Over the past few years—ever since the release of her 2018 LP, By the Way, I Forgive You—Brandi Carlile has rocketed up the charts to become one of the most influential artists in music.
Whether she’s singing with her giant, stadium-sized voice, writing songs that break and then mend your heart or bringing other people into the foreground, like Allison Russell, Carlile continues to make major impacts on the creative landscape.
But outside of her popular songs, what does the 41-year-old Ravensdale, Washington-born Carlile have to say about life, love, her craft and the world at large? That is the subject of this inquiry here today.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into the the 23 best Brandi Carlile quotes.
1. “You know, your first album is about really amazing things. Your first album is always about coming of age, first love, first loss, usually you suffer a first loss of someone that you love to death, even, you know, really big life lessons, things you learn from your parents’ divorce or from the travels that you took.”
2. “I tend to support and get behind issues instead of candidates, because of the whole ‘Super Bowl’ generalization of our world—You’re on this side, I’m on that side; you’re a Republican, I’m a Democrat; you’re country music, I’m rock music.”
3. “‘Hallelujah’ is going to be a standard that our grandkids, our great-great grandkids will learn to sing in church. It’s one of those really, really special songs.”
4. “I hope that somewhere in Small Town, U.S.A., a 15-year-old kid looks to me as a role model the way I looked at the Indigo Girls and Elton John as role models.”
5. “I grew up in a single-wide, three-bedroom mobile home with my family. And now I see them, like, half a dozen times a year. Figuring out how to come home and talk to them again and feel like myself has probably been the greatest challenge.”
6. “I’m really tough. It’s a state of mind.”
7. “My mother’s a singer and my mother’s father is a singer, and everyone on both sides are all country-western bluegrass musicians.”
8. “I’ve read and heard that some of the most inspiring vocal interpreters adhere habitually to one rule: Always think the lyrics as you’re singing them, so that the sentiment is always appropriate and heartfelt.”
9. “I’d love to claim the title of ‘songwriter’ or ‘intellectual,’ but the truth is that anything that I ever learned how to do in conjunction with music was purely so that I would have a platform to sing from.”
10. “I tend to feel really protective of songs, and if they aren’t sitting well in a record, I’ll pull them tight to my chest until I feel it’s a better time.”
11. “When I started out, I was definitely writing about experiences that I hadn’t had yet. The songs were just based on my influences, songwriters that had written songs before me and that were more experienced and 20, 30 years older than me.”
12. “It’s really important to me to promote worthy causes. But not in a heavy, obligatory, responsibility way. I really admired that as a kid, learning about the ‘Elton John AIDS Foundation.’ And I was obsessed with The Indigo Girls. And they are the consummate activist group, always reaching out, especially to Native causes and things like that.”
13. “My advice to new artists is to embrace a broader concept of timelessness than vintage or retro.”
14. “My songwriting is so influenced by orchestrated music, dramatic, super glam rock-y stuff. Two of my biggest influences in songwriting were Elton John and Freddie Mercury.”
15. “People that could yodel always fascinated me. People that could sing loud always fascinated me. So I started trying to mimic at a really young age: 6, 7 years old.”
16. “I think I was probably looking for gay role models when I was younger, before I even knew or thought I was gay. I didn’t really make the connection that they were gay, but I felt drawn to them because they were going against the grain, and I knew there was something that they had that everybody else didn’t have. It was an edge.”
17. “Writing is sort of putting a puzzle together halfway. Then, performing it has always been the completion of it. Once that happens, I’m feeling verbally communal with other people. It’s out there and I feel so much better about it.”
18. “My wife even thinks our next album should be recorded in our house, and we should move all the furniture out to the garage. I’m not sure how many spouses would be supportive of that, much less come up with the idea.”
19. “There are still civil rights issues. There are still people who can’t be visited by their spouse in the hospital because they’re gay. These are humanitarian issues. At the end of the day, all you want is for people to be happy in the pursuit of life, love and liberty.”
20. “I stand firm behind the belief that, for me, songwriting isn’t something that I do or command, it happens to me. I can either choose to stop and acknowledge it, or put it off and hope that it won’t fade away. ‘That Wasn’t Me’ is no exception—it came together more quickly than any other song I have ever constructed on my own.”
21. “Singing is a form of meditation… apparently the only one that I have command over.”
22. “I didn’t get bullied any more than anybody else. I think I got bullied more for being poor than being gay. But no more than any other kid. And I’m sure that I did my fair share of picking on other kids, too. We’re all humans.”
23. “When I turned 30, I started to feel all those miles. At times, you want to turn the faucet off a bit, but I never want to stop traveling. That’s what it’s all about—taking the music to the people.”
(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)