Photo courtesy of Chelsey James
Another really good CRS 2021 interview. This time it was with Chelsey James. I was slightly familiar with her after doing a recent write up on her latest single, “The Men and the Boys,” which I love and have added to a few of my most frequently listened to playlists. It’s such a clever song and she sure kicks it out. It’s definitely my kind of country. I was anxious to “meet” her via Zoom and hoped we would hit it off. As it turned out, I think we did. I hope she thought so too. Maybe you can be the judge based on our conversation which follows right now.
(We ran a little late thanks to a few issues with Zoom, so that’s how our interview starts, talking about technical difficulties.)
Patti McClintic: Hi Chelsey, I’m Patti from Think Country. Sorry about the confusion. I don’t know what happened, if it was my server or the server in the UK. For some reason I couldn’t get connected, but the issue was probably me, I usually create chaos, but oddly enough they fixed it from London, so maybe it was over there? Who knows? It doesn’t matter. We’re here now.
Chelsey James: Right. No problem.
Patti McClintic: So, how are you? I love your song, it’s so cool. Your song is “The Men and the Boys,” cool song. Why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background.
Chelsey James: Yeah, so, I’m Chelsey James and I’m from southwest Missouri. Most people would know Springfield, but I’m from a little, small town east of there. I got kind of a late start into the music world. This was a talent that I randomly discovered a little bit later in life than most people do, so I still feel like I’m kind of new in the industry, but it was something that my friends kind of discovered for me. I would sort of sing to the radio and they would force me to go to karaoke bars and sing. Then I got comfortable with that, joined a cover band and decided, “Hey, I think this is what I’m supposed to be doing.” It was such a random discovery, but that’s kind of how I got into music.
Patti McClintic: That’s really cool.
Chelsey James: It’s a different path than most people have for sure. Anytime I tell that story people are always so surprised. I feel like the normal story is, “Yeah, like, you know, I’ve been singing since I was three,” or “Since I was in diapers,” or “I had a musical family.” It was not that way for me, but, hey, I guess everybody has their path they were meant to take.
Photo courtesy of Chelsey James
Patti McClintic: That makes you original, which I think is special, so good for you. So, tell me about your single, it’s definitely a very cool song. Who wrote it? Where did you record it? Just any fun little details you have.
Chelsey James: Yeah, so my producer, Mike Bailey, he had this track, this was one of the first songs I ever wrote, and he had this track and I was like, “I know I want to write something to that.” So, I asked him if I could take it to my friends and write something to it. It was just a base instrumental track that he’d been working on and he’s like, “Yeah, go for it.” So, I took it to some friends, Oran Thornton and Hunter Hathcoat, and I was like, “Man, I love this song. It’s got that high-octane feel, I love the rock in it. I don’t know what this is gonna be about, but I definitely want to write something to this.” So, Oran was like, “You know, I’ve had this idea for that saying, ‘What separates the men from the boys,’ and I was like, “Perfect! I know exactly what we’re gonna write about!” I knew as soon as he said that because it took me back to my early college days when me and my girlfriends would go out. You know, there’s a lot of country bars in the town where we went to college. Going out to the country bars it’s like, there’s just hundreds of, we call ’em in the song, “catalog cowboys,” they’re wannabe country boys, they look the part, but they probably don’t act the part a lot.
Patti McClintic: Right. If they got out on a farm they would fall apart.
Chelsey James: Not know what to do, exactly! So, I was like, “Oh, yeah. We could write about this.” You know, I really wanted to create something men and women could listen to, which I feel like in the country music world it’s hard to put out music that men and women can both listen to and say, “Yeah, I can relate to that,” and I think we were able to do that. I think we were able to do it for both, which makes me really happy. You know, it’s something that women can hear and go, “Oh, yeah, I know that type.” Then men can also relate to it and say, “Oh, yeah, that’s me. I’m the real man.” Hopefully, anyway.
Video courtesy of Chelsey James and YouTube
Patti McClintic: Oh, for sure, and even the ones that are pretending and just dressing the part can relate and go, “Yeah, I guess that’s me. Yeah, I go out there and put my boots on, but I’m definitely not goin’ out there and plowin’ any fields.” Right?
Chelsey James: Exactly. So, I think we were able to do that and create something that men and women can both listen to and enjoy. Besides the lyrics, I mean, I just love the music part, and it’s just such a fun song to rock out to, so I love that.
Patti McClintic: Yeah, definitely cool. Where did you record that?
Chesley James: So, I go to a studio in a little town called Bella Vista, Arkansas, which is basically the very northwest corner of Arkansas, because in Missouri where I live, it’s very southern Missouri.
Patti McClintic: So, you’re still living in Missouri now?
Chelsey James: I travel back and forth. I try to go out to Nashville, you know, every six weeks or so, and I’ll stay for however long I need to. As far as recording, you know, with technology, I can run down to the studio in Arkansas, record my vocals, and Mike can bounce it out to Nashville, and they usually add all the live players in Nashville and send it back to Mike. Then we kind of piece that together and it just goes back and forth.
Patti McClintic: A lot of that back and forth started because of the pandemic. A lot of people just started doing that worldwide, just sending tracks all over the place, back and forth, sometimes many times just to get it right. People that never did that before are doing it all the time now.
Chelsey James: I know, it’s crazy. That’s the thing, I don’t feel like, in this day and age at least, I don’t feel like I need to move my whole life to Nashville yet, because with technology, I can do all this stuff here. Then when I do that here it’s done, then I can go out to Nashville and play shows and write with people and all that kind of stuff you need to do in person. I can go out and do that and then come back home, it’s kind of nice.
Photo courtesy of Chelsey James
Patti McClintic: Yeah, it is. Very nice. Really great, and right now I don’t know how it is there, but here it’s just cold and icy. I don’t know, it’s not too great.
Chelsey James: Well, this is not normal for us, but we currently have about 10 inches of snow on the ground here right now.
Patti McClintic: It’s not normal for us either. We don’t have 10 inches, but we have snow. It’s weird to look out the window and see it. I’m originally from Buffalo, New York, so I’m used to looking out the window and seeing lots of snow. This isn’t anything to me, but it is when you live in Nashville. It’s a lot.
Chelsey James: Right, right, yeah.
Patti McClintic: Obviously, because of COVID nobody’s been able to do much of anything in the way of live shows. Do you have anything at all planned for 2021? Livestreams?
Chelsey James: Yeah, you know, a lot of the festivals that I would normally play, they’re kind of summer and fall festivals, everyone’s kind of on hold, I guess you could say right now. Everyone’s just kind of waiting to see. So, I have a few things. There are some smaller shows I could play here and there, and when I’m in Nashville I’ll play at some of the bars. With bigger festivals it’s just hard. Everything’s still up in the air. We’re all just waiting for that day when we can all let the floodgates open again, whenever that day might be.
Patti McClintic: I can’t wait.
Chelsey James: I know, because that’s the best part for me. You know, I love creating music in general, but playing live, for a live audience, you just cannot beat that, so that’s been really tough to not be able to do that very much. But I am trying to do some lives and some takeovers. I have some of those planned, some takeovers of radio stations, Facebook pages and do some live concerts that way, but you know, it’s not quite the same, but we’re just trying to do what we can. I’ve used the past year of not being able to go anywhere mainly to create content and write a lot, which it’s kind of been a blessing, because now this year I have basically, enough songs ready to go that I can put out a single every two to three months.
Patti McClintic: Yeah, that is good, there’s going to be so much new music. It’s gonna be like an explosion because everybody’s been creating like mad, which isn’t a bad thing.
Chelsey James: Yeah, the Spotify servers are gonna crash. (Laughing)
Patti McClintic: I know. (Laughing) But I guess there are worse things that could happen. Obviously, you’ve been writing a lot during this dead time, but are there any writers that you’ve never written with that you’d love to? Your dream co-write, maybe?
Chelsey James: So, I have two different categories. There are artists I would love to write with and there are songwriters I’d love to write with. I would love to write with Hillary Lindsey. She writes a lot of Carrie Underwood‘s stuff and obviously I have my own style, but I do get some elements from Carrie because I grew up listening to her and in a way, she kind of taught me to sing. I would just play her CDs in the car and just sing to them over and over and over. So, obviously, I’m sure I picked up stylistic things from her.
Patti McClintic: Some “Carrieisms?”
Chelsey James: Yes, “Carrieisms.”
Patti McClintic: That’s not a bad thing at all.
Chelsey James: No, it’s not. I mean, I just love her power and the dynamics she puts in her songs. So, for that part of it, I would love to write with Hillary, and really anyone she’s written with. Artist-wise, if I could get in a room with another artist, I would die if one day I could write with Reba McEntire. (Laughing)
Patti McClintic: Oh, my goodness, yes, wouldn’t that be something?
Chelsey James: Yes. I mean, obviously I’ve never met her, but she just seems like a hilarious, fun person and she can sing anything She’s such a storyteller. That would be my ultimate dream.
Patti McClintic: Yeah, she just seems like she’d be a hoot to sit in a room with. Imagine the song you could come up with if you went in there with an idea that you’ve been brewing in your head. She seems like the type that would just go for it.
Chelsey James: Exactly, yeah. So, those two. Maybe one day I’ll get to do that.
Patti McClintic: Maybe get in a room with Carrie and Reba together.
Chelsey James: Oh, my gosh. If that actually happened I’d be speechless. I don’t think anything would come out. (Laughing)
Patti McClintic: Maybe you could just sit there and watch them write, and learn. I don’t know.
Chelsey James: Take this all in.
Patti McClintic: I just have two more. I have a Chat Pack, it’s a box filled with random questions. Do you mind if I just pull one of these cards out and ask you one?
Chelsey James: Go for it.
Patti McClintic: Okay. The card says, “Which punctuation mark would best describe your personality?”
Chelsey James: Probably an exclamation point. (Laughing)
Patti McClintic: That’s good! That’s great!
Chelsey James: Yeah, I wouldn’t say that I’m super outgoing or anything like that, but I’m very strong-headed and aggressive, those are words that have been used to describe me. Not like, in a physical way, but just when it comes to my work and my life in general. I’m just an aggressive go-getter, nothing’s gonna stop me. I don’t know, that was just the first thing that popped into my head, an exclamation point. It’s a very, like, strong statement, I think.
Patti McClintic: Yeah, and it can also mean an enthusiastic person. It’s an enthusiastic thing. It doesn’t mean you’re bad, it’s a good exclamation point. Then finally, because we are Think Country, when you “Think Country,” what do you think?
Chelsey James: Well, for me, personally, I truly think of home. I think of a couple things. It makes me think of a place, like home. I did grow up in very southern Missouri on a farm. I actually still live on one now. It was what you think of when you think of a farm. You know, you had cows, horses and we had a goat at one time and all that, so I do think of home and the houses I actually grew up in. Also, I always think of the word, “comfort,” or “peace,” because for me, growing up, country music was basically all I listened to. Back then we didn’t really have Spotify and all that, it’s just what was on the radio and that’s all my parents played. Country music has also gotten me though a lot of hard times in life, just listening to certain songs over and over to help me get through something. So, I think it is like a comfort to me. It just reminds me of when I was a kid listening to it in the car with my parents, or whatever it might be. Or just being on the farm. So, yeah, comfort and home.
Patti McClintic: That’s great. I think of it like that too. Not necessarily home because I grew up in the suburbs, but definitely it’s a comfort. Thank you so much for taking the time, and thank you for dealing with all of our little tech issues.
Chelsey James: No, trust me, it happens to me all the time. I’m terrible with technology.
Patti McClintic: Yeah, Mother Technology was playin’ dirty, but thank you so much.
Chelsey James: Thank you so much for having me, I really enjoyed it.
Patti McClintic: Yeah, I did too and I hope I see you live somewhere soon.
Chelsey James: Yes, someday live soon.
Patti McClintic: Okay, bye Chelsey.
Chelsey James: Bye.
What a cool person, right? Now that you’ve read the interview, be sure to listen to her single, “The Men and the Boys”. You can match up her spunky personality with one feisty little track. You can find Chelsey James on her socials at the links listed below. Be sure to give her a follow and tell her Think Country sent you.
For more news, interviews, reviews and features, visit thinkcountrymusic.com
Photo courtesy of Chelsey James
CHELSEY JAMES CAN BE FOUND:
INSTAGRAM: Chelsey James on Instagram
FACEBOOK: Chelsey James on Facebook
TWITTER: Chelsey James on Twitter
YouTube: Chelsey James on YouTube
*Featured photo courtesy of Chelsey James