.Caitlin Cobb-Vialet: Investigating love and loss with a heart full of song

Caitlin Cobb-Vialet wants to do it all. As she prepares for next month’s release of Endless Void, her debut album, the Oakland based singer and songwriter is keeping her eye open for other creative opportunities. “I want to try my hand at everything,” Cobb-Vialet said. “When I was studying music and performance at NYU, I realized music, acting, visual arts and theater are all interconnected. I’d like to write and produce a musical in the Bay Area, then move to LA and build a hybrid career, combining acting, directing, songwriting, designing productions and teaching, in a non-hierarchical setting.” 

She applied some of those disciplines when she was creating Endless Void, a collection of 10 songs that explore various aspects of love’s often unexpected permutations. Some of the tunes were written during the pandemic, when much of the world had come to a standstill. “The lockdown gave me time to reflect upon the things I wanted to say. I got to edit and perfect songs I had written and write some new things. I felt really crazy at the top of the lockdown, like any other person, but it allowed me to look at my songwriting and renegotiate who I was. They’re still inward looking and investigating the bizarre projections one can make in a relationship, but I began to allow myself to use different voices. I wrote ‘Joan To Catherine,’ as if I were Joan of Arc. I used the latter half of the pandemic to start focusing on the music outwardly, in terms of getting it produced and recorded. As things were opening up, I began to perform for people. It was a bit terrifying.”  

When she was ready to record her songs, she went looking for a producer. “My cousin, Sierra Alyse, told me she’d worked with Jim Greer, who also produced Foster The People and Macy Gray. I called him and set up a meeting. I came in with manuscripts for 14 songs. I don’t think he usually has people come to him with that many. He asked me to play a few of them on the piano in the studio. He turned on a recorder, and some of those audition tracks are on the album. He told me not to worry too much about my performance. Recording is more about getting the feeling and the story across.” 

By the end of their first meeting, Cobb-Vialet and Greer had started working on the songs that became Endless Void. “It took a couple of months to get them all done,” Cobb-Vialet said. “I also went to the studio to do other projects with Jim. I gave a couple of songwriting workshops, helped him produce tracks for other people, did some backup singing on a track for the Hieroglyphics Crew, an Oakland hip-hop collective, and sang lead for other people’s demos. That’s the great thing about Jim. He’s all over the place genre-wise, which keeps things really exciting.” 

The duo decided on a bare bones production that would keep the focus on Cobb-Vialet’s vocals and inventive song structures that stretch the verse/chorus structure, almost to the breaking point. “I sang and played piano and synthesizer,” Cobb-Vialet said. “It was very organic, process-wise. We’re both into abrupt left turns in the music, when the melody goes in unexpected directions, with unpredictable grace notes. I’m also into pauses and theatrics in general. It’s a challenge to get that onto a track, but Jim made it easy.”

“The songs, and the album title, all represent me owning all my mixed feelings about relationships and my right to process my emotions as I see fit. I was initially writing songs as part of a healing process. I was in a relationship where I felt I had too many feelings and too much attachment. I finally stopped holding back in my songs and realized I had to be truthful in the lyrics because I was going to be repeating them every time I perform. That’s why I became honest and relentless.” 

Endless Void comes out on War Chant Records on May 5. Cobb-Vialet also is available on all streaming services. Her videos are available on YouTube. 

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