She is one of the most exciting young artists in Nashville right now with a truly unique and unforgettable voice so following opening up shows for the likes of Maren Morris, Dan + Shay, Brett Eldredge and Little Big Town we were so excited to welcome Kylie Morgan to the UK for the first time in March at Country to Country. Alas, circumstances and the current global situation didn’t allow that to happen but we were incredibly fortunate to be able to see Kylie perform at a special showcase in London before she had to return to the United States and subsequently got to catch up with her over the phone to talk about her brief maiden voyage across the pond, upcoming new music plans, how she was getting through lockdown and getting to know more about the super fun 24 year old originally from Newcastle, Oklahoma.
My first introduction to Kylie Morgan was when her name came up in conversation with Walker Hayes last year (you can check out our chat with Walker HERE) when we were talking about writing with and for other artists where he mentioned “There’s this new girl named Kylie Morgan that I have a song with her called ‘I Cuss a Little’” and as he is such a great guy that is so cool to chat with who really has a passion for creativity and songwriting, I knew that she would be someone that was worth finding more about musically.
Crazy enough I actually met Walker when I was 15 years old. I started coming back and forth to Nashville when I was 15, writing for the first time and just getting my feet wet with co-writing because I’d always written songs by myself starting at like 11/12 years old but never with other people. When I came out to Nashville, I worked with a guy who had signed Walker to his publishing company at the time so I had been writing with Walker for like 5 years.
She left her home town for Nashville at 18 where she was quickly recognised for her incredible talent as a songwriter then later through her connections to Walker she found her way to be mentored by the likes of Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne in addition to Mr Hayes who she has joined on the roster of songwriters at SMACKSongs and subsequently now has a record deal with EMI Records Nashville.
When he moved over to SMACKSongs, lucky for me that is how SMACK found me and my songs is through Walker’s catalogue when they were diving through it. So first of all I got a call from Robin Palmer who is like my music mom over at SMACK, she helped to get Shane his very first cut and has just been an absolute champion of mine. I got a call from her, she left a voicemail because I didn’t answer saying “Hi, my name is Robin Palmer over at SMACKSongs. I just wanted to call and ask WHO ARE YOU? I don’t know who you are!” Since I’d moved to Nashville, already signing a small pub deal I never met with any publishers or record labels so no one had heard of me even though I’d been in town for 3 years. Which I’m honestly so happy about as I was able to definitely hone in on my craft and what I wanted to say as an artist through songwriting and get my foundation before I presented myself to anyone. At 17 that’s when I wrote “I Cuss A Little” with Walker and that song is one of the main reasons I got signed to SMACKSongs.
Kylie’s major label debut ‘Boys Girl’ which she wrote alongside Shane McAnally and Ross Copperman was released in June last year is both a great introduction to her as an artist and a person with the catchy upbeat song about not wanting to conform to stereotypes. Her follow up single ‘Break Things’ was released February 28th which you can listen to HERE is another catchy number which unveils more about her and explores everything that goes into making us who we are, whilst unleashing that mesmerising voice even further. Both tracks wet the appetite beautifully for an expected debut album which she has been working on with producers Shane McAnally and Ben Johnson.
I’ve been technically been writing for this project for 12 years now which is crazy to think about then we went into the studio to cut one more round of songs and that’s when I thought I think we’re done! Thinking I’m done with the project then can maybe I can focus on some songs for movies or that I do want to get into writing for other artists and so I started doing that. Also there was now that the project is done, I’m not gonna aim for anything and I was just gonna write. Then crazy enough we have got some of the best songs with me not aiming for anything, just writing so now we need to go back into the studio and cut like 5 more songs.
Given that a record is very closed and virtually finished you would be looking to work on the release and promotion strategy to support this along with playing a variety of shows yet the world has dramatically changed to a place where this is not to be. Considering there is a large amount of time and restricted scope during the past 2 months, Kylie shared that her life has comprised of writing new songs along with her passion for yoga, spending time with nature and plenty of Netflix thrown in for good measure. The time has become almost a staycation excuse giving her opportunity to spend more time with her boyfriend Jay Allen, which is not always straightforward with both being touring musicians. She said they had probably spent more time apart during the previous year than they had together but having the benefit of a fellow songwriter in the house helps the creative aspect of writing songs. There is obviously time for reflection and consideration, I asked if there could be a danger to other-think or over-analyse material that was ready to be released:
If you would have asked me that 2 years ago, I would say I’m always rethinking everything that I do but I feel like the last 2 years I have finally grown into myself and my artistry in a way that I don’t doubt anything. I feel everything that has happened specifically in God’s timing for this reason. We were planning on going to radio with ‘Break Things’ right at the beginning of March, then we decided to push back for one reason and another, which thank God we did because all of this happened. I realised that there’s no timeline or lack of or push for as otherwise I would drive myself crazy so I’ve given it up to God and realised that the universe will take care of itself!
That being said, there is a clear indication that there is plenty more to come and that when the timing allows it, there is music ready to be shared bringing further beacons of positivity and relatability into the world which she is excited to share:
Working on this record, man it’s been a vision board for over a decade now which it crazy to think about but I honestly want to have a song for every emotion. I feel like I kind of have a duty as a songwriter to be that voice and be those words that people don’t know how to explain their feelings. When you just hear a song and know that’s how I’m feeling! To get to be that person that people can turn to, when they don’t know how to put their feelings into words. I want this record to be a place to go for everyone no matter what they are feeling! I want them to have a song when they’re going through a breakup, I want them to have a song when you want to dance when you’re getting ready or a song when they want to work out. I want to be that place they can turn to no matter what emotion they are feeling in that record!
Kylie is a member of the current CMA KixStart Artist Scholarship Class along with Angie K and Everette which is now in it’s second year (following last years first inception featuring Travis Denning, Kassi Ashton and Jameson Rodgers) and is a year long mentoring programme involving building connections with industry professionals and participating in events organised by the CMA. The support from and association with the CMA is something that is really significant to her that she is something she is incredibly honoured by:
Being a part of the CMA KixStart programme honestly, to say it’s a dream come true is an understatement! I have been a CMA member since I was 15 actually and I decided to do online school myself my senior year so I skipped the whole prom thing and so every year when the CMA Awards come around, my mom would take me dress shopping and we would go to the CMA Awards together and that would kind of be like my prom for the year, so I just have been such a big fan of CMA for so many years and to be a part of the programme, represent them and have them be in my corner is literally like a dream come true!
In addition to support from the CMA, Kylie was also named by CMT in this years Next Women of Country intake which also includes Madison Kozak, Avenue Beat, Walker County, Tiera, Hailey Whitters, Abbey Cone, Sycamore, Renee Blair, Caylee Hammack and Gabby Barrett which just continues to show the level of excitement about this highly talented songwriter with the sort of voice that leaves an instant impression that you are desperate to hear more from. The issues surrounding the difficulties faced by female artists in Nashville is rightfully becoming a topic that needs to be addressed and it is vitally important for more people to begin to questioning this, so having prominent vocal supporters like CMT and other mainstream outlets in the US doing their uttermost to look to shift the balance is very encouraging. Kylie depicted how it wasn’t something that was an excuse or negatively affecting what she was looking to do:
A lot of people are aware now of kind of the ratios and the statistics, things like that but for me it’s never been an excuse or a thought in my mind. It’s always been I’m just gonna make the best music that I can and hopefully get the best team that I can to support it and surround it. Just make the best relationships that I feel like can truly be a part of my life and career forever! It’s never been for me thinking it doesn’t work out, it’s because I’m a female! It’s always been, I’m just going to make the best music that I can and pray that it translates. I feel like if the fans love it, appreciate it, stream it and buy it then they will speak for themselves which I what I have been focusing on personally. I do think though it is a mixture of both and these girls now are putting out some great stuff and I am a huge fan of a lot of these girls and I think it’s a great time for females in country music now!
As I had come across her as an artist through her being name dropped by Walker, I felt it quite fitting to ask Kylie to pass the baton on and give me some names of other people that need to be checked out. Luckily just before she had spoken to me, she had just posted on her Instagram story (she is definitely well worth following on here as she is very active on the platform and you really see this fun and bubbly personality which makes her so likeable shine through) and tagged in a number of other artists. As she talked through them Walker Hayes (obviously) and Universal artist Parker McCollom I was well aware of and had listened to before, then other artists I was aware of but may not have explored to the fullest extent (which now I truly have and the girl done good with dropping these names) like fellow SMACK writer Ryan Beaver, Adam Doleac, her good friend Chrissy Metz who had just signed her deal with Universal and Jay Allen. Jay is Kylie’s boyfriend so she obviously felt she may be a little biased but she said “He’s about to take over the world that’s for sure!” The final name she shared was completely new to me, similar to how she was when Walker talked about her so this was the most exciting for me to discover and that is another new girl on the scene: Morgan Johnston who Kylie felt was someone who will be absolutely incredible and will do great things when she finds the right team. (Definitely another artist well worth checking out as I completely agree with Kylie’s thoughts and you can check out Morgan Johnston’s video for ‘Good Guy’ below)
The whole experience at the start of March is clearly a surreal one. Given the way the pandemic has escalated globally and the subsequent restrictions in place in the United Kingdom and the travel uncertainty surrounding returning to the United States the festival not taking place was ultimately the right decision however frustrating it appeared for fans along with artists and their teams alike. It does however does build the excitement further for artists to make a UK debut or return and gives more emphasis on these future visits as people will ultimately be even hungrier and more passionate for these trips. The whole experience of travelling across the pond presents the beast of jet-lag which becomes a whole different physiological mess when you are only here for a short time, but despite the trip not going to plan Kylie was still very positive about her first visit to the UK capital.
Honestly, I was so heartbroken! We left Boston at 8pm and woke up in London at 6am, tried to sleep on the plane but that didn’t work out so when we finally got back to the hotel I had like a 4 hour nap. I was gonna power through and think maybe I can sleep tonight but that didn’t work as I was up til 3am then did the whole exploring and played the show. It was the best day ever and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat, then I finally got to bed at midnight thinking Oh My God, this is my moment and I’ll be on the right schedule now then feel great tomorrow. I slept for an hour then it was like “Wake up, we’re leaving for the airport in 4 hours!” My body was really confused. It’s like a bittersweet thing but just getting to be there and explore for 11 hours then get to play that show, I was incredibly grateful and I would do it all over again! It was one of the coolest days of my life, that’s for sure!
All being well, furthering the UK adventure is something that she is keen to explore at the earliest possible opportunity, which she offered:
It is definitely a priority for me to come back to the UK for sure! I had so much fun and even though I was only there for 10 minutes I definitely want to come back and the audience was just so sweet, receptive and passionate which was just a nice change of pace so I will definitely come back as soon as I can!
We are really excited to hear this and can’t wait to have her back over this side of the pond when global circumstances allow, where she can get the full UK experience – her short trip didn’t even give her the chance to head to a pub! There really is a beautiful level of energy and positivity that you pick up from seeing her on stage and she absolutely radiates this when you speak to her which combined with her drive, passion and creativity as a songwriter along with such a memorable voice enhances why we have become such big fans of her.
In the meantime her social media posts are really fun where you will find regular videos along with some music and yoga live streams as a great way to help through isolation or lockdown so make sure you check her out on: