YEM Interview Carter Brady shares what inspired him to make the unplugged version of his song “Chasing Vampires”

Carter Brady is a musician that just came out with a new single. His single is titled “Chasing Vampires (Unplugged)”. Carter’s unplugged version of his recent release “Chasing Vampires” only consists of the simplistic instrumentals of just an acoustic guitar and light keys, and we are able to hear Brady’s voice in a different way. YEM was able to speak with Carter about the process of creating the song, his favorite part of making the song, and his favorite lyrics.

Young Entertainment Mag: What was your inspiration for ‘Chasing Vampires (Unplugged)’?

Carter: Brady: I had been wanting to do a more officially recorded acoustic version of Chasing Vampires ever since I had recorded most of my latest album Blue Reverb. I think that having multiple versions of a song, particularly this one since it was one of the first songs from the album I shared with people, is a cool concept and gives people a chance to hear something in a more fragile and stripped-down state, often giving them more ways to like a song. I thought adding the words Unplugged to it after the song title instead of “Acoustic Version” or “Acoustic” would make it stand out a bit more and make listeners think about it.

YEM: What was your process for creating the bare-bones instrumentals and sound of this song?

Carter: The recording process for this song was pretty straightforward, unlike the studio rock version which looking back I definitely went a bit overboard with the number of guitar tracks I laid down. I basically just showed up at a local studio near my house in NY and the engineer and owner, Al Hemberger, took care of the mic setup. He went with this dual-mic trick on each side of my Martin guitar I brought in, giving it a wide stereo sound, and then I sang into this vintage condenser mic he had that sounded incredible. I can’t remember if he used the room mic at all, but definitely those three, which either way would be plenty to get that big raw sound. It did amaze me at first at how massive we got it to sound despite it just being my vocals and the one guitar track, but as I’ve learned less is more a lot of the time, as there’s a weird science where once you bounce off a mix the sound for those tracks gets filled in and the dynamics sit better than you anticipate when it’s stripped down. I eventually decided to ask my producer Joe DiGiorgi if he could ask Jon Cobert, a NY-based session musician who was in John Lennon’s last solo band, if he could play piano on it to add some color. He agreed, and so the piano then adds a new depth and feel that wasn’t there before. I love how we got it to sound and I am beyond happy with how it all turned out.

YEM: What was it like working with Spin Doctors’ Mark White?

Carter: So for this version of Chasing Vampires I actually left out a bass part, since I figured that the piano and my guitar and vocals would offer enough low-end if mixed properly. Joe made sure to give it some bottom end in the mix so I was never worried about any emptiness. I still can’t believe it, however, that I got to work with Mark when he sent me a bass part for the studio version of Chasing Vampires and for Music in the 90s, another song on my album Blue Reverb. He said it was some of the most fun he has ever had on any project he’s done, which was a huge compliment and definitely felt great given how much I looked up to him and his music from other bands he’s been in like Spin Doctors.

YEM: What is the theme of ‘Chasing Vampires (Unplugged)’?

Carter: I wouldn’t say that the theme for the unplugged version of Chasing Vampires is any different from the studio version, since the lyrics are exactly the same other than that I extended the figure in the outro. Of course the feel and overall vibe’s a bit different for someone listening to both for the first time, but the song is still based roughly on two lovers who can’t be together because of the way things are, but someone helps them settle their past differences and mends their relationship.

YEM: Your style and lyrics have been compared to those of John Mayer and Jack Johnson. What is your familiarity with their work, and how do you feel about the comparison?

Carter: I’m not very familiar with Jack Johnson and I have only listened to a handful of John Mayer’s music, mostly his mainstream stuff and his work in other side projects where his lead guitar is highlighted, but considering the level of success both have been able to achieve in a very tough industry I absolutely read it as a complement and it’s definitely a huge honor. I can see how people might relate John Mayer’s songs that have more intimate lyrics and soft vocals to a song like Chasing Vampires, however I wouldn’t say that there was any conscious attempt to achieve that similar sound.

YEM: How similar or different is ‘Chasing Vampires (Unplugged) in relation to your previous work?

Carter: This was the first time I had released a straight acoustic version of a song onto streaming platforms, as everything I had put out before was all a full band sound. Chasing Vampires was also definitely a turning point in my songwriting, and I think it really led me down a great path of idea generation and ability to come up with songs that encapsulate a specific type of sound and formula that is hard to pinpoint exactly.

YEM: What was your favorite part of making this song?

Carter: I could spend a whole interview talking about how I put together the original version of Chasing Vampires, but acoustically this version was fun partly because I had already played through the song hundreds of times and knew it backwards and forwards. There was little for me to do because like I said, Al took care of the engineering process since I chose to record it in a studio to make sure it sounded very professional.

YEM: What do you hope people will take away from the song when they listen to it?

Carter: For people who are struggling in a relationship, I think it might answer some of those calls and anxieties and help clear the air for some people. Hopefully most people will just take away that it was an enjoyable song to listen to and not overanalyze the lyrics too much.

YEM: What do you think the success of this song could mean for your career going forward?

Carter: While the song has around 1,500 streams on Spotify and the music video was featured in Under the Radar Magazine and numerous other media outlets, it hasn’t necessarily been a blockbuster where it’s gotten me a consistent fanbase and changed my career. It was definitely a step in the right direction and probably is one of the best songs I’ve ever written. Having Mark White playing bass on the studio version and Jon Cobert playing piano on the acoustic version also helps provide some cool credibility to my artist name. No matter what, it always will serve as a major part of my music resume whether someone discovers it tomorrow or years from now.

YEM: How did Mark White end up getting involved in this project?

Carter: It’s a cool story actually, I was at a friend’s apartment in Brooklyn over a year ago and just checked Instagram and saw I had gotten a follow from Mark White. I honestly couldn’t believe it, since I had grown up listening to Spin Doctors and Two Princes is definitely one of my all-time favorite songs. Still geeking out inside, I decided to reach out to him over DMs, thinking the worst that could happen is that he doesn’t respond. Sure enough, we started a conversation and I eventually asked if he’d be interested in playing on an original song. I had at first only asked him to play bass on Music in the 90s, since I had already recorded a bass part for Vampires. But I later decided to ask him to record a part for that one too.

YEM: How did your past experiences as a singer/songwriter/instrumentalist inform your work on ‘Chasing Vampires (Unplugged)’?

Carter: Knowing that a lot of artists release acoustic versions of their hit songs, I thought it was time to offer the fans something they hadn’t heard from me: a well-recorded and produced stripped down version that shows the progression of my voice and the ability to play a variety of styles and arrangements.

YEM: What is your favorite lyric from the song?

Carter: I can’t know for sure, but I’d say one of the more memorable lines from the song is probably the last line in the chorus “women need a man who’s figured it out,” since I think that’s one of the more transparent and relatable lyrics that for any gender can be applied to a particular situation. I think my favorite, however, might be “I can’t believe that I kept myself outside you” in the second verse, since I remember writing that line and thinking it was pretty clever and sounded legit.

Listen to “Chasing Vampires (Unplugged)” here!