Catch up with Oakland/Brooklyn-based R&B soul singer-songwriter Corina Corina and watch the video for her single "Disappointment" off her latest EP, Run The Blues, out now.
What first got you interested in music and songwriting?
Corina Corina: It's always a hard question to answer because I just wanted to do it since before I can remember. It sounds cliché, but I was, like, chosen or born to do it. I've always been singing and songwriting came a little bit later; I used to write poetry and stuff in high school, but I was always too shy about it. And then, as I got older, I moved to New York and started my own band and they all encouraged me to start writing my own music and I was really shy about it, but they were so supportive and then I started doing it and it became just as important to me as singing, so now I think they're pretty equal.
What was the first song you wrote that you were really happy with?
I don't remember what the first rendition of the song was called, but it ended up being called "Cost of Living" and it was on my first album, The Eargasm. I started writing that after a really bad job interview and I sat down on a park bench and I wrote this song and I knew I had something 'cause it was just so honest and authentic and I wrote it in one sitting.
Which musicians were you influenced by?
Ray Charles was my dad's favorite, so I kind of grew up with him. The first person who made me want to be a singer was Aretha Franklin, for sure. Stevie Wonder. Bonnie Raitt was big for me - and this was all as a kid before I discovered my own music. Mariah Carey, Madonna, Janet Jackson, people like that when I was younger. And then in high school, I became really, really into hip hop and R&B, so that was Mary J. Blige, Jodeci, and then Dr. Dre too, all that. I started middle school in '91, so a lot of really good music was happening then in the mainstream. I could keep going [laughs].
Is there anyone you're hooked on now?
I'm really into Run the Jewels because, obviously, my mixtape right now is based on them. I listen to Kendrick Lamar, I like people like A$AP Rocky - more independent-type stuff. But when it comes to singers, I'm into Beyoncé and Solange and people like that. I really like Anderson .Paak, I really like him, I follow everything he does.
What words would you use to describe your own sound?
I've been told by multiple people that I don't sound like anyone else, just tonally and vocally I don't. I definitely have a lot of soul influence. My music's very lyrically driven and I think that's what sets me apart from other modern R&B/pop singers. I write like a rapper, in terms of the content and the variety of content in my music, so it's very blues and hip hop and very '90s inspired.
What were your inspirations behind your single and the video for "Disappointment"?
The whole project in itself is very much just based on tour life. I wrote it all while I was touring a lot and I wrote it with the idea of songs that I would want to perform live in mind, so it had a very 'live' feel to it, I think. The song "Disappointment" is basically just based on the feeling of wanting someone to support me or come to my show and them not. I feel like it's kind of universal for any artist or anyone who's really trying to push something and just, no matter what I do, it's never going to be good enough, you're never going to show up, no matter what I do. I think it's healthy to express anger sometimes and it feels really cathartic to just be really, really pissed off; people seem to appreciate it. And the video was, my younger sister is the head sound person at the Gilman - which is a legendary punk rock venue in my hometown - and I always just thought that would be a great setting for a video and I think it worked out perfectly. The guy that I worked with - Bleev Promo - it was my first time working with him and he made it so easy; I don't love shooting videos, so he made it pretty painless.
Could you tell us more about Run The Blues and what new listeners can expect to hear?
Okay, well, the easiest way to explain it is just Run the Jewels - El-P and Killer Mike - are basically my favorite act out right now. They've both been around for a really long time and I've been following their careers for decades and listening to them. I guess I started this project right when Run the Jewels 2 came out and, like I said, I was touring a lot, I listened to their music a lot while on tour and it helped me get through stuff; I hadn't put out a new project in a while and I was getting really tired of singing the same songs over and over again every night and I was like, "well, until I do another full length album, I'm going to just make something for fun in the interim that I want to perform". Coincidentally, my younger sister had just graduated from audio engineering school, so it was something we could work on together. It's kind of like a collaboration between Run the Jewels inspiration, me just talking about tour stories, and then having this project that I got to work on with my family.
Do you have a favorite track to perform live?
"Disappointment" is definitely one of them. I have a song called "Toothbrush" from my third album that hasn't come out yet but I do it as a closer for every show and it always works; it's really nice to have a song where you know it's always going to get everyone. I think "Disappointment" and "Toothbrush" are probably my two favorite ones to perform. I really like the high intensity, heavy, emotional songs that really get peoples' attention, that's totally my thing.
In one sentence, how would you sum up the Run The Blues EP?
An honest and unapologetic tribute to my favorite rap group in the world.
What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?
My message is really like having a different voice for a woman that people don't hear in the mainstream very often whether it be as a queer woman, or as a woman who is single in her 30s, or who just kind of does whatever she wants, but I think it's more universal than that. It's just giving people permission to be whoever and whatever they are and to feel however they want to feel. I think my main message is just honesty and owning your truth. The people I think who gravitate towards me are people where stuff like that really resonates with them and it's refreshing to hear an artist who is so honest about everything. That's what I hope the takeaway is.
Is there anything you want to add?
Just that it's really important - not just for myself - but when people discover a new independent artist that they're really into, it's really important to spread the word. We rely so heavily on that and it's also a gift for everybody; whoever you tell, you could be really changing something for the person you tell because they could be discovering their new favorite artist or their new favorite song. It's also a huge service to the artist, because we don't have labels and PR and that sort of thing and our PR really is word of mouth.