Celestial Talks Tidal Wave and O,ral Records
A few months ago, we partnered with O, Miami and Miami-Dade Transit to produce O,ral Records, a project in which we collected Miami-Dade Transit riders’ stories and handed them over to artists to create new works. As most projects are, it was a learning process. We quickly realized that getting people to share their stories is not as easy as you might think. We also gained new respect for our local artists who devoted their time and creative energy to telling a story that was 1) not their own and 2) about transit, not the most interesting topic in the world. Through the weeks of collecting stories and watching the creation of new works, we learned even the simplest of human experiences holds a story. And there is no better place to find a good story than on public transit. We were so inspired by this project, we decided to not only share the finished product with our Buskerfest Miami family, but we decided do go a little deeper and introduce you personally to the artists that worked on creating our O,ral Records.
First up is Celeste Louise, also known around town as Celestial. She just released a new EP with four new singles, definitely worth a listen.
Photo by Julisa Fuste
Buskerfest Miami: Can you tell me a little about your new EP?
Celestial: I officially released my new EP on Friday, July 24th, but unfortunately a lot of people don’t listen to albums in full anymore. So, I experimented a bit with this new release and shared it as four separate singles – one every Friday in July. The first single is also the main song I’m promoting from the EP: Tidal Wave. It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve written, as it presents a departure from my old material both stylistically and in terms of content. It’s taking me in a more indie-rock/alternative direction, and is about something besides relationships – it’s my personal experience as a woman in the music world (and social situations in general). Being in music school and navigating that culture as a whole has been really interesting – I play four instruments and sing, as well as write my own songs, yet I’ve had my musicianship and abilities questioned an innumerable amount of times. It’s the way it is and it means that I have to work that much harder as a student and musician, but there came a point where I felt the need to say something. It’s my reaction and expression of these experiences that you hear in this song. The song also feels pretty amazing to sing.
Buskerfest Miami: Do you write all your own songs?
Celestial: I do! I collaborate with others occasionally, but you’ll never hear me sing a song I didn’t have my hands in at least a little bit. All of the songs on the EP were written exclusively by me.
BM: In regards to songwriting, do you prefer writing on your own, or collaborating with others?
Celestial: This is a tough one. In my opinion, nothing beats those moments of pure, personal emotion when you sit down and crank out a new tune that you didn’t even know you were capable of writing. That is the pinnacle of my songwriting existence. However, I love collaborating when you really click with someone and are able to bring out the best in both writers. When that happens, you create something that neither of you would be able to create on your own, and often (at least for me), collaborating helps me write in new, unexplored styles and genres. So there is merit in both techniques.
BM: Can you briefly describe the process of creating the O,ral Records song from the submitted story?
Celestial: This was a fun experience. My friend and fellow writer/artist, Liam O’Brien, have played at Buskerfest together for the past few years and were asked to write a song for O,ral Records together. The story we chose was one a woman submitted about an old man who was desperately on the phone with the manager of a hotel he had stayed in. He was trying to get the contact information of a woman he had met at the bar there, convinced she was his soulmate. Sadly for him, the manager wouldn’t give him the information, so we’ll never know if he was ever able to figure it out. When Liam and I were writing our song, we tried to look at different angles and perspectives of this story. Who was this man? What was his interaction like with the woman at the bar? Was she just as infatuated with him? We decided to take write about the story of their meeting, and how the night progressed. It was really liberating to take myself out of the song and be able to make up a story and write whatever came to me, as opposed to trying to truthfully express my own emotion or experience.
BM: Who are some of your favorite songwriters?
Celestial: Ben Gibbard, Brian Wilson, John Mayer, Marina Diamandis (of Marina and the Diamonds), and Ezra Koenig and Rostam Batmanglij (of Vampire Weekend) would have to be my top five writers/writing pairs. There are so many, though. I’m influenced by everything I listen to, and kind of fall all over the place in terms of who influences me most – it changes with every song. Whatever mood I’m trying to create also influences who I look to when writing.
BM: Who were your guitar influences?
Celestial: This is kind of a funny question, in that while I originally started writing on guitar, I’ve pretty much started writing solely with piano in the past two years or so. I mostly play guitar just for the sake of playing, and for gigging because it’s obviously easier to transport than a keyboard. However, when I started to play I really wanted to be the cool girl playing Fall Out Boy songs – even though they really don’t have any impressive guitar parts for the most part, haha. I played a lot of The Edge’s solos, which was good because of their simplicity as I was starting out. Since then, though, I’ve been self-taught and lean more towards playing my own songs out and about. As of late, I’ve slowly been getting back to it, so we’ll see where it takes me and whose style of playing resonates with me.
BM: How did you get into songwriting/music?
Celestial: It’s just always been a part of my life! My parents are both musical in their own ways, and made a point of giving me a musical education – I grew up listening to Queen, U2, Led Zeppelin, essentially anyone that was important when my parents were younger. I think knowing a lot of music by these artists sparked a lot of interest and awe, and as I saw the singer/songwriter and pop acts rising when I was young, I related and realized that I could do that too. Since my dad started teaching me piano when I was four, and I had picked up guitar, cello, and ukulele, I was a confident musician. I knew I could do that. I figured it couldn’t be that hard to play my own music instead of someone else’s. So I just did it. And somehow it ended up sounding good.
BM: What are your dreams/goals for songwriting in your personal future?
Celestial: I have some pretty big goals. My plan is to continue writing and releasing my music and really just pushing it as far as I can go – my end goal is to be the best at what I do, whatever that means. I want to have a successful career as an artist, where I am able to support myself entirely from my music and have an influential voice in the music and pop culture world. I would also love to write for other artists, as I really find a lot of value in consistently pushing myself and writing in styles besides my own. It’s pretty lofty and bold, which is absolutely terrifying most of the time, but I’m actively working towards it and don’t plan on stopping ever.
To stay up to date on what Celestial is up to you, we suggest you follow her online at:
Stay tuned next month for our next O,ral Records artist!
The Buskerfest Miami Fam