Upon the occasion of the two emerging Americana artists Alice Wallace and Caitlin Cannon forming their new band Side Pony together and releasing their first single “Lucky Break” off of their upcoming debut album in October, I recently had the good fortune of being able to interview these two charismatic Nashville based songwriters about their songwriting process and new music and our resultant conversation is below.
Americana Highways: How did the idea for writing songs together come about?
Caitlin Cannon: We met at a writer’s round sitting at the bar at Belcourt Taps during Americana Fest 2019 and decided to take a stab at a co-write the next morning because I had just bought a new couch for this purpose and it needed breaking in. The next morning, we wrote our first song, “Pressing My Luck.” And that went so well that we just kept going.
Alice Wallace: It really was a simple as that. In Nashville, it’s so common to meet a songwriter and make a songwriting date. Sometimes they go well. Sometimes they go terribly. But it’s rare that they go as well as our first one did. I’m awfully glad we happened to sit next to each other that night and strike up a conversation.
AH: How would you describe the collaboration process between you two?
AW: I honestly have never had a co-writing partnership like the one we have. I haven’t done nearly as much co-writing as Caitlin has, but many times, I’ve found that one writer takes the lead more than the other. Or maybe one person is stronger in lyrics and one is stronger in the music. But with us, it feels like we both have an equal stake in making the song the best piece of art that we can.
CC: I love writing with Alice because she never gives up. Sometimes months later I’ll admit a line is bugging me or I’ve had a deeper insight and she never rolls her eyes at me or says she has a headache. She’s comfortable that songs reveal themselves to you over many months sometimes and that’s rare. But when it clicks and you get to be fully expressed, that is the best feeling.
AH: What inspires you two as songwriters?
AW: There are a million places to gather inspiration, and it just depends on the day and what resonates. In this past year, I’ve found myself in a much more introspective place when it comes to songwriting because we’ve had nothing but time – time to think and examine our lives.
CC: As songwriters? Pain? Pain usually inspires my songwriting. And then as I write myself out of that discomfort, I find a lot of humor sometimes. But I’m lazy so, it takes more than a sunset to get me to sit down and do it.
AH: What’s the backstory behind your new single “Lucky Break”?
CC: We got on a writing schedule at the beginning of Covid and the songs began to pour. Lucky Break was written out of a need to give ourselves permission to hope something good could come out of our dashed dreams and everyone else’s.
AW: Our weekly writing appointments really did help keep us grounded when it felt like there was nothing firm below our feet anymore. These careers we’d devoted every waking minute to for years were placed on pause and that was a hard thing to reckon with. And I remember Caitlin came to our writing session one day with the lines: “Nobody’s getting ahead. Nobody’s missing out.” The entire world was in the same, anchored boat. So we used that for inspiration.
AH: With your full-length debut album together coming out in October, what other plans do you have for 2021?
CC: Well we’re gonna do a Kickstarter, that’s for sure! And if we can pay our producer and band then we’re planning an East Coast Tour! We also are going to keep a monthly live stream going called Married to Monday in which we’ll play something “Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue.”
AW: Yep, now that our first single “Lucky Break” is making its debut, it’s time to start thinking about our full album! So we’ll be launching our fundraising campaign on April 24th to raise money to go into the studio with our producer Doug Lancio this May to finish recording. Doug is incredible. He worked with Patty Griffin for 14 years and has also produced albums for people like Todd Snider and John Hiatt. And we’ll be doing some limited touring this summer to gear up for an October release of our album and then we definitely plan to hit the road in a big way.