By Lesley Hastings
As a massive Brandy Clark fan ( she is definitely my total favourite both as a writer and vocalist) I was thrilled when she kindly agreed to answer a few questions for me and Think Country ahead of her UK tour dates next week!
Here’s what she had to say about life on the road, her fans, her music and more!
1. First of all, Brandy, I must say a HUGE thank you for agreeing to take time out to answer these questions for Think Country. Where are you at the moment?
I am in Kentucky and just finished doing a show with my band here. We got in from LA last night and headed to Kentucky not long after getting off the plane so a bit tired from the travel.
2. I know that there are so many people who have been waiting for your return to the UK for headline shows after your appearances here at C2C in 2015. Does the support you ( and country music in general!) get from this side of the pond surprise you, particularly as the genre gets relatively little radio play over here?
It totally surprises but thrills me. I couldn’t believe the response I got when I came over the first time for C2C. I never really thought about the UK having such huge country music fan base and I think it’s great. I have always loved Country Music so it means a lot that others are supportive of my favorite genre of music.
3 . What a hectic tour schedule you have at the moment, it looks so punishing and I am ( pleasantly !) surprised you managed to squeeze in this whistle stop trip…….. do you have to take special care to look after yourself both physically and vocally?
It’s really really hard. Somedays I’m not sure where I am when I wake up. I think it’s important to eat right as much as possible and definitely get as much rest as you can. I try to workout every day. You have to be pretty disciplined on the road to stay as healthy as possible.
4. You look so at ease on stage, you seem to enjoy the energy of the full band sets and appear to have a great rapport with Miles Aubrey at the acoustic shows. Do you suffer from pre-show nerves ? Are you superstitious and do you have any set routines you go through before you perform?
Thanks! I don’t really have any superstitions or pre show nerves – just more excitement than anything. I do warm up in the dressing room though. I think that’s important to do every night to keep my voice in good shape. I love the guys in my band and love playing with them so it makes it easy to have good energy on stage.
5. You are always so generous to your fans, chatting, signing merch and posing for photos after your concerts and I saw that you even fulfilled one of their dreams recently by having them play guitar with you on stage! How important is their support and reaction to your music compared to what the critics and industry people might think?
It means the world and it’s great when critics like your records. I’m not going to lie about that! But when you meet someone in the merch line or you look out at the crowd and see people singing your songs back to you – that is what really matters. The industry and the critics can love or hate you – they aren’t emotionally tied to anything but the fans are and that’s the most important thing.
6. Congratulations on the success of your new album, ” Big Day In A Small Town”, sonically rather different to your debut “12 Stories ” with producer Jay Joyce at the helm this time, but once again giving us songs that paint pictures and describe characters to whom many people can relate, whether they are indeed from a small town or a big city. You seem to get your songwriting inspiration from so many different sources ( tv shows and conversations overheard in bars spring to mind!) Are you constantly taking notes ( either mentally or physically) and looking for ideas for future compositions? Do you have an ” off” button?
No, I definitely don’t have an off button. My mind is always going and I do keep a running list of ideas! I love to observe people and situations and there are always songs and stories out there. You just have to pay attention to what is around you.
7. The album has also been released on vinyl, which is slightly different to the CD version in that there is some great and highly entertaining narration between the tracks. Where did that idea come from? Did you write the narrative yourself?
Jay Joyce, my producer had that idea. I love that version and think it really ties together the concept of the record. I wrote the narrative and based a lot of it on things from home.
8. Many of your songs are deeply personal, possibly none more so than the new album’s closer ” Since You’ve Gone To Heaven”, inspired by your father’s untimely passing……..was that a particularly tough subject for you to tackle, knowing it would be heard by your family and close friends who knew your father? And is it one that you find hard to perform on an emotional level?
It’s definitely the most difficult song in my set but it’s also very rewarding. I love that it moves so many people and provides comfort to those who miss someone. That’s the power of music and I’m lucky to get to have a song like that. One that not only means a lot to me but also has a deep meaning and healing for others.
9. Talking of family, can you tell us a bit about the band you played in with your mother when you were in college? I gather she has always been very supportive of your songwriting, did you perform originals back then? And does any foootage of the band exist?
She has always been supportive of my music. Both of my parents were supportive. My mom was more musically inclined than my father. She is a great singer. I would sing lead and she would sing harmony. We played at fairs, festivals and a ton of talent shows. I wasn’t old enough for us to sing in bars so we kept ourselves busy on the fair circuit. I know there are some old photographs but I don’t know if we have any performance footage. It was before the time of iPhones and cameras in everyone’s hands.
10. Looking at the writing credits on both your albums, you have just one solo write on each ( Get High and Drinkin’ Smokin’ Cheating). Is it fair to say that you tend to prefer bouncing creative ideas off your co-writers ( especially Shane McAnally and Jessie Jo Dillon who’s names crop up a fair amount!) rather than locking yourself away on your own to write? And is it easier to write with people you know as friends, who you can be totally at ease with?
I like writing by myself and used to do more of that. I actually hope to get more time to write by myself this year. That said, I absolutely love writing with my friends as well. They are so talented and you develop a very strong bond with them as you spend time writing. They are like family to me and are incredibly inspiring. Sometimes when I come up with an idea I will know exactly who I want to write that with based on their personalities. That’s a real gift to have people like that who you just know you have something special with.
11. Someone else you seem enjoy writing with is Kacey Musgraves and I hear you’ve recently written a song together for her forthcoming Christmas album. That sounds like a whole lot of fun, is there anything you can tell us about it, or is it top secret?? Are you a Christmassy type person, going overboard with lights and decorations?
I love Kacey! That’s her project so I won’t spill any beans about it but I will say that I’m thrilled to be a part of it. I do love Christmas! I’m not really one that goes overboard with lights but I just love the feeling that comes with that time of year and I love getting to slow down and spend time with friends and family.
12. I am aware of your love of classic country music, but are there any contemporary artists ( from any genre) that you are particularly enjoying listening to at the moment?
I love all kinds of music but country is definitely where my heart is. I recently saw Adele in LA and have just gotten so into all of her records right now. Rediscovering the older ones and just really being inspired by her as an artist and as a writer. She is incredible!
13. I remember seeing in an interview somewhere that you love to read and are hoping to one day write either short stories or a novel……but I hope that songwriting will always be at your heart! What are your plans after your acoustic tour ends later this year ( apart from collapsing in a heap and sleeping for a fortnight, that is!)
I’ve got a writers retreat at the end of the year planned that I’m really looking forward to. I like the idea of ending the year being creative with some great friends/cowriters and seeing what we can come up with. It’s hard to write on the road so it will be nice to relax a bit and work in a different setting on this retreat
That sounds the perfect end to a busy year for you!
Thanks again for this interview, wishing you safe travels to the UK and hope your concerts here will be as much fun for you as they are sure to be for your fans over here!