It seems as though everywhere you look recently, another rising star in the music industry has local ties to Morris County. And the next big thing just might be from your own backyard.
Chelsea Carlson, a 19-year old Mount Olive native and music student at Berklee College of Music in Boston, is hoping to reach a wide audience with her new single, “Used to Be”. Carlson is also a former Long Valley School of Rock student.
The song, which will be released Saturday, Aug. 6 via Carlson’s personal website and Facebook page, has evolved over time to become the song she envisioned it to be from the beginning.
“I never really figured it would be anything, but I wrote it because I felt like writing a song that day with myself and my acoustic guitar,” said Carlson. “From there, I built on it. I brought it in, and I had singing lessons at School of Rock. I worked on it with my singing teacher a lot, and it kind of evolved into what I wanted it to be.”
Now, a song that started out comprised of just Carlson’s voice and an acoustic guitar has evolved into something with full rock instrumentals, albeit with a slightly different melody from the original version.
“A lot of stuff is different about it, but this is what I wanted when I wrote it,” said Carlson.
A student at the Long Valley School of Rock since she was 15, Carlson started out as a bassist who realized her love for performing in front of a live audience in 2008. That was during a School of Rock-sponsored “Corporate Rock” show, which served as a tribute to arena rockers such as Journey and Meatloaf.
“I think, from the moment I was on that stage, that was the first time I was like, ‘this is really what I want to do,’” said Carlson. “At the time, I wanted to be a director for films, and then it changed that day.”
Since then, she has written several original songs and performed at several venues in New York and Boston in addition to local venues, such as The Studio of Long Valley and the Middlesex County Fair.
Wherever she goes, people are starting to take notice of Carlson’s talents.
“I remember one of the times I played at Be Good (a restaurant in Boston), someone was in the front row singing along with me,” said Carlson. “I was like, ‘oh my God, someone knows the words to my song and is singing with me.’”
Carlson has appreciated the help she has received at the and the . She credits her teachers, as well as her fellow students, in helping everybody grow together “as people, friends, and musicians.”
“I think there’s a lot of resources. I think everyone at Valley Music Center is really helpful,” said Carlson. “I think all of the people there—George Moran, David White—they all really want everyone to succeed, no matter what kind of music you’re playing.”
Carlson’s appreciation for classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, as well as current acts such as Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, is evident in the music she performs. Carlson incorporates influence from these and other acts into her music in the hopes that the end result will be something unique and new.
“I feel like there’s a change coming in music. There does need to be something brought back,” said Carlson. “I want to mix it; I don’t want it to be old. I don’t want to sound just like (classic rock). That’s what Grace Potter does. (She mixes) old and new, and that’s kind of what I’m going for.”
Carlson’s goals for the not-too-distant future include recording and releasing a six or seven track EP, all while continuing to get her live act in front of as many people as possible.
“My goal is to be a performer. I want to have a band eventually, whether it’s me being a singer-songwriter with a band or an actual (full) band,” said Carlson. “I love performing, and I think the more people you’re performing with, the more comes out.”
Carlson’s live show can be seen locally at The Studio of Long Valley on Friday, Aug. 12. She also will be playing the Budd Lake Pavilion on Aug. 14 and 19 before wrapping up a busy month of local performances at The Lamplighter in Chester on Friday, Aug. 26.