Fiercely independent and pointedly political, rock-edged singer-songwriter Carsie Blanton is in love with doing things herself – and with Ireland. Having toured on our isle, New Orleans-influenced Blanton is looking to make an impact here, despite the more obvious market on her doorstep.
Her road has been boisterous and at times highly critical, her songs exploring the personal side of life, but also striking out at the misuse of power and the lack of decency in American political life, something at the forefront as she launches her sixth full-length record.
“I’ve been an independent artist, without a label, for my whole career,” she says, ”and there is no public funding in the US for the kind of music I make, so I’ve relied quite heavily on crowdfunding. I’ve run Kickstarters for three albums (and a card game), I have a Patreon page where fans can contribute to my work on an ongoing basis; and I’ve been throwing monthly ‘Rent Parties’ throughout the pandemic, which have been paying my bandmates’ rent while we wait for gigs to return.”
“When I was young, my plan was to be a rockstar, with loads of money and an aloof attitude. Instead, I rely directly on my fans to be able to make my work, 100% of the time, and I’ve come to love that. It’s a kind of symbiosis.”
That symbiosis, she feels, is a natural fit in Ireland, which her take on protest music and poetry also seem a natural fit.
“Every time I’ve visited, I’ve been delighted by Irish culture around music, poetry, and humor,” she explains. “I’m also fascinated by your political history and culture; I’ve found that the average Irish person has a more complex and thoughtful critique of capitalism, imperialism, and revolution than the average American. I have felt more at home traveling in Ireland than anywhere else, including the States.”
Blanton is a self-declared revolutionary, an artist hoping to see the world function in a different way. “It’s my opinion that global capitalism is dangerous for people and other living things,” she says. “I can imagine many more humane ways of organizing humanity. When I feel hopeful (about 51% of the time), my hope is that we manage to kick the habit, which will require a revolutionary mindset from many of us.”
“I get a wide variety of commentary. The only one that bothers me is “stick to music and stay out of politics”. Music is culture and culture is politics; there is no escaping it. As I see it, my job is not to make pretty sounds, it is to move people, and I hope to move them in the direction of kindness.”
“In recent years, the enormity of the political, social, and environmental crises we face has changed my understanding of the world and my place in it. As we enter the ‘Screaming Twenties’ – what seems poised to be a long and chaotic decade – I often think of a quote from the writer and activist Toni Cade Bambera, ‘The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible.’ ‘Love & Rage’ [her new album] is meant to be a soundtrack for the people who are doing the tedious and grueling work of revolution.”
The album is intended to translate heavily live, too. “Before the pandemic, I was beginning to experiment more with audience interaction,” Blanton says, “in having the audience shout or sing with us at certain points, and even hug each other (can you imagine?!). I think when live shows return I will continue that project; having a crowd in front of you is an incredible phenomenon! I think I’ll treasure it more, now; there’s a lot I want to try.”
We can almost hear a few of our readers chuckle knowingly at Blanton’s parting words on Ireland’s men, but we’ll take them. “I hope that working people all over the world continue to build solidarity until we wrest back our power from the rich,” she says of her politics. “And I hope to spend lots of time in Ireland, where men know how to flirt properly.”
Carsie Blanton’s ‘Love & Rage’ is out now