Sterling Fox Interview + New Song

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by Deanna Chapman

Sterling Fox is a singer-songwriter who just emarked on his own solo career after writing songs for artists such as Lana Del Rey and Adam Levine. We had the chance to ask him some questions and get to know him a bit better and talk about why he’s venturing away from just songwriting and starting to do his own thing. We hope you enjoy the interview and his new song “Freak Caroline,” which can be found at the end of the post.

Hi Sterling! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background as a songwriter?

When I was little I had this tape deck with a microphone that I would record into with my brother. We’d announce sports games or do standup comedy or make up silly songs and then play them back on the way to school for fun. I grew up in a rural area in Appalachia so we had to use our imagination. Looking back on it, it’s obvious why I got into songwriting. I moved to New York City when I was 22 and worked every job you can in a recording studio – from intern to engineer to session player. I eventually ended up writing songs and producing for other people, and at some point it turned into a career. Recently I’ve been writing songs for myself, and that’s  been the most fun I’ve had in a while, so I’m deciding to make an album.

What was it like writing songs for the likes of Lana Del Rey and Adam Levine?

For Adam Levine – I wrote a song with some friends called “Stereo Hearts” in 2010. We had a ska demo of it at one point. We sent it around to a bunch of labels and somebody thought it was good and decided to send it to another producer and eventually Adam Levine and Travie McCoy. The song turned into something really unique and eventually became a moderate hit. I’m not quite sure if Adam knows who I am, but whatever…can’t complain. It was my first real break in music. Was literally on food stamps the week it came out, so it was good timing.

For Lana – didn’t actually write for her (technically). I just produced her first song “Video Games”. At the time she was nobody…just this girl floating around New York. Loved her voice and influences and thought it would be a fun project. A friend and I produced it in a few days. She threw it on the internet, it blew up, she signed with a label and got famous, and that’s the last time I saw her.

What initially got you interested in songwriting?

The art is not that well understood, so there is a strange magic about writing songs that is difficult to explain or to be easily understood. Early on in my life, I was very shy and not good at communicating with other people. Songwriting seemed like an easier way to do that…either vicariously through other singers or through myself in a way that detached me from my real self.

When did you know that you wanted to branch out on your own and start releasing solo material?

I’ve always written songs for myself. When I first moved here I needed money, so would just give them to famous people mainly to pay the rent. Releasing my own songs started to become a more distinct focus as my tendencies in regards to melody and lyric evolved beyond the typical pop spectrum. I wanted to write lines that were more complicated or lyrics that were more sardonic, and in doing so, that made it necessary to sing them myself. I think the past few years have given me a refinement on my craft and ability to control my voice and make it sound like what I want, so I think the timing is good to put some of my thoughts out into the world.

What are your plans for 2015 with you new music coming out?

I’m releasing a new song and video “Freak Caroline” currently. It’s a fun rock song about a tragic rich girl who twerks to Neil Diamond and does a lot of blow. I think parents will love it.

Later in the spring I’m releasing a small EP with some new songs. It may possibly include a duet with my friend Samantha Ronson, lots of guitar solos, and generally a good deal of witty wordplay. My personal goal is to put out as many fucking awesome songs as possible this year and give them all away for free.

You can also purchase the song on iTunes.

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