Brandi Carlile on Bear Creek and Kris Kristofferson

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Brandi_Carlile_1_Photo_Credit_Frank_Ockenfels.jpg
Photo by Frank Ockenfels
Singer Brandi Carlile celebrated her 31st birthday earlier this month in the Cascade Mountain Range smoking cigars, drinking beer and playing golf with her family and friends. She was only 22 when she approached brothers Phil and Tim Hanseroth to start a band with her.

She confidently promised the pair -- who she refers to as "the twins" --  that if they agreed, she would get the three of them signed to a record label and on the road within one year. Looking back, Carlile says that it was a bold thing to say, but she really wanted to play with them and knew that she had to "step it up" to work with them.


"Naively, I guess I've always had [a confident] attitude. I think you have to have that attitude to make things happen in the music realm because the odds are a bit stacked against a person," Carlile says. "You sort of have to have a blind confidence to power forward in any industry, but even more so in the music industry."

Carlile fulfilled her promise and landed them a deal with Columbia Records. Five albums later, the band is still going strong and released their newest album, Bear Creek earlier this month. Named after the studio it was recorded in, Carlile says that the studio itself had a big influence on Bear Creek.

"The studio is in a rural setting in a big beautiful barn that was full of character and really great equipment and all of my friends and family," Carlile says. "It really felt like home."

In addition to recording in a new studio, Carlile decided to take the reins herself and record without the help of producers like T-Bone Burnett and Rick Rubin, whom she worked with in the past.

Brandi_Carlile_FrankOckenfels.jpg
Photo by Frank Ockenfels

"I felt more inclined to take off the training wheels and try my own ideas for a while," Carlile says.

The lack of a producer inspired her to branch out and to take more risks.

"All of my albums are really thought out and I think that's typically really cool. We care a lot and we always have a plan and a direction," Carlile says. "I made a conscious decision not to make a conscious decision about this album and I think it sounds cool."

She describes Bear Creek as "recklessly fun," saying:

"I know the lyrics don't really give you that concept, but it's so out of order. There's no genre definition to it- you can't listen to it and say, 'Oh this album is country or rock or pop or blues.' It just doesn't have any assemblance of order. That's kind of what the whole recording experience felt like actually- people showing up at noon or one and getting out of bed and making coffee and going downstairs to work and then not leaving until three or four in the morning. It was a never-ending process of creativity."

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