I recently had the privilege of interviewing pop vocal group Cimorelli, comprised of siblings Christina, Katherine, Lisa, Amy, Lauren and Danielle; via email as they unveil their sophomore full length album Alive recently via Pledgemusic. We discussed the album, what the band wants listeners to hear and gain from these honest and inspiring melodies, as well as their favourite songs to record. Check out the interview below with Katherine Cimorelli, and be sure to check out the new album at Pledgemusic, and on iTunes and other streaming services at a later date in 2017.
1. Congratulations on releasing your second full length album, it must have been quite a ride and journey over the past few years. What is the one thing you hope listeners will take away when they hear this album? What has God been showing you through the creation of these inspiring melodies?
Thank you so much! We are extremely excited about releasing our second album! This album is all about the beauty of human life, and about finding God in every moment- even if it’s painful or hard. With God, every aspect has beauty and meaning.
2. For those who are not familiar with your style of music, or even how you came to Christ, can you give us a quick synopsis of your testimony, and whom you would say that you sound like musically and lyrically in the CCM industry? Personally I think you sound similar to Barlowgirl, 1GN, Britt Nicole, Taylor Swift, Superchick and Fireflight!
We are six sisters originally from Northern California. We grew up singing together all the time, as our mom is a classical pianist who taught us to harmonize and play the piano when we were very young. We grew up doing church choir and singing together around the house. In 2009 we put up a cover on YouTube that ended up reaching millions. From there it was a crazy ride- we ended up moving to LA and getting a record deal. We lived in LA and were with a major record label for 5 years, but we didn’t find happiness or meaning there. We got to the point where we felt totally burned out and depressed from the craziness of the LA music scene and we came very close to giving up music all together. In 2015, we moved to Nashville and it was one of the best decisions we ever made! We’ve been making music independently for 2 years now and since our move to Nashville, we’ve toured all around the US, Europe twice, South America, released 2 full albums we are really proud of, and we published a book of advice for teenage girls! We have all always been strong in our faith and actively involved in church, but it feels even more central to our lives now that we live somewhere where Christianity is so vibrantly represented.
3. Musically, there’s quite a lot on this album for everyone- CCM, pop, worship ballads, dance; when making the album, which music style came to you the easiest, and which style did you feel brought you out of your comfort zone in a good way?
We worked with an amazing producer, David Spencer, who managed to make the album sound cohesive while giving every song the sound it needed. I think the hardest part sound-wise was getting everyone to agree, because we all wrote on different songs, and sometimes people’s opinions of what the sound should be is very different!
4. As you guys are comprised of siblings, just like bands like Red Roots, for KING & COUNTRY, About A Mile, and Barlowgirl (when they were active!)- and to a lesser extent Switchfoot and Needtobreathe; can you tell us about what working with your siblings means to you, and what God has taught you through this process? Is there anything that the aforementioned bands have taught you in terms of the value of friendship and comradery despite hardship and tough situations?
Working with your siblings is extremely rewarding, but also VERY challenging. This past year we had to work through a lot of differences of opinion in addition to us just growing up! We have six very strong, very different personalities, and as we get older, I think we’re really learning to value and respect what we each bring to the table as individuals. It’s hard because as sisters, people tend to lump us together and compare us a lot, and that has brought a lot of heartache and frustration. But at the end of the day, I think it motivated each of us to really strongly be our own selves and embrace that individuality!
5. Having used Pledgemusic as a crowd funding platform once for the successful and popular previous album Up At Night; how did the idea of funding this album again via fans arise? A lot of bands and artists are also doing what you are- releasing albums independently, through funds from the fans, either via kickstarter, Indiegogo, pledgemusic or other fan-funded platforms. What is your opinion on this stance, and how do you think music will be sold in the future?
We actually did not crowd fund this album. I believe Pledge music has that option (I could be wrong!) but we did not choose to go that route. We paid for the album ourselves and then the money we made from Pledge paid back all those expenses- the producer, graphic design, album photography, etc. So our approach was actually more like a traditional record label. Pledge music as we’ve utilized it is really just a brilliant way to offer options for those super fans to experience an album on a deeper level than simply just a digital download or a CD in your hands; because there are in-person experiences with us and cool, one of a kind items like signed lyric sheets and polaroid pictures, it really enhances the way a fan experiences your album to go so much deeper than just a CD.
6. As an independent artist, what have been the challenges as well as benefits in terms of radio and listener exposure to your music- what has God shown you about Himself and yourself through being an unsigned artist?
We’ve really had to trust Him a lot that He will bring the album to whoever He wants to hear it, and that He will provide for us along the way- because we’re still just human beings who have to pay for mortgages and living expenses! So trusting in His provision and timing has been an amazing learning experience for us.
7. What has been the overall highlight of the whole process of making the new album? Were there any difficult songs to write, sing or even record, either because they were based on personal experiences of yourself or others? What has God used to speak to you more- the songs that were easiest to write or the hardest?
Each song is so different and each has such a different story. Something cool that people may not know is that some of these songs are years old- Kick The Habit was written when Christina was (I believe) 16 or 17, and she’s 26 now! Amy wrote the lyrics to “Find Me” as a teenager as well and she’s 21 now! Listening through the whole album, it’s beautiful how God brought all of them together. This album honestly wasn’t super hard to write. All the songs came from our hearts and God really used that!
8. Has there ever been a song that you have sung in concerts that you didn’t think would have the impact that it currently does? Or has there been a song where you thought should’ve had the impact that it currently doesn’t? What has God shown you through both/either circumstance?
Our song ‘You’re Worth It’ was a big surprise for us. I think we knew it was a good song, but we had no idea how life changing it would be for our fans. The number of stories we’ve heard of people being impacted by that song is just crazy. I hope God will use the songs on Alive like He’s used “You’re Worth It” – as a light for people who need something to hope for.
9. Who do you look up to in the music industry (CCM, or mainstream), either as a spiritual mentor, or someone you ask advice from? If anyone reading this interview is wanting to move into the music industry, what would you say to them as advice?
Oh man, this is a great question, but I honestly don’t think we have any spiritual mentors in the CCM industry yet! We are really new here and don’t really know anyone yet. Hopefully that will change soon though! Our advice would be to stay true to yourself and write music from the heart. The more you can be in touch with who you are and find out what your unique thing is naturally- cause everyone has their own quirks and personality- the more easily fans can connect with you!
10. What is next for Cimorelli in 2016/17? What do you hope God will convey, to yourself and others, as you tour and spread the message of God’s love to listeners and concert-goers? Are there any artists you would love to tour/write/record with if given the chance?
Releasing “Alive” is a huge milestone for us, as we are deeply proud of and excited about this album! We have our first book, “Lessons Learned”, coming out in February, and we’ll be doing some fun performances and hopefully more tours this year! We love Matt Maher, For King & Country and Rend Collective so maybe something with one of them!
11. For anyone who is reading this interview and is feeling discouraged or down, either because of something in their life currently or something spoken over them, what can you say to them?
I really encourage you (this is Katherine by the way) to bring whatever is weighing on you to God so He can release you from your burden. It’s crazy how things get so much lighter and more manageable when we hand them to God! You don’t have to do this alone and you don’t have to be afraid. God is with you and He loves you so much!
12. Other than Alive, your own album, has there been an album that released in 2016 that has made an impact in your walk with God this far? Is there any new album (that hasn’t released yet, and will in 2017) that you are excited to listen to in the near future?
I know it wasn’t released in 2016, but For King And Country’s Album “Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong” made a huge impact on me this year. It’s such a powerful album! We all love country music and are excited for the new country albums coming out this year!
13. What do you do in your downtime- any music that is on your iTunes playlist currently? Any TV shows you are currently binge-watching, or sports you guys watch/play?
We love to have our friends over for bonfires, dinner or dance parties in our garage. Between our 2 houses (the older girls live together, and the younger girls live together) we have friends over almost every night! We all have very different tastes in music, but we’re hoping to put some of our personal playlists on Spotify this year!
14. Any parting words, encouragements or anything else you want to share to listeners of your music that you haven’t discussed in this interview yet?
Thank you so much for reading this! We really hope you will check out our new album, Alive, and our book, Lessons Learned. We’ve poured out our hearts and souls into these projects, and we hope they will speak into parts of your life that need a little hope and light. All things for the glory of God!
Be sure to listen to Cimorelli’s new music that releases on iTunes later on in 2017, but is available now via Pledgemusic. Also, check out their youtube page here and read our review of Alive here as well.