It was Paul Cézanne, the French post-impressionist, who once said, “It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.” Clean slates offer the sort of infinite possibility that can ignite yet swallow an artist whole with their endlessness. Three years ago, musician Carah Faye found herself confronted precisely with this predicament.
Born in Santa Barbara, California, Faye began formal vocal training at the age of six with a member of the Chordettes — the female quartet known for 1950s hits like “Lollipop” and “Mr. Sandman.” “I was taught so many old school things,” recalls Faye, who once sang with a quartet for Ronald and Nancy Reagan. “We would do patriotic melodies. We had to wear jean skorts with sequins all over it and put Vaseline on our teeth so we could smile bigger; pony tails so tight that you’d get the worst headaches after.”
Years later in 2004, she would join Los Angeles electro-rock band Shiny Toy Guns, for whom she spent six on-and-off years as the frontwoman. The group would go on to land her a 2008 Grammy nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album (“I remember Beyonce walking by me on the red carpet and being blown away by how short she was”). It would also lead her to songwriting opportunities for artists like Zedd, with whom she collaborated on “Stay The Night” featuring Hayley Williams (“one conversation with Hayley and I knew we were kindred spirits”).
But at 28 years old, she wanted to find her own voice. “Who is Carah Faye?” the now 31 year-old recalls asking herself. “I had no idea.”
Figuring it out took three years, eight months of which she spent holed-up in an Upstate New York cabin writing. Eventually, though, those hundreds of ideas gave way to an elixir: “Don’t Say A Word,” Faye’s debut single, which Billboard is premiering exclusively above.
The cinematic, alt-rock-tinged pop song that showcases Faye’s athletic vocal range is “a deeply personal one, full of a lot of turmoil with an ex-boyfriend,” says the singer, who is currently touring with Lindsey Sterling. But the track was love at first listen. “I was in a grocery story, reaching for the almond milk when I received the first version of it,” she recalls. “The moment that the chorus hit, I just started bawling — I knew instantly that it was evocative of exactly what I wanted to be doing with music.”