Interview: "Sunset" - Amanda McCarthy
Your new song "Sunset" is a great blend of Pop and Rock! What was the inspiration behind it?
Amanda: I quite literally wrote "Sunset" while watching the sunset in LA. The hook popped into my head right away, so I was kind of brainstorming and as I figured out who I was writing the song about... this same person texted me 5 minutes later after we hadn't talked in months. That was my sign that I was onto something! The production is a lot more pop than I usually do, but I wanted to really capture that real-life moment in the LA pop vibe and the 80s synth influences.
Who are a few of your biggest influences?
Amanda: My influences range all over pop, country, and rock music. A few key ones include: Taylor Swift, Green Day, Fall Out Boy, Aerosmith, Kelsea Ballerini, Demi Lovato, Kalie Shorr, Sasha Sloan, Mayday Parade, All Time Low, Martina McBride, and LeAnn Rimes.
What inspired you to pursue music professionally?
Amanda: I've always had a passion for writing songs, but no one ever told me that I could make music a full-time career without being famous. I learned this at 18 when my aunt mentioned that someone we knew was getting paid money to play cover songs at bars. That became my immediate mission: to establish financial stability playing music even if it wasn't my own at first. The real journey has been transitioning into making that same amount of money through my original music. I'm about half and half now.
What was it like launching your career in New England?
Amanda: I used to regret not moving to Nashville sooner, but in hindsight, I really appreciate that I had the chance to hone my skills, gain industry experience and build my resume with award recognition and opening for bigger headliners at home, before throwing myself into a music pool as large as Nashville's. I was never a "hometown hero"; I can't even get my hometown to publish a news article on me or book me for the summer concert series. But I received tremendous support from other cities in New Hampshire, Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts, and even New York City. It was that support that helped me build the confidence to take things even further. It also taught me the valuable lesson that artists have bigger fish to fry than their hometowns, and that it's far more valuable to be the small fish in a big pond than a big fish in a small pond.
What's your experience been like in Nashville over the past 2 years? How has it differed from when you first got started?
Amanda: I moved to Nashville in August 2020, mid-pandemic. I was lucky to find some opportunities right away to start cutting my teeth here. I will say, while I am genuinely inspired by country music, I felt like I had to hide the Pop/Rock parts of me at first and focus on just being country. In my first photo shoot here, I got all dolled up in boots and the cowgirl vibe and it just wasn't me at all. What makes me, me, is that I bring influence from all three of those genres. As time went on and I played more shows and met more people, I found the communities that also value Pop/Rock music and I have regained that confidence to showcase all of my influences equally and authentically.
What has been your favorite live performance?
Amanda: I have a few. One is that I just recently played a sold-out show at the iconic Listening Room Cafe in Nashville and heard this crowd sing my original music with me. I cried. I had a side-stage opening slot for Train at the Xfinity Center in Massachusetts a few years back where the crowd truly made me feel like a rockstar. My other all-time favorite performance was when I was playing a bar gig in New Hampshire, and Steven Tyler from Aerosmith walked into the bar. I performed an Aerosmith song for him, and it ended up gaining major traction regionally. I credit that moment for giving me the confidence to truly believe that I'll make it in Nashville, whether that includes large-scale success or not.
Interviewed By Hannah Conkin