Carli Brill is a lover of items from the past. Growing up in Southern California, Brill and her mother spent countless hours shopping in antique stores, discovering hidden gems and imagining the stories behind them. Now based in Nashville, the singer-songwriter says she draws inspiration from the unknown past still clinging to these objects.
“As a songwriter, I’m always trying to think of new concepts and ideas, so a lot of ideas actually do come from my time out at antique stores sitting and pondering ‘I wonder who owned this? What were they like and what would they think about today?’” she tells Audiofemme. “I love that vintage and antique items tell a story. They have so much depth to them. I like the mystery behind antiques and anything from the past.”
But for her latest single “Concrete Jungle” – officially out February 4th, but premiering today exclusively on Audiofemme – Brill didn’t have to imagine someone else’s life. Instead, the ethereal tune is inspired by the singer’s personal experiences and memories: visiting New York City; meeting her husband Jordan, with whom she recently celebrated eight years of marriage; paying homage to the city’s “rich music history” and all the “people that have fallen in love in this city.”
“It was such a sweet time that I had there, and the beginning stages of falling in love I think for all of us are moments that we cherish and we never forget,” Brill expresses. “I really wanted to capture that feeling and put it in a song and have the listener almost feel as if they’re falling in love as they are listening to the song.”
The pure-hearted singer accomplishes this by crafting lyrics rich with personal anecdotes; she cites the line “your smile is as bright as your tattoos” as one of the most authentic she’s written. “That’s a very dear line to me that made it in the song,” she says warmly. “The first thing that I noticed about him was his smile. It was just so bright and joyful and wide.”
She also nods to late rapper and Brooklyn native Biggie Smalls as she sings, “Baby come closer/Spread your love on me/It’s the Brooklyn way,” in the doo-wop style number, complimenting the romantic lyrics with a melody that transcends musical genre. Taking listeners on a “melodic journey,” the song begins with a slow-tempo electric guitar, leading into an up-tempo second verse incorporating “vibey” drums; Brill describes the bass as the “heartbeat” and “backbone” of the track. By song’s end, Brill layers ‘60s girl group vocals that turn the song into an experience.
“That was really important in the creation of the song,” she asserts of how the melody matches the story. “[It] almost feels as though your head is spinning at that point when you’re falling in love and you’re like ‘I don’t care what happens, life is great, nothing can upset me.’”
These intriguing instrumentals are a common thread across Brill’s compelling catalogue. The eclectic artist began this process with one of her recent releases, “Hey Little Girl,” an upbeat, genre-defying number that encourages optimism and smiling through life’s misfortunes. “I discovered a lot about myself and I gained a lot of confidence in writing that and I realized I was writing this song to myself,” she explains of the song’s conception. “I was able to see what kind of artist I wanted to become.”
Her songs act as a time lapse, transporting the listener through multiple eras with ever-evolving melodies that match the old soul that shines through in her lyrics, harkening back to the days when Brill and her mother would frequent vintage stores.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Brill hopes that “Concrete Jungle” will inspire listeners to lead with an open heart and express their feelings to the people they love. “I would hope that they would feel encouraged to tell somebody that they love them, even if it’s not in a romantic way,” Brill shares. “We often associate Valentine’s Day with a romantic love, but… it doesn’t have to be romantic love.”
Brill is set to release more new music in the coming months, focused on cultivating an audience of kindred listeners. “I hope that what I create is going to speak to people and I want to always create from an authentic place. It’s sharing what you actually think and what you actually feel about something regardless of how others are going to react to that. It’s how I feel and what I actually believe inside,” Brill says. “I hope that people will connect with that.”