Since their inception, Ships Have Sailed have always struck a balance between exuberant pop and substantial alternative rock.
Their 2014 debut EP Someday was essentially a soft launch for the band that picked up traction organically; receiving heavy airplay on College, NPR and Commercial radio in the US and Canada.
2015 saw the release of their first full length album Moodswings – a reflection on how the present is impacted by all other moments in time and how any sort of change can alter the trajectory of one’s life.
All questions answered by Will Carpenter.
When and why did you start singing and performing?
I started playing music at a very young age, first with violin lessons and then piano. My mom was very passionate about classical music, and so that was the direction I was pushed at first.
I first began to discover more popular genres as I approached my teens, beginning with The Beatles and classics like Hendrix, The Doors and Pink Floyd, then moving into the 90s Grunge greats like Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots – this is what prompted me to pick up a bass and a guitar and really start writing music.
Since then my tastes have strayed all over the map, and I love that…it really keeps things interesting when your mind and your ears are open to whatever they might find, and I think that really informs my writing as well!
Where did you get your influence from or what made you pursue your style of music?
Well, my influences are very broad – I love everything from Classical to Classic Rock to the wonderful breakthroughs of the 80s, 90s and all the way through the innovative artists of today.
Ships Have Sailed definitely tends towards the Pop side of things, but I feel the range of influence gives us a bit of a unique edge to that genre and allows us to let a little bit of everything creep in, while still being true to our artistic integrity.
How do you get people to take you seriously as a musician?
Do they? Ha! I don’t think that’s something that we as musicians or artists decide…it’s more like, we just do what we do, and put our best foot forward…we put art out into the world and either people appreciate it or they don’t.
Ships Have Sailed has been very fortunate in the few years since we formed to have found a growing number of people who appreciate our music, and we’re extremely thankful for that!
What is the importance of the connections you make? How can you utilize them?
Of course connections are super important, but more important than the connection itself is remembering that, even if you don’t know a person, or happen to know where they fit into the larger scheme of things, every single interaction you have is valuable.
Whether it’s chatting with someone on an airplane, or simply a friendly greeting to you barista at your local coffee shop, you never know where the world is going to take you or them. It could be that barista has a kick ass voice and you wind up in the studio together one day…never assume to know (or try to assign) someone’s ‘value’…I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes people make in an industry like entertainment.
What personal advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue this career?
Grow a thick skin! Not for nothing, but music and art in general is very subjective…and more than that, it is emotional. It is born from emotion and it evokes emotions in those who consume it, whether it’s hearing a song or seeing a painting.
What that means is that it’s unavoidable that, no matter how many people love what you do, there will be those who don’t, even if it’s just a matter of different tastes…that’s ok, but it takes some serious confidence to be able to shrug these things off.
Have confidence in what you’re creating, take pleasure and be thankful for those who enjoy what you do, and don’t sweat it if someone doesn’t love it…that happens.
If you had to do it all over again, would you still choose this career? Would you do anything differently?
I honestly can’t imagine my life without music in it…I think I’m right where I need to be! We all look back at our lives, I think, and wonder what we could have done differently…but the way I like to look at it is to ask myself whether I’m happy with the person I’ve become. If that answer is ‘yes’ then you really have nothing to regret, because all your decisions and experiences (whether they’re good, bad, pleasant or painful) have combined to make you who you are.
Do you perform in public? Describe those occasions? Concerts, radio, TV?
We do. We just recently toured both the east and west coasts of the U.S. in 2016, and we also play live in our hometown of Los Angeles. We’ve done some radio appearances as well, and we’ve showcased at SXSW, Canadian Music Week, CMJ and The NAMM Show.
Do you get nervous before a performance?
Honestly I only get nervous around logistics – like getting 1000 pounds of gear on a plane and flying cross-country with it. So many things can go wrong logistically speaking…and once all that has come together and we’re all sound-checked and ready to hit the stage I get really relaxed, and I’m just ready to make some music. I’m really happy when I’m creating music, both on stage and in the studio.
Have any of your songs been published? (If so, by whom?)
Yes, although this is an area of our career we’re still working on developing. Our song ‘Midnight’ was placed in the film ‘Brand, A Second Coming’ which is a documentary about comedian Russell Brand. It’s a fascinating film…I mean, he’s just a fascinating guy, and the film-makers shot and edited it beautifully as well, so we were really proud of that accomplishment. From there we will, of course, keep building!
Are you looking for an independent label deal or a major label deal? (Why?)
Well, currently we are independent, but I’m not opposed to a label deal given the right situation. In my opinion, it’s not really about whether it’s an indie label or a major label, it’s more about the people you’re working with at the label – this will wind up being your team – and how much they believe in (and as a result are willing to put behind) your music.
If everyone is excited about the project and willing to work hard for its success, then most likely it’ll be a good situation!
What live performance experience have you had? (Any industry showcases?)
We play frequently in Los Angeles, have toured the eastern United States twice, and the West Coast once. We’ve also played SXSW, Canadian Music Week, CMJ and The NAMM Show!
What is next for you?
Definitely there’s some new music in the works. Nothing solidified yet, but expect something fresh in 2017!
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