I assume you’ve always wanted to be a musician. Is that true?
I’ve always been a songwriter. Always.
I remember writing songs for my Barbie’s to perform for each other as a little kid. I love the infinite freedom in music. You can say whatever you want, and be whoever you want in your music. With The Lie Within Callie, I am always trying to channel the best version of myself and write about how to become that person.
Being on a stage and interacting with people has always enticed me. I remember how therapeutic Bob Marley’s music and “Who You Are” by Jesse J was for me when I was in middle school. That was when I first felt motivated to use my songwriting to heal people.
You’ve been a student of Mason Music’s since you could walk … well, maybe not that long. Why did you decide to take lessons?
I could play piano, but I really wanted to be able to grab a guitar and hop in front of a crowd at any given chance. So I began guitar lessons with Mason Music. I didn’t know voice lessons were *even a thing* until my guitar teacher, Tammy Harper, offered to make our 30-minute lessons part guitar/part voice!
Those first lessons kicked off my desire to learn everything I could from Mason Music about music and performing. My teachers were incredibly knowledgeable and flexible enough to personalize my lessons to specific things I wanted to learn. They encouraged my creativity while teaching me music fundamentals, which is something I will always appreciate. The opportunity to create and flourish in your own way is something that can only be found at Mason Music.
Mason Music has given me all the exposure, experience, knowledge, and resources I could ever imagine needing to grow as a musician and take off as a professional. It is the perfect foundation for any aspiring musician to build from.
You sing and play piano, but do you play any other instruments?
A little guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, and cello!
You wrote all of the lyrics to the songs in your first EP, “Book of Hypocrisy,” while you were in high school and then recorded and produced it at the Mason Music Recording Studio with Will Mason. Being a songwriter seems like it would require a lot of bravery. How do you have the courage to be so vulnerable?
The notebook I write all of my songs in is like my diary. It is absolutely terrifying putting everything out there. Especially lyrics as straightforward as “I wanna be naked, and look at my body, and feel like I don’t need to change it” discussing body positivity and the vulnerability it takes to love yourself in “Love is a Fire” (Track 3).
But, I just do it anyway.
Because at the same time, it’s extremely freeing.
It’s also incredibly motivating that someone out there may feel the same way I felt in those moments of songwriting. I love the possibility that my music could help someone feel less alone. I always keep that in mind.
What’s that experience like, working with someone else’s creative mind to produce something that lives in your head?
You’ve just got to speak the same language. And Will Mason and I definitely do.
Is the finished product what you thought it would be? I’m very happy with the EP. If anything, it’s even better than I always dreamt it would be.
We remastered “Night Vision” to release under The Lie Within Callie. (Like “Mistress of the Devil”, it is currently only released under solo artist Callie Wilson.)
I had the honor of having Allen Branstetter and Chad Fisher of St Paul & the Broken Bones join me on “Bad Habit” (Track 2). I didn’t have any experience with horns before recording that song. I was beside myself to have (not only) extremely experienced, but legendary horn players listen to the song, give me their opinions, and make the song feel perfectly complete. They brought something really magical to that track.
And Will is a guitar god. It’s just his thing. So, naturally, he took the EP to a whole new level with the parts he came up with.
You mention in other interviews that this particular EP was inspired by a culture of inclusion. It seems like that is still such an important message. How has the process of being in high school, being at Mason Music and now being a performer who travels all over the country shaped that message?
I think people wish for a more inclusive environment whereever they are. I get to witness that first hand as I travel and get to know my fans. Everyone has felt excluded in some way, and I want my performances to feel inclusive in every way.
One of my favorite things to do during a show is walk out into the crowd and sing a completely acoustic song with everyone. It’s very important to me to create a loving and supportive environment for my audience.
How do you gear up for a big performance?
Time. Management. Down to the minute.
I buy a new calendar to keep every band practice organized for gigs. I set up rehearsal dates then send out the schedule to the entire band, selecting which days which band members needed to be there (i.e. horns days, strings days, core band days, full band days).
Since I’m an independent artist, I also have to schedule (and create!) all of my social media/promo material to make sure everyone knows what we’re up to. I set alarms throughout the day to make sure every task gets complete. And I enjoy every second of it.
You’re an unsigned, independent artist. Without a label to do it for you, how do you handle all of your PR work?
Anytime I see a stranger, whether it’s someone across the street walking their dog, someone behind me in the checkout line in the grocery store, or the person filling their car up with gas at the pump next to me, I think to myself “They probably know who Taylor Swift is, who Miley Cyrus is, who (fill in the blank celebrity with an excellent PR firm) is … so, how can I make that stranger know who I am and hear my music? I carry this mentality with me everywhere I go.
Besides performing all over Birmingham, at places like Saturn, The Nick, The Syndicate Lounge, and Cahaba Brewing, you’ve spent a lot of time in Los Angeles performing. How much time do you spend over on the West Coast vs. in your hometown?
I never feel like I get to spend enough time in LA. I’ve fallen in love with it. There’s nothing like a good hometown show, where each face is familiar, but no matter where I am performing, my audiences never fail to make me feel at home.
What do you like about performing in LA vs. your hometown?
LA, New York, and Birmingham have completely different attitudes, but the message in my music always remains the same. An inclusive atmosphere is always created where everyone can embrace their differences. There is definitely a stronger sense of community in my Birmingham shows versus the big cities where I’ve performed, and that’s something I’ll always love coming home to.
If all your dreams came true, where would you like to end up and what would you be doing?
I would definitely be songwriting for my favorite artists in the business, writing and performing my own material, and touring with my dream showcase (which I’m currently planning) adding the elements of choreography and film, while making enough income to give back to those in need every way that I can. That would be a dream come true.
But, if I was happy, where would I be and what would I be doing?
Doing exactly this.