Colbie Caillat On Babyface, Ryan Tedder And Her Upcoming Album: Idolator Interview

Robbie Daw | February 11, 2014 9:03 am

Despite the fact that her last proper studio album was released nearly three years ago, Colbie Caillat‘s output has been remained prolific — and successfully so. The California singer’s 2012 holiday LP, Christmas In The Sand, was followed up by “We Both Know,” a duet with Gavin DeGraw from the Safe Haven soundtrack — the kind of sweet pair-up they just don’t make anymore, unless you’re, say, Pink and Nate Ruess. The track wound up earning Caillat her fifth Grammy nomination in December, this time for Best Song Written For Visual Media.

“Relativity Media asked me two summers ago if I would write a song for the Safe Haven film and I was on tour with Gavin that summer, so I asked him. We had already been trying to get together to write songs, so that one was the one we did. Gavin started playing piano at my house so beautifully and we just went from there. His voice is so gorgeous,” Caillat tells Idolator of “We Both Know.”

The duet lost out to Adele‘s multi-award-winning “Skyfall” at the Grammys last month, but Colbie has already moved on to her yet-to-be-titled fifth album, which she’s hoping sees a spring release. That said, the up-tempo record that will come out is a vastly different one than Caillat originally began recording last summer with producer John Shanks, thanks to a late-in-the-game session with Ryan Tedder.

Colbie Caillat feat. Gavin DeGraw — “We Both Know”

“We had been recording a whole other album for two months in the summertime,” Caillat explains. “After I finished the record, I had some time off and that’s when I went to go write with Ryan, to see what we came up with. I heard the production and I was like, oh, wow — I can go to these places.”

Caillat previously collaborated with OneRepublic frontman Tedder on her 2011 Gold-certified All Of You single “Brighter Than The Sun.” But when listening to the more synth-pop-leaning “Hold On,” the first taste of Colbie’s upcoming album, it becomes obvious that the singer is switching up her previously breezy, jangly guitar-pop sound.

“I’ve always been scared, not only of fans being upset — not because I haven’t wanted to change my direction; I always think it’s fun to branch out and do country duets and sing the chorus of a hip hop song — but when you actually change your full-on own sound, your fans can get pissed or they can love it and you gain new fans,” says Caillat. “And so that was a challenge I knew was worth taking.”

Colbie Caillat — “Hold On”

In fact, Colbie has nothing but praise for Tedder: “It’s not work for him, it’s like, ‘How much longer are we allowed to work tonight because we need to finish this song and I want to work more on the instruments.’ He’ll go overtime, and work on production on his flights when he hasn’t had any sleep. That’s an amazing, hard worker who really loves what he does.”

As for that album she recorded last summer, which she says boasted more of a “’70s vibe” and originally had a November 2013 release date, that’s been put on hold…for the time being. “Now I’ve basically written a whole other record in the vein of [‘Hold On’], having more pop, up-tempo dancey kind of songs, and I still have ballads and stripped-down songs that are really heartfelt,” Colbie says. “It’s nice to have the mix and be able to go there and see how far we can take it.”

Joining Tedder on Caillat’s upcoming album is another hit-making songwriter-producer who is as talented behind the microphone as he is at knob-twiddling: Babyface.

“We did four or five songs. I love him as a producer and writer,” Colbie says of Babyface. “I just tell him any style that I’m in the mood for and we write it. It’s not like he’s pigeonholed in being an R&B producer. The first song we wrote together is a complete folk song that’s going to be on this record. It has a banjo on it! The next song is R&B-pop, and then the next one we did is completely a piano ballad, no harmonies — it’s really honest and vulnerable.”

During our chat, Caillat says there have yet to be any guest vocalists added to the mix for the album. But she’s “looking for a person.” Her top choice of collaborators, she reveals, would be Coldplay or The Fray. “But who knows,” she says. “I haven’t asked anyone yet.”

At the end of the day, scrapping one album for another completely different one might just be the best thing for Colbie’s fans. “I was hoping to release this [current album] in April, and maybe in winter just give out this other CD and call it The Summer Sessions,” she notes. “The songs are beautiful and they’re not going to go to waste.”

Seven years after her mainstream breakthrough, it sounds like Colbie Caillat’s output is showing no signs of slowing down.

Colbie’s single  “Hold On” is available now on iTunes.