In conversation with... Carrie Tree

29 Jul 2014

Having supported the likes of Damien Rice, Fink, Duke Special, Rumer, Carly Simon, Ben Taylor and Martha Tilston, Sussex-based singer songwriter Carrie Tree has been a well-known name on the UK alternative / green festival scene for several years playing regularly at festivals like Glastonbury, Sunrise, Shambala and Buddhafields.

Ahead of her headline show at SPECTRUM on Sun 10 Aug, we chatted to Carrie to get her thoughts on her musical career to date.

On writing songs…

I wrote my first song (or chorus) when I was 11. I went to Italy to visit family and met a boy I liked there. That was when my first dramatic love song appeared! I performed it in the school concert at about 13 years old - I was terrified - but that was my first performance of my music.

I have been writing songs since then, firstly on piano and later on guitar (when I realised at about 16 that I couldn't carry my piano and knew I had the urge for travelling). From that point on, songs have been an amazing way to process and understand feelings and situations in my life. Songwriting and the process of it has massively comforted and enriched my life, bringing me back to a state of peace and clarity many, many times.

On influences…

I grew up on Simon and Garfunkel, the Beatles and, later on, (the answer every female singer songwriter gives) Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake and John Martyn. I've also always loved African music and, these days, desert blues; as scratchy and earthy as it comes! My main influence and inspiration has been from music where I can feel the honesty and depth of the people playing it. I love space and dynamics and songs that paint a picture.

The main influences production-wise for my last album was a couple of early Iron and Wine albums and Lhasa De Sela's album The Living Road. I love how they create layers of percussion tracks in a way that drives the music while keeping a lot of space and rawness in the songs.

On gigs…

I guess the biggest gig I ever played was Shepherds Bush Empire supporting Damien Rice. It was about 2500 thousand people and just me with my guitar. I had come from a festival and busking scene at that point, so my heart nearly fell out of my chest playing to such a big crowd. It felt amazing though.

On recordings…

I made a lot of demos though the years as a travelling musician, but I released my first album The Kitchen Table in 2010 and my second album Home to the Invisible in March this year along with 2 EPs/singles Mama Kita and Perfectly Cast.

The Kitchen Table was the first chapter of adding other instrumentation to very intimate spacious vocal/guitar songs, and although the same applies to Home to the Invisible in terms of wanting to keep the spaciousness and intimacy, we spent a lot more time layering up the songs and working with percussion, soft electronic effects, strings, harmonies and having fun experimenting with all sorts of acoustic textures. The instruments vary from cello and double bass, to kora, mbira, bansuri, water drums, hammer dulcimer, balafon, and, on two songs, vocalists from South Africa.

On the future…

This summer I’m going to Holland for a nine day tour of festivals and shows in Amsterdam. More long term plans and dreams are; to play to bigger audiences whilst keeping the intimacy and closeness that smaller gigs have, to weave my music with projects and organisations I believe in and want to support, to play in beautiful places where people want to receive it, to make a living from doing what I love!

Another plan is to lock myself in my little wooden cabin where I live and make myself finish all these half written songs for the next album!

Carrie Tree plays SPECTRUM on Sunday 10 August 2014. SPECTRUM is a live music scheme that cultivates, develops and showcases the city’s burgeoning musical talent, hosted monthly by Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival in association with Resident Records.

Visit for more information and to join Carrie’s mailing list and stay in the loop about gigs and music. Get in the mood for Sunday's show with MAMA KITA and head to Carrie's YouTube Channel to see more wonderful videos.