’t have a country voice so I would never say I’m a country singer but I’ve written a couple of country tunes. I really try to write things that are radio friendly. My goal is to write for films. When I write something, I think, you know Sheryl Crow could really do this, or it’s a rock tune, Incubus could really do this.
What awards have you won?
I had entered the Rockin’ Moms [Songwriting Contest 2010] and I was the third top prize winner for my song, ‘Snow Globe.’
Recently I was accepted as a finalist for the Hollywood Film Festival for my animated film short music video, ‘Rhapsody.’
How long have you been doing music?
I’ve been doing music since I was like five. I would go out to the tree and sing to it.
I started performing about 8 years ago. I started to play for children’s programs and then for contemporary worship bands for a couple of years but it wasn’t until about 4 years ago that I started performing at open mics just so I could meet people. Then it turned into coffee houses and then I would go to restaurants and perform. I did it solo for a couple of years and then put a band together. I realized I had my part of it which was to write the song and try to convey the emotion of the song and they bring the music aspect to what you’re trying to do and make it more of a performance. I felt like they helped me bring the song to life. It’s a combination of lyrics and music and brings the whole thing together and is a way to communicate.
What are the main themes of your music? Love, hope, etc.?
I always has a spiritual undertone — perseverance through hard times. It’s more like faith and love or faith and humanity or faith in yourself.
Tell me about your animated short film, ‘Rhapsody.’
My husband and I were having a conversation about what kind of car we should buy and we actually started arguing about it. I said, ‘you know I don’t really care what car we drive as long as you’re nice to me.’ I have a really good friend of mine who has zero dollars so whenever we get together we have to do something that costs zero and we end up having the best time and kind of go on an adventure. If you are with someone you love it doesn’t matter what kind of car you drive.
I had this vision in my head. A young couple meeting who’s just going to hang out at the park and go on an adventure in their mind even if it’s just dreaming about their future.
What are your most common local venues besides The Dig Pub?
Romeo’s, Saxon Pub, Opa! Coffee and Wine Bar, Antones and Momo’s.
Any surprises for fans at Thursday’s concert?
Two years ago I wrote a song for my mom for Mother’s Day. She likes to go to garage sales so I thought I’d make ‘Garage Sale Queen’ about a woman who dresses real tacky but she thinks she’s all that. It took an 18-person crew and five locations. We’re officially releasing the song next weekend but we are showing it to fans at the concert. In honor of the song we’re asking people to dress vintage. If they have a vintage car and they want to drive it, that would be fun.
Chisholm recently went to the Feel Good Film Festival for the world premiere of the album, ‘Rhapsody.’ To view photos, listen to music, including the release of ‘Garage Sale Queen,’ and more, add Karen Chisholm on Facebook or check outwww.karenchisholm.com. She expects to be at the studio on Oct. 4 to work on her new album for a February 2012 release. Thursday’s concert begins at 7 p.m. at The Dig Pub, 401 Cypress Creek Road in Cedar Park.