SOUTH RIVER, NL — Singer-songwriter Carolina East hopes her debut recording will help set the stage for the next step in her career.
"It's been pretty cool — people have really accepted it," East told the Compass in a recent interview.
The singer, who is from South River, has appeared on stages in St. John's for years, primarily singing the songs of others. Her recently adopted stage name — based on the singer's real first name and east coast origins — came to be during a recording session in Toronto with Rob Wells.
"I'm a cover artist mainly, so I play five or six nights a week in St. John's downtown and all over the place," East said. "When I finally branched off to do my original music, I needed to separate the two."
She met Wells in October of 2016 at Music NL Week in Bonavista. He was a keynote speaker at the event and heard East sing during an open mic. Artists he has worked with or had his songs recorded by include Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Adam Lambert, Backstreet Boys, Corey Hart and Nelly Furtado, amongst others.
"I wasn't going to go," East admits, noting she was working at the event. "I was extremely tired that night … When I walked in, everybody wanted me to get up and sing, so I was like, 'OK, cool.'"
Wells approached East after she was finished and immediately brought up the idea of working together. A few months later, she boarded a plane and met him at a studio in Toronto. It was there they wrote and recorded her six-song self-titled EP.
"We started right from scratch," East said. "The day after I arrived, we started in on writing. We wrote every song together and recorded it within the three-and-a-half weeks that I was there."
A lot of personal life experience informed the creation of the music found on this recording. Blending together pop, country, soul and modern RnB sounds, the resulting music lends itself well to commercial radio play.
"When I was up there, it was terrifying for me, because I was leaving Newfoundland and going to live with somebody for almost a month — I didn't know them very well. I was writing with people I'd never written with before. There was a lot of anxiety leading up to it.
"But I remember the first song that we wrote was called 'Monster.' Every song takes three days. There's writing for one day, recording the second day, and then on the third day it was just tidying everything up and getting it all sorted. On day two when we laid down all the scratch vocals … and he let me hear it, it was honestly like the first time I ever heard myself sing the way I wanted to be heard. The production, even at the very beginning stages, was like nothing I'd ever heard."
She was more than pleased with the final product and happy to see the songs are already finding an audience. The EP's lead single "That's Okay" is getting airplay on radio stations in Manitoba, Ontario and throughout Atlantic Canada.
"In Newfoundland as well, we're getting a lot of radio play. Kixx Country (in Carbonear) is a huge supporter of my music and of course a lot of Newfoundland music that's produced here as well," East said. "And it seems a lot of the public are just blown away by this album as well."
Looking toward 2018, East is hoping some potential award recognition could boost her profile. For the spring and summer, the main goal is to tour and share her music with a wider audience.
"The ultimate thing for me is to get across Newfoundland and share the music in rural Newfoundland," East said. "But we also plan on hitting some bigger festivals and venues outside of Newfoundland and throughout Canada. We're in the beginning stages now of trying to arrange that tour."
She credits executive producer Brian Ramjattan and manager Nathan Visser for helping advance her career to this point, noting they're working together on setting up further opportunities to record. East is also appreciative of the support received from her family.