“As a writer in contemporary music, you want to do things that are classic and sort of timeless, and at the same time, keep in mind that you always have to introduce new ideas with a song to keep the listeners,” explains platinum-selling artist Gavin DeGraw.
I have to admit, I’m always excited whenever I get the chance to interview musicians. They are enthusiastic about sharing their latest endeavor, and enjoy speaking about music – the universal language. Meeting Grammy-winning pop singers-songwriters and acoustic guitarist Colbie Caillat and platinum-selling singer-songwriter and actor, Gavin DeGraw was no exception. The “dynamic duo” collaborated on the song, “We Both Know,” for the Safe Haven (2013) film soundtrack. While speaking with them during a recent Press Junket, I learned how they came together for writing the theme song for Safe Haven, what inspires these gifted songwriters, and a few other tidbits about writing melodies…
In just a few short years, Grammy-winning artist Colbie Caillat, the 27-year-old, blue-eyed soulful singer from Malibu, Calif., says she’s inspired by singers such as Lauryn Hill, Beyonce, and Sheryl Crowe. In fact, the laid-back pop singer was born with music running through her veins – her father is Ken Caillat, who co-produced Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours (1977) and Tusk (1979) albums. As a child, Caillat had the nickname “Coco,” which she named her debut album. She started taking piano when she was young, however it wasn’t until after watching Sister Act 2 with Lauryn Hill that Caillat was bit by the singing bug, and began taking vocal lessons. She was overtaken by Hill’s appearance in the movie.
“Lauryn Hill was my favorite singer ever. I love her voice,” Caillat says. She adds. “It’s soulful she just makes singing sound easy.” At the same time, the pop singer says her ultimate “theme” song is Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain,” a tune the vocalist plays often to put her mind at ease. Caillat has built up quite a repertoire, and is known for the hit singles “Bubbly,” and “Realize,” from her 2007 debut album Coco, as well as the 2008 Grammy-winning duet with Jason Mraz, “Lucky.” During the 2010 Grammy Awards, her 2009 CD, Breakthrough, was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album, and she was part of the group (background chorus and also writing) nominated for Album of the Year on Taylor Swift’s Fearless album. For Gavin DeGraw, life got easier for this songwriter from the Catskills of South Fallsburg, New York, once his song, “I Don’t Want to Be,” was selected as the theme song for the CW’s One Tree Hill teen drama in 2003. His debut album Chariot was released in 2003, earning platinum certification with the singles, “I Don’t Want to Be,” “Follow Through” and “Chariot.” In 2004, he released an acoustic version, Chariot Stripped, including Sam Cooke’s empowering tune, “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
“That song just blows me away every time I hear it. And that’s when I want to go deep into my own brain. That’s what I listen to,” explains DeGraw regarding why Sam Cooke’s hit is his personal theme song. He adds, “And when I want to lighten things up, I like watching Dolly Parton in 9 to 5 and I like Dolly Parton quotes.”
He says the “go-to-taglines” often help lighten the mood. Adding, “It cost a lot of money to look this cheap,” is one of many humorous lines DeGraw often tosses around. In 2008, DeGraw released his second album, the self-titled CD, Gavin DeGraw with the singles, “In Love With A Girl,” and “Cheated On Me.” A third CD, Free was released in 2009 with singles “Stay” and “Dancing Shoes.” In 2011, DeGraw signed to RCA Records and released his fourth CD, Sweeter, featuring the singles “Not Over You,” and the title track “Sweeter.”
“We wrote it for the ending part of the film. And I think it’s great because people can relate to it, as well, because everyone goes through that when they’re trying to start a new relationship but they have these things that are holding them back,” says Grammy-winning artist Colbie Caillat.
For Caillat and DeGraw, the multitalented artists had been touring together throughout the 2012 summer, when approached by Jason Markey from Relativity Media, the Music Supervisor for Safe Haven. He asked if they consider collaborating on a ballad for the soundtrack.
“He [Jason] likes a lot of different styles of music. And, it’s nice speaking with people from different types of genres in the entertainment world who are involved in music because you find your tribe,” remarks DeGraw. Both songwriters also admitted being huge Nicholas Sparks fans who’ve shed several tears after watching The Notebook.
“I think that’s the power of a song that allows you to relate to it, and the power of a great story like a Nicholas Sparks story that allows you to relate to those things,” DeGraw says. “It’s almost like people sharing and lighting candles and holding hands who have gone through similar tragedy. And, it’s a special thing. It creates its own community even through loss,” DeGraw explains. He says they Markey gave them an initial story concept from which to shape lyrics of the song, and then the artists were to go from there. During the writing process, DeGraw also says that he was influenced by Phil Collins and his “Against All Odds (1984)” anthem. He explains, “The big beautiful anthemic, taking your time with the melody, sort-of-approach, and letting the song speak with interference of anything,” DeGraw says.
He says there are a few things that you keep in mind when writing songs. One thing is to always maintain the interest of the listener.
“As a writer in contemporary music, you want to do things that are classic and sort of timeless, and at the same time, keep in mind that you always have to introduce new ideas with a song to keep the listeners,” says platinum-selling artist Gavin DeGraw.
While neither Caillat nor DeGraw could place an actual time frame on the length of time to collaborate on their song, they are completely pleased on their efforts.
“We wrote it for the ending part of the film. And I think it’s great because people can relate to it, as well,” remarks award-winning songwriter Caillat.” She adds, “Because everyone goes through that when they’re trying to start a new relationship but they have these things that are holding them back.”
And how does Caillat feel about having her song placed on the soundtrack?
“It’s such a beautiful film. After seeing it, I was honored that our song was in it, and that they asked us to be a part of such a beautiful project,” Caillat responds softly.
“I can’t believe how much we’re being included in the importance of the film’s promotion. I’m very flattered by the attention,”DeGraw says humbly.
– That’s IT Mom Penny
Read all of our Safe Haven coverage here.
* We did not receive monetary compensation for this post. Penny attended a press junket free of charge to facilitate this review. She did receive the soundtrack for attending the event. This will in no way sway our opinion of the product or service. The review is in our own words and is our opinion. Your results and opinions may differ.