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Mint Condition

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Caroline Spence’s Mint Condition

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Artist: Caroline Spence

Album: Mint Condition

Label: Rounder Records

Reason We’re Cranking It: Comic books. Baseball cards. We assume, coins. Everything that is collectible is at its best when in mint condition. That includes Nashville-based singer/songwriter Caroline Spence’s aptly titled new album, which features a collection of songs that are not only some of the best of her career, but some of the best by any artist released this year.

What The Album Tells Us About Her: Unafraid to not only sing about emotion but to sing with emotion as well, Spence forms a connection with the listener in a way that few artists are capable of. So often we’re told about the “IT” factor (no, not the Stephen King variety!) that musicians can possess – the intangible thing that makes it impossible to look away – but with Spence it isn’t indefinable. It’s right there in her writing, which is everything that you want to hear come out of a brain and be integrated lyrically into song form. So good!

Track Stuck On Repeat: Poppy twang with a chorus that lingers for days, “Song About a City” is our favorite track off an album filled with memorable music.

And that means…

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Wingman Wednesday

Hayley Sales

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While multi-hyphenate Hayley Sales views her musical career and acting career as part of the same overall creative journey, both ways of artistic expression have delivered their share of unique highlights. With a new album currently in the works and recent roles in “Deadpool 2” and “Supernatural,” the future is looking bright for the Washington, D.C. native who has even more highlights to celebrate heading into 2019.

We recently sat down with Sales to discuss her artistic road so far, embracing the fashion of the 1980s, and justifying our Jensen Ackles bro crush.

TrunkSpace: You’ve had a successful music career and in many ways you get to control your own destiny by way of your music. You write what you want. You record what you want. You perform what you want. Did it take some getting used to, transitioning into the world of acting where so much is dependent on the decisions and actions of others?
Sales: Most definitely! In many ways, music is you realizing and actualizing your own dream whereas acting in a film or TV show is bringing someone else’s dream to life. It doesn’t mean it is any less rewarding or fun to do, just different. With acting, it’s more as though you are fitting into a puzzle, or doing a brush stroke on a huge canvas. I do find acting in an ensemble inspiring though. Probably because it’s so different from music. You get to be a part of something bigger than yourself. You get to tell a story that isn’t necessarily your own, although you put your heart and soul into it. I find it very expansive to be put into a box, as strange as that may sound. I do find that sometimes having limitations to art can be the most inspiring. Sometimes when you have a billion different ways you can produce a song, it can be daunting. With acting, it’s beautifully simple in some ways. You get to tell someone’s story, do them justice by bringing their joys and their fears out into the open in the hopes that you make someone else feel a little less alone. But I love them both so much. They’re so similar and so different.

It is definitely a challenge to handle the business side of acting and music, where you are rejected constantly. In both careers. Over and over again and not necessarily because of anything you are or did, but because you just aren’t what that particular label, manager or producer is looking for. It’s odd because, as an artist, you need such a thick skin, but if you don’t stay vulnerable, you lose the essence of art. At first, I’d wind up being in tears over this part or that part or this label or that label, and overtime, I think you realize, the right moment will come for you and to trust in that.

TrunkSpace: Do you view your musical career and your acting career as separate entities or do they fall under one larger creative umbrella?
Sales: To me they’re one and of the same. I can’t wait to be in more musical films. They’re both ways of expression. Whether you are expressing yourself or expressing your character, which in many ways, is expressing parts of yourself as well. I’ve heard so many reasons you can’t do both and for a while, I wasn’t allowed to act while I was signed as a teen. But in this day and age, I think art is art and I’m just grateful to be swimming in that pond of creativity!

I can’t wait to release my next record though. I actually spent four years on a record that was never allowed to be released. Universal had a huge staff switch over a month before the record’s release. Due to a corporate policy that had just been put in place, they refused to give me back the rights to my own music, even though I was willing to buy it from them. It broke my heart. I turned to acting entirely during the two years of legal battles. Only recently have I, finally, begun to sweep the pieces of my courage off the floor, into a dust pan, and back onto the table and am in the studio at my parent’s Blueberry farm as we speak! You can hear some of them on my Spotify. (@hayleysales)

Something happens when you experience that heavy a loss, that type of helplessness and betrayal. I thought I’d never have it in me to make more music. But now I feel more driven than ever to release the songs I love… not that a label would love or the radio would love, but the songs that make me feel most moved to sing. Can’t wait for you to hear. As we record, I’ve been diving into each song as though I am an actor telling a story… the story just happens to be my own. It’s been a very fun exercise in connecting two of my passions!

TrunkSpace: We love great music, but we also love great lines – lyrical snippets that stick with you beyond the macro of a song or album. What is your favorite line that you’ve ever written and why?
Sales: Don’t you love when a line from a book, song or movie just resonates so loudly you can almost feel it? I love when that happens. The words seem to weave their own tapestry that wraps around you! I honestly couldn’t even begin to say which was my favorite of my own writing, but maybe it would be this poem. I remember so vividly, writing this on the sand in Cocoa Beach after the loss of a dear friend…

Death will be a welcome visitor
When he chance to come
I’ll open up the door, I will
Invite him into my home

I’ll spread a feast of dreams and things
Collected here and there
Seat him at the table’s head
With wine and bread to share

We’ll chat of all the memories
I’ve lived and he has watched
Together we will drink to sleep
The tired and winded clock

I’ll ponder how I’ve loved and lost
And sometimes how I’d won
And as the night crawls further in
My mind will loose her tongue

A point will come when the silence
Has engulfed me in its womb
Old death will wink, and I will smile
I know my time is soon

I’ll look around my perfect house
And love the life I’ve lived
I’ve lived enough to know that life
Is better with an end

Goodnight to light, to breath, to song
I know we’ll meet again
For death is not the finish-line
But the means by which we mend

TrunkSpace: In terms of the feeling you get as a musician, creating this living, breathing thing from scratch and then turning it over to the universe… can you achieve that same feeling while acting? Are there parallels to creating a song and creating a character?
Sales: Very good question actually. I’d say they’re both incredibly similar and completely different. With music, you are creating, like you said, a universe. It’s your universe. It’s the exposure of your inner most thoughts and desires. Basically, you have to take a big red sharpie and circle all the chinks in your armor then go, “Hey world! This is me!” Music is powerful in that way. It’s a very personal communication between the listener and the musician. Having said that, acting is equally powerful and requires the same amount of vulnerability and exposure. The difference is, you have to bring all of your own world into this entirely new character’s life and begin to breathe in their shoes. You have to bring all of yourself into the universe of the story. But you aren’t really you…you’re you in someone else. Not sure if that makes any sense, but they are incredibly similar! But also balance each other out. They’re both exposing your truth, just through different mediums. Art is such an amazing communication. Cuts through all the rules and boundaries when it’s done right.

TrunkSpace: We are suckers here for “Supernatural,” particularly with the quirky, monster-of-the-week episodes. One of our new favorites is “Mint Condition,” which aired earlier this year. In it you play Janet Strong, and your wardrobe is totally tubular and wicked awesome. What does it feel like to be a part of such a memorable episode of this long-running series?
Sales: I am beyond grateful and yes… yes, my outfits were totally tubular and then some! I feel so lucky to have gotten to be a part of this particular episode and of the series in general. The energy was wildly hilarious on set. Whenever I’m in between takes, I love to stand near the director and watch the monitors. You can learn so much. A great deal of the time, however, as we were filming this movie, it’d take everything in me to not buckle over in laughter. And I wasn’t the only one. It truly feels like magic when everyone is in the right headspace and enjoying the process.

Slightly related and funny story about my callback for the role of Janet… before the audition, I went on a mad rampage through the attic for my mom’s ‘80s clothes. After finding truly amazing gems, I went on to borrow my 10-year-old niece’s scrunchy and my sister-in-law’s safety pin watch from 1983. I was so excited to get to play dress up. The callback was very fun. The director, producer – everyone was lovely, but here’s the best part – I wound up being slightly late out of the audition and had to run down the street with my side pony, cut off shorts and blue eye shadow, and let me tell you, I got some very, very interesting looks – like I’d just stepped out of “Hot Tub Time Machine.”

TrunkSpace: The series is continuing to excite its fandom in Season 14, which is hard to even fathom given how short-lived even successful series are these days. We hear it is one of the most welcoming sets to step onto in the business, but is it difficult to go into something that is such a well-oiled machine and not feel like the new kid at school? Were there nerves?
Sales: You know, I think most actors would be lying if they didn’t say they had some nerves. For me, they always happen as I’m driving up to set on the first day. Especially if I’m really excited. But, then magically, once I step out of the car, something happens and the butterflies take off. Everyone on the set of “Supernatural” was so welcoming it was hard to be nervous. We were all excited to be filming the hilarious footage we were filming, it felt like summer camp or something! I loved it. I wish every set could be that inspiring and warm.

Having said that, I do remember my first day on a big show though. It was a very emotional scene. I was so nervous and then crying so hard for the scene, they had to stop. You could hear my heartbeat on the mic! I was so embarrassed… but I remember the director came up to me and just talked to me about the story. Once I stopped thinking about myself, started thinking about the person in front of me, the nerves went away.

TrunkSpace: Have you had the opportunity to feel the reach of the passionate fandom – the SPN Family – since your episode premiered? Has any of it come as a surprise or did you have a sense of how big the fan base was before being cast?
Sales: I mean, when a show is on as long as “Supernatural” has been, they’ve got to be doing something right! And what an amazing cast and crew. It truly is the most welcoming set to walk onto. Having said that, I’m definitely seeing that it has one of the most loyal fan bases out there, and had no idea just how supportive Supernatural’s fans are! They’re lucky to have you cheering them on. Truly.

TrunkSpace: As children of the ‘80s, we have to go back to your wardrobe for a minute. Corey Hart may wear his “sunglasses at night,” but he’d have to wear them all day long if he were on set with you and all of that bright neon. Is the fun side of your job boosted even higher when you’re working on a project where the wardrobe itself becomes such a big part of the character and world you’re inhabiting?
Sales: Most definitely! I have to admit, one of the highlights of my day was watching my hair’s ascension towards the ceiling as they backcombed, sprayed more hairspray, and then backcombed again! Add that to the peacock glitter eye shadow, hot pink knit gloves and leopard print mini skirt, and it’s pretty hard not to feel like pulling out a boom box and slipping back into a different era. I simply love doing period pieces. You really are influenced by wardrobe and in many ways, it makes the job quite a bit easier as an actress. I find myself sinking into the story and the world without even trying. In a strange way, the more outlandish the outfit, the more you remember to just have fun. That acting shouldn’t be about doing it right or whether you’re doing well. It takes you out of your head and into your body, which makes the whole thing more fun! My amazing acting coach, Joe Anthony, once said, “You have to put the spotlight on the person in front of you.” If you think about it, when you’re having a conversation with anyone, that’s exactly what you’re doing. Either that or you’re worrying about what they’re thinking about what you’re saying. Somehow wearing a fun wardrobe or speaking with an accent gets you more present, loosens you up a bit, makes the whole thing more relaxed and experimental, especially when it’s hilarious ‘80’s outfit after outfit.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far – with music or acting – and why?
Sales: I knew as a baby I had to be in the arts. I loved music, acting… I just knew there was no Plan B. And while that choice hasn’t always been easy, and has ruled my life, I’m so grateful that I’m able to support myself doing what I love. It’s hard to say what the main highlight as been! There are so many, and an equal amount of being down in the trenches of misery! But I think, the first moment of absolute bliss for me was when, at the age of 13, I was flown to the Pentagon to sing Judy Garland songs at the WWII Ace Pilots Convention. Obviously, that was a while ago, but it let me know I could do it, that I just had to keep moving forward. And the tears in the eyes of the pilots as they danced with their wives, brought tears to my own eyes. I realized just how powerful a song can be.

Another highlight was slightly after signing my first record deal with Universal. I was in Nova Scotia on tour. We were in the car and I was busting about to pee. All of a sudden, I heard my first single “What You Want” on the radio… I could barely speak. I just swelled up inside and tears burst out with ecstasy. I even forgot I still had to wait another 20 minutes for a rest area. (Laughter) A similar experience happened when I signed with Verve in the US a few years back. I remember turning on a Judy Garland record, grabbing a glass of wine, and dancing around the house with such a feeling of joy and excitement, I could barely breath. I look forward to the next.

I suppose those are all the moments when I felt the highest. As far as credentials go, getting to perform with the likes of Ben Harper at Fuji Rock Festival, touring with Jason Mraz and INXS… so grateful for all those experiences. Then of course, finding out I’d been casting “Deadpool 2!”

TrunkSpace: Finally, Hayley, our wives give us a difficult time because they say our Jensen Ackles man crush is not normal. Having now worked on “Supernatural” yourself, come to our rescue here… he’s worth every ounce of our unbridled bromancing attention, right?
Sales: This might be the best question so far. I’ll keep my answer simple and sweet. Bromance away my dear friends, bromance away.

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Wingman Wednesday

Barry Nerling

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There have been a sundry slew of fan-favorite characters to claw and scratch their way into the hearts of “Supernatural” fans throughout the course of its 14 seasons. Last night’s episode, “Mint Condition,” introduced us to a new dead darling that our slasher-loving lips can’t stop quoting, Hatchet Man.

We all do bad things sometimes!”

We recently sat down with the actor who brought the memorable boogieman to life, Barry Nerling, to discuss hatching Hatchet Man, fortuitous barbecues, and “farting” in front of Steven Spielberg.

TrunkSpace: We are suckers here for “Supernatural,” particularly with the quirky, monster-of-the-week episodes. One of our new favorites is “Mint Condition,” which aired last night. In it you played Hatchet Man. What does it feel like to be a part of such a memorable episode of this long-running series?
Nerling: It feels pretty dam cool to be honest. I started on the show back on Season 1/Episode 3 and they have had a lot of memorable characters along the way. “Supernatural” has always been about hunting monsters and telling cool stories. Their so called “standalone episodes” are always so much fun, like “ScoobyNatural” – one of my favorites. I just hope the fans like this character so he to can join the ranks of all these great character creations spawned by “Supernatural.”

TrunkSpace: Hatchet Man is a great agglomeration of celluloid slashers, particularly those from the ‘80s we grew up with. How would he fare against some of cinemas deadliest like Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and Freddy Krueger?
Nerling: Honestly, I think all of those guys are great. I think we would all look at each other and just nod. You know, like, “I feel you brother, respect.” Although, Krueger likes to try to get into your head, so I think Hatchet Man would have to be careful of that.

TrunkSpace: In the episode, action figures come to life and all hell breaks lose. Did you get to keep any versions of your own mint condition Hatchet Man self as a keepsake? What would you think if actual Hatchet Man figures ever found their way into the collector’s market?
Nerling: Well, sadly the only copy was the life-size version in the comic shop, so no, I did not get a mini version to put with the rest of my collectibles. I for one would love to see the Hatchet Man action figures. If they need me to pose, I am available.

TrunkSpace: Did wardrobe and makeup sort of dictate your performance? Did you just BECOME Hatchet Man when you slipped into his physical skin, so to speak?
Nerling: Playing these types of characters, you always draw from or lean on the makeup and wardrobe, for sure. It is the starting point. Of course, you can not help but draw from the icons of horror as well. I was fortunate to have Special Makeup Effects Artist Mike Fields at the helm for this character and his work is like being in your own skin, so you can really work the character. He designed both the mask and the actual prosthetic makeup I wore.

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked on the series in the past as a stunt performer. Was this a special experience given how featured the character is and how much potential the episode has to remain memorable within the fandom?
Nerling: Yes, this one for sure stands out for me. I have had so much fun doing everything I have been able to do on the show, but yes, this character is very special, for sure. It was also the first time I actually get to fight Jensen (Ackles). I always seem to end up fighting – or should I say, dying at the hands of – Jared (Padalecki), so it was a nice change.

Did I mention how much I love both of those guys? They really are awesome.

TrunkSpace: Speaking of the fandom, there are very few shows out there that have the kind of loyal audience that “Supernatural” has. You’ve seen how the well-oiled machine works both behind the scenes and on camera. What do you think keeps the “Supernatural” train chugging along, currently in its 14th season?
Nerling: First and foremost, the fans are what keep it going. As long as they want to keep watching, the crew will keep making it. Those guys have a lot of fun on that set. They really like each other and it helps that the boys have not changed since day one.

© 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TrunkSpace: You’re based in Vancouver. How important are shows like “Supernatural” and “Arrow,” which you have worked extensively on, to the city and the industry there?
Nerling: These shows are so important to our local industry. They employ a lot of people behind and in front of the camera. They give all of us a chance to show off Vancouver’s talent pool and believe me, we have so much here.

TrunkSpace: You started your career in film and television much later than most. What was it that prompted you to take that leap, because for many people, it’s easier to shelf the dream than it is to pursue it?
Nerling: For me, it was a chance meeting at a barbecue in Vernon that got me here. An agent was there from Vancouver and he liked my look. I took a chance and started doing extra work to get the feel for it and realized I had a performer living in me. So I moved down and started to pursue it more seriously taking classes, getting a principal agent and learning from others around me. Never too late to go for it – whatever you want to do.

TrunkSpace: As we mentioned, you’re also a stunt performer. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done on-camera – the thing that made you go, “Am I really doing this?!?!”
Nerling: I did a gag on “The BFG” where the character I was doubling takes a drink and my pants get blown off from a fart and then I get shot up into the air and crash back down on the table. Looking down and seeing Steven Spielberg giving me direction was definitely one of those moments.

TrunkSpace: One of the things about movie slashers is that they always come back for a sequel! If Hatchet Man came back in the future, would you be willing to pick up the hatchet once more?
Nerling: Absolutely! Anytime they want me to swing the hatchets, I will be ready to slice and dice!

Supernatural” airs Thursdays on The CW.

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