Carmen Canedo Grows Through Life Changes and Mental Health Battles on ‘Know It All’

Photo Credit: Kelton Young

Nashville native Carmen Canedo strikes a delicate balance between her analytic mind and artistic soul on her new album, Know It All.

Immersed in what she calls a “DIY music scene” since childhood, Carmen Canedo was surrounded by expert musicians who were oftentimes her own neighbors. “Either your friends are musicians or your friend’s parents are musicians, and that’s been so true for me,” the 21-year-old recalls to Audiofemme of growing up in Music City. Teaching herself how to write songs and play guitar, as well as forming her first band at the age of eight, Canedo also learned the value of tapping into her home city’s rich musical well.

Her young adult life has been shaped by pivotal musical moments, from seeing local favorite rock band JEFF the Brotherhood live when she was 12 to touring as a bass player with Soccer Mommy the summer after graduating high school in 2017. “I really was influenced by how [Sophie of Soccer Mommy] was so hardworking and takes it so seriously, but also is able to enjoy it,” Canedo says of what she learned while touring with the burgeoning superstar. Citing herself as equally left and right brained, Canedo attended one of Tennessee Governor’s School for Scientific Models and Data Analysis that saw her taking college-level courses as a high school student. She later enrolled as a Statistical & Data Sciences major at Smith College before transferring to American University where she currently studies statistics. “I like to break things down a lot; being able to break down songs and think about it analytically, or even the process of making an album,” she says, noting how the structured and artistic sides of her brain cross.

Her most formative musical days were spent in the jazz band room of her high school, where she learned how to write guitar chords that she uses in her music to this day. It’s also where she and her friend Hayden Hubner of Nashville-based band Dancers would retreat during lunch hour to play guitar and write songs, leading to the creation of Canedo’s first album, Wheels Are Turning, which ultimately opened her mind to the idea of music as a profession. That pivotal project set the stage for her new album, Know It All. Written over the course of two years, the 10-song collection showcases Canedo’s old-fashioned voice that exudes a folk flair alongside pure lyricism. “I feel like each of these songs come from different times in my life,” she says.

The opening “Morrow,” named after the house she lived in on campus at Smith, reflects the universal feeling of adjusting to a new environment, surrounded by new people while longing for home. Meanwhile, “Vectors” evokes images of the two young children Canedo babysat for who would write her name in chalk on the sidewalk each time she visited, a song that finds her “taking little moments that I didn’t want to forget” and setting them to song, she remarks.

“Vectors” also reflects her personal triumph over mental health struggles. At a South by Southwest performance in 2019, Canedo felt the onset of PTSD, an experience that left her rattled and questioning whether or not she wanted to pursue music. After going on an eight-month hiatus, the singer managed to overcome her anxiety and headed into the studio to record Know It All, pointing to a line in the album’s ninth track, “Ocean I Swam,” that reflects her profound growth: “I am not where I began.” “I’m a very sentimental person. I love looking back and thinking about past times,” she shares. “But I think specifically in the past three years that I’ve really genuinely been focused on my mental health, it’s been a lot of recognizing the growth that I’ve made. I think that line demonstrates it.”

Originally scheduled for release on June 6, Canedo decided to move the release date for Know It All to August out of respect for the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. All of the digital sales of the album throughout August, as well as 10 percent of Canedo’s merchandise, will be donated to the Nashville Community Bail Fund, an organization that provides financial support to low-income prisoners, and Drkmttr Collective, a Nashville-based venue that fosters a safe space for the underground music scene, as well as organizing and action planning.

Having written the songs prior to her mental health battle and then recording most of it in the aftermath, the transformation allowed Canedo to explore the songs in a new light and recognize how far she’s come. “Having time off not listening to the record was good because I was able to come back to it with a fresh mind and look at these lyrics from a different perspective – revisiting them and reclaiming them and giving power to them in like a different way,” she expresses. “Because it is such a reflective process, all these songs are genuine little capsules of who I was when I wrote them, so it’s interesting to play them or listen to them and feel how I felt then, but realize that I have grown.”