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Written by JJ Barnes

www.jjbarnes.co.uk

I interviewed singer-songwriter April Cushman about her career, what inspires her music, and the creative work that went into her latest release, The Long Haul.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

I am a mom and wife first and foremost, but am also a songwriter and musician residing in a small New Hampshire town called Swanzey.  I have been a full time musician and songwriter now for about four years, and have been playing music since I was only five.  My husband, daughter and I all live on a farm we established back in 2014 called Highland Farm ; we named it such because the first animal we had on our land was a Highland cow!

April Cushman, singer songwriter The Long Haul, interview on The Table Read

When did you first WANT to write songs?

I first wanted to write songs after seeing artist Liz Longley in Londonderry, New Hampshire play.  She was hosting an open mic at Tupelo Music Hall, and I was there supporting a friend of my dads on the beginning of his songwriting journey. 

From the first song she played, I knew what my life going forward was going to include, and that is songwriting.  To this day, whenever she comes around the region, I make an effort to go see her!

When did you take a step to start writing songs?

I first started writing songs a couple years after college – I had taken a lot of poetry classes and literature classes in high school as well, and absolutely fell in love with being able to express myself through art.  After seeing Liz Longley live for the first time, I knew that if I blended my love for playing music with my love for writing poetry, I could create something magical even if it was for my own ears.

What was your first song released, and what was it about?

The first song I ever released to the public was back in early 2020, called “In A Small Town”.  It was written and inspired by the small breakfast diner down the road from my home, called Jeanne’s Diner,  and it felt like the perfect, although long time coming, first song to release to say, “hey, here I am, my name is April Cushman and this is what I’m about”.  It was important to me to release my first song as the pace setter in my career, as I am all about quantity over quality even though I feel late to the game.

What was your latest song released, and what was it about?

My latest release, other than the rest of my album, was a single called “The Long Haul”, which is also the title track to my album.  It was my first cut that wasn’t a part of writing, but was pitched to me by other local New Hampshire artists. 

The song is all about a girl who thinks she is the best there is where she is from, and then moves to a big city and realizes she’s just a small fish in a sea of others who are also talented but chasing the same dreams; she realizes she is back at the bottom of the totem pole and has to work her way back up.

April Cushman, singer songwriter The Long Haul, interview on The Table Read

It also touches on the idea of how much hard work, time and dedication it takes in order to accomplish higher goals, and that you can’t just buy your way to fame.

Focusing on your latest song. What were your biggest challenges with The Long Haul?

I think that the biggest challenge around “The Long Haul” was that because I did not write it, I was trying to perform it and connect with it during the recording process to make it believable to the listener. 

I feel that when I write my own songs, they’re things I have directly gone through so I am able to mentally go back to those times and feelings when performing or recording them, and display that emotion.  But with a song I did not write but can relate to, I had to really focus on recording it vocally in a way that helped portray how I felt when I first heard it.

How many songs are you working on right now?

I just recently finished what will be the third song on my next album or EP, and have a whole bunch more half written that may be considered for recording for the next project!

Do you keep to a theme with your music, or just go where the mood strikes?

The only theme that I try to keep with anything I write, is to keep it real and honest.  I think that the most important thing a songwriter can do, is to write about real things, and tell their truths even if they’re hard to sing about.  I do tend to write songs that hit people in their hearts more when I write them while I am still processing them, versus writing something that I may have dealt with or heard years before.

What is your favourite song you’ve recorded, and what do you love about it?

My favorite song that I have ever written was “The Girl Next Door”, which is on my new record.  I wrote it for my dad, when he asked me to write about the love story of him and his beautiful wife, Dolores (Dolly).

What I love most about it is that everything in the song was discussed during an interview with my father, when I had asked him to tell me about the things she does that he loves, and just about their love.  From them taking their canoe trips down the allagash to her being there through his hardest days of cancer treatments, it’s all in the song. 🙂

April Cushman, singer songwriter The Long Haul, interview on The Table Read

Do you find other people’s music inspires you? Who do you listen to most?

I do find that songs written from the heart that are real and raw inspire me the most.  Currently I’ve been really sucked into Caitlyn Smith’s music and writing styles, along with Lori McKenna.

More Than Just You. A creative experience all on one platform.

Do you write your own music, or do you have musicians you work with?

I primarily co-write my songs, because I find that when I’m writing with the write person who has similar songwriting styles and approaches as me, it brings two different brains to the same table and magic happens – we have the same ideas and styles but one of us may think of a more clever or effective way to say something that the other may not have thought about. 

Do you play any instruments?

I primarily play guitar, but played alto saxophone through high school in honors jazz band and have dabbled a bit in piano and other stringed instruments. But guitar has my heart for sure!

Do you like performing live, or does it scare you? Where can people watch you?

Performing live is almost my comfort blanket around people. I am an extroverted introvert for sure, when I’m not on stage is very easy for me to keep to myself, but being on stage, seeing how much joy my music, my band and I bring to others lives, fills my soul like nothing else. I play a lot around the North East, whether it’s full band, duo, trio or solo and they can find my schedule at www.aprilcushman.com.

Is your music available online, and where can people listen to it?

Yes! My music is available on all streaming and downloading platforms like iTunes, Amazon Music, Tidal, Spotify and more.

Are you able to make music full time, or do you have day job?

I have been a full time musician now for about four years, and I have the most amazing supportive husband and family, who help take care of so much to I can pursue music. I wouldn’t be able to juggle this full time if it wasn’t for them!

Are your friends and family supportive of your music career?

THE most supportive; I couldn’t imagine not having my family and friends behind me in this journey.

What’s something you never expected about being a songwriter? What have you learned that surprised you?

Something that I never expected and that surprised me being a songwriter, is how vulnerable, truthful, and honest that I can be in my music and how much that impacts other people.

April Cushman, singer songwriter The Long Haul, interview on The Table Read

I think the biggest thing that I tried to go for in the writing process, is how I can take my real life stories and things that I have been through, and make them so that other people can connect to them with things that they have gone through in life as well.

After all, country music is so much about emotionally connecting with your stories and making others feel how you feel when you wrote the songs and when you went through the things that you went through.

Have you had any experiences that really stand out because of your songs?

On my album The Long Haul, I had surprised my dad with recording one of his favorite songs from a band called The Kry, with a song that he has always loved, and I had put a voice message from him before the song and had it recorded acoustic. Acoustic.

I think that is one of the most proud moments that I have had. Especially around this album, was to see emotions hit my dad the way that they did, and just in general, to see how much this album has been able to touch hearts and souls.

As of recently, I even had a mother whose son is getting married this fall in 2022, come up to me on one of my breaks and ask what the deal was with one of the songs that I have not released yet and just recently wrote, because she said it was the perfect song for the mother / son dance at his wedding. Knowing that music can impact people on that kind of level, but having it be one of my songs that impact somebody like that gives me the greatest feeling of accomplishment.

Do you have any important events coming up we should know about?

We are getting to perform a hybrid concert on Sunday, February 27th at our first theater concert ever. On top of that, I will be performing the national anthem at Gillette Stadium in mid-March, and have a lot of really great original concerts lining up for the summer and fall. All of these shows and tickets for them can be found on my website as well!

What is the first piece of advice you would give to anyone inspired to write songs?

The first bit of advice and probably some of the only advice that I would ever give someone who is inspiring to write their own music, is to just be honest and genuine. The songs that make such massive waves in the music industry no matter what genre they are, are the ones that are real and honest and true.

On top of being stories and songs about things that other people can relate to. I always joke around and tell people that I am not sorry for making them cry when they hear any songs of mine, because that is how I know that I have written an impactful song. People listen to music whether they are happy, sad, excited, angry .. as a way of connecting with music. So no matter what you write about, make it real.

And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Speaking in the sense of this new record, I took so long to release it because I am so much of a quality over quantity kind of artist. Now that it has been released out to the world for a handful of months, I can look back and say, damn – I am so proud of this album. It took so much time, energy and emotional release in order to release this album to a point that I felt it was radio ready and ready to be heard by anyone around the world.

I wouldn’t give back any of even the lowest of lows that came and went during the entire process for anything. It was 100% worth every waking minute of writing these songs, having them critiqued and then rewritten, the entire recording process that travel in the hours away from my family and just the overall amount of time and energy that went into making it what it is.

Pop all your music, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

WEBSITE: www.aprilcushman.com

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/aprilcushmanmusic

INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/aprilcushman

TIKTOK: www.tiktok.com/aprilcushmanmusic

MUSIC LINKS & MORE: https://ffm.to/1l1pbre

MERCH: https://april-cushman.creator-spring.com/

To order a physical album, please email aprilcushmanbooking@gmail.com     

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