Meet eighteen-year-old Cali Fannin from Lexington, Kentucky whose life has been influenced by music since she was very young. A high school senior, Cali is a part of her school’s dance team and religiously watches Star Wars during her free time. She will also begin her freshman year of her college career at the University of Kentucky in the fall. Cali took the time to share with Witty Serendipity the role music plays in her life, where it all began, and a look “behind-the-song” on her two Valentine’s releases: “This’ll Do” & “This Time.”
WS: When did you get into music? Did writing songs come naturally to you or did anyone/anything influence your desire to pursue it?
CF: I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t writing songs. I grew up on a farm so there was a lot of room for imagination and creativity. I always had little journals that I wrote songs in, but when I was about 11, I started to really take it seriously. There were days at school when nobody would talk to me, so my way of coping was to write a song about it. I think Stevie Nicks and Taylor Swift really shaped my view of how songwriting looks from the perspective of a woman in this business. Taylor’s writing especially is just so confessional and early on that was a big influence for me. I found solace in music that people didn’t provide at that time in my life.
WS: Where does the inspiration for a new song come from? What is your process like?
CF: Inspiration comes from absolutely anything! I’ve written songs at the most random times. I have a song called, “Shampoo” that I wrote in the shower (it’s not about shampoo though I’m not that weird). I wrote a song on a roller coaster once. I even wrote a song about Anakin Skywalker. If I have an emotional connection, I can write about it. I don’t have to personally experience something to write a song. I’ll be talking to someone and I’ll say something and I’m like: wait, that’s a song lyric, hold on! Sometimes I’m laying in bed at night and I wake up with a lyric or a melody or it comes to me when I’m about to fall asleep which is totally convenient, I love that (sense the sarcasm). But, there’s also this misconception, and I hear it associated with Taylor Swift a lot, that for every song someone writes that’s a different relationship and that’s not the case. I can make eye contact with someone on the street and write a song about it.
WS: What was the process like for “This’ll Do?” “This Time?”
CF: “This’ll Do” is one of those songs that was written super quickly. I wrote it when I was in Las Vegas in December at a restaurant having breakfast with my family. I wrote the lyrics in like 5 minutes and then I left it and came back to it a week later when I got home to my guitar to figure out the melody (I usually write lyrics first). I was having some trouble so I went to my sister who is a melody GENIUS and she sprinkled her magic on it. I had the basis, but she just gave it that extra spark that makes a song really special. My mom actually filmed us. I’m thinking I might release that that footage somewhere because it’s so entertaining when we work on a song together! But, that song came from a place of disappointment and anger, and those kinds of songs are always really fun to write because you can play around with how you sing it, it doesn’t have to sound perfect. If you listen to it, I’m like yelling some parts because every time I sing it, I remember why I wrote it and it’s like I’m venting that feeling all over again. I’d been writing lots of sad songs about the feeling of wondering why someone suddenly isn’t around anymore, and this was a song that I had to write to mentally get past that sad stage and realize that there was nothing I could’ve done to change the ending of that relationship.
For “This Time” though, that song took a while. I was trying to write a song to sing at my school talent show so I wanted it to be simple and catchy and happy. I had all the lyrics, but I couldn’t fit them together. Originally, the bridge was the chorus. It took a couple weeks because I find that lyrically, for me, happy songs are more difficult to write. The emotion of happiness just isn’t intense enough for me to pull lyrics from. I tried to keep this song really visual, so that when you hear it, you can just put yourself into the song with me.
WS: What do you want people to take away as the overall message behind both songs?
CF: The point I was trying to make in these two songs being on opposite ends of the emotion spectrum and released together is that, you can go from really wanting it to work out with someone and thinking: “Okay this time, it’s me and you. we’re gonna get this right,” to: “you’re not who I thought you were why would you do this I thought this is what you wanted.” Those two feelings, although so far from one another, can exist really close together in a small amount of time and they can even be for the same person. And it’s so confusing how that works, but I experienced that, and I wanted to put these songs out together to show that it’s a cycle. Just because you were so happy and then let down, doesn’t mean you won’t be happy and hopeful again about the person that comes around after the one who hurt you.
Check out “This’ll Do” & “This Time,” both available to stream on SoundCloud !