Once again, CRS brought us a great number of talented artists to chat with, and one of the standouts this year was a singer/songwriter named Brailey Lenderman. After the interview was over, Annette Gibbons and I both agreed that Lenderman was a real pleasure to talk to, and that everything about her just seemed so natural, which was refreshing in an often “over-processed” music business. I’ve since listened to her music and it easily matches up with the person we met. Very solid.
The following is a transcript of our conversation with Brailey Lenderman at CRS 2019 back in February (for questions or comments that were very specific, I included the name of the person that was speaking, otherwise Annette Gibbons and I tag teamed, with Annette asking the bulk of the questions):
Think Country: Welcome Brailey. Tell us about you.
Brailey Lenderman: What do you want to know? (Laughs)
BL: Well, I’m from Roswell, Georgia. I’d say it’s about an hour north of Atlanta, but who’s counting?
Image courtesy of Sperling’s Best Places
TC (Annette): My daughter’s called Georgia. I’ve spent a lot of time there.
BL: Oh, wow. Her name is Georgia?
TC (Patti): She enjoys that state so much she named her daughter after it.
BL: It is a great state. I like Nashville better, but it is a great state. So, I went to school there, I grew up there forever and I didn’t want to go to college. I wanted to come straight to Nashville and do music.
TC: You’ve always wanted to do music?
BL: Always. There was never a time when I wasn’t writing music. Like, I literally have songs from when I was in first grade from me writing music, which is so funny. They’re terrible, but they’re there. Totally off-topic, but my Mom found a career aptitude test that we did from when I was in fifth grade. The next time I came home it was on my bed. There were no questions on it that had anything to do with music. Nothing at all, but my number one thing it said I was going to be when I grew up was a singer/songwriter, which is insane, and my Mom was like, “See?” I was like, “Wow, that’s so cool!”
TC: When you know, you know. How long have you been in Nashville?
BL: It’ll be five years in September. I moved up here in 2014.
TC: Right move?
BL: The best move. Hardest move. The biggest lesson, but the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
TC: If we’re telling people about you and your music, what would you like people to know about your music? What kind of sound are you going for?
BL: So, this is the hardest part, because I am in the country genre, but I like writing all types of music. There’s not a type of music that I have not written. So, my sound right now is definitely country. My single that’s out right now is pop country, but the next single I want to release is more of like an Americana country. Kind of keeping people on their toes. My biggest thing is, I just want to make music and I want to make music that people relate to. So, whether that be a country song or a pop song, I don’t have a rock song yet, but regardless of what it is, my sound is just music. I kind of think that you have to pick a genre, I love country, I grew up on country. I grew up on the best country, Texas country, so I grew up on all of this, and I love it, it’s my favorite genre to write in and my sound is definitely country. I just think that the pressure of it is too much that people don’t get creative enough outside of it.
TC: You want to write what comes to you.
BL: Exactly, and right now I’m in this very truthful writing stage where it’s just truth. I was with Bonnie Baker recently, and she was like, “The best songs I’ve ever written have been something that’s just real. Not saying that what people write isn’t real, but when it really comes from something that’s just so intense, you can feel it the moment the chord hits, it’s just like, you’re touching somebody and that’s just how somebody feels.” So, I’m in this period of truthful writing.
TC: I’ve done a bit of research on your Facebook page and you had a Beatles cover on there recently. We both listened to it and we both loved it.
BL: That’s funny, because I was trying to decide what cover to do that day and I asked my fiancée if I should do something new or something old, and he said I should do something old, so I went with The Beatles.
TC: Tell us about your single that you have out.
BL: It’s called “Remember All the Nights” and it’s on every single music platform you can find. It’s a song that I wrote with Aswan North and Jared Logan. It was the very first song I ever wrote in Nashville. Jared and Aswan are not even in the country music industry at all, they’re rock and hip hop, but mostly rock, and Jared just played this lick from the guitar that you hear in the very beginning. He was just playing that on the guitar and we all were freaking out over it. Then we did a bunch of scrambled egg lyrics which is just mumbling melodies, and then the lyrics just started flowing in, and that’s when we got the concept of it being like, “Hey, what was it like growing up?”, “What did you do back then?” It was mostly like, sneaking out and falling in love and getting broken up with and all of that stuff. So, the song itself is just about getting back to the basics of when you fell in love with somebody. It’s kind of saying, time doesn’t wait for anybody, you either live in the moment now, or you don’t at all. It has this really sweet story to it, like, “Remember when we did this, and this, and this?” I think the music video really does portray these moments as well. It’s really great because my fiancée actually got to be the lead guy in it, and he’s so freaking handsome! They were like, “Does he want to be in it?” I looked at him and he looked at me, and I was like, “You’re gonna be in it”, and he was like, “Um, okay.”
TC: So, he is in it?
BL: Yes, he is in it. That handsome guy you see in the music video is Tom. He’s amazing.
TC: That’s very sweet.
BL: Isn’t it? So, what’s really great about that too, is all those moments in the video are stuff that we’ve done before.
TC: I was going to ask what it was like acting, but it really wasn’t acting then, was it?
BL: No, it wasn’t even acting. They would be like, “Dance.” What’s funny is, me and Tom dance all the time. Like, in the kitchen, so we don’t have to pretend. I think that’s what the authenticity of it is all about, and at the very end of the video he’s surprising me at my show, and he’s done that. There’s nothing in that video that we haven’t done, so it was easy, and what’s great about that is that was before he actually proposed to me and now, we have that forever. I think it’s just a really good story of, “Hey guys, I know the world’s kind of crazy, but just remember that it’s you two, and if you want to make it work, do it now, not later.” I think that’s just what the song itself portrays, and I think everybody has a different portrayal of it, but that, to me is what’s so special about it.
TC: You said your next one is more Americana?
BL: To me it is, yeah. So, it was written with Travis Meadows.
TC (Patti): Stop right there. Travis Meadows?? Wow. Longtime Travis Meadows fan here.
BL: Travis is, hands down, one of the most talented people I have ever met. I wish I could even put into words what he did for me.
TC (Annette): Do you know, at this time last year, there was a young lady that sat here and said exactly those same words? Her name was Ashley McBryde.
BL: He always talked about Ashley McBryde too, when we were together. He was like, “You need to listen to this girl.” Isn’t that funny?
TC (Annette): She said, “If I could just tell you what that guy means to me.” Literally. I’ll find the interview and you’ll see where she says exactly the same thing.
NOTE: I found last year’s interview with Ashley McBryde and copied the section where she talked about Travis Meadows. It’s true. These two interviews were eerily similar. See the excerpt from the McBryde interview directly below.
“That led us into me revealing that we had a mutual friend in Travis Meadows (you see, I did have a reason for mentioning him in the beginning of this thing, not that he doesn’t deserve mentioning anywhere and everywhere just because he’s amazing anyway), and the second I said his name, McBryde leaned back a bit in her chair and said, “I love Travis Meadows.” I replied with, “Travis told me you’re the best.” With complete conviction in her voice, “Travis changed my life”, McBryde replied. “He said you are one of the people he totally trusts and loves to write with.” “Absolutely, he has changed my ability to write. I had no idea who he was when Cheley Tackett played me ‘Minefield’ off the ‘Killing Uncle Buzzy’ record.” (I knew at this point I related to this artist even more because “Minefield” is still my very favorite Travis Meadows song, and I request he play it at every show if given the chance, and I told her that during the interview) It changed what kind of honesty I was willing to accept out of my own songwriting, because he’s just willing to rip his ribcage open and show you all the little gears and whistles. I was like, it’s okay, it’s okay to show the dark parts. It’s okay to show the good parts too. So, he changed my songwriting with that record and he has saved my life several times, he doesn’t know that, but his songs have, I mean, they’ll pull you out. I responded by saying, “Oh yeah, his songs, they’ll put brush burns on your heart.” “Oh, yeah, absolutely.” (When I said what I said, I meant that in the most complimentary way. His writing is as deep and real as it gets, and McBryde’s is bound to only get better and better by collaborating with someone like him).”
BL: He opened up my mind and my writing to a whole new level, and it wasn’t even that he was teaching me how to write, it was just his presence. I’m religious, I believe in God. Legitimately, believe me when I say, when I moved to Nashville, everything that happened, definitely was not just by coincidence. It was like, something had to happen to get me there. So, another writer, and I’m not going to name who he is, completely bailed on me, I didn’t even hear from him, but because he did that, Travis Meadows came into my life.
TC: Things happen for a reason.
BL: Yes, and so, this song that we wrote, Travis started singing it. He wrote the majority of it, and that’s because of his poeticism when he writes, and the way that he makes you feel when he writes, it’s just so cool.
TC: What is the song called?
BL: It’s called “You Don’t Know Me, But You Will”. Travis is on it, and then Ricky Skaggs got a hold of it, so he’s playing the mandolin on it.
TC (Patti): Another of my favorites.
BL: I know, right?! I can tell you this, Ricky Skaggs is one of the best people I’ve ever met in my whole entire life. If you told me somebody was nicer, I would tell you, “No.” The only person closer that’s nicer is Jesus. Yeah, so he got a hold of it and he plays the mandolin beautifully on it. It’s about my move to Nashville, and what’s great about it is, I’m singing to the city of Nashville. He was like, “Tell me about your move.” So, I told him everything. It’s my words in a song.
Photo courtesy of 90 East Photography and Think Country
TC: That needs to be out now.
BL: My manager’s coming in to town today, so we’re all going to convince him.
TC: I’ve interviewed numerous people and so many of them have said they’d love to write with Travis Meadows. Congratulations on getting that write, but how did you manage to get the connection?
BL: My producers. Who, by the way, I shouldn’t have even met. My producer, Aswan North, his mentor is Ricky Skaggs. Ricky Skaggs has mentored him throughout his entire music career, so we met Ricky through him, and then I met Travis through a friend, Tate, who moved to L.A. Tate’s good friends with Travis, and Tate’s good friends with Aswan. So, Tate was like, “Well, what about Travis?” Aswan was like, “Well, yeah.” What’s really great about it is, Travis asked me, before he wrote with me, he had to ask me first, who I was as a person. It wasn’t like what you think, “Hi, I’m Brailey, I’m from…” It was that Johnny Cash moment, like, “I Walk the Line.”
Photo courtesy of Brailey Lenderman
TC: I understand that because Travis doesn’t just trust anyone when it comes to co-writers.
BL: No, he doesn’t, which I figured out, because I think it took him a second to kind of figure out who I am as a person.
TC: What are your goals, what is the ultimate thing for you?
BL: My biggest goal in music, whether it be in a coffee shop or an arena, I want to sing my song and have people sing it back to me. That’s my biggest goal. Also, especially after watching the Grammys, obviously I would love to change the industry where they look at women the same way they look at men, I would love to do that, but right now, that’s just not where we’re at, so my goal is just to keep creating and keep making music that means something to somebody. It’s so hard to be in the industry right now, and it’s so frustrating sometimes, but even watching the Grammys and seeing Brandi Carlile MURDER her performance, like, are you kidding me?! Then, Kacey Musgraves winning Album of the Year. I know that it’s people voting for her, but is that not saying something? Like, your music is incredible. Whether it’s being played on the radio or not, people love it, and I think that’s so cool, and that’s where I want to get. I want to be where I can make music for a living and it means something to somebody. So, that’s just my goal. I mean, selling out arenas would be great, but you know…
TC: What do you think about playing in the UK?
BL: Absolutely. I haven’t been out of the country before. It sounds so bad, but I really haven’t been out of the country before.
TC (Patti): Isn’t this so reminiscent of someone we interviewed a year ago? (Referring again to that Ashley McBryde interview)
TC (Annette): Yes. Ashley McBryde. We’d interviewed her. Her album hadn’t been released yet, she hadn’t been to the UK yet. The UK would be really good for you. Just your whole look. You know how you see some people, there’s just so much makeup and it’s just so over-the-top?
BL: Someone was like, “Should she get her hair and makeup done beforehand?” I was just, “No, I’m good.”
TC (Patti): I get that you’re a songwriter first and about the creating.
BL: Without the creating and songwriting there wouldn’t be artists.
TC: If we came to one of your shows, what would we expect?
BL: I’m fun. The stage is kind of like my home so I enjoy it. I get kind of like this adrenaline… I think I blackout the whole time.
TC: Just seeing your videos I know we’d like you.
BL: That makes me feel so good, thank you!
TC (Annette): You have absolutely exceeded my expectations and we really look forward to championing you.
BL: Thank you, I really appreciate that!
We then talked for a minute about the tattoo on Lenderman’s arm, which is an outline of the Nashville skyline.
Photo courtesy of Brailey Lenderman
BL: I got it after I played my first CMA Fest. It’s of a city I love to hate and hate to love, but I can’t ever see myself doing anything else.
TC (Patti): I always say, if you’re in the music business and you haven’t been burned at least once, then you must not have been doing anything at all.
BL: I’ve cried more in the past five years than in the first five years I was born, but if I ever told my Mom I wanted to quit music, she’d drive up here and tell me I couldn’t, and I wouldn’t. I love it. It’s the only thing I really love and want to do.
TC: It’s been such a pleasure talking with you and we look forward to hearing that new single, hopefully soon.
BL: Thanks so much, this has been great.
Brailey Lenderman can be found: