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Artist Features

Speaking With: Cam

CamInterview

Cam burst on the scene at a time when the airwaves were overcome with bro-country, females were in a difficult spot within the genre and despite their best efforts weren’t getting played as much as their male counterparts, if at all. For an established artist, that would be tough but for an up and coming artist trying to break through? Near impossible. Throw in a ballad as a single and that could have been a recipe for disaster. Luckily for us, Cam broke through the barriers with “Burning House” from her debut album “Untamed”, which went to number two in the United States and became a platinum selling single.

Almost three years have past since “Untamed” was released, and Cam is gearing up for a new album cycle, starting with the smash single “Diane”.

Following her solo show and appearances with Sam Smith during his “The Thrill of it All World Tour” in London, we got to chat with Cam about what we can expect from the follow up to “Untamed”, her writing process and her very honest and open views on women and their positions in the music business.

CC: First off, I want to say congratulations on the success of “Diane” so far, it was lovely to see it sitting in the Top 40 all genre charts on iTunes in the UK last week, it’s currently 47 and is sitting at the top of the UK Country charts.

Cam: Yeah, it’s been really cool!

CC: You wrote “Palace” which appeared on Sam Smith’s latest album and have recently released your own version. As a songwriter, are there any tracks that you’ve written with the intention of releasing yourself that have gone to other artists or do you write with the intention of pitching them to others?

Cam: Usually I write with them in mind but honestly every time it’s happened I’ve been invited to go and write, then the artist will be present. So it’s been very obvious that it’s going to Miley or Sam. There’s been times where I’ve tried to write things for other people and it hasn’t worked out that they’ve sung it, it doesn’t happen very often and it’s something I did early on in my career more but as I started getting into being an artist myself, I didn’t have as much time or I didn’t want to let go of anything I loved so I just kept it for myself.

With Sam Smith and Miley Cyrus, when you get invited to go and spend time with an artist like that it’s so much fun because they know what you do. Sam was excited to write with me and we just kinda had the same idea of how the song should go and it sounds so beautiful with him singing it. I didn’t plan on doing it myself but it’s so fun that whenever I sing it live, people get excited about it. So I made a video of a live recording of it and Sam was like “oh it’s so beautiful, you have to share this with people”. It’s not like I’m putting it out on CD or anything but it’s fun to have it out so more people can hear the beautiful song that we did.

CC: You recently visited the UK and made appearances during Sam Smith’s shows at The 02 to perform “Palace” with him and then did your own headline show. What was it like to perform with Sam?

Cam: Oh, so cool! I knew I was coming over there because we were gonna launch “Diane” so I had a show and some press planned. I looked on the calendar and usually maybe if Sam’s free we can write or something and he had those shows at The 02 so I said “oh my gosh, you’re playing! I have to come see you” and he said “if you’re in town, why don’t you come sing “Palace” with me?” I was like of course!

I went out to the shows and remember at rehearsal, they do it that first day and he said “ok you’re going to stand over on this lift over here, it’ll take you four feet up in the air”. Which is a little bit terrifying because I was wearing heels and there’s no handle or anything then he goes, “I’d love to stand next to you but we have this golden, spiral staircase and it’ll be a shame not to use it.”

He goes up on the staircase then I sing from the little lift out on the front part of the stage and sing up to him and it was a really beautiful, modern Romeo and Juliet moment. Every night it was the beginning of the encore, so it’s just a cool moment where everyone’s so excited that you’ve come back out on stage and Sam would introduce me and explain where the song came from, how he spent time in Nashville and it was such a welcoming crowd. It was obviously so special for him, he’s doing this tour all over the world and gets to be home for these few shows and the way the crowd responded. He’s just such a great performer and I felt like when we were singing, especially with a soft song like “Palace” is, you could hear the audience, they were all so quiet and softly singing with us. It was so beautiful and a magical experience.

CC: I think it’s great that instead of having you just watch the show, knowing you were there that he invited you to perform because that could be such a huge platform for you in the UK outside of the usual Country crowd, and it potentially already is with “Diane” being in the Top 40 on iTunes.

Cam: Yeah, exactly! He’s such a big hearted, genuine individual. I haven’t seen anything that feels like typical diva, popstar type behaviour. He’s just a sweet person and is so giving. It seems totally natural to him to check in and be like “is everything ok? How are you feeling?” and I’m just like it’s your show, I’m just here! It was really cool.

CC: UK audiences are known for being a very loud and enthusiastic crowd and thinking back to your debut show here back in 2015 at the iTunes festival, I remember that audience singing “Burning House” back to you but fast forward to your headlining show last month and the video you posted of the “Diane” encore – it seemed to be other level.

Cam: Oh my gosh, I got goose bumps just thinking about it. I’ve come back a few times now, so I’ve developed this kind of relationship with the fans there – I even actually brought two fans to the Sam Smith show and it was so cool. The fans there, you guys know the words to everything! Something off a live session from 2000 whatever, everyone knows all the words! Especially with “Diane” everywhere I’ve gone and, in the US too there’s been such a huge reaction to that song.

At that show, my mic cable fell out of the microphone and I plugged it back in, but I had this moment where I couldn’t sing anything so just told the crowd to sing and they were so loud! That’s what you live for as a songwriter, to know that so many people connect with what it is you’re talking about and want to scream it at the top of their lungs – that’s a really big deal.

CC: So far you’ve done a couple of headlining shows in London but haven’t had a full tour yet, is that something we can look forward to?

Cam: Yes! That’s what I’m working on planning right now, especially with how people have been reacting to “Diane” and it getting played on the main playlist there. It’s confirmed I need to make sure this tour happens soon, so I’m working on it.

CC: Your debut album “Untamed” came out at a time where being a female in Country music was difficult, but being a new female artist seemed impossible! I think the likes of yourself and Kelsea Ballerini really paved the way for your generation of female artists to push through those barriers and succeed. What was that time like, and now you’re releasing new music does it feel any different now?

Cam: I’d say in the beginning I remember thinking, “oh there’s no women, what a great opportunity! They must need me.” I didn’t understand what quite contributed to that climate and so somewhat naively and maybe for the better I just pushed forward thinking of course, they need more women so now’s a great time to come into this. I was really lucky having “Burning House” hit the way it did and the way people reacted, having it get played on radio then have it get the sale numbers and those numbers that everyone feels now we’ll acknowledge that your music is good.

I remember watching what Kelsea was doing then after with Maren Morris, Carly Pearce, Raelynn, Lauren Alaina – there’s a whole long list, well not long list it’s quite a short list but more and more are showing up.

I would say right now is just as bad to be honest with you. The numbers say it’s worse, in the past couple of years it’s actually gotten worse when you look at how many women are being played on American radio; I’m not as well versed on it but it doesn’t seem like the UK has the same issues. In the US, people say oh that’s just radio, so many people are listening to streaming platforms now. I think with that they think that’s another step forward but just because technology is changing, doesn’t mean the values change and a lot of the same people who are a part of programming radio are getting hired into streaming platforms.

I reposted somebody the other day who had looked through all of the Country Spotify Playlists in the US and the most women you’d find on any playlist was three. Even in the main Pop Country, New Country, the main discovery tool to find music but women aren’t there and that’s something I think people can make a lot of excuses for why and they like to come up with these ideas and myths like women don’t sell and that’s just not true. Women sell a lot and can sell more than men, then there’s women don’t listen to women – which again, not true. If you go to my concert, Kelsea’s concert, Maren’s concert, it’s majority women.

They come up with all these stories, “you know people turn off the radio when a woman comes on.” The whole thing is ridiculous because what it comes down to is that there’s still a bunch of older men in power positions, women aren’t at the top positions at labels, radio or a lot of these companies and they’re not asking women what they think; they’re telling women either things that they think they can control the narrative of what women do or don’t like, how to launch women and it’s just totally foreign to them.

What it comes down to is this lingering belief that women aren’t as valuable as men. It comes out in all kinds of ways and it’s something that awareness wise, I think a lot of us think “oh we’re doing fine, women can have jobs and what rights do we have, we’re doing pretty good” but I think you can hold two things in your mind at once. You can say yes, we are better than we’ve ever been and we’ve progressed as far as we’ve ever come in this moment and at the same time you can acknowledge that we’re not there yet.

I’m not here to complain because I’m comfortable, I’m part of this now right? I’ve made the money and I’m doing alright- not to go on a whole tangent with you -but I’m a part of the Grammy Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion where they’re addressing the recording academy and the Grammy’s about how the last Grammy’s went and how women were underrepresented.

The Annenburg Study that they just did, it looks really bad when you see the number of women even nominated, then when you pull out the even bigger picture and look at how many of the music community is actually women? It’s only around 22%. Women are not involved in this, it is a boys club and the reason that keeps women from being a part of it or that keeps them from even seeing themselves in it is probably that they don’t even think it’s possible because you don’t see women doing it.

Producers are only 2% women, songwriters only 12% women. So there is a huge gap that exists that nobody really wanted to acknowledge for a long time because we all wanted to think everything was cool and fine but the truth is, we still have a ways to go. First we have to make sure everyone understands the issue and then we need to start changing attitudes about why and how, then realise that there’s no excuse for being sexist or racist then start changing behaviour.

It’s really important to talk about and I appreciate that at least when you get outside of this eco-system to the UK, you don’t seem to run into the same hurdles, so it allows a lot of women to prove themselves – like me, outside of this culture which is really valuable.

CC: Speaking of your debut, there are songs on there about love and loss with lyrics that rip your heart out but the melody and production is such a different vibe and at times upbeat when stereotypically a heartbreak song tends to be a slow ballad and it works so well. Is this something that is purposely done?

Cam: Yeah, I think some of the saddest and most well written country songs you can dance to but they’re extremely sad; like “She Thinks I Still Care” by George Jones, you’re two-stepping and thinking oh what a cute song, the melody is wrapped up nicely then you’re thinking oh my god, what did he just say?

Sometimes you want to listen to a really sad song on repeat for sure, but sometimes you wanna be dancing around and it’s kinda like a little sugar with the medicine to help get it understood, something that’s a little bit tough. Especially with “Diane” – a woman talking to another woman about a really difficult situation they both didn’t choose to be in but they’re both hurting from it, that’s a heavy thing to talk about and people seem to have trouble processing that even at an up-tempo.

It’s fun to do it that way, it throws people for a loop and it’s fun to make it anthemic and make it something people want to scream and yell and you’re hearing people scream and yell something that’s important to say out loud.

CC: “Diane” is your current single and is your take on the other woman in “Jolene” in effect. Dolly herself has said she loves the song, that must be an amazing feeling to have recognition from such a big influence?

Cam: Oh my gosh, I was on national TV in America at “Good Morning America” and they played a video clip of her talking to me, which it’s honestly terrifying to sing after being surprised on live television. I admire Dolly so much! There’s so many songs where women are pitted against each other and women are competitive or slut shaming or whatever. The inspiration behind “Diane” is from real life stories of people that I really love but also, the tone of it comes from Dolly and “Jolene” because that’s the last time I remember people be honest and human about it – to say please in that sort of tone when you’re confronting another woman? That is next level humanity. For her to compliment my work was a really, really big moment.

CC: I know I’m not alone when I say I’m chomping at the bit for new music, so what can you tell us about your next album?

Cam: I’m so excited about it! I’m definitely someone who grew up loving soundtracks so whenever I make an album I colour code all the songs and I want to make sure there’s not too much of one colour. I don’t try to make an album that sounds the same, it’s definitely mixed – which I think you can hear on “Untamed” too – the stories are all great stories, they’re real. I think my voice has gotten much stronger, the production is so much more developed, so everything has gotten better but there’s still this tie that every song has to move me.

I’m really lucky that I get to have my first big hit be so different, I think it gave me a lot of freedom and a lot of courage to make this next album exactly how I wanted to make it and I did that.

CC: You did a Facebook Live a while back and performed some music and one of the songs you played was “Forgetting You When I’m Alone”. That song is a killer! That needs to be on the album.

Cam: That song is on there, don’t you worry. It was actually the one that my producer and co-writer played for Sam Smith and that’s why he wanted to write with me. I also played that song for Harry Styles and that’s why I got to open for him. That song is my little good luck charm and I’m glad you like it too.

CC: You are very much a storyteller and your songs are put together in a way where for me anyway, I can imagine what it looks like– there’s a part in Burning House where I imagine the old couple in the bed in Titanic as the ship is going down, which I know is very random!

Cam: People have actually said that to me!

CC: Where do you draw inspiration from as a writer because your music is very visual.

Cam: I love having it be visual and it’s important to me. When I meditate, I have to have it be visual meditation – I’m very imaginative and everything in my imagination is visual too. With “Burning House” I literally did have that dream, so I could reference those visuals from my dream while I was writing that.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, somebody can say something. If it’s my story or someone else’s story it has to hit me in my gut because I know there’s so much work involved to writing it correctly, to producing it correctly to then taking it around and playing it to everybody for probably the rest of my career that I have to feel very invested in it. So if it’s something that will make me want to laugh out loud or want to cry, I know it’s something that’s worth spending the time on.

CC: What would fans be surprised to know about you?

Cam: I’m obsessed with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. One of my biggest fans who runs @camcountrytour on Instagram and twitter, she came to a show and she gave me the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series, but in book form so I’m currently reading those. I’ve seen every single episode and now I’m reading the books. So that might be a fun fact.

CC: One thing we love to know here at Completely Country is if you could go back and give yourself advice when you were starting out in the business, knowing what you know now – what would you say?

Cam: That’s good…it’s tough because you’re only here because of all the things that you’ve done, you know? The good and the bad. I’d probably just remind myself and just really drive home that no one knows the answer. It’s just you and whatever you want to do, and especially in the music business – people act like they can help you but the only people that are really there to help you are the ones that will tell you that only you have the answer. They’ll say let us help you find it or let us help you amplify it or let me support you while you’re working on it. Anyone else who say they have the answer for you, it’s not really going to help you. Which is both freeing and terrifying at the same time.

Since our interview, the UK dates been worked on have now been announced alongside additional dates across Europe. You can see Cam perform live at any of the following dates;

  • 11 September // London, UK
  • 12 September // Manchester, UK
  • 13 September // Birmingham, UK
  • 15 September // Amsterdam, Holland
  • 17 September // Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 19 September // Oslo, Norway

You can learn more about Cam by visiting her official website or by following her on her social media pages;

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Artist Features

Speaking With: Eric Paslay

ERICPASLAYHEADER

They say things are bigger in Texas, and when you look at the talented artists that have originated in the Lone Star State you can see why. EMI Recording artist Eric Paslay is one of a long list of those artists who have moved from Texas to make it in Music City and while the journey is not always an easy one, Paslay’s talent has seen him celebrate five number one hits as a songwriter, release his own music and have a number one hit in the form of “Friday Night” from his debut album, as well as nominations at the ACM Awards and Grammy’s.

It has been a while since Paslay’s self-titled debut album was released back in 2014, but luckily for us the wait for new music is almost over! In the meantime, we caught up with the singer/songwriter ahead of his first trip to the UK for Country Music Week where he performed a number of shows alongside Randy Houser, Angeleena Presley and Michael Tyler for the CMA Songwriter’s Series.

CC: Your self-titled debut album was released back in 2014 which was the peak of what was called the Bro Country era. Your music was completely different to that trend, so was it frustrating that you maybe weren’t getting as airplay because you weren’t necessarily following the crowd or in some ways do you think it set you apart from the crowd in a positive way?

EP: I don’t know if I’ve ever been part of a crowd so I’m just following the way that I am. I’ve always been an outsider I guess but I think we definitely had some success with that album, I’m grateful for that and I think music always changes. I’m just grateful we still get to make music, we had some great success with that; “She Don’t Love You” got nominated for Song of the Year at the ACM awards. I’m grateful that people are diggin’ what I’m doing and we’re in the studio right now recording some new music, so I’m trying to stay with what I love doing.

I definitely am guilty of always trying to entertain people so I don’t always do the exact same song, but I always try and make sure people are entertained and give them great music.

CC: You’ll be performing five times during your time here in the UK, including some shows during Country Music Week. Do you have anything touristy planned?

EP: I have never gone to the UK, I’ve been to Ireland but that’s it. I’ve been joking that ill be the giant cowboy walking around with a camera around my neck and a fanny pack. It’s a terrible image but I’ll definitely be a tourist.

Randy Houser is going to be over there with us, we just had a show together and all we talked about was coming over to the UK. So he’s looking forward to it, I am too and he’s never been to the UK either so he and I will just be walking around with funny country accents going “look at that man, that was in that 007 movie”.

It’ll be really fun, really looking forward to it so yes, definitely looking forward to being a tourist as much as I can and I’m grateful that we’re getting to play so many shows for all the country fans there.

CC: You have had success as both an artist and as a songwriter – I learned recently that you co-wrote one of my favourite songs “It Ain’t Pretty” with Nicolle Galyon. Starting out was it always the end goal to be an artist or did you originally set out for your career to be in song writing?

EP: Yeah it was always to be a singer. I was always told when you move to Nashville, if you wanted to get a record deal you should get a publishing deal first and start writing songs. So I did that and it worked out fabulously. I’m glad other people have recorded my songs and grateful that I’m getting to do what I came here to do and dreamt of doing. I’m just kinda double lucky that I get to write songs then other people record them then I get to record and release my own music as well.

I love that you love “It Ain’t Pretty”. I actually tried to re-write that song to put it on my own album but only a girl can really sing it. It just doesn’t work with a guy, I tried to kinda re-write it from a 3rd person perspective but it just doesn’t sound honest.

Lady Antebellum recorded it first then Martina McBride just recorded it. It’s just one of those songs that wants to be heard.

CC: I was disappointed it wasn’t a single for Lady Antebellum. As a fan listening to an album, there’s always one track that really stands out and for me it was “It Ain’t Pretty.” Then Martina McBride recorded it so that made me happy.

EP: I was thinking Lady Antebellum gifted me again because they recorded “Friday Night” and didn’t put it out and I thank them every time I see them, like thank you so much because that was my first hit as a singer, then I was like maybe I could just re- write “It Ain’t Pretty” because they haven’t put it out, but it just doesn’t quite work. One of these days another female artist will get it out there and more people will get to hear it but it is really a beautiful song. Nicolle Galyon is an incredible writer and singer, she’s just awesome and I’m glad we got that song and I’m glad that you love it.

CC: You’ve just led to my next question, I imagine song writing is a very complex process. So if you listen to a song back a year or two down the line, do you ever hear something you’ve had a hand in and think I was I could change that line, verse so the story goes in a different direction or are you a writer that tends to be happy with the completed project?

EP: Well if nobody has recorded it yet, you can keep changing it. It just always changes. I’ve got a song that we’ve recorded but it hasn’t come out yet and I’ve already started re-writing the first verse, it’s just not quite right so we’ll see where that one ends up – I’m still working on it. I think it’s harder to re-write a song that you’ve already written, it’s hard to erase the ink that’s been sitting on the page for a long time, but I think if you know you can try and make it better, then make it better before everyone hears it but don’t overthink it.

With songs a lot of times it is good to re-write something if you know it needs to be re-written but also you just learn from each one of ‘em on what you might do different next time. I haven’t really had any regrets so far, there hasn’t been anything where it was like ah I wish I’d have written that a little different. If anyone hears a song ever and they’re singing along, you don’t need to change anything – it’s good.

CC: Your wife is also in the music business and worked at the same publishing company as you when you met, and had a hand in getting some of your biggest hits cut. What is that dynamic like?

EP: It’s pretty amazing, I got to marry one of my best friends. She’s got such good ears and a great pulse of good music. She was the one that took “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” to Jake Owen and up to Sony Records for that, and really just wore out Cliff Aldridge – he worked with Eli Young Band for years – for “Even if it Breaks Your Heart” and finally he was like “fine, yeah you’re right! This song would be great for them”. I mean that was a two-year process of “are you sure Cliff, this would be great for them.”

It really is amazing. There are so many people behind the scenes, my wife is a great publisher, there are so many great publishers in Nashville that really become the champions of songwriters and they won’t take no for an answer. I mean they take no all the time, it’s their job to hear no, no, no but whenever you get the yes and it all works out, it’s even sweeter.

My wife’s as sweet as can be and I’m grateful for her being such a passionate music person, I’m grateful that we met through music and I’m grateful that we’ve had success through music too.

CC: Your latest project “The Worktapes” was released a little while ago and has material to wet fans taste buds if you like, until your second album is released. It is a small collection of songs from your massive catalogue of over 1500 songs, what was that process like? We hope to have it released in the UK soon!

EP: So basically, if you and I wrote a song together we write the verse, we write the chorus, we’ve got the song done and before we go to lunch we’re like “we should probably record this, so we don’t forget it”. That’s the Work tape, it’s the rawest version of a song with just a guitar, the piano or whatever you’re writing on and whoever’s singing it.

It’s literally that, just five songs that are as raw as can be. My wife and I have worked together for so long, it was her idea – she was like “Eric you need to let fans have music and what a cool way for them to hear you as a songwriter and singer and what is sounds like when you first catch a song. So that’s what we did, released five songs. Four of them I’ve never released at all and one of them “Less Than Whole” which was a song on my first album. They’re just very simple versions of those songs but there’s a magic in those recordings, I always think there’s so many great albums that were recorded as they were written and they’re some of the coolest recordings ever.

We didn’t have fancy mics set up and all that for these work tapes, I kinda wish I did but they’re pretty amazing versions.

CC: There was news of your sophomore album “Dressed in Black” being released, is that something we can still look forward to soon and what can fans expect from that or is it being tweaked slightly?

EP: I think the universe has decided that album is going to be tweaked slightly and I’m not even sure if it’ll be called that. I’ve been in the studio working on new music and new songs keep showing up that want to be recorded, so we’re going in and recording ‘em. I think a few songs from “Dressed in Black” will be on this next album and a bunch of other new songs, once we’re done with recording everything we’ll see which songs win and those will be the ones on the album. It just wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t supposed to come out this time but I’m sure all those songs will be heard eventually.

CC: You are about to open three shows for Faith Hill and Tim McGraw on their Soul2Soul tour, what was it like to be asked and what are you most looking forward to about it?

EP: We’re thrilled to death, we’ll be out this weekend with Tim and Faith for a couple of shows. I’ve always loved their music and they’ve both always had great songs. It’ll be good to hang out with them and soak up their good vibes this weekend.

CC: What was it like to get that call and be asked to be on the tour and what are you most looking forward to?

EP: I’m still smiling! There’s so many albums that influence you, a ton of Tim’s albums you can’t help but turn up and I’m sure I have driven into town many days listening to a lot of his albums thinking I hope I can write a song this good today. It’ll be awesome to go on the road and I’m just super grateful that we’re getting to play some shows with them. I’m glad we’re getting to play these shows with them this weekend and maybe we’ll get to hop on a big ole tour with them one day and I’m always grateful when you get to open for people that you love.

CC: If your current self could say anything to yourself as you were starting on this crazy journey that is the music business, what advice would you give yourself knowing what you know now?

EP: I think I would tell myself be serious but don’t be too serious. Soak up every day, every moment out on the road – don’t think of it as another stop, think of it as another story to remember. I tell that to every new kid going out on radio tour, it’s like they’re probably not going to play this song and I don’t tell them that to break their hearts but just to let them know that it’s a long journey, it’s not just one song. It’s not just one year of their life, it’s hopefully a whole career in music and I probably would have told myself that.

That being said though, people do tell you that but it’s one of those experiences where you have to go on your own. The wild thing about the music business is even if you tell someone your story, it’s hard to believe because it’s such a wild, trippy business and everyone has their own story which is kind of a beautiful thing. I think what people told me, I would have believed more but mainly I would have made sure any music I made wasn’t chasing radio or chasing anything else other than I love this and I think other people will love it if they get a chance to hear it.

You can learn more about Eric Paslay by visiting his official website or by following him on his social media pages;

Since our chat, Paslay has released his new single “Young Forever” and we can’t to hear more!

 

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Artist Features

Speaking With: Brandy Clark

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With the release of her debut album “12 Stories” back in 2013, Brandy Clark instantly proved that she wasn’t a wallflower when it comes to her music. While in the midst of bro-country, Brandy released gutsy songs like “Stripes”, “Pray to Jesus” and “Hungover”, her style was a welcome and refreshing change from what was the in thing at the time. Since then, Brandy’s music has continued to resonate with fans here and across the pond for being about real-life success, struggles and everything in between.

After the release of “12 Stories”, Brandy signed with major label Warner Bros Records and released the highly anticipated album “Big Day in a Small Town.” Produced by Jay Joyce, it was a bigger and bolder version of the Brandy Clark fans have come to know and love.

During her recent European tour, we got to talk with Brandy while she was in Sweden about the difference between working on music whilst on an independent label vs a major label, what inspires her, what song she finds difficult to perform live because of the personal meaning to her and more.

CC: Hi Brandy, it’s great to speak with you today. Firstly, happy belated birthday! How did you celebrate?

BC: Thank you! Well it felt like I celebrated forever because I had just gotten to Amsterdam, so it was my birthday was seven hours earlier than in the States. I walked around Amsterdam and had a beautiful day and a lot of well wishes, so it was a really good time.

CC: You’re currently in Sweden as part of your European tour, have you had chance to explore?

BC: I did today, I walked around a little. I’ve had the least amount of time to explore here, I got to explore in Germany and Amsterdam a little bit more but this is such a beautiful place. From what I can see of Stockholm, it’s so beautiful.

CC: The last time we spoke, it wasn’t too long after your appearance at C2C. Quite a lot has happened since then and you’re about to tour the UK for the second time. Due to demand, an additional show was added in London, which is awesome. It must be pretty cool to be able to do that outside of the US?

BC: It is! You know, it’s crazy to me and I felt this way in Germany the other night – well in every place we’ve been – it blows my mind when anyone knows my music that I can’t touch or a place that I’ve not been, that always blows my mind. It doesn’t shock me if I play a show in Nashville and a lot of people come or in my home state of Washington, but other places? That just floors me, that people go out and they find music. That’s a great thing for an artist like me and it really does just blow my mind.

CC: A UK fan favourite is Charlie Worsham and you guys went out on a tour together earlier this year. How was that?

BC: That was great. You know, Charlie is one of my favourites. He’s just a great artist, he’s a great artist, a great musician, singer and songwriter. Being on tour with him was amazing because I felt like every night the level of musicianship was just so high on his end of things, so you want your end of things to be just as good.

CC: Your second album “A Big Day in a Small Town” was released last year and was the first release on a major label. How did the experience differ compared to working on “12 Stories”?

BC: Well the level of pressure was a little higher. Having “12 Stories” be a success, there was a pressure to make “A Big Day in a Small Town” be a success as well. The time we recorded was much quicker because with this record there was a budget and with the first one there really wasn’t, so I could spend a month and do nothing but that – that was pretty great.

Some of the ways we worked on releasing it were different than “12 Stories”, we had some different opportunities but both ways were really fun and there’s nothing like the first time. With “12 Stories”, experiencing all those things for the first time, that’s pretty great.

CC: What I loved about “A Big Day in a Small Town” was it had all of the elements that fans fell in love with in the first place but everything was bigger and bolder. I particularly liked the transition between tracks, I thought that was really funky.

BC: Oh thank you. Yeah, I worked with Jay Joyce on this record and he’s really great. It was his idea to do those transitions and we came up with them together, you know what they were going to be, the musicians that were in the studio were involved in that as well but that was his call. I’m really glad that I was open to it and that it worked out the way it did.

CC: Country music is known to be about real life, but I think artists such as yourself and Lori McKenna really take it up a notch with your song writing. It is more real day to day life rather than a glossy version. Has there ever been times you’ve written something where you thought “that’s a bit close to the bone”?

BC: Yeah, I’ve written things where some of my songs are more me than others. There’s songs on “A Big Day in a Small Town” like “Since You’ve Gone to Heaven”, that was inspired by the death of my father which was many years ago now but I had that idea after he passed away. He was killed in an accident in July of 2001 and then a couple of months later 9/11 happened. I remember watching the ticker tape on CNN and all the terrible things that were happening and thinking man, since my Dad has died the world has gone to hell.

I had that idea but it was several years before I sat down and wrote it because it really was just too close to home. That one for me hits real hard, real close to home and every once in a while, I’ll play it in a show but most times I don’t because it’s real hard for me to get through it.

CC: I did wonder if there are any songs that were maybe a bit too personal that are difficult to perform live.

BC: That one I definitely do feel that way about.

CC: You recently released a live album recorded at one of your shows “Live in Los Angeles”. How did that come about and how do you choose a particular show to record?

BC: That came about completely organically, some places you play have the ability to record the show and usually if they do, I try and make that happen. I like to go back and listen and kind of hear not just the songs but what I’m saying in between the songs so I can see what works, what could work better so that was the reason why we recorded it – but it went so well that night that we decided, well it wasn’t me, it was the label (Warner Brothers) that said let’s to turn this into a live album. It was a longer show than what’s on the record, so we had to cut some songs but I feel really lucky that I got to do it…easiest record I’ve ever made. So that was real cool.

CC: I think it’s quite a good way for fans who maybe can’t attend a show, they’re still experiencing some aspect of it this way.

BC: That’s how I felt too.

CC: During your set on Miranda Lambert’s tour, you opened with a new song “Favourite Lie”. Does that mean new material is in the near future?

BC: Yes it does. In fact, part of why I’ve started to play new songs in my set is just to see and try a few things out that I’m thinking about for my next record, so I can see how the crowd responds to them. It’s my goal to make a new record this year, I don’t know when it’ll come out but that’s where my head is right now other than touring – figuring out what my next record is going to be.

CC: What would fans be surprised to know about you?

BC: Wow, that’s a great question. A lot of people think I’m this badass, I don’t know if that’s the right word to use but I see that a lot because of my songs. I think people would be surprised that I’m not a substance abuser is what I was trying to get at there, I’m not somebody who is getting high all the time or drinking all the time – not that I don’t ever do those things but I’m more straight laced than my songs.

CC: I’ve seen on social media that you like to binge watch TV shows. So, what kind of shows do you watch in your downtime? There’s never enough Netflix suggestions!

BC: I love “Narcos”, that’s one of my favourites and I love “The Crown”. I pretty much just watch Netlfix, I don’t really have any episodic television that I’m watching right now. I love “Breaking Bad”, which is a series that’s a little bit older, but I watch a lot of that and this is crazy but a lot of the time it helps me fall asleep at night. I like TV shows that are about the seedier elements of life, “Narcos” and “Breaking Bad” are about drugs and people dealing drugs, which is probably some of where I draw inspiration from.

You can buy Brandy Clark’s albums on iTunes and keep up to date with her via her social media channels and the official Brandy Clark website;

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Artist Features

Speaking With: Morgan Evans

Morgan Evans – Promo 1

Australian native Morgan Evans has already experienced success down under, where he released three EP’s, a self-titled debut album and won multiple CMC Awards. Residing in Nashville, Evans is working to get his music heard worldwide and having recently signed a US deal with Warner Nashville he is well on his way to achieving that.

Before the last show of his UK tour this Summer, we were lucky enough to catch up with Morgan Evans in London and got to know a little more about him, what we can expect from his music and how he creates his brilliant mash up videos.

CC: Firstly, congratulations on signing your record deal in the US with Warner Music Nashville, that’s exciting and you’re in great company on that roster. What can we expect from your album and are there any ideas of a release time yet?

M.E: Very exciting! It means I get to put out music all over the world now, so yeah I’m excited. The first single is coming out on the 21st July so here it comes. I’m on my first trip to the UK basically to introduce myself rather than put out music and for people to have no idea who you are so we came over to say hello. We’ll be releasing more music this year and then a full album next year.

CC: You mentioned that you can now release music worldwide but for those who don’t know your music yet, if there was one song that you’ve already got and you could say listen to that, that’s me. What would it be?

M.E: I don’t think I have it. I think that’s the point, I mean I put out three EP’s and an album in Australia and spent a lot of time touring down there but two and a half years ago I moved to Nashville and rediscovered myself as a songwriter and I think I learnt to write songs. I think before I was just putting words and music together and now I feel like I’m learning to write and to know what a great song is. The first single that is coming out, “Kiss Somebody” will be the first song I can go hey, go check that out. In the meantime, I’ve been doing these mashups online, have you seen them?

CC: Yes!

M.E: So when I moved to America I left my band at home and that was a big deal for me because it was my brother and two of my best friends and we toured together for eight years almost. When I moved to Nashville I had a couple of weekends of shows, and put together bands with great Nashville musicians and it just didn’t feel right. So I just went ok I can’t play with them, I need my old band and until I can get my old band I’ll get this loop pedal. I got one of those and started playing around with that a lot at home, writing a lot on it and that’s where a lot of the inspiration for the record came from.

CC: How do you come up with the mashups? I love music but I could never listen to different songs and think they’d work together, and some of the ones you’ve done I would never have thought they’d work but they do. I can’t get my brain around how it works!

M.E: Thank you. Well I guess the story that I just told was the reason I got this pedal and the reason I started doing the mashups was because I was going out and playing and much like what I’m doing here, I’m going to play to people and people coming to the shows might be aware of who I am but they don’t necessarily know the music because there’s nothing out here yet. I thought I need to play some songs they know but I want to do it more creatively than just get out and play a cover.

I started putting them together and one of my friends said that’s pretty cool, you should record that and put it on YouTube or Facebook, so we did. We put one up and people really responded to it and were messaging me saying they liked it and were sharing it with their friends so we recorded another one and another we recorded the other day which should be coming out next week or the week after. It’s just a cool way of saying I’m back, this is what I’m doing, I’ve got my own stuff coming but in the meantime, check it out.

CC: I like that you do that though. I saw your tweet about the Bobby Cast and Bobby Bones seems to have said many times that there are some artists that just won’t do covers and are very much like no I am only doing my music. I think it’s good that you’re introducing yourself that way, and you could even gain fans from those artists’ fan bases.

M.E: Thank you, well actually on the last one we put up, well on both the first two that we put up a bunch of the artists that I included in the mashups were sharing them. When someone like Keith Urban puts it on their page, that’s amazing! Little Big Town shared it and Brett Eldredge and all those guys so it was pretty cool.

CC: What can you tell us about your journey so far?

M.E: It’s been long. I don’t know, it’s funny because I feel like I’m at the start now. I’m ready to start and it’s taken a long time to get to a point where I feel like this is who I am, this is what I want to do and how I want it to sound and this is what I want to say. I think people come to that at different times in their life, it took years playing in Australia, years of back and forth between playing in Australia and Nashville to finally biting the bullet and getting the paperwork done which is no mean feat. When you get to Nashville as a musician, there is a very high standard.

CC: Everyone wants what you’re going for.

M.E: Yeah, which can either be very inspiring or intimidating and I think the combination of those two things either destroys you or make you want to be better every day. I’ve had more days where I want to be better than I’ve had wanting to destroy myself so through that process I think it’s been the biggest learning curve. Landing there and just being forced to be better.

CC: Sink or swim?

M.E: Yeah! Pretty much, and sink wasn’t the worst thing ever. I mean sink was go back to Australia and be reunited with my family and friends and all of that, which is an awesome life but to be able to do what you love with people in the world that are doing it at the highest level? That’s a pretty cool thing.

CC: You have already had success in Australia and it’s probably fair to say you’re starting over in a sense here in the UK and in the states where you’re performing to new fans and getting your music heard. What’s that like when you’ve already been on the scene in Australia for a few years?

M.E: Oh yeah, absolutely! I see how it could be difficult for some people that have success in a country, then go to another and have to start all over again but for me while any success I was having in Australia was happening, I was always going to Nashville to write and to be creative. It was actually good for me to escape and go somewhere else to be totally immersed in creativity, so I guess I always understood that feeling. I never got the whole ah yes! I’ve made it feeling that people talk about or might say.

I always had an understanding that I’d leave Australia and have to start all over again so I guess because I was always aware of it, it’s not a shock to me. There’s something really awesome about it as well, in Australia we played CMC Rocks Festival in front of fifteen thousand people then we went over to New Zealand and played with the Dixie Chicks which was twenty-six thousand people. Huge shows but then we played in Glasgow the other night, there might’ve been one hundred and fifty people there in this little club underneath a church called Oran Mor. It’s a cool old place and there’s something about this feeling, it’s like you’re meeting them and they’re discovering you and you’re meeting them at the same time. You can stay behind afterwards and meet everybody, I feel there the nights you’ll remember forever and look back on as the good ole days.

CC: It’d be good to hear your take on this, as it’s a bit of an interesting debate among UK fans. We have a UK Country scene here; some people love it and some people just aren’t on board and say it’s not real country because they’re not American. Obviously, you’re not American so what are your thoughts on that?

M.E: I don’t think you have to be American to sing country music at all. That’s like saying in the fifties and sixties you had to be from England to play Rock N Roll, it doesn’t make sense. I get that it’s certain kinds of country just like there’s certain kinds of rock n roll or certain kinds of pop music and maybe if someone from the UK was singing about driving their truck and drinking Jack Daniels that could be seen as not real. When I hear music from The Shires and Ward Thomas I get that it’s country but I love that is has that different edge to it. I think that’s cool and probably why people here are responding to that, I mean they’re doing really well aren’t they?

CC: Yes, Ward Thomas were the first country act to have a Number One album and are opening for Miranda Lambert on her UK tour then The Shires have been signed to an American label and have had their own success here in the UK.

M.E: That’s huge! To answer your question, no I don’t think you have to be from America to play country music but I think it’s important to still be yourself and be authentic because that’s the main part of country music. Both those bands are doing really well.

CC: You’ve toured with Taylor Swift, Alan Jackson, Dixie Chicks and more recently Kelsea Ballerini. Have you taken anything from these tours that have influenced the way you perform in your own shows?

M.E: I think the best thing those artists do is to be themselves, particularly Taylor, Kelsea and Dixie Chicks. I’d put them all in the category of just being themselves. Maybe on stage they’re a bigger version of themselves but watching people like that makes you go that’s why people love them so much. The people that love those artists love them more than they love their songs, they connect personally because their songs are real. I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned.

It’s not just about playing live either, it’s about all of it. It’s about the songs they write, how they sing the song, how they look and how they present themselves and their authenticity. That’s just so important! If I’ve learnt anything, it’s that.

CC: Another congratulation is in order, as you and Kelsea got engaged back in December. Obviously in the states she’s one of the biggest stars at the moment and the ‘it thing’ right now, is that an added pressure for you with releasing your own music there? 

M.E: She’s doing well, yeah! In terms of the music thing, as an Australian in Nashville you already have to prove yourself so much because you’re not from there. It’s like why should we take a chance on someone who’s not from here when we could have someone who is from here who is doing the same thing? I feel like being with Kelsea and meeting people through her, it’s a similar kind of thing.

It’s like well you’re just here because of her so you almost have to prove yourself again but because I was already doing that it’s kind of the same feeling. I’m like whatever…let me have a go, let me play for you and that’s all I can do. I could look at it as extra pressure but at the end of the day all I can do is be as good as I can possibly be and be who I am.

CC: Being happy will influence both yours and Kelsea’s music in a positive way.

M.E: Yeah! Everyone loves her too, she’s such an awesome chick. It’s not like she’s someone that’s controversial or that certain people don’t like, she’s a genuine good person and people almost like you better for being a part of her life.

CC: Does living in Nashville change the way you make music or any of the creative process at all compared to how you did things in Australia?

M.E: Yeah, definitely. I used to write all of my songs by myself because I didn’t know you wrote with other people. Then I went to Nashville and it was like oh hey they all write songs together, what a great idea. That’s mostly what I do now, often I’ll start a song by myself but I’ll usually take it in to a couple of friends and we’ll finish it together. So collaboration is probably the main thing for sure.

CC: As we mentioned earlier it’s the first time you’ve toured here, what has the experience been like for you?

M.E: It’s been amazing! We played this festival in Manchester called Buckle and Boots, it’s a real grass roots kind of festival. It’s around 1500 people there and was again like that pub in Scotland where I got to play to a bunch of people that probably had no idea who I was and by the of the set everyone was singing along with their hands in the air. It was like this shared experience of discovery, I was discovering them as the UK Country core fan group and I was like the new kid in town I guess.

So that was great, and as I said Scotland was great, Bristol was really cool and the last show in London, again I don’t know what to expect. London feels like a worldly city, Manchester was very England, Glasgow was very Scotland, Bristol was very Bristol/England but in London I feel like I could be in Sydney or New York so who knows what the crowd will be like.

CC: Who do you consider to be your musical heroes and if you could sit and co-write with one person, past or present who would it be?

M.E: Paul McCartney, though I probably wouldn’t want to write with him. I’d probably sit down and be like let’s get drunk and you tell me stories. Keith Urban is someone I look up to, he’s doing it now and has been for a long time and is at the highest level. Keith seems a good person, I’ve got to know him a little bit and every part of his career and life is just good and classy. I’m a big Ed Sheeran fan too, I think he’s doing great. I love the way he is, he’s just himself all of the time and John Mayer too. Musically he has always made really, really great music that everyone loves which I think is the hardest thing to do.

You can buy Morgan Evans’ current single “Kiss Somebody” on iTunes and keep up to date with him via his social media channels and the official Morgan Evans website;

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Artist FeaturesFeatured

Speaking With: Lauren Alaina

LA_RLT_Cvr_PhotoOnly_HIres_WEB2

CC: Hi Lauren, my name is Sam and I’m the Editorial Director for completelycountry.co.uk. I’d just like to take the opportunity to thank you for talking with us today. We really appreciate it.

LA: Oh my gosh, thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I appreciate it.

CC: First of all I have to mention that I saw the Britney Spears video you posted yesterday which was amazing! How did that happen?

LA: Thank you! We’re goofy. We have to find ways of entertaining ourselves on the bus and so I taught them that choreography. We actually did that about two weeks ago and I finally thought I’m gonna post it.

CC: How long did it take to teach them the moves (Lauren’s band members), because I know most girls as young kids wanted to be Britney Spears but that was just spot on.

LA: Honestly, it only took about twenty minutes.

CC: Impressive.

LA: I was very impressed by their skills.

 

CC: 2017 for you so far has seen an album release, your single in the top 5, an already completed tour and another over summer with Luke Bryan as well as an ACM nomination for Best New Female artist. I think it’s safe to say this is your year?

LA: Thank you, I’m pretty excited! I feel like I’ve been waiting for six years for it to catch on and oh my gosh I can’t even explain how excited I am. I am just freaking out.

CC: You’ve certainly worked hard for it and it’s about time everyone caught on and I’m glad they have.

LA: Thank you so much, me too.

CC: You released your debut album pretty quickly after American Idol, but as you said it’s been five years between that and the release of “Road Less Traveled” back in January. Was it nerve-wracking to release a full-length album that you had a hand in writing each track of after such a gap?

LA: Yes I was very nervous. I mean super thankful though that I got the opportunity to have a second album and to be able to tell my actual story but it was definitely scary. I was very nervous but I think it’s been received really well so that’s very exciting.

CC: Five years is a long time for anything, especially in the music industry. Were there ever moments when you thought ‘that’s it, the second album is not going to be released, I’ve worked hard and it may not see the light of day’? And what has it been like to hear such high praise for it?

LA: I thought that a million times. You know that’s a long time and the music industry typically moves between albums about every two years so five years is unheard of. To keep my record deal is so amazing and I’m so thankful for that but I think everything happens for a reason and the timing ended up being perfect because I went through so much that I needed that time to write this album. It’s so rewarding now to tell my own stories, kind of share where I’ve been and get to now hear how people are reacting, responding and receiving it.

CC: Absolutely, I know on social media people have been praising the album a lot so from following your career from “American Idol” to here it’s been really great to see.

LA: Thank you so much!

CC: You’ve been through a lot both personally and professionally, and “Road Less Traveled” is like listening to a diary at times. Was it difficult to write about your life in detail and was there any time where you were nervous to be so open about it with your music and to let people in, in such a vulnerable way?

LA: Yeah it’s definitely scary because they’re my stories and they’re super personal and I didn’t know how people would react to that but for me, it was super freeing because I needed to tell those stories. I needed to share who I really am. I felt that in my career so far, before this album, I didn’t get to share who I am because I was scared of who I am. I wasn’t honest about who I am and I was just kinda trying to be this perfect blonde girl who fit this perfect little mould and I just wasn’t being honest with the world about who I am.
I feel like in the last few years I’ve really come to terms with who I am, accepted who I am and learned to love who I am and my music helped me do that. Being honest with the music I found myself with this album, I’m so excited because I think we all have problems and we all have things going on in our lives that we don’t necessarily want to share with people, but I think when we do share those things with people they have a completely new connection with us and I’ve really felt that with this music – that I’m connecting with people in a brand new way.

CC: Are there any songs you struggle to perform to an audience because of the subject? And throughout the struggles how have you remained so sunny and positive?

LA: After Idol, I didn’t handle things very well. I had an eating disorder for a very long time because people commented on my weight and I was making my hair blonder because people commented on my hair, so I was making decisions based on what other people wanted for me and what I thought they needed from me. Then finally I woke up one day and I decided to get better, I overcame this eating disorder and I started talking to people and figuring out everyone has problems. We’re all flawed individuals who have insecurities and things about us we’d like to change, but that doesn’t make us less of a beautiful thing. We’re all really great, unique and beautiful in our own way. It took me a while to get to that point but now I feel really confident in who I am, I love who I am and I accept my flaws, and of course I still have insecurities that will never go away but I’m healthier about them and with that mindset other people don’t have control of my feelings anymore. People can hurt my feelings, people can upset me but they’re not going to upset me to the point I make a bad decision because of it because I’m in a better place and I think it all begins with us. We have to take care of ourselves and be in a good place then people don’t affect us as much as they would if we weren’t in a good place.

CC: Songs like “Road Less Traveled”, “Think Outside the Boy” and “Pretty” have important messages that people can really take something from. What’s it like to be considered a role model?

LA: It’s scary ‘cos I don’t want to let people down, I want to be someone they can look up to but you know what’s a great thing about it? It makes me want to be a better person, it makes me want to be someone that girls can look up to, that guys can look up to and that parents want their kids to look up to. I’ll never be perfect, I’m gonna make mistakes and I’m probably going to get criticised for those mistakes but I make it a conscious effort to be the best person I can be and because people consider me a role model it makes me be even better than if I weren’t one.

CC: A track on the album that has been getting a lot of attention lately is “Three” after your performance during CRS, which I think is a great anthem for fellow artists. It really shows the audience the sacrifices that artists go through in the beginning and throughout their career to live out their dreams. Would you change anything?

LA: No I wouldn’t, I think everything that’s gotten me to this point happened for a reason. I know it sounds cheesy but that’s so true, everything that happens to us makes us who we are and shapes us into the people we are. Would I like to go back and hug my sixteen-year-old self and tell her that six years from that moment she was going to have a song in the top five, that she was going to be touring with Martina McBride and Luke Bryan and have these crazy, amazing opportunities? I would like to tell her that just to make her cry a little less, but because my sixteen-year-old self cried so much I have the song “Pretty” and I have the song “Road Less Traveled”. Hard times, they’re hard but they teach you about yourself. So I’m not sure I’d change anything, I just might have given myself a hug.

CC: “Road Less Traveled” is your highest charting song to date, currently sitting at #5 and still climbing. That must feel pretty special after all the time and effort you’ve put in, what are you going to do to celebrate?

LA: Everyone keeps asking me and honestly I don’t know! I’m still in shock, I think we’re so close to going number one that I’m just kind of holding my breath at this point hoping for the best and if we don’t go all the way, we don’t go all the way and that will be fine. I’m so proud of five, I’m proud to be in the top five I just think I’m going to get all of the people I love in one big room and we’re going to celebrate. We’re going to have a good time and I’m going to get my family to come up from home and all of my friends to be there and it’ll be one big celebration.

CC: I hope it’ll be a number one celebration but if it isn’t, number five is also pretty amazing. You just finished the CMT Next Women of Country tour, how was that experience?

LA: It was great, I loved that tour so much! Martina was so kind to me, she really spent time with me and the other openers that were on the tour as well. I really feel like she is such an amazing person and I’ve loved her since I was little, I sang Martina McBride on karaoke non-stop, obsessed! So to be able to tour with her and to watch her show every night then to see how much impact a woman can have if she works hard, she puts out good music and she stays focused, that was so great for me to see. I just loved it and she added me on Snapchat, I was very excited about that.

CC: A fun part of your show is when you pick a guy from the audience to come up on stage to dance during “Next Boyfriend”. You actually picked a friend of mine at one of your shows last week, it was quite surreal seeing a video of Tommy on Facebook up on stage with you.

LA: Oh my gosh, no way! Tommy, yes I remember him.

CC: How do you choose the lucky guy and have they all been co-operating or have any tried to make an escape out the back?

LA: Yeah I’ve had a couple that have made me a little uncomfortable, a little too handsy and have tried to grab me. I don’t like that but for the most part, it’s one of the fun parts of the show and is so hilarious. I typically get the one that looks like they might be a little bit embarrassed, if their friends are pointing at them I’ll pick them or sometimes if they volunteer. Every night is different but it’s so much fun and people get up there even if they aren’t great dancers, they end up being great because they just let loose and you can see throughout the song that people start loosening up and doing better.

CC: When you’re not touring, what do you love to do to bring yourself back to normality and be a normal twenty-two year old if that’s ever possible?

LA: Well I like to get my friends together at home, we have game night a lot. I like to play kid games, you know where you put headbands on, it has a card and you’ve got to guess what animal or object you are. That’s one of our favourites! We just sit around and hang out, I don’t get to see my people a lot so anytime I can get them all in one room together it makes my heart so happy.

© Samantha Stanley

CC: You did your first UK shows during C2C last year and there was such a positive reaction, particularly at the Sounds Like Nashville show where you played just before The Shires and time overran, but fans were very vocal they wanted you to carry on. Were you surprised by the response from fans here and what was your favourite part about coming to the UK?

LA: I was so shocked! I didn’t know if I had fans there or not and it’s kind of the fear of the unknown, I just didn’t know what to expect. I was so encouraged and we have consistently been trying to find the right time to come back. It’s been hard to make it happen because I’ve dropped the album then we’ve been super busy promoting that but we’re in the talks of figuring out when we can come back over there and we’re very excited.

CC: With your album and in interviews, you are pretty much an open book and are very honest. Is there anything fans would be surprised to know about you that they don’t already?

LA: Oh my goodness maybe, let me think. I love to read, is that surprising? I’m a book worm.

CC: It is surprising but only because I don’t know how you find the time.

LA: I usually read on the bus or on an aeroplane, that’s when I get my reading in when I’m flying or travelling.

CC: What kind of books?

LA: I like thriller/action books. I’m reading the “Jack Reacher” novels right now.

CC: If you like thrillers, I’d recommend “The Crucifix Killer” by Chris Carter, it’s pretty gruesome but it’s the kind of book you start and can’t put down.

LA: Oh that sounds something I’d love to read, I’ll check it out.

CC: Thank you again for taking the time to speak with us today, we do hope we get to see you over here soon. Have a great day!

LA: Thanks girl, great to talk to you.

Since our interview “Road Less Traveled” has moved up to #3 in the charts, moving Lauren closer to her first #1 single.

To keep up to date with Lauren, make sure you follow her on social media and don’t forget to check out our album review.

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Artist Features

Speaking With: Hailey Whitters

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If you haven’t heard of Hailey Whitters yet, it won’t be long before you do. From a small town in Iowa, Hailey moved to Nashville at seventeen years old and went on to sign with Carnival Music before releasing her debut album ‘Black Sheep’ in October 2015.

Her first cut as a songwriter came in the form of “Low All Afternoon” by Martina McBride and recently you may have Little Big Town’s brand new single, “Happy People” which was co-written by Hailey and Lori McKenna.

We got the chance to speak to Hailey recently about her journey so far and what’s to come in the future.

CC: You’re from a small town in Iowa, what has your journey been from moving to Nashville to now?

HW: I moved to Nashville when I was 17… I didn’t know a single person! A lot of my experience here has been just diving in headfirst. I started going to open mic nights, I played down on Broadway for a bit, booked co-writes during the day. Just tried to meet as many people as possible and play out as much as possible… I think that helped get me on the radar of some industry folk.  

CC: Your album “Black Sheep” is a brilliant body of work, and the tracks I found myself listening to constantly were “Low All Afternoon” and “One More Hell”. Do you have your own personal favourite and why?

HW: They’re all pretty special to me! I would have to say “One More Hell” & “Low All Afternoon” feel the most personal. One More Hell was obviously about losing my little brother, and Low All Afternoon was the first song I’d written solo in a long time so I was sort of able to tap into this different head space than I’d been doing with co-writing.

 

CC: The trends in Country music were very male dominated, which was still around the time that you will have been creating “Black Sheep”. The tides seem to be changing again now, but was there a pressure there during the creative process when it was seemingly very difficult for women and especially new artists to put music out and have it be heard as easily?

HW: I think so? I really wasn’t focusing too much on where Black Sheep would fit when I was creating it. I just tried to make my best body of work and put it out there… I knew people were going to come to their own conclusions about it and I couldn’t control that, so I just wanted to create something that felt true and real to me.

CC: When I’ve recommended your music to people, I have described you as someone who is kind of a mix between Kacey Musgraves, with that sweet vocal but the song writing grit of Brandy Clark and Miranda Lambert. How would you describe your sound to people who may be new to your music?

HW: I like that! I respect all those females and their career paths… Lyrics are usually what I gravitate towards so I try to make them a big priority in my songs. I grew up listening to anything from Dixie Chicks to Alanis Morisette to Pink to Johnny Cash.

CC: You are gaining attention as a songwriter too, with your first cut being “Low All Afternoon” by Martina McBride. How did that come about and what was it like having another artist record a song that was on your own album?

HW: The first line came to me one day as I was leaving a demo session… It was about 3PM and it just kind of popped into my head. I went home and started playing around with it and the word “ultimatum” came out at me. I then knew what the song was about as I was seeing the whole storyline unfold through a friend of mine. Once I knew what it was about, it was just about putting the parts all together.

Having a song recorded by Martina was incredible! I’ll never forget the first time hearing her voice on it, I was driving down music row, and it was just this surreal moment of feeling like everything was starting to fall into place.

CC: You also toured with Martina McBride on her Love Unleashed tour, can you tell us about that experience and what were some of your highlights?

HW: Yes! It was so awesome… I learned a lot from her. I would put a chair next to the stage every night after my set and watch her show. She’s such a legend. Probably my biggest highlight from the tour was when she asked me to come out and sing “All You Need is Love” with her. I’ll never forget that moment.

CC: You wrote “Happy People” with Lori McKenna which is on Little Big Town’s new album “The Breaker”, what was it like writing with Lori and are there any more tracks from that sessions that may be heard in the future?

HW: Writing with Lori was incredible… I feel like we tapped into something really cool on a spiritual level with Happy People. One of us would say a line and the other had the follow-up. I tend to spitball a lot, but working with her she really showed me how to craft it all together. We wrote one other song on that trip… At the time it’s not set to be on anyone’s record, but you never know! It may be on my next one.

CC: Country music in my opinion is all about the songwriting, that to me is the most important element and what sets the genre apart to others. You are both a singer and songwriter so get so experience both elements, what would you say comes more naturally and what excites you more?

HW: Lyrics tend to be the first thing that comes to me. I’m always fascinated by quirky words/phrases people say. Once I get a lyric, then I’ll usually sit down and try to put a melody to it

CC: Who are what would you said are your biggest influences musically?

HW: Lately I’m on a big Tom Petty kick. I’ve always loved him, but just more recently digging into his catalog again. I love Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlins. Growing up I always wanted to be like Shania Twain or the Dixie Chicks. I really love digging into a Patty Griffin record.

CC: Your career is really just getting started, what are some of your bucket list moments that you hope to achieve?

HW: I’d love to play the Grand Ole Opry, win a Grammy, collaborate with Dolly Parton, come play the UK!

CC: You’ve described yourself as a risk taker, what are some of the biggest risks you’ve taken and did they pan out as you’d expected?

HW: I jumped out of plane once. I’m still alive so it definitely turned out better than expected haha!

CC: With the release of “Black Sheep” in 2015, and with you gaining more recognition for your song writing lately do you feel added pressure in terms of a second album, and what can fans expect next?

HW: Definitely! My first record was sort of a shot in the dark, I had all this music and just wanted to put it out there and see what would happen. I definitely feel a little more pressure to be intentional with this record, but I’m trying to just tune out all the voices and do what feels right to me. Hopefully fans can expect some new music later this year!

You can buy Hailey Whitters’ debut album “Black Sheep” here, and make sure you keep up to date by following her on social media;

 

 

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