She lives in California – inland, next to a lake and surrounded by mountains, 20 minutes from the beach and 45 minutes from Los Angeles – with her boyfriend and their three dogs: Mali, a St. Bernard named for Malibu, pit bull Dorothy and a “white little small shaggy dog” by the name of Maté.
On Sept. 3, musician Colbie Caillat, lover of donuts and dubstep, will take the stage of The Paramount in Huntington.
Joined by opening act Alex and Sierra, as well as special guest Andy Grammer, this will not be Caillat’s first visit to The Paramount – she most recently played the Huntington venue in May 2013. But this time will be different, she said: “Bigger,” with a “massive TV screen,” “amazing lighting” and “shiny things dangling from the stage.”
“I have all new stage production,” said Caillat, 29. “We went to the next level with this one; I’ve never had a tour this size.”
Her musical style, as she describes it, is “a mixture of acoustic soul” – a combination of R&B-style vocals, acoustic guitar, bright harmonies and optimistic lyrics.
The optimism, positivity and acoustic soul aspects are elements she gleaned from musical inspirations like singer-songwriter Lauryn Hill, British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon and Bob Marley.
Her concerts are designed with both her personality and musical style in mind.
“It’s combining what I’m comfortable with and my personality and my music,” she said. “We [my team] brainstorm… the kind of person that I am and how we can make that come to life and accentuate it for production and for stage, and still keep it ‘me’ but take it to the next level.”
The Sept. 3 show will feature three surprise duets, seven songs off of her new record and “a really fun cover song.”
The songs she writes herself usually reflect whatever it is that Caillat is feeling.
“I write literal stuff and personal experiences,” she said. “And then if it gets too personal, or not relatable enough, then I kind of alter it to be something more broad.”
She prefers to communicate via writing or song.
“I am really nervous in person to talk to people,” said the singer. “If I’m upset about something, or even really happy about the work someone’s done, I don’t like to say it in person; I like to write about it, or I’ll text them or email… I love that in songwriting, I can say it there…For me, I’m never embarrassed or nervous or shy for people to hear it that way.”
When she went out on her first tour, at age 21, she had “really bad stage fright,” to the point at which she would contemplate canceling shows.
“I wouldn’t really move on stage; I’d sing with my eyes closed the whole time; I wouldn’t talk to the audience,” she said. “I wasn’t an entertainer. I was a singer and a songwriter.”
Because she had always loved to sing, Caillat’s parents encouraged her to learn to play an instrument. Her father produced Fleetwood Mac.
“[My dad] knew the importance of being a songwriter, and being an actual artist, not just a singer that goes out there and sings someone else’s songs,” Caillat said.
And so, she learned to play the guitar.
“I fell in love with the therapy of it, and the fact that you are creating something out of thin air that no one else has thought of,” she said. “It just became a new love for me, combined with singing.”
The performance aspect came later, she said. When she auditioned for “American Idol,” once while in her teens and again at age 20, she did not make it to the live shows.
“The second time I auditioned, I sang ‘Bubbly’ and I was really nervous and I think I gave a bad audition and I wasn’t right for the show at all,” she said of the song that would become the single for her 2007 album, “Coco.” “It’s funny that I auditioned with that song that became the song that got me noticed by people.”
She has since worked with such artists as Jason Mraz and Gavin DeGraw – each of whom she admired before she began her own career in music – and performed at such events as the Easter Egg Roll at the White House, alongside the Obama family.
“I sang the National Anthem, and I was upstairs on the White House front balcony and [the Obamas] were standing next to me,” she said. “The whole White House lawn was filled with thousands of people, and families, and I was like, ‘Is this for real?’”
Had she not entered the realm of professional music, Caillat said, she would be working in another creative profession.
“I always thought I’d be a photographer and travel though like, safari in Africa, or live in Hawaii and take pictures of how gorgeous it is; and also decorate people’s houses,” said Caillat.