TRUE ART IS ALIVE AND WELL, NASHVILLE
How did you get started in the industry?
I’ve been writing songs and hearing melodies in my head for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t completely fall in love with singing until I joined choir in 4th grade. I can say with complete confidence that the day I joined choir is the day I knew I wanted to sing, in some way shape or form, for the rest of my life. It wasn’t until the last few years of middle school and into high school that I realized I could turn the songs I write into a career. I recorded an EP my senior year of high school before moving to Nashville, because I knew I wanted to enter the industry with some tangible proof of my songwriting. Up until then, I hadn’t really had much experience with being an artist, although I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to represent. Moving to Nashville four years ago was my real introduction into the industry and its inner workings, and I’ve loved every minute of it!
What are you looking forward to this year?
More music! It seems obvious, but that’s really it – I’m finally releasing my second EP, titled Him, Vol. 1, my single has received so much wonderful support, and I have a music video planned for the spring. Then I’ll be back in the studio to record more! And I’m graduating college in May. It’s going to be a crazy year, but I’m so excited about all of the things I’m able to do!
Who are your biggest inspirations?
If I had to narrow it down, I’d say Taylor Swift, Florence + The Machine, and Joni Mitchell. Taylor Swift was the first artist I consistently listened to and connected with, so a lot of my early songwriting began by emulating her style. As for Joni Mitchell and Florence + The Machine, I absolutely love their voices and their individuality. They’re not afraid to push boundaries with their words, their artistry, their emotions, everything. Funnily enough, I also spent a lot of my earlier years listening to symphonic metal, which combines classically inspired singing with full orchestras and, you guessed it, a full metal band. Those bands taught me so much about incorporating different styles of music and orchestration into commercial writing, and I definitely took inspiration from them when writing the full orchestral score for “Tightrope,” one of the songs on Him, Vol. 1.
What is your greatest accomplishment yet?
Wow, that’s a difficult question… I think that, overall, my relationships with people in my life are my greatest achievement. I sang with Josh Groban at the Bridgestone Arena – which would never have happened if I hadn’t been close with my director, who suggested me for the job. I have supporters who love my music, and friends who come to all of my shows – which wouldn’t happen if I didn’t take the time and energy to invest in my friendships and relationships. I try to listen to my fellow artists’ music and go to their shows, because I want them to do the same for me. Keeping in mind that a huge part of your success comes from various moments of collaborating and communicating with others is important, and it’s an achievement to maintain strong relationships with people.
Who are your biggest supporters?
My parents, absolutely. They have never once questioned my desire to be an artist. My friends too – they’re my street team; they hype me up and share my music with anyone who will listen and make me feel like a queen at all times (even when I definitely am not). Quinten (my boyfriend) has been a huge help in these past five years; he’s incredibly encouraging and isn’t afraid to push me when I could be doing something more, but also knows when I just need to lie on the couch and watch Harry Potter all day to recharge. And of course, every single person who works on my music with me and helps me achieve the sound, look, and idea I’m going for is such a huge helping hand.
What do you love most about your work?
The conversations and the ripples that come from it. The most rewarding comments are always the ones where someone has personally connected with one of my songs, and they take the time to text me or message me about it. I love hearing people’s stories -- a few years ago, I discovered that a lovely human had done an a cappella cover of one of my earliest songs, called “Walls,” and posted it. I reached out to thank her, and we shared a beautiful string of messages where we talked about what the song means to both of us. That song has less than 80 streams on Spotify, so in terms of numbers and statistics, it’s nothing. But it meant something to someone, enough that they created their own expression of it, and to me that’s worth absolutely everything.
What is something you have struggled with in your career?
My perception of success and worth as an artist is definitely something I’ve struggled with. I’ve always feared fame as much as I’ve revered it – my definition of success used to center around traditional, commercial expectations of fame, because that’s all I knew about: billboards, Grammys, and world tours. But I was also keenly aware of the horror stories of losing your purpose, ending up alone, and being screwed over. After moving to Nashville, I realized that “fame” wasn’t actually what I wanted; it was direction, purpose, and recognition. I found people I love working with, I settled into my voice and my sound, and I redefined what “fame” meant to me. Now, I get to make music on my own terms, and I operate my own career in a way that helps me genuinely connect with people. Record deals and world tours are no longer deal breakers (although, let’s face it, a Grammy would be nice). It took a little while, but now I try to live according to what makes me happy. I think when you do that, success is inevitable.
What advice would you give to young girls looking to follow their musical dreams?
Be yourself and write what you want! You may rise to success really quickly by following a formula, but what good is success if you don’t connect with the songs you write or the image you present? Find what you love, craft an image that is true to who you are, and use that as your artist brand. That way it’ll change as you change and allow you to be honest and open with everyone (including yourself).
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Ooh, hard question – the future is so dynamic, it’s difficult to really think that far ahead! Ideally, I would see myself happily making a living off of my artist endeavors. In a cute apartment, maybe with a couple of cats, traveling a lot for my job.