Pic by Kirsten Balani

INTERVIEW: Colleen Orender

Hi there, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi! Thank you. I’ve been doing pretty well. I’m trying to write and record as much as possible in Nashville during this crazy time. I hope you are well.

Can you talk to us more about your song “Love Me Harder”?

“Love Me Harder” is a really fun song to sing. I wrote it with my producer Michael Davey in Nashville a few years ago, and we were really excited to release it. I felt like it was a great summer release for my forthcoming record The Company of Older Men, and it has a totally different vibe than my last three singles. I guess it’s closer to the style of “The Mouth You Feed” that was released in 2018.

Did any event, in particular, inspire you to write this song?

I grew up listening to blues records because my Dad was really into that genre. I loved the R&B and blues records of the ’80s and ’90s, and the ’60s Chess blues, jazz, and R&B records of Etta James. I’d say that was a big influence on my style for “Love Me Harder.” I wanted to write a light-hearted song about the sometimes humorous complaints form men and women about the change of libido in relationships as we age. 

I’ve been touring for 20 years, and I guess I consider myself an observer of people and conversations. I have a pretty great viewpoint from the stage, and I have some pretty colorful conversations on the road. I wanted to make a song about that. 

Can you tell me about the inspiration behind the title track The Company of Older Men?

I’ve always found older men to be more polished in the way they speak to women, and in the way they value a woman’s company and worth. I think men have a special knack of getting more attractive with age, and I wanted to celebrate that. I write about my own experiences, and I definitely have favored the company of older men, in a lot of my relationships. With age, generally there comes wisdom, or at least we hope. This song is a little bit of reality and a touch of fantasy. I’ve always been a huge James Bond fan, and I have owned the James Bond Theme song records since I was in high school. My producer Michael Davey and I wanted the track to be a like a new James Bond theme song. Something dramatic and elegant like a Judy Garland record. A Julie London record with an old Hollywood feeling, and reminiscent of a Shirley Bassey recording.

How was the recording and writing process?

I typically come in with a hook and verse or just a hook, and Michael builds the track underneath me while I write the rest of the lyrics. He helps keep me focused when we are throwing out ideas for melody and bridges. 
I’ve been on the road with 150 dates or more for the past 5 years so I have been juggling my time out working and my time writing and recording with Michael and some of our other writing partners like Nikki Williams and Greg Becker. This record has been slowly releasing one single at a time since 2018. I don’t have a major label behind me so I’m recording as much as the budget allows along the way. I usually let Michael record different musicians when I finish my vocal, and we work from there when I get back in town.

How did the process of putting together this album differ from your previous releases?

I’ve been writing these songs on the back of bar napkins on my tours, and recording song ideas on voice memos for a decade before I decided to get serious about writing this full album. 

I have a lot of recordings that didn’t really lift off because the industry was so different in the past. You couldn’t do anything without a label when I first started singing professionally so I think the difference is not only the great platforms and resources independent artists have access to now but the collaboration with the talent I’m privileged enough to know now later in my career. I feel like I am more in touch with the music and the process than ever before. I have some live studio recordings that haven’t been released yet, and I think The Company of Older Men has given me a space to release some of the projects that haven’t been heard as well. 

What role does Nashville play in your music?

Oh man, Nashville raised me. I was barely 23 yrs old when I moved to town without knowing a soul, and I had to figure it out. Everything.  Nashville has broken my heart so many times and lifted me up when I didn’t think I could keep going. I wouldn’t be the human, musician, or writer I am if it weren’t for the invaluable experience I’ve had here. I think the majority of these songs were written because of who I became after I moved to Nashville. I grew up listening to records from Nashville so I hope that influence is apparent in my recordings. 

What aspect of your life did you get to explore on this record?

I think I’ve written songs about every relationship and experience I’ve had as a female in love and in this crazy industry on this record. There is a lot of closure when you can write a song about what gives you joy or tears you apart. That’s why we write songs.  To remember, forget or move on.  

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Julie London records were a big influence.  Her phrasing is untouchable, and the lyrics and feel in those songs really inspired me for my album. I was listening to a lot of Lana Del Ray when I started writing “Siren,” which was released in May. I wrote it about someone I fell in love with a long time ago, and when Michael started playing the piano I really loved the way it felt like the waves crashing in the sea. So I tried to sing with the current. I hope the listener can feel that. 

How has the pandemic affected you?

I think I was in shock like everyone else for a week or so when the first month of shows was canceled. Then they just kept canceling. I was a bit paralyzed for a few days, and then I just decided I would use this time to reconnect with my fans and create growth. I knew I had to pivot and put my energy into releases and marketing to my audience in this new landscape. I’m still scared for the whole industry and venues. I just had my final show in December cancel. The festivals keep pushing further out, and I’m not sure we will have any income coming in well into 2021.  Touring is 80% of my income, so it has affected me greatly, but I know some people are in worse shape. We all need to stick together.

What else is happening next in Colleen’s world?

My “Love Me Harder” video is being recorded this week. I have my new single “Run Right Back to You” that just came out, and I’m excited to do a video for the Fashion Channel with my friend and designer Wendy Ohlendorf in a couple of weeks, featuring “Run Right Back to You.” I’m also recording a video for “Siren” on the beach in Florida in the next few weeks. I’m going to continue creating and releasing singles and writing with more people.  I hope touring comes back in the near future, and we can get back to what we do best!

Listen to Colleen Orender on Spotfiy: https://open.spotify.com/artist/6U0NBpFwAfODZyGjSe5fGG?si=lCtmljk6TRq1GGx0iKj99w

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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