Carlie Hanson. Credit: Jaxon Dobbins
For most people looking back at being 18 is like looking at a younger, though very similar, version of ourselves. We were just getting out of high school and working on getting into colleges, likely still at our parent’s homes. The story is a bit different for musician Carlie Hanson. But for all intents and purposes, we must go back even further, in this case, around age 16. At 16 Hanson was working at a McDonald’s in the small town of La Crosse, Wisconsin. It’s okay if you’ve never heard of it before; the population is a mere 51,834 (according to 2017 data).
For Hanson, there was a whole new world to be discovered, especially after deciding to make music. So, she packed her bags and moved to Los Angeles to make it big. More importantly, she’s already making stride. She’s gone out on tour with Troye Sivan and now with the artist Gnash, whom will be performing with Hanson this Sunday, January 13th, at the House of Blues. I spoke with Hanson about finding fame, quitting the fast food industry, and Houston influences.
Coog Radio: You haven’t put out an EP yet, but you have amassed over 60 million streams on the singles you’ve released; I guess my question is, how does that feel?
Carlie Hanson: It is very crazy to think about; it just doesn’t feel real to me. It feels so fucking surreal. When I go onto Spotify and look at my profile and see those numbers, it doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t believe that people have listened to my songs that much. I’m excited to put this out to see what people think of it and how they’ll react.
CR: Have you already had any encounters outside of a venue where someone came up and recognized you?
CH: Not in Los Angeles, but definitely when I go back home to Wisconsin to my hometown La Crosse. Everyone knows who I am there, but the town isn’t very big. I’m pretty well known at home, but not so much in LA yet.
CR: I read that you are 18. It seems like popular music is becoming more dominated by younger performers than others times in the past. And you’ve been at it for a couple of years at this point. Are you glad to see younger people, in a way, taking the throne away from the previous generation?
CH: I really hope so. I had a conversation recently about this. It’s crazy that Khalid is, like, 20 and Billie Eilish is 16, and Lil Skies is, what, 19? There’s so many young kids that are dominating the fucking music industry right now. I really hope that it stays like that, because I feel like the youth has a lot to say and we’re definitely growing into a different time right now. I really hope it stays like that, young people taking over. It’s been really cool to hear the different sounds. Bille Eilish is definitely – she’s 16 and the music she’s making is unreal!
CR: Billie Eilish is a great example. Do you feel like, because you are part of a new generation of young talent, you have to also be super consistent on social media? Was that already your thing or did you have get into that with the music?
CH: I think that , since I’ve gotten into music, I have definitely been more active on social media. I’ve never really been a fan of social media, putting myself out there and showing people who I am. However, I’ve gotten way more confident. Like, I could post a crazy ass picture of myself and I wouldn’t care what anyone says; that’s how comfortable I’ve gotten. But yeah, I haven’t been too into social media because a lot of it is bullshit – like, a lot of it. Who cares what other people think and comment, or how many likes you get and all of that stupid shit. I’ve gotten way over that since I’ve gotten into music.
CR: You went from working at a McDonald’s to touring the world. How quick into gaining attention did you quit that job?
CH: I think I was only at McDonald’s for a year. When I started coming out to LA and making music, I was like “Yeah, there’s no way I’m staying anymore.” I quit as soon as I had a chance. I moved to LA five or six months after already making music out here, and it’s been a huge adjustment, for sure, coming from Wisconsin and living with my family my whole life. Moving into an apartment by myself at 18 was completely – it was such a big change, but there’s nothing I’d rather be doing. You have to deal with the obstacles, of course.
CR: Did you ever promote your music on the job? Here in Texas, there’s a legendary musician, Daniel Johnston, that used to sneak his mixtapes in with fries when he worked at a McDonald’s!
CH: Oh, my God! That’s Great! No, I’ve never done that. I would post covers and stuff on Facebook and Instagram while I was working and people would come through the drive-thru and be like, “oh, I’ve seen you on Facebook!” but I never promoted my music like that.
CR: Speaking of covers, I’ve read that Justin Bieber was an influence considering he was young and self-releasing music on YouTube, and that got you to do the same. Now, you have people doing their own covers of your songs and posting them to the site. Have you seen any of those? If so, what is that like?
CH: I have seen a few, and it’s, again – I have no words for it! Here’s the thing: I went from being a fan of Justin Bieber and One Direction, and I’m still a fangirl, but I’m an artist, too. It’s so weird to switch my mindset from being not just a fan but also an artist. There’s so many times I want to tweet about how much I love Justin Bieber and Harry Styles, but it’s weird, because what if it just so happens that I meet one of them one day, or even work with them? Like, I can’t really act like a crazy fan girl anymore; it’s so weird not being not just a fan anymore. With the fans of mine doing covers, it’s just unreal
CR: I hear a group from Houston has been a huge creative influence; can you talk about Destiny’s Child?
CH: Oh, my God! Destiny’s Child! The first song I ever sang (says my mom) was “I’m a Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. So, shout out Houston, Destiny’s Child! My fucking faves! They got me going.
Tickets and information for the show are available here.