Lauren Carder &
the Multiple Me
CD Release Party
with Wilbur, Kelly Craven
9 p.m. Thursday, April 29
The Peacock Room, 407-228-0048
Local singer-songwriter Lauren Carder sees a lot of herself in her mother. Back when Lauren was a child, she says the final straw in her parents' separation came when her upwardly mobile father, at the time a regional manager for Marriott, bought a large two-story house for the family to grow up in. An expert at interior decorating, he worked day in and day out remodeling the place. When it was done, her mother said to him, "The next house we get, I'm gonna help with the decorating."
"I couldn't even imagine!" says Carder, sipping iced tea on a balmy evening at Dandelion Communitea Cafe. "She's not doing it vindictively; she's just not really aware about some stuff. And I find myself the same way. I sometimes forget how my actions are affecting other people. I'm not very tactful."
It's a quality that serves her songwriting well, as evident on Carder's brand-new debut self-titled EP. Throughout songs like the stop-and-start, folksy opener, "Battles and Bullets," in which she coos, "We're teased with battles and bullets," and drops bons mots like, "We're on this road to self or self-defeat/We all have a chance/And it depends on where we place our fear," the South Carolina-born musician rides impenetrable waves of societal and natural metaphors that, unlike those written by so many other artists in the acoustic genre, cast a lyrical net outward.
Yet Carder cannot imagine how lines like that could be seen as vague, cagey or distant.
"That's so interesting because when I play it I feel like I'm exposing myself," says Carder. "I was afraid I was becoming too literal. I like the way it's presented because it presents that question to people: ‘What do you really want?' So often we're just pushed around like machines, like, ‘OK, I have to go to my job to make my money, and I have to go see my friend 'cause I told them I would. I've been with my boyfriend for so long, so I guess we should have kids.' I feel like I'm rushing around too much. It's hard to stop and think about the possibilities that are available."
The 25-year-old artist differs greatly in person from the songwriter on record. Whereas on her EP Carder utilizes dark metaphors as philosophical stand-ins — "Killing Young"'s repeated chorus "Bring out your dead"; "Land"'s bluegrass-infused urgency ("Nobody wants to take up their own land/So stay/Let your troubles be heard today/And if the land is not tended your crops may be buried away.") — the affable Carder, in conversation, floats more gently over her still-forming ideas of the world.
"After trying to put out certain things I want and being open and honest with myself, there's a lot of stuff that gets in the way," says Carder with the conviction of someone who thinks she's being quite specific. "And if I'm trying to be observant about that stuff … during that time I was being a lot harder on myself 'cause I hadn't seen a lot of that stuff before." Suddenly, she becomes aware that she's lost her train of thought. In an endearingly refreshing fashion, she shrugs it off: "But we're all crazy, right?" she laughs.
If her thinking comes across as slightly fragmented, that's her point. She named her project "the Multiple Me" for the very reason that she believes, inspired by the writings of Russian philosopher P.D. Ouspensky, that humans by nature are merely a collection of different personalities. It's a belief that clearly informs her third-person musical narratives.
"We'll say ‘I' and ‘I feel this way,' but actually we're all these different whims. One of the goals that I have with the music is `to` expose my personal fragmentation and the struggles that I go through and shed that light on things other people go through as well. Most musicians have something intangible they need to express, and one of the things I really enjoy and find useful about the music that comes through me is, if I'm open to it, then it will remind me of things I need to be doing. Remind me of attitudes I forgot to cultivate."
She says that even expressing herself this way, in this conversation, has reminded her of certain things she really wants to do, particularly helping those in need. She says she felt a calling after the earthquake in Haiti — "Maybe it was because I was on my period or something, but I just started fucking crying" — but there were problems with her passport. She'd like to set her sights on playing music for people in hospitals, though she admits songs like "Killing Young" might not play well to that crowd.
"I feel really called to do something with children, but I'm not sure what yet. I work at Whole Foods as a cashier, and whenever I see babies or kids I want to talk to them. It seems like kids open up to me a lot more," says Carder.
In the meantime, she's working on new songs with some friends and playing in quirky ragtime-throwback group the Mud Flappers. Perhaps recalling her mother's restlessness, Carder says she's trying to be a more committed person.
"All my life I've been jumping around," she says. "I've been in more relationships than I can count, and I was constantly looking for the next new thing.
"Over the past four years, I've been in a place for a very long time. I've been at Whole Foods for a year and a half. I've been with my boyfriend for over three years, and I've been working on the same things for a more extended period of time.
In other words, for all her fragmentation, she's stopped thinking about the next firstname.lastname@example.org