A record deal doesn’t mean you’re going to be rich. — I signed a record deal when I was in my early 20’s and thought the world was in my fingertips. What it actually meant was you owe someone out there a lot of money haha.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Caitlin Carey and Mikey Adams.
Childhood friends Caitlin Carey and Mikey Adams form Safe Hands, a folk/pop duo from Boston, MA. Mikey (of pop-punk outfit A Loss For Words) has spent the last 16 years touring in over 30 countries and writing/releasing multiple records on various record labels, most notably Rise Records.
In 2015, A Loss For Words decided to gracefully retire as a full-time band, leaving Mikey with so much music written and no band to release it with. He decided to call up Caitlin, with whom the last time he had sung with was 10 years prior in their high school’s production of Beauty and the Beast (Cait as Belle, Mikey as Cogsworth).
They got together one night and it instantly clicked. In the last couple of years, they have released a few singles sporadically, starting with “Love You Give Away,” a beautiful love song. They played their debut live show in June 2019 to a sold-out crowd at The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA.
With an 11 song full-length titled ‘Highs & Lows’ recorded and ready for the world’s ears, they are proud and confident with the emotion-evoking art they have created. With influences spanning from The Civil Wars and Ray Lamontagne, to Sara Bareilles, Gabrielle Aplin, Colbie Caillat and John Mayer, they blend intelligent lyrics and catchy melodies seamlessly. These two are bound and poised for a bright future.
Of the first single “Honestly”, Mikey says, “I wrote this song while riding the high of a new, albeit brief relationship. It had been months since I had felt motivated to pick up a guitar and this just poured out of me. While the flame didn’t last, at least I drew inspiration from it for which I am thankful.”
Regarding the emotional nature of the album, he adds, “This record is a culmination of years of heartache, loss, love and hope. Highs & Lows refers to the extreme of both ends of the emotional spectrum. When I feel, I feel all the way. I hope I’ve translated my emotions on this record in a relatable way and hope you all enjoy. Just remember if you feel hopeless, you’re not and when you feel loved, cherish and remember it. This record is dedicated to my father and is released on his birthday. Most of this record was written in the cemetery he is buried in, where I lived in a car outside his grave for a year. It’s all for him.”https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/9a3aba3a54e82dae7aa35adf41c8d21b
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Hi! I grew up in a small town south of Boston, Massachusetts. I had a loving family, son of a Bermudian immigrant, and a relatively normal childhood. We struggled financially and ended up homeless as a family when I was around 12. This is about the same time I started showing interest in music. Music became my outlet I suppose. I got a cheap guitar that year and still haven’t put it down!
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I feel like always had a knack for all things musical. My aunt said one Christmas my family heard Silent Night playing on the organ from another room when I was about 5 and I was sitting there playing it haha. It’s my one true passion. I played my first show in 1999 and knew there was nothing else I wanted to do.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Oh man! I could write books of stories from my years of touring, but I just think the general fact that a homeless kid from Boston got to play music around the world with his best friends for 15 years is pretty amazing. I feel very lucky to have done it.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I’m sure any musician can admit to a laundry list of mistakes. I tend to think, as with anything, pursuing this type of a career is a learning process. From ordering thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise that sat in my house for years, to hiring managers because they promised the world and could get us free New Balance sneakers. You learn how to manage your art and business better as you experience all the faults.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
First and foremost, Safe Hands is releasing our first full length, Highs & Lows, on November 16th. This has been a long process but I am so proud of this record from beginning to end. I believe is the best thing I’ve ever released. I am also releasing a pop rock record with my old band from high school On Second Thought this year, our first new music in 16 years!
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
The beauty of this country, and humankind in general is it’s diversity. Every culture is so rich in it’s own history, religion, food, music, and art in general. And though its getting better, the film and television industry has been dictated and portrayed predominantly by caucasians. All I can hope is that the stories of every background and culture can continue to, and increasingly be told. The more I know about the rest of the world, the more I love and am fascinated by it!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Learn how to read music — I never did and still can’t, which I regret to this day. I am self taught, but It can obviously make this line of work difficult.
- Take time to enjoy it.- I let touring become a job, and wasn’t having fun. Even in Europe or Australia, I was just ready to play and sleep. Once I stopped touring full time in 2015, I realized how much I missed it and should have taken advantage of the experience.
- A record deal doesn’t mean you’re going to be rich. — I signed a record deal when I was in my early 20’s and thought the world was in my fingertips. What it actually meant was you owe someone out there a lot of money haha.
- Don’t stop taking piano lessons! I was in maybe 4th grade and took piano lessons for a few months, I was learning quickly, but I mean a ten year old kid I just wanted to play baseball. I still regret it.
- Never stop learning — with so much downtime on the road, I would read so many books, but I wish I picked up another language or craft.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Don’t take tours or shows just to do them. Just because you don’t have anything else planned doesn’t mean you have to be out on the road. It’s not gonna do you any good playing in Tuscaloosa to three people on a Monday in the dead of winter. I was on the road 10 months a year for a decade on a lot of runs that weren’t beneficial, and it really turned me off on the whole thing.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Kindness, compassion, and love. Those are my three. I believe we all need each other to help us all live a life of happiness and health. No one should struggle or feel alone, ostracized or treated unfairly. My wish is that everyone can live a life with equal chance to thrive and enjoy regardless of the situation they are born into. I struggled my whole life, and just don’t think anyone should have to.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My parents. While I was touring nonstop and not making any money, they would leave me notes with 20 or 40 bucks, in it, encouraging me to chase my dreams. They were nothing but supportive and I thank them so much for that.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” Some people think I’m crazy, or stubborn, for pursuing my dreams for this long without compromise. But I believe in myself and my art and I know this is what I was meant to do.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Oddly enough I would probably choose Ben Franklin. I’ve always been fascinated by him. Just a brilliant inventor, and political mind. Plus, he loved his beer which I can say I do also!
How can our readers follow you online?
Follow Safe Hands everywhere at @safehandsmusic socials!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!