Last spring Caitlin Lynn and Will Snyder entered into the "Can You Duet" show on CMT thinking "why not try out." And despite being broken apart from original partners and another partnership that just didn't work, the duo found each other and ended up winning the whole show. With that win they were assured of a record deal with one of Sony Nashville's labels. Originally they were with the BNA roster but slid over to the Columbia roster prior to their release of their digital EP. In an exclusive interview, the duo speak to Roughstock about trying out for Can You Duet, the instant magic of working together and their working relationship with songwriter/producer Chris Lindsey among other topics.
Matt Bjorke: So what made you want to try out for Can You Duet?
Caitlin Lynn: I got a call from the show’s producer and my original partner was gonna leave the band and go off into her own direction and I was going to go back to school to study Psychotherapy and I said hey, do you wanna do this as a last hurrah? I didn’t really take much stock in those emails at all but for this, I called him and got a little more information and decided to do it.
Will Snyder: That’s kind of weird. I’ve never heard you say it that way, which you’re skeptical about the e-mail thing.
Caitlin: Well I’m always skeptical about stuff like that and I ended up calling him…
Will: That happened to me too. Like when my cousin Belvis got an email asking him to try out for the show as well. I remember he printed out that email and as we were coming to Nashville for songwriting he said, I wonder if this is legit, let’s check it out while we’re in Nashville. And that’s how it all started.
Matt: Were you guys apprehensive about being paired up with different singers than your originally came with?
Caitlin: Of course.
Will: Yeah, Definitely.
Caitlin: Honestly, when I got split up with my original partner, I didn’t see any good in continuing on except for the fact that maybe I could get far enough to get recognition and go back home and do that again but as the show wore on, it was like “hey, this works, it’s gonna work, lets do this.”
Will: I totally agree. That’s exactly how I felt too. Belvis, he’s like a brother to me, and we’ve done a lot of gigs together and still write songs together, when me and him were first split up, I felt “what’s the point?” But in the back in my mind I was thinking, “God’s got a plan, there’s something there you have to go with it” and Belvis told me he wanted me to go on. He wanted to see me do well and was supportive in that. And he really meant it because he’s still just as close to me as he’s always been. And I stayed in the contest and dealt with all the stuff that was thrown at us and Caitlin and I were partnered together, it’s been one amazing ride.
Caitlin: We were a lot more apprehensive with the partners they paired us with the first time because deep down all four of us knew that it didn’t work.
Will: The first pairing was out of our hands, a lot more out of our hands.
Caitlin: And then Will and I got together and I was like, “huh, it works.”
Will: Yeah, because even though we didn’t know each other, musically it made the most sense. It felt like I’d sung with Caitlin forever.
Will: It wasn’t like there was ever a time that we stepped on stage where it didn’t feel right. We did have to get to know each other, at a slower pace, which was the hardest part about being paired together.
Matt: So you felt something special immediately after being paired together?
Caitlin: Especially for me because I knew he wasn’t a harmonizer, I knew he was a lead-singer so to hear him be able to switch from lead vocals to harmony; we practiced Amazing Grace together behind the scenes to see if worked, just to hear him be able to switch was amazing to me; Because, I’d never harmonized much myself so it was great to see him do that.
Matt: And not every singer can do that…
Caitlin: No, we learned very quickly…
Will, Oh, you know what, I went home recently and with my cousin and our old bass player, we were hanging out pickin’ guitars and they said, “why don’t you sing some harmony with us,” and I said, “Wow, I can do that now.” That was a thing that was always the weakest part of my musical skill. It was funny because Belvis said “I thought you couldn’t sing harmony,” and was picking on me about it. You know, had it not felt right with Caitlin, I don’t think it would’ve came together as well as it has.
Matt: So, what was the process to decide who would sing what parts of the songs on the show?
Will: Some of that, I feel that we definitely sat down and talked about it but there were a few times that we were open to advice and listened to a producer or Steve Mandile of Sixwire (the band leader). We would ask people’s opinions but ultimately we decided.
Caitlin: It’s easier for us now, obviously because we know each other and our capabilities so it’s cool now because I can listen to a song and know if it fits me better or fits him or will fit both of us and then we can turn it into a duet.
Matt: Who did you work with for your record?
Caitlin: Chris Lindsey.
Matt: What was it like working with him?
Caitlin: It was like working with a family member. Because we were constantly with him and Aimee Mayo and it was at their house, we recorded a lot at their house and it was very laid back, and he’s just amazing at what he does. But he’s not pretentious, he knows he’s good but he doesn’t come off as, “Well I’m Chris Lindsey, I know I’m good.” He’s very humble about it and he’s just so sweet.
Will: He’s to the point and knows how to get it done in a way without making it feel like work. The last song we recorded on the album, “Living Like This,” that was the most difficult song to sing on the whole album, out of the whole experience, that was the hardest for both of us. It was a lot harder than expected and when you’re singing the song and continually getting it wrong, the last thing you want when you have the guy that’s recording to yell at you and say “oh, come on, get it done with already” and it never felt like that. He was so flexible; he was easy to work with. It was so relaxed.
He knew when to take us out of the booth to rest, when it wasn’t gonna work, when we thought we didn’t have another take in us, he did and that ended up being the one we used. I wish more people that write on the internet knew him and knew what we knew and understood as we do.
Matt: Some may write from the security of their blog or home…
Caitlin: And that’s fine and alright with me, I wish they could know him and they know from his responses on one of the blogs but producing is not an easy job. I wish they knew that, that so much goes into what he’s doing. It’s not just about lending a hand when there needs to be a song on an album and he was never about getting his own songs on the album. He was all for getting the arrangements to be just as they should be. I wish people knew him because they’d get a totally different opinion of him.
Will: I can vouch for him because I’ve produced stuff before and to see him sitting in a room and be totally organized in a disorganized time is amazing.
Matt: I’ve seen a few productions where sometimes there’s a ‘cooks in the kitchen’ mentality where more than one guy would say some things in the studio and say “I want this, I want that.”
Caitlin: Exactly, you know he uses that analogy a lot. For instance, with “Address in the Stars,” I know we’ve been getting a little slack for the production of that, but it was everything we wanted and more. And the band, when we track, I don’t know if people know this or not, the band tracks the song. Literally the band will listen to it once and play it right the first time but for “Address,” they weren’t getting it, and Chris knew exactly what to say to them, just like he does with us, to get them to play it better and the way we wanted.
Will: I can’t understand how anybody could criticize Chris for that fact that what he does and this goes for Aimee too, everything they do comes from the heart and they’re very passionate about it.
Caitlin: Everything they do is because of their passion and their gut. It’s about the music, it’s about the songs, and it’s about family. They considered us family. Not only did they consider us family, when they had a party, they invited us and we were with their family. So, I wish people could see that side of them.
Matt: "Even Now” was released to iTunes right after the show ended, do you know why it wasn’t released to radio at that point?
Caitlin: We weren’t finished. And we were not ready at all to go through a radio tour.
Will: We thought we were ready but we weren’t.
Caitlin: And I think it would’ve made it so much harder, if we had got the momentum we’re getting right now with “Address” from that single, right from the show, we wouldn’t have been prepared. We wouldn’t have an album. If we’d had gone right from the show, we’d have had two months to get everything together. As far as we’re concerned, the best songs we got for this album came at the end, so we’d not have made the best album possible.
Matt: It’s kind of like American Idol and how they would release an album right away after the show and they learned to wait a little longer to do it…
Caitlin: Exactly, they all bombed.
Will: I don’t think that is a great idea. For one thing you can take a great singer, and Idol has many great singers, the things Caitlin and I lacked and everybody else that doesn’t know the business, doesn’t know the business. When you come into it, you have to make all these decisions to make; you’ve got two months to make a phenomenal album that has to compete with others who had a year to make one. It doesn’t work that way. If you see the record from the runners-up, they take an extra four months and it makes a world of difference.
Matt: “Even Now” was slated to be the single, how did you decide to switch to “Address In The Stars?”
Will: We went through a weird process with that…
Caitlin: It was undeniable, the response we were getting and we couldn’t ignore it when we went out on our radio tour in February, It was weird for me and I think it was weird for Will, we were playing four of our favorite songs and we played “Even Now” after “Address,” and it was weird to say after “Address” was played, “this is our new single…”
Will: Yeah, because it genuinely felt like we were playing the single.
Caitlin: I think it started with KKBQ's Johnny Chiang in Houston and Christy Brooks and they basically said “Look, y’all, we’re not going to play “Even Now,” we’re going to play “Address.” And we later talked with Johnny during CRS and he said, “When I have staff crying for two hours after you leave..." He said he couldn't ignore that, just like we can’t ignore radio saying that’s the song we should play.
Matt: Which is kind of like how radio was the reason John Rich switched to “Shuttin’ Detroit Down.”
Caitlin: Yeah, and it’s such an honor to be able to say, “radio switched our single” because they took an interest and invested their emotion and time into us enough that they cared, so it is cool to say that they switched it, not us.
Will: What cracked me up was the ones in radio who wanted to fight for “Even Now,” I think that’s a great thing but there certainly was a majority on Address so we had to switch. We aren’t gonna be picky about that because we have enough songs on the album that Sony could really throw a dart at the album it would land on a song and It’d be cool with me because I love our album but it was kind of funny to have one or two radio stations step up and say come on now, “Even Now” is a great song.
Caitlin: It’s so cool to know that more people are seeing us on CMT from the “Even Now” video and radio with “Address In The Stars,” we are getting many friends and comments on our myspace pages. It’s awesome because you know people are checking up on ya, it’s comforting in a way.
Matt: So how many songs did you write for the album, I know you co-wrote Address…
Caitlin: We co-wrote “Dark Horse” and will has a song called “Pay The Bills” that will come out on the album.
Matt: Will, did you play guitar on the record at all?
Will: Yeah, that was a real fun experience. The first one I played on was “Your Tears Are Comin’,” and just to go into the studio, I mean the guys who played on the album were mind-blowingly phenomenal, so it was an honor to go play and jam in the same room with them. To be able to say that it’s me on it is a cool feeling. I just didn’t want it to have just my vocal
Caitlin: And not many artists do that…
Will: And when we play live, I will be the one who is playing lead live, so it’s only appropriate that I play on the record.
Caitlin: I never understood that, because they’re professionals, the band should play a little on their record.
Matt: You probably never thought a year ago that you’d be where you are now, right?
Caitlin: No, certainly not. There are stigmatisms about being on a TV show, but I’m OK with them because if you love what you’re doing and it’s the only chance you think you have and if it’s gonna get you closer to achieving your dream, why not…
Will: I don’t think most people in music would say “I wouldn’t do a TV show, it’s ‘selling out,’”
Caitlin: but there are tons of people out there who say that. My original partner was like that because she said “I can’t play a Lucinda Williams song only to tell her I played it on a TV show,” and I was like, “Who cares, we did her song got her song a little more exposure.” I don’t get it, I mean I understand the thought, but if it’s gonna get you a little closer to getting your music out there, why not. Just do it. Who cares what people think?
Matt: Wasn’t it like a little boot camp for musicians anyway?
Caitlin: Oh, yeah, for sure.
Will: It gets you warmed up, it definitely does.
Caitlin: Like having to say back questions before answering them.
Will: Yes, we would have to learn stuff like that and say stuff like that.
Matt: Who are some of your influences?
Caitlin: Lucinda Williams, Mindy Smith is my heart and soul of music, Kathleen Edwards, I love her, Miranda Lambert, I just got back into the Dixie Chicks, Patty Griffin, Lori McKenna, Dave Matthews Band, I could really name a thousand of them…
Will: Grandpa had the honky tonk of the 50s-60s, it was in the house forever and then dad always had onmodern country radio, late 80’s, 90’s country, even today’s country like will be heard at their houses. I got into liking some rock and roll stuff too, like ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd. My first concert I went to was Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt.
Caitlin: You know what I’d love to hear, I wish we could combine the 60s with the music of today, kind of mix the Doors and Janis Joplin in a room and see what they could create, especially if you add somebody like us into the mix. It’d be so fun.
Will: And then there’s Keith Urban. He’s kind of like the salt on top of the mix.
Matt: So obviously your influences bleed into your sound a little bit?
Will: Oh yeah, but I wouldn’t want to sound like anyone I look up to. I don’t want to be a copy of other people because I think that’s as generic as it gets. I mean, of course you’re gonna have a little of that in your sound but I’d never want to intentionally copy anybody. I think to be identifiable in the industry, you need to do your own thing and be yourself.
For more information on Caitlin & Will you can go to their website (click here), read the review of their EP (click here), read the review of the single "Address In The Stars" (click here), and enter into a contest for your chance to win one of five posters signed by the duo (click here).