“I am lucky in love / I don’t need your comfort or care / I am so lucky in love / even when life is unfair / Yeah, don’t tell me life is unfair,” Paula Carino sings on “Lucky in Love,” from her excellent 2010 album, Open on Sunday, which she financed through Facebook fan donations and released on her own label, Intellectual House o' Pancakes Records. We’re not about to tell the singer-songwriter, yoga teacher, blogger, and pop-culture columnist that life is unfair, but we don’t mind saying that if life were indeed fair, Carino would be a star. The multitalented musician has been a fixture on the New York City music scene for the better part of a decade, whether playing acoustic shows at the Parkside Lounge on the Lower East Side or at Freddy’s Backroom in Brooklyn with her backing band, which she has given such names as the Better Mind Your Own Business Bureau, the Virtually Spotless, and the Scurvy Merchants. For twi-ny’s free tenth anniversary celebration on May 18 at Fontana’s, Carino will be playing with the Sliding Scale on a bill that also includes readings from Dean Haspiel, Nova Ren Suma, Kyle Thomas Smith, and Andrew Giangola and live performances from James Mastro and Megan Reilly and Evan Shinners. While taking a break from doing preproduction on a new record with the curious working title Chimp Haven, Carino chatted with twi-ny about her very busy life.
twi-ny: You recently wrote on your blog, “I want to tell you everything I’ve thought, read, listened to, experienced, and watched.” With all of the writing you do — music reviews and interviews, lifestyle pieces, and a personal blog — do you find that impacts at all on your own songwriting?
Paula Carino: Well, it’s funny — I started my blog as a promotional thing for my music after I released my first solo album, but the blog ended up just being me blathering on about other people’s music and other pop-culture stuff. There was a time when I was posting every day, and the downside is that afterward, my frontal-lobe reward system would be like “OK, you’ve been creative today, now go run along and play!” So the motivation to actually create something lasting, like a song, was diminished. I had to consciously scale back on blogging in order to devote more time and mental energy to songwriting.
twi-ny: If you could bring back one defunct New York City music venue to play at, which one would it be?
Paula Carino: I was just the other day reminiscing about Fez. It was comfortable and relaxing and had that swanky banquette seating that made you feel like Ricky Ricardo was gonna swing by your table singing “Babalu.” I would have loved to play to swellegant, seated people. . . .
twi-ny: You’re also a certified yoga teacher. What is the musical setlist like for your classes?
Paula Carino: Surprisingly, I don’t play music in my classes, or during my own practice. I think it distracts people from their immediate experience. But I do emphasize chanting. My students get to chant their hearts out at the beginning of class, because, aside from, like, karaoke, I think people do not get enough opportunities to sing together. Singing together is such a basic joy. It’s really gratifying to hear people let go and really get into it — it’s like a revival meeting.