Welcome to the final Crescent City Crush volume of 2015! I am so pleased to introduce y’all to this ferociously impressive woman, Carsie Blanton. A singer-songwriter, musician, sex-positive blogger, performer, and relentlessly creative human, Carsie unapologetically speaks her mind. She makes her living on performing and recording the music that she writes while making her home in the Historic Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans. I admire her ferocity and her ability to know herself while continuously exploring herself, her sexuality, and her passions through her writing.
LR: How are you crushing it?
CB: Well, I’m a singer-songwriter and this is my only job. That’s probably the thing I’m most proud of in my life is that I do this for work. I’ve been writing songs and recording them, and performing and touring for almost 10 years. I moved to New Orleans three or four years ago. I’ve been touring out of here, getting ready to make another album. Other than that I sit in the studio and make stuff.
CB: I focus on writing when I’m home. I’ve been writing this new album. I was touring until October and then I’ve had a lot of time the last couple of months to write and so I’ve just been getting the songs ready to go into the studio next month.
LR: Is playing shows here that something you’d want to do?
CB: Maybe. My band is not here, my band is in Philly and in New York. I haven’t met people that have made me want to put an alternate band together here. I play a lot of different kinds of music. I write whatever I’m interested in at the time, so I span a lot of different genres. What makes it fun for me to play with different musicians is to play with people who are really enthusiastic to play with a lot of different musical genres and also with people I get along with really well personally, and who are easy to work with. So, I always say, it’s kinda like a marriage. I used to take picking band members a lot more lightly, and I’ve kinda been burned by it. And also, I’m in a place where I don’t need to be playing locally. So I’m just kind of letting that be how it is.
LR: So, why New Orleans?
CB: I am really inspired by being here. I enjoy all the parts of my job but writing is my favorite part, I think it’s my purpose as a person to write. Being here makes me want to write all the time. I’ve been more prolific here than I’ve been anywhere else, and at any other time in my life. I want to be somewhere that inspires me and makes me think new musical ideas and that I feel comfortable and creative. All those things are true of being here. I feel really connected to and involved in my neighborhood [Treme]. I know my neighbors and I’m involved in various projects and events having to do with Treme. I’ve actually performed multiple times for people in my neighborhood for events that they were putting on. I feel really connected to New Orleans through the microcosm of this little area where I live. To me that’s really satisfying, that feels really good. And there’s just a lot of people here that I love.
LR: Aside from songwriting, you also have a blog.
CB: My blog started out as being about music, then I wrote this post a few years ago that was called “On Women Who Like Sex”. It was actually because I was about to put out a music video for a song of mine called “Backseat” – a lot of my songs are either about sex or mention sex or about sexual relationships. So, I made this music video that was kind of risque (I thought at the time) and I wrote this blog post to be like: Hey everyone. Some of you may think that I’m this wholesome, sweet, young girl (at the time I was about 25 or something). But actually if you listen to my lyrics, a lot of it is not that wholesome and so you might be shocked by this video that’s about to come out. So I would just like to do some sort of myth-busting about what means to be a woman who likes sex. And that article ended up being by far the most-read thing that I’d published.
LR: Sex sells, my friend.
CB: Yeah, it certainly does. I got a lot of followers on my blog when I posted that. Then I had a bigger audience and I thought more deeply about what I was most interested in writing about in that format. So it ended up being primarily about sexuality and relationships and feminism. Mostly because that’s the stuff I think about that doesn’t really work in song format. Some aspects, obviously, of sex and relationships work really well in song format and that’s stuff I write as songs. Some of it, you know, like: “Why aren’t there more women represented in the media?” or whatever, just doesn’t work as a song but works really well as a blog post. So, the blog is mostly about those kind of topics.
LR: Do you find as a woman writing about sex, that you are under more scrutiny than a man who writes about sex would be?
LR: Do you catch a lot of flack on your blog?
CB: I used to catch more. I think now I’ve kind of outed myself, the people who aren’t into hearing women talking about sex don’t listen to my songs or follow my blog, which I think is good. I kind of culled the field by just writing about that.
The main way that I would describe that difference is that people feel much more free to scrutinize the sexual behavior of women than they do the sexual behavior of men.
Even progressive-minded people still feel more comfortable about making a comment about a woman “dressing slutty” or whatever, than they would say the same thing about a man. I think the assumption is if a man is doing some sexual behavior it’s because he wants to and that’s fun for him. And if a woman is, there’s some other thing: it’s an expression of some darkness or some sad thing that happened to her. So I think that’s the theme of a lot of my writing, the songs as well as the blog, is just reiterating over and over again: “Hey, I’m in sexual relationships and I express my sexuality because it’s fun and I want to. And that’s my right as a human being”.
LR: There’s a lot of that that goes into this upcoming album. What is it called?
CB: It doesn’t really have a name yet but the Kickstarter was called “The Radical Magic Of Pleasure And Pop”. It’s what I came up with the encompass all of the topics I cover on the record. It’s gonna be more of pop record than my previous records and also a lot of the content is about sexuality, pleasure and sensuality. The spin on it is that same thing as I was just talking about: female empowerment by having some ownership over my own sexuality and my experience of sex.
LR: You have a wide variety of musical influences but what woman has influenced you the most in your life?
CB: My mom. My mom’s amazing. She’s really brilliant. She’s a writer, of various kinds. At the moment she’s a grant writer, so she raises money for nonprofits. But she’s just really smart and self-aware. She always knows what’s going on in the world and she raised me with a really huge amount of freedom and independence that I don’t see for a lot of childhoods. I feel that set me up to pursue creativity in the way that I have and gave me a sense of entitlement to my own freedom and to creative freedom.
CB: Dayna Kurtz. She’s a really excellent local singer-songwriter and performer. I’ve been going to a lot of her shows. She has a lot of blues and jazz influence a lot of soul. She sings kinda like a soul singer but she writes really beautifully crafted songs. She’s a very thoughtful songwriter. She just does what I would call “doing it right”. Which is not to say that other people don’t but as far as people in town who are putting on performances that I’m 100% excited to see, she’s at the top of my list.
LR: What advice would you give to an aspiring Crescent City Crush?
CB: I think the main advice I would give to any- especially young woman- but any woman who wants to get anything done is: we’re socialized to care more than necessary about what other people think of us. If you wanna do anything, especially something that’s making a powerful statement in the world, not just privately, you’re probably gonna piss some people off that way. And, there’s a certain element of just getting comfy with that. Don’t spend too much energy trying not to piss people off because it’s impossible, and it’s mostly a waste of time. Don’t piss people off on purpose, unless that’s your thing. But don’t take it too personally when people get offended by what you do.
LR: Do you have any tips on how to navigate that?
CB: At this point I have an ignore policy, online and in real life. If someone who I don’t personally have a relationship with and personally care about or respect, comes to me with criticism of what I’m doing, I try as much as I can to ignore it and let it go. If it’s online I delete the comment and don’t ever look at it again. I delete the email. I really don’t engage any more online. It’s partly because I talk about sex, because I’m a woman, because whatever… it’s always something. I started drawing a lot of trolls online and that was so stressful, especially at the beginning. It happened enough that I found out that really the only response is delete and ban, delete and ban. You don’t have any obligation to people that you don’t know or care about or respect. Some people would come at you with a sense that you do have an obligation to engage with them, but that’s not true. I’m trying to remember that as much as possible. ♥