I first met Carla Troiano back in 2015 where we spent a very long weekend together over new year's eve at Falls Festival. I was absolutely mesmerised by her energy and the way she engaged with people making her a magnetic empowered soul.
When I was asked to photograph her and her band Mayfield for their album cover I was over the moon, although having references to some of the best photographers on the world such as Mario Testino and Annie Liebovitz I was a tad nervous. I made sure to spend time with the band to get to know all the members and understand their music. This did involve some late night antics and a little too much drinking at times. The end result was capturing what I believed was their true authentic selves. I wanted to share a little more about Carla and how she got to where she is Today.
We all have a beginning, what was your first ever singing gig?
My first ever singing gig, where I thought…"yep, this is what I’m going to do forever" was when I was 11 years old. I won a singing competition singing “Hands” by Jewel. I was so nervous and excited. Michael Gudinski from Mushroom records was in the audience and he came up to me after the show and said. “Never, ever stop singing with a voice like that”. I think from that day on I developed a serious fire and passion.
Was there a defining moment that made you decide you wanted to be a musician?
I saw Tina Arena on Young Talent Time and I thought to myself, “That is exactly what I want to do”, so I made my mum take me to the Johnny Young talent school when I was 3 years old. I decided that I wanted to front a band and sing soul music when I was 13. I saw Renee’ Geyer in concert and was mesmerised the entire time.
How did you prepare yourself to start your career in the music industry?
I don’t think anything can really prepare you, because the industry isn’t linear. It’s not a conventional kind of industry where you get a degree, then maybe intern, and build your way up a corporate ladder. I just dived in head first.
Once I decided this was my path, I never looked back. I watched a lot of musicians play and listened to their skills and style. I asked lots of questions of experienced players and people in the industry and learnt from their mistakes and the paths they took. I made connections and contacts and paid my dues.
I learnt some of the best skills early on backing singing for singers that I admired. I had to be patient. I am still having singing lessons and I watch as much live music as I can. You never ever stop learning. You have to have pretty thick skin. Not everyone is going to love you. But you have to back yourself.
What has been the biggest challenge or fear you have had to overcome and how did you manage this?
The biggest challenge in my younger years was with body image. As a young girl, most “pop stars” look a certain way and have a certain type of body shape. I was also around a lot of dancers and studied a musical theatre course. I never looked like the other girls did growing up and I think that really affected me. I thought that in order to be successful I had to be slim and tall and portray a certain type of image. It was a challenge that I have constantly had to overcome.
As I’ve gotten older and more comfortable in my own skin, I wish I could tell my younger self that it has nothing to do with the sound of my voice and my body is my tool to create music. I adore getting older, feeling stronger, more confident, and more accepting of myself. I have embraced all I am and no longer compare myself to anyone else. I am just myself. In all my Diva ways...hahaha. I just had to trust myself and my heart and I’ve done a lot of work on my soul and my voice. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more confident and more beautiful than I have at this stage in my life.
How do you achieve balance with family, friend and work?
This is a really hard one. I am so so so lucky to have the most incredible support network in the world. I have the most beautiful family who are always there for me and friends that I have been friends with for over 18 years. They all know that this is what I do and sometimes I will miss out on things due to my music commitments.
My relationships are very important to me so it’s not easy to miss things like birthdays, weddings and family occasions. I do my best to stay in touch with technology and stay up to date with texting and emails and make a lot of phone calls to check in with those important to me.
My friends and family ground me. If I didn’t speak to them, I would just miss them all too much.
And what have you put in place as a reminder to nourish your body and take time out for yourself?
I love to work out! I’m obsessed with the gym. More for my mind than my body actually. It allows me to totally switch off, get off my phone and not be thinking of a million things to do. It’s my time out.
I love the feeling of a big sweat session and feel on top of the world and the sexiest after a big workout.
I also eat very well. I’m not a huge sweets person and I’m also not a fan of a lot of take away food. I love good, clean meals. My downfall is Pasta (I am Italian!) so I make sure I have that at least once a week because it’s my favorite.
Oh and red wine. I love red wine.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My days and schedule always vary, depending on gigs, rehearsals, recording sessions, practice and work. It’s always a little different. I like that I’ve created that kind of lifestyle. A typical 9-5 day is not for me. I work part time in admin and marketing. I also run a social media management and creative direction agency, “Impero media group”. I’m managing my band and my solo career. So my day is all about lists and ticking things off. I love a good list!
What do you love most about what you do?
I love that I get to tell stories. I think that being a singer is being a storyteller.
I get to engage with an audience and musicians and have a beautiful live, authentic experience that is never the same twice. I also love to dress up.
Stage outfits are my thing. I’m a diva all the way and I don’t apologise for it. Why would I sing in the same clothes I wear to the cafe down the street? The Melbourne music industry lacks some serious glamour. I hope that I inspire others to have more fun with it. Take more risks- Musically and with clothes!
Who are your biggest role models or influences that have impacted your career?
My brother Anthony Troiano. Drummer of “Tame the Sun” and founder and creator of “AJT Jewelry”. He is fearless, won’t take no for an answer, and has achieved so much with his career and business that it blows my mind. He just keeps going, is passionate, works hard as hell and if a door closes, he makes sure he opens another one.
What's next for you and your business/ music career?
My band Mayfield are set to release our debut album on the 15th of July at The Gasometer hotel. The album has been 2.5 years of work. It’s going to be the most incredible feeling to actually have it out in the world.
I have also started working on my solo album. I’m excited to explore some different sounds and work with some different people. The plan is to have the album out early-mid next year. I want to grow my social media management business “Impero Media group”. I have a lot to look forward too.
Any words of wisdom or for those thinking of following their passion?
My biggest piece of advice is “Talent will only take you so far”. Nothing can replace worth ethic.
Get hungry, get passion and work your ass off.
No one will love your business and work as much as you love it. If you don’t know the answer, ask questions. If you don’t have the skills, learn how to do it or outsource. Back yourself. Learn from your mistakes and remember to nourish your soul.
How has working with Prue as your photographer contributed to your business?
Working with Prue was a dream come true. I knew that there was no one else who could capture what I wanted. She made me feel comfortable. I was feeling a little shy and she pushed my boundaries and we ended up with the most sensational photos.
The photos Prue took of me really cemented my branding, show my personality and a beautiful combination of sass, strength and vulnerability. She captured me in a photograph, which I think is the most important thing. When I released the photos everyone went crazy over them. She really nailed it.
Also she shot the front cover of the Mayfield album. I knew it had to be the album cover as soon as I saw the photo. She’s a genius. No other Melbourne band or singer were taking photos like this. I knew she had to be the one to set us apart from the crowd.
What are you listening to right now?
My gorgeous friend Zoe K’s new album “It’s just what I like”
Vicky Christina Barcelona.
Quote that keeps you inspired?
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
What are your values?
Kindness, Forgiveness, Humility and Work hard. Really hard. Then work harder. Nothing in life comes easy.
What is the vision statement for your business?
That my music can be heard all over the world. I want to live in another city for a little while. New York or LA and continue to grow as a person and an artist.