Blossom Calderone is making waves with her storytelling pop bops.
With a name like Blossom Caldarone, it’s no surprise you’d end up being the protagonist of your own stories.
Now living in London, the Gloucestershire-born 19-year-old already has a tidy clutch of releases under her belt. Debut single “Fairytale Lullaby” scored Caldarone a captive audience with its self-deprecating lyrics and classic, whimsical vocal, but with each following track she proved her knack for storytelling was no fluke.
Usually, Caldarone’s thoughtful, meandering songs are about real people, and the very real things that happen to them. “I’ve tried before now to write about things that aren’t happening to me,” she admits. “I tried to write a love song, and I was like, ‘for God’s sake, that shit!’ It’s just not real! I haven’t really been in love. When I do, then I’ll write about it, but until then it’s literally anything, really.”
“Anything” may seem like a broad claim, but the themes across Caldarone’s developing discography vary wildly, despite remaining distinctly personal throughout.
"I would never want to say anything nasty about anyone in a song. If I say it in a song, then I’d say it to their face!"
“‘Aldo’ was about a family friend,” Caldarone explains, referencing the heart-wrenching B-side to recent single “Life Again”. “It was really sad. His life story was incredible, and he was such a kind man.”
The song in question is a narrative in the most old-fashioned sense: a portrait of an elderly gentleman told in memoriam. The narrative explores his life through childhood to adulthood and old age, before mapping how his loss ripples out through a community enriched forever by his generosity of spirit.
“It had to be documented, and put into something,” Caldarone adds. “I used to play cello for him, and he loved the fact that I used to sing. He was a really lovely man. My mum always cries when she hears that song.”
Whilst “Aldo” tells a very specific story, many of Caldarone’s missives happen to be more widely relatable. Take “Fickle Friend”’s exasperated ode to a fairweather companion, or “Life Again”’s tale of longing to have one’s youth back.
“That’s clearly about my nonna,” Caldarone says of the recent single. “But everybody’s got a grandparent, or an older person in their life. It’s all relatable stuff. I write about it in a personal way to me, but the concepts are something that a lot of people probably go through. Most things I write about are things that other people might be thinking.”
Has anyone ever been surprised by their starring role in one of her songs?
“I need to tone it down a bit!” she laughs. “Some are really specific about things, and it does give it away a bit. It’s just a snapshot of time. I would never want to say anything nasty about anyone in a song, so I don’t really mind [showing them to the subjects]. If I’m honest, a few people have clocked, but it’s fine! If I say it in a song, then I’d say it to their face. For me, it’s not really an issue – it’s more of an issue for them, it’s probably a bit embarrassing!”
Despite her down-to-earth tone and realistic subject matter, Caldarone admits she’s still prone to a touch of exaggeration and embellishment. It’s perhaps no surprise, given the fact that many of her songs have sprung from the heightened emotions of teenage-hood.
“I go through my old songwriting books and see what I’ve said about stuff before. I always write references, so if I’m writing about someone I’ll write down what’s happened. I’m actually so glad I did, but it’s like, you need to chill out a bit – what are you doing!?
“Stuff I’ve written before, when I wrote it it was such a big deal, and I was so upset, but now it feels so irrelevant! I don’t even know what that person’s doing! Just a story, isn’t it? Now it seems really funny that I thought that, for even two minutes! You put across that you’re in turmoil about something. I’m just stupidly putting it on Spotify so everyone also can hear it now – and dislike me when they realise it’s about them!”
Whilst interpersonal relationships provide Caldarone with a well of lyrical inspiration, the broader environment in which she grew up yields plenty more. Her richly textured portraits hark back to the archetypal English village – epitomised by her roots in Gloucestershire.
“Gloucestershire is literally the best place,” she enthuses, mourning the loss of her accent as a child. “I love going back. All my family are there. I feel like people from London don’t get the village life thing. It’s such a good starting point for songs, films, videos. There’s so much going on in villages. Family stuff, skeletons in the closet! You know those films, like ‘Submarine’ and ‘Ginger and Rosa’ – really British films that capture England. I love British people. They’re ridiculous!”
These small communities foster close bonds, like many Caldarone depicts and riffs upon in her songs. She laughs when I ask if her tentative steps towards notoriety hold any weight back home. “I’d like to be a village celebrity – who knows!”
“When songs are badly written with super cool production, there’s no substance to the song. I think those are the songs that are forgotten.”
At 16, Caldarone made the move from a girls’ school near her home to a London art school, marking a seismic shift in her lifestyle – and the beginning of her career. The writing of debut EP Sit and Be bridged that gap, with “Fairytale Lullaby” the first of the four songs chronicling that period. It was by no means her first foray into the world of musicianship – or indeed of songwriting. That is a narrative that stretches back most of her lifetime.
“I’ve been playing cello since I was three or four,” Caldarone explains, when I ask how long it has been since her interest in music kicked off. “I’ve always wanted to perform, from the beginning, and then when I was about 11 I started writing songs. I knew then that I wanted to write songs. I used to write advert songs – little jingles! If I wasn’t invited to something I’d write a song about why I didn’t care that I wasn’t invited and I’d play it to my parents. They’d be like, ‘you’re still not coming!’ That’s how I started out writing songs: writing joke songs. I think now that makes a bit more sense. I never write general lyrics, they’re specific, cutting, more honest lyrics.
“I always played cello in orchestras and quartets, and I’m trained in opera and classical singing, which is still a really massive part of what I listen to and am inspired by all the time. I really love music that has orchestral instrumentation to it, and is really harmonically interesting. I always play the piano [in my songs], and then some of the stuff that I’ve got planned to do this year and next has got strings on it. I love playing the piano, and I think that’s such an amazing part of a live performance. If I can play, I’ll always play, definitely. I was a musician before I was a singer.”
As someone for whom musicianship and live performance play such pivotal roles, it’s perhaps little surprise that Caldarone holds a fair scepticism for much of today’s overblown songwriting and production.
“Sometimes the personality of someone gets lost a little bit,” she admits. “The vocal gets lost, because there’s so much going on around it. I think it’s really cool when artists just let their voices be. I don’t really fuck about with loads of autotune and stuff, ‘cause it’s not going to sound like that when I sing it live, so there’s no point. I’ve tried it before, but it just doesn’t sound as good. It takes away all of the affection, all of the personality and feeling in the voice, which makes the lyrics meaningless and manufactured. I think you can tell, as well. The one thing that the British public is very good at doing is seeing when stuff isn’t authentic. How stuff is edited musically, and how stuff is mixed and produced, is a reflection of an artist.
“I didn’t really clock – until I started doing a lot of sessions with different writers and producers – how much how something is produced can change the entire song. As long as you’ve got a good song as the basis, the stuff around it will usually enhance it, but it can also just kill it. When songs are badly written with super cool production it’s like, ‘wow, this is so cool and edgy,’ but the song isn’t good. There’s no substance to the song, and I think those are the songs that are forgotten.”
To write songs that won’t be easily forgotten seems a worthy aim – so what’s next to come in aid of that goal?
“The next thing I’m putting out is a two-track thing, ‘cause they’re the two songs I like the most at the moment. I love what we’ve done with them. A two-track EP’s not really an EP – it’s two songs! – but I was like, ‘fuck it, let’s put it out.’
“One of the songs is a love song, but it’s not my love story, it’s my parents’. It’s about the people before the main person. Everybody has their people before their one. Those people still meant something to you. People always think that parents are so perfect and they’ve got no ‘before’, but they do! My parents have a whole teenage history, just like I’ve got now.
“The other song is about a dream I had. I was watching some YouTube documentary about changing people’s faces: reconstruction surgery. I was like, ‘whoa, this is crazy!’ It was a documentary made by one of the clinics, about what they can do for you. I was so intrigued! I was like, ‘what is this shit? This is crazy!’ I saw it, and then I was reading about how the Kardashians have had all this surgery. I was like, ‘whoa, that’s why I don’t look like Kylie Jenner!’ I had this dream that I woke up and I looked like a Kardashian, and was living in this amazing house. I was like, ‘shit, this is me now! I’m a Kardashian!’ The song is about what it was like in my dream. I’m basically calling bullshit on the whole thing!
“There’s always going to be people that are just gorgeous, but there’s a lot on Instagram that’s ridiculous. You see people and you’re like, ‘that is not a real face!’ You should take it with a pinch of salt. I always tell myself that if I could afford some chemical peel, then I could sort my skin out, or something like that. Maybe one day, when I’ve got loads of money! Fuck the trip to Bali, I’m getting jaw reconstruction!” she laughs, clearly not serious in the slightest, despite her subconscious Kardashification.
Whilst the inspiration for the forthcoming track sounds completely surreal, it’s not the weirdest dream experience Caldarone recounts.
“I predicted Michael Jackson’s death!” she laughs. “No one believes me, and I don’t expect them to, but I’m telling you now: the night before Michael Jackson died, I predicted it! My mum thinks that I overheard it on the news subconsciously, but I don’t think so!”
Aside from putting out her next EP – and predicting important events in global pop culture – what does Caldarone have up her sleeve for the coming year?
“If I’ve written a song and I like it, then I’ll put it out. I don’t want to keep meticulously planning it, ‘cause then it will become some overthought thing! I’ve been working on a feature with a guy called Courage and a guy called Jelali Blackman, and ideas for videos and stuff. Just music, mainly!”
“Just music” sounds pretty good from where I’m standing.