I started playing guitar in college, pretty much, and writing in high school. In my first band I wrote some lyrics but [...] I started writing full songs senior year of high school.
How did Huxlee come about?
I got to college and had my solo project [...] Caitlin Notey, which was my band, and some songs and we played for like two years and there just came a point, I think sophomore year, where I realized I didn’t like what was happening and I was also really miserable and depressed and horrified at how the world worked [...] so I took like a year off from doing any performing and just listened to a lot of music and wrote with some other people and started exploring what sounds I wanted to make [...] By the end or by junior year I kind of figured that out and started anew. [Aldous] Huxley is the name of an author who wrote a book called Brave New World that I like and I named it after him.
Can you talk a little about the process of forming a band, finding the right people? Every time I see you live you all just work so well together.
Thank you. Well it’s an interesting process because I was in the [USC] Pop program and there are so many people to chose from because everyone is really, really good. But Huxlee is weird; it’s a weird sound and it’s like I’m weird and make weird sounds and I just wanted people who were down to try new stuff and feel uncomfortable with the arrangements. Also I’ve know Cary Singer since I was 11 and we’ve been playing music for a really long time and he’s just unbelievable, so naturally I’ve been playing with him this whole time. Nick Chuba is the best [...] he is my only gateway into any sort of world of programming and we work well together because I think we are just pretty open and honest and nice to each other [...] Mac Sinise just has the perfect feel for the vibe. He plays with fluidity and power at the same time, it’s really cool. A.J. Novak s just king of precision so his percussion parts just always sit right in with Mac where they should. And Joe Scolari, bass player, is my neighbor and I met him through my manager and he is actually the sweetest person on the face of the earth and he’s really a mellow, calming presence in the band. And his playing is obviously perfect and he just works really hard and is super supportive and awesome. So they’re all gems of people that are so gracious, awesome and talented.
Yeah, definitely. Sounds like a good balance. How often do you practice together?
Only before shows. So when we have something on the books then we book rehearsal. I don’t know if that’s a good thing to say or not. Whatever.
One of my favorite songs is Crooked Tree. The first time I heard it I remember the banjo being unexpected, but it worked so well. You have that in a lot of your songs and it works in seamlessly. I’m curious when you started playing banjo and when you started incorporating it into songs.
So I started playing banjo because I wrote that song. I was in a band briefly with Aman Alem and Cary and Brandon Woodward and I wrote that song and I played it that first show and I had bought a banjo a week before the show and was like, 'I’m gonna learn this part.' I practiced that part a lot for a week and luckily it’s pretty similar to the guitar. I totally, you know, played it like a guitar player [...] I don’t actually play banjo [...] but I love the way it sounds, it’s just the cool tinny texture that’s not usually put in the places where I like to hear it.
It’s different for different areas of my life because I do a lot of writing outside of Huxlee for other people and for film and TV. When it’s for Huxlee I don’t force anything ever. Like if I feel something, lyrics and a melody come, then I let it happen, kind of work with it, nurse it for a while. But it’s always organic, I don’t believe in writing every day for a creative project [...] a lot of people say to write every day for their personal projects [...] that would kill me, that would just destroy me. And also because a lot of the things I write about are intensely emotional things for me and, I don’t know, that would just be dangerous territory.
When you are writing, where do you find inspiration?
Ok, so there’s nothing more annoying to me than having a song be just one hundred percent a cathartic therapy session for an artist. That’s just, shut up no one cares, but like making that problem or that feeling relatable to others is amazing [...] People like Fiona Apple for instance, I forgot the question by the way, but now I’m going to talk about Fiona Apple for a little while because she’s great. All of her songs are so intensely personal and specific yet the way she presents them lyrically with the arrangements are so relatable to everyone. That is a goal of mine: to be able to not alienate people and include them in my experience and make them feel supported and connect with them. What was the question?
No worries. Where you find inspiration. But I think you pretty much answered it. Since we're on the topic of inspiring artists, do you have any musical icons?
Blake Mills. Blake Mills is my musical icon forever and always. And that is all.
How would you describe your style?
Well, I’m sort of like a really strange combination of a tomboy and a hopeless romantic so I think that sort of encapsulates my musical style and also what I wear.
What’s up next? Do you have any big hopes? Dreams? Plans for 2015?
No. No hopes, no dreams, I’m done now, I’m just gonna sit here. No, I have hopes and dreams. I want a record deal. I would like to be signed to a label, given the correct circumstances. I want to tour as an opening act for a band, anonymous, I don’t know what band that would be but I want to write more and record and just keep doing everything I’m doing and just sort of take it to the next level.
Well I have no doubt you'll achieve that. Thanks Caitlin!