We met singer Colbie Caillat before a recent concert at the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan. After talking with her we sat in and watched her during her soundcheck.
What song is your favorite out of all that you wrote?
Maybe “Battle,” which is off my first album “Coco.” I wrote that song all by myself and it was about . . . people in my family were going through a hard time, they were fighting, and I was writing about that, expressing my feelings, and just telling everyone that they need to just say sorry and get past that situation.
Do family or friends travel with you to concerts?
My parents want to come to all my shows, but they, my friends come out to some of them. My parents and my sister come out to some of them. And, of course, when I have shows in L.A., that’s my hometown, everyone comes. All my friends, all my family. So they try to support me whenever they can.
Did you know that “Fallin’ for You” would be a hit?
I didn’t know. I’d hoped that it would be, and I was hearing that everyone liked it. So we went with that song to be the first single off my new album “Breakthrough.” You hope it does well, you don’t know if it’s going to. So I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
If you weren’t a singer, what would you want to be?
I would always want to be a songwriter, and I like painting. I also like photography. So something having to do with arts.
What do you do before you go on stage?
Before I go onstage, I warm up with my band; we do vocal warm-ups. I do stretches, and I calm myself down and do my hair and makeup and get ready and just think about what I’m going to say when I go onstage and talk to the audience.
Why did you pick that guy to be with you in the “Fallin’ for You” video?
He’s a real funny comedian on “Saturday Night Live.” His name is Bobby Moynihan. And I wanted to show because obviously he’s not the normal type looking guy that’s in my other videos. He more goofy and silly and not my type in general, but I wanted to show that you could fall in love with someone based off their personality, and they become one of your best friends. So I wanted to show that to other people.
What do you like to do when you have free time?
When I have free time — let’s say I have free time; I get a manicure and pedicure. I watch TV in my hotel room in bed. I stay warm and order room service, and when I’m home, I hang out with my family and friends, my dogs. Go swimming at the beach or in my pool. I’m just super mellow.
What do you like better, singing or acting?
Singing. Singing is my favorite thing to do in the world.
One of your friends put your song “Bubbly” on MySpace. Were you nervous about how people would comment on it?
I wasn’t nervous to be honest because I always had stage fright. I’ve always been nervous singing and performing in front of people. But when it came to my songs and playing them for everyone I was looking forward to hearing their advice and their input on whether they liked the songs or what they meant to them. So I was looking forward to it.
What jobs did you have before you became a singer?
I had so many jobs. I worked in a tanning salon, I worked at Home Depot, I worked as a receptionist at a guitar center, I worked at a health food store, I worked at a gym. I worked at so many places. But I didn’t stay at any of them too long.
Do you have time to hang out with your friends?
I was just home for six months recording the new album “Breakthrough,” and I got to spend a lot of time with them. Now that I’m on tour, I see them maybe one day a month. But I look forward to going home . . . and I text with them every day, or I talk to them on the phone, and we each other pictures.
Did you have a favorite teacher?
My vocal teacher was my favorite because . . . not only did she help me with my vocals, she helped me find out who I am as a singer and what kind of artist I wanted to be. She was kind of a like a therapist in the same way. I didn’t need therapy, just helping me figuring out . . . I was young, I was 16, and just trying to guide me in the right direction of who I wanted to be.
Did you ever get to do chores as a kid or get an allowance?
Of course. Yeah. I had to do chores. Even when I go home now, I still have to do chores. I help my mom clean the kitchen or whatever. Yeah, that’s a normal thing. Everyone has to help their parents. Also, it may not be fun right now, but you find out that it’s teaching you for stuff in the future and for you to be capable of doing things on your own. So it’s a good thing.
Did you do well in school?
I did OK in school. I struggled a little bit here and there, but there was certain classes I was good at, and there were certain classes I needed help in.
Do you have any brothers or sisters?
I have one sister. She’s five years older than me, and she just got married.
What are your favorite outdoor activities?
I love water sports. So I like going on jet-skiis. I was on the water polo team and swim team in high school. I like to go surfing in Hawaii sometimes. Anything outside. Hiking to waterfalls.
Do you have any stage fright?
I’ve had stage fright my entire life, and that’s why I named my second album “Breakthrough” because I broke through that fear. But it took me a long time. I had to work on it every day, and I had to get comfortable in front of people and the audience. Mainly what helped me was my fans in the audience and singing my songs back to me and smiling at me made me feel comfortable.
Do you have any pets?
I do. I have one dog. Her name is Roxie.
What was the most interesting place you toured in?
Interesting? I think being in Asia. It’s so different from here. Not only the language and the food but the weather, the culture, how people treat you. In Japan, they’re so polite, they bow at you and you kind of have a bowing contest because they just want to be polite and nice. It’s strange to go to other countries and see how they are.
What advice can you give to someone who wants to be a singer?
My advice would be to take vocal lessons, to practice your craft if you want to learn how to play an instrument or write songs. Practice every day because it’s difficult, but you just have to get past that little hump. And so many times, I wanted to quit piano lessons or guitar lessons. I’m really glad that I had stuck with it because that enabled me to write songs and then record in the studio, and now I’m a singer because of that. So just practice every day and make sure that you still have fun with what you do.
Who inspired you to be a singer?
When I was 11 years old, I heard this singer. Her name of Lauryn Hill. She was with the group called the Fugees. And she sang a version of “Killing Me Softly.” And I fell in love with her voice and how soulful it was, and ever since then, I have been wanting to sing like her and practicing and taking vocal lessons every day.
What is your favorite food?
I love Mexican food, I love sushi. Those are my two favorites.
At what age did you start singing?
When I was 11 years old, I sang “Killing Me Softly” for my sixth-grade talent show with my two best friends.